Makeup Steps: How to Apply Makeup Step by Step
Makeup Steps: How to Apply Makeup Step by Step

Woman getting her beauty products ready to apply makeup step by step

The power of makeup is undeniable; our favorite products help us create the beauty looks we love, enhance our favorite features, and encapsulate our individual definitions of beauty. The best makeup routines help the modern woman boost her confidence and face the world head on—no matter what the day has in store.

When it comes to makeup, skillful application can make all the difference. Applying your favorite products the correct way, and applying the correct amount of makeup can do two things: help you achieve the beauty look you crave, and help you get the most out of your makeup.

Looking for natural makeup that keeps your skin looking radiant all day? Learn how to apply your makeup with these important beauty tips. From applying liquid foundation to using a gel eyeliner, this breakdown of makeup steps and tips will help you create a flawless look that you can be proud of.

Steps to Applying Makeup

  • 1. How to Apply Moisturizer
  • 2. How to Apply Primer
  • 3. How to Apply Liquid Foundation
  • 4. How to Apply Concealer
  • 5. How to Apply Foundation Powder
  • 6. How to Apply Bronzer
  • 7. How to Apply Blush
  • 8. How to Apply Highlighter
  • 9. How to Apply Eyeshadow
  • 10. How to Apply Eyeliner
  • 11. How to Apply Mascara
  • 12. How to Apply Lip Gloss
  • 13. How to Apply Setting Spray & Powder

Step 1: Moisturizer

Woman applying moisturizer to her face

Before you begin applying your makeup, take the time to prep your skin with a high-quality moisturizer. Choosing the right kind of moisturizer is a crucial piece of the puzzle. Let’s take a look at the different types you can use, listed from lightest to heaviest:

  • Face Mists: These are water-based solutions that may contain certain skin-boosting vitamins and fragrances. Facial mists aren’t designed to return the moisture to your skin, but they can be a helpful tool for maintaining a dewy look all day long. Simply spritz throughout the day when your skin is feeling dry.
  • Serums: This is a lightweight solution that’s easily absorbed by the skin. There are a wide assortment of serums designed to target specific problem areas. Some serums help you moisturize the skin to prevent wrinkles, while others contain ingredients that may add brightness to a dull complexion.
  • Lotions: Lotions are the most common type of moisturizer, and can benefit a variety of skin types. Opt for lotions that are labeled as “non-comedogenic”; these products are designed to avoid clogging the pores.
  • Creams: If your dry skin needs extra help, it might be time to invest in a cream moisturizer. This is a thicker, heavier solution that can hydrate excessively dry complexions. Day creams can be used as a base under your makeup, but night creams are designed to give your skin an extra dose of moisture while you sleep. Apply before hitting the pillow, and in the morning you’ll be greeted with soft, supple skin.
  • Oils: If you need further moisturizing, consider oils. Certain oils can be a great option for those with dry, sensitive, or normal skin. However, if you’re acne-prone or struggle with a need for specially made oily skin makeup, you should avoid oil moisturizing products.

Learning how to apply moisturizer correctly is half the battle. Pour a small amount onto your fingers—the dollop should be roughly the size of a quarter. Start by spreading the moisturizer across your forehead; begin from the center of your face, then move outwards and up. Then, do the same starting at your nose, spreading the moisturizer across your cheeks. Ensure you’ve rubbed in the moisturizer evenly across your skin to avoid clogging your pores. Once you’ve applied enough moisturizer, gently rub it in using circles, and give it a few minutes to dry before moving onto the next step.

Step 2: Primer

Woman applying primer makeup to her face

Now that your skin is well moisturized, prep your face with primer. Whether you’re planning on applying a light coat of foundation or a full face of makeup, primer is an important first step. Using primer under your makeup will make your look last longer.

So what exactly is primer? Think of primer as a base for your foundation or face makeup that will help it go on smoother and last longer. Primers are silky smooth gels and creams that fill in the lines and pores on your face, smoothing out uneven textures and creating the ideal canvas for your makeup.

To apply your primer, begin by squeezing a small amount onto your fingertips, or onto your preferred makeup brush or sponge. Pro Tip: A little bit goes a long way. Start with a dime-sized amount of primer in the center of your face, and slowly work it out towards your cheeks, forehead, and chin.

If you want to apply primer to the sensitive skin around your eyelids (and keep that smoky eye looking professionally applied all day long), be sure to find a dedicated product for this area of the face. Our eyelids can collect grease throughout the day, causing a “creased” look in eyeshadow. If your eyelids are oily and you apply eyeshadow or eyeliner without primer, application may prove to be patchy and uneven.

Step 3: Liquid Foundation

Woman putting liquid foundation on her hand to apply to her face during her makeup routine

When it comes to foundation, finding the perfect shade for your skin is priority number one. The right shade of foundation can make all the difference. So how do you go about picking? Test foundation colors against your jawline. After applying, if the foundation disappears without any sort of blending, you’ve found your true match. This may take a bit of trial and error, but taking the time to pick the right shade is crucial.

After you’ve selected a product, consider the tools you’ll use to apply it. Some women prefer to use their fingers, while others opt for beauty tools like brushes and sponges. If you’re looking for a light coverage look, your fingers may prove to be the right applicator; however, never touch your face without thoroughly washing your hands, and be sure to wash them after application—you don’t want to find your makeup handprints all over the house. For a more full-coverage look, opt for an applicator brush or beauty blender.

Start from the center of your face and blend the liquid foundation outwards. As you sweep your foundation across the skin, be sure to buff it in. Some women like to stipple a damp sponge over their foundation to help ensure it gets into those lines and creases, which can create a smoother, more even texture. Certain types of makeup brushes are also great for buffing foundation into the skin.

Step 4: Concealer

Woman putting dots of concealer under her eyes as part of her makeup routine

There are two main categories of concealer: liquid and stick/compact.

Liquid concealer is best for the times you want light coverage over a large area of your face. Liquid concealer also works well for those looking to create a light finish, especially in areas of wrinkles, like around the eyes and mouth.

Stick and compact concealers are well-suited for heavier coverage on smaller, more specific areas of the face.

Picking the Color of Your Concealer

It’s wise to invest in two shades of concealer. One should be very similar to your skin tone, and can be used to cover dark spots, pimples, and other facial blemishes. The other should be lighter than your skin tone, and can be used to highlight certain areas of the face or add clarity to your makeup look.

Note: Some women prefer to apply concealer before liquid foundation. The order of these two steps is truly a matter of preference—and trial and error. Try out both and discover which method works best for creating a smooth, radiant finish on your skin. Colorescience Finishing Touch Protocol product line has both, plus everything else needed to complete your look! However, when using powder foundation alone, always apply concealer first.

Where to Apply Concealer

To reduce the appearance of dark under-eye circles and create a glowing, bright look, apply light concealer beneath the eyes with a damp sponge or makeup brush, and consider using a dark circle cream.

If you’re using a concealer to minimize the appearance of blemishes, apply directly to problem areas.

To highlight your face using a liquid or cream concealer, place small dots in the following areas:

  • Horizontally over the center of your forehead
  • Down the center of your nose
  • Under your eyes
  • In a curving arch at the top of your chin, just under your bottom lip

Gently blend it into the surrounding skin, and always be sure to cover with a foundation or setting powder.

Step 5: Foundation Powder

Woman applying foundation powder to her makeup brush

Applying foundation powder can be a tricky process; too little and you may as well have skipped the step altogether, too much and you’ll be sporting the dreaded “cake look”. In your quest for a flawless complexion, you’ve likely heard plenty of tricks of the trade regarding powder foundation. Keep these tips in mind to get that perfect complexion.

Using a large, fluffy powder brush, begin by dusting a light coat of powder all over your face. Press the bristles into the powder, then sweep across the skin in long, arching strokes.

If there are certain areas of your skin that need more coverage (the red and oily parts of your face are generally found in the center), you may want to apply a bit more powder. For this step, place your brush into the powder then firmly press it into the skin; this step helps the powder make its way into pores and lines for a smoother texture.

Step 6: Bronzer

Woman putting bronzer makeup on her face while holding up her handheld mirror

Bronzer can give your skin that sun-kissed glow all year long. Use a dedicated bronzer brush to sweep a golden tan across your face; bronzer brushes are crafted with more bristles, and placed much more tightly together, ensuring you get the most out of your colorful bronzer with each and every swipe.

How to Choose the Right Shade of Bronzer

One of the most common bronzer blunders comes in choosing the wrong shade. If you’re not used to working with bronzer, use one that’s two shades darker than your skin at most.

Where to Apply Bronzer

Once you’ve got the right shade, apply your bronzer in the shape of a number “3” on both sides of the face. Start at your forehead, pull the bronzer along your cheeks, then sweep it across the jawline, reaching all the way down to your chin. Pro Tip: Don’t forget to blend it into your neck. Repeat on the opposite side.

Step 7: Blush

Woman putting blush makeup on her cheeks

Flushed cheeks have been a mainstay of makeup glamour for centuries. If you want to add a bit more color and vibrancy to your complexion, blush may be the key. Use a dense brush with plenty of bristles to apply your blush—this will make sure you get the most out of every blush sweep.

Where to Apply Blush

There’s not a one-size-fits-all answer for blush application. Use the color of your blush to help you decide where to apply it.

  • Pink blush: When using pink blush, apply it only to the apples of your cheeks. Pink blush is designed to mimic the natural flush your body creates, during which blood pools into your cheeks. To find the apples of your cheeks, put on your best smile. The “apple” refers to the front part of the cheek that becomes more pronounced when you sport a grin.
  • Plum blush: Those with medium to dark skin tones can use plum blushes in the same way those with fair complexions use light pink blushes.
  • Peach blush: Instead of using pink blush on just the apples of the cheeks, utilize these shades to help sculpt your face and add just a tiny hint of color. Twist one side of your face (as if you were pursing your lips and directing them to the opposite side of the face). Then, sweep the peach blush along your cheekbones, starting near your ears and ending at the apples of your cheeks.

Step 8: Highlighter

Highlighter makeup and a makeup brush sitting on a table

The right highlighter adds a bit of glam and glow to every makeup look. Whether you’re opting for a more natural look or want something bold and beautiful, highlighter can complement your makeup application.

Highlighters come in a variety of forms, including liquids, creams, and powders. You can choose to use one, or find your favorite combination of two or three. Whatever you choose, the application process remains the same.

Where to Apply Highlighter

After you’ve created a flawless canvas with your new foundation routine, map out the areas on your face that you wish to highlight.

Using a liquid highlighter first, apply in the following areas:

  • Down the bridge of your nose
  • Across the tops of your cheekbones
  • In the inner corners of your eyelids
  • On your brow bone
  • The indent above your upper lip (also called the Cupid’s Bow)
  • The center of your forehead
  • The center of your chin

Once you’re happy with your liquid highlighter application, blend it in using your fingertips or a sponge. To maximize the effect of your highlighting, layer in cream or powder highlighter over the areas you wish to accentuate.

Step 9: Eyeshadow

Woman applying eyeshadow to her eyelids as part of her makeup routine

Eyeshadow can add interest to your makeup look, whether you opt for neutral shades or go bold with colorful hues. Whichever look you use, grab two complementary eyeshadows: one lighter shade, and one darker shade.

Dip your eyeshadow brush into the light shade, then tap the brush to get rid of any excess product. Apply the lighter shadow across the entire lid, starting at the lash line and ending just above the crease of your eyelid.

Now dip your brush into the darker color, tapping off the excess once again. Apply the color at the outer corner of your eye, just above your lash line. Sweep the darker color across your eyelid crease, just under the brow bone. Stop application around the center of your eyelid, as you don’t want to darken the inner corners. Take a clean shadow brush and blend the two shades together. If you’d like a more intense look, reapply the darker shadow once more.

Step 10: Eyeliner

Woman carefully drawing eyeliner on her eyelids

Applying eyeliner can be difficult—one little mistake and you’re stuck with “raccoon” eyes. Banish your eye makeup woes with these essential tips for applying eyeliner.

Types of Eyeliner

  • Liquid eyeliner: If you’re looking for precision, liquid eyeliner is your new best friend. You can find liquid liner in bottle form, which is applied with a fine dipping brush. You can also find liquid liner in a marker-type pen. How to apply: With liquid eyeliner, start thin at the inner corner of your eye, then make the application thicker towards the outer corner. You can start lining at the middle of your eye, or in the inner corner, and keep the liner tip or brush as close to the lash line as possible. Use small strokes of your liner to create small dashes along the lash line, then connect them to fill in the gaps. If your hand slips, don’t worry! Apply a bit of eye makeup remover to a Q-tip and clean up the area.
  • Gel eyeliner: This type of eyeliner typically comes in a small pot, with a thin brush for application. Gel eyeliner is fantastic for creating a cat-eye look. How to apply: Dip a flat, angular brush into the gel eyeliner pot. Swirl the brush to ensure both sides have product on them, and start application in the middle of the lash line, working outwards. Then, draw a line from the inner corner of your eye towards the middle, connecting the two lines.
  • Pencil eyeliner: This is typically the best eyeliner option for beginners. A sharp pencil eyeliner is easy to use on your waterline, and is great for creating a smoky eye. How to apply: Sharpen your liner pencil each time you use it. After pulling your eyelid taut, draw small light dots starting at the outer corner of your upper eyelid. Work your way into the inner corner of your eye to create a thin dotted line, as close to the lash line as possible. Connect the dots with your pencil or use a small shadow brush to blend them in.

Step 11: Mascara

Woman applying mascara to her eye lashes while looking in the mirror

If you’re going to use only one makeup product, mascara should be at the top of your list. A few swipes of mascara can make your eyes look brighter in a single step.

You can find mascara in a variety of colors, but black and brown tend to be the most popular. Start by curling your eyelashes with an eyelash curler.

How to curl your eyelashes:

  • Place the curler at the base of your upper lashes, being careful not to grab any of the sensitive skin around your eyelid
  • Slowly close the curler
  • Hold it in place for a few seconds
  • Release gently

After your eyelashes are curled, grab your tube of mascara. Gently swirl the wand around to ensure all the bristles are coated in mascara. Pro Tip: Don’t pump the wand into the tube, as this allows air to get in and may cause your mascara to clump.

Wriggle the mascara brush lightly across the roots of your lashes. This will create more volume, which you can then pull through to the ends of your lashes. If your lashes clump together, grab a clean wand and brush through them. Apply a second coat for more volume.

Step 12: Lip Gloss

Woman putting lipgloss on her lips during her makeup routine

Before applying gloss, prep your lips. If your lips are chapped and cracked, be sure to use a gentle lip scrub to remove any dead skin and apply a protective lip gloss. Next, use a lip conditioner or moisturizer to soften the lips further. After your lip balm has absorbed, blot any excess.

Begin applying your lip gloss from the center of your lips, and drag the applicator along the length of your pout. Try to avoid pulling any gloss above your natural lip line, and smack your lips together lightly to ensure your lip gloss reaches all the nooks and crannies of your lips.

Step 13: Setting Spray & Setting Powder

Woman spraying setting spray on her face

Setting spray or setting powder can be the final touch for your makeup routine. If you want makeup that stays on all day long, without greasing, creasing, or shine, it’s important to invest in a quality setting solution.

Setting sprays are designed for all skin types, and can be used to set a variety of looks, whether you’re rocking light coverage or sporting a full face of beautiful makeup. Setting spray keeps your makeup in place, helping you reduce reapplication needs and keeping your makeup looking flawless for hours at a time.

Setting spray is to your face as hairspray is to your stylish do, and it’s applied in a very similar fashion. Hold the bottle at least 8 inches from your face, then spritz lightly a few times to ensure all bits of your face are covered. If you want to ensure your makeup is covered from forehead to chin, first spritz in an X shape across your face, then follow it up by spraying a T shape.

There’s no need to rub the spray in once applied, as it will dry naturally within seconds.

Final Look

Your makeup is complete. With these makeup applications tips, it’s easy to create a variety of beauty looks, whether you’re headed to the office or going out for a night on the town.

Optional Steps to Take Your Makeup Look to the Next Level

Alright, now that we have covered the basics and given you a base to go off of for a step-by-step makeup application process, we want to give you a few more ideas that can be seen as optional steps to take your makeup look to the next level. So, what exactly do we have in mind? Keep reading to find out.


Not everyone is blessed to be a part of the long, thick, curled lash club. So, if this rings true for you, don’t sweat it. Fake lashes are easy to apply and can take your look to the next level. They can be attached with lash glue by you, or you can have them applied professionally in a lash salon or boutique. Depending on the lashes you chose and the method of application, they can stay on for hours to weeks! So, depending on which method you choose, this step can be worked in near the applying mascara step, or it will cut out that step altogether. Having thick full lashes can help you to get your eyes noticed and make them pop.


Gone are the days of being teased for having freckles. Nowadays, makeup gurus and influencers are applying faux freckles to add character and charm to their cheekbones. If you decide to take advantage of this optional step, it should happen before your setting spray and maybe even before your foundation powder makeup step. If you want them to be subtle, you can apply them early on in your process, and for a more eye-catching dominant look, save it for second-to-last.


Let’s face it, everything’s better with glitter, so a makeup look is no exception. Adding glitter to your eyeshadow step would be most common, but you can also add additional sparkle to your cheeks when you are feeling festive around the holidays. In that case, glitter would probably go last.


We know, we know, this optional step doesn’t really add to your look, but it helps you to remember the makeup looks you have created, it gives you the option to share it with others and provides you with reference to learn from for future looks. Don’t be afraid to snap a picture and be proud of the makeup steps you’ve mastered.


You may think that this optional step won’t take your look to the next level, but when you have clean brushes, you are making it so you are giving your makeup the best chance at applying evenly and with the desired intensity. Plus, you’ll be able to rest easy knowing that you have taken the proper steps to ensure that your materials and makeup are as close to bacteria-free as possible. Trust us, your skin will thank you later.


When you start to run low on your makeup staples, you want to be sure you are stocking back up, and buying what you are running out of before you actually run out of it. If you wait too long you may find yourself in a situation where you are unable to create the look you want. And that’s no fun for anyone.

How to Streamline Your Makeup Process Further

We know that sometimes you don’t have enough time in your day to have a full makeup application. But, there is no need to worry, because we can help you come up with a streamlined makeup process that will make it faster and more efficient. Not only is a streamlined process good to have in your back pocket for the day you are running late, but it also provides you with the option for a more natural makeup look. When streamlining your face makeup steps, you want to stick to just the essentials. This includes:

  • Moisturizer
  • Foundation
  • Bronzer
  • Mascara
  • Lip gloss

Just these few steps hit on all the major facial focal points (skin, eyes, lips), and will have you looking like a natural beauty in no time.

How Do Beginners Buy Makeup?

We know that buying makeup can be stressful and overwhelming, especially if you aren’t as familiar with makeup products, or you are still learning. The good news is that you can purchase nearly every makeup item known to man in-store or even virtually from websites everywhere, from the comfort of your own home. It is good to note though, that not all makeup is created equal. Colorescience is dedicated to creating gentle, high-quality mineral makeup that you can feel confident using. Plus, they can all be conveniently found here on our website. Never has it been so easy to create a foolproof makeup plan, full of quality products that are designed to complement and protect your skin than it is with Colorescience.

Your Makeup Routine Just Got So Much Better

You now know all the essential and optional elements of how to apply makeup step by step. We hope that moving forward you can use this guide to build your makeup application confidence and take your look to the next level. But, know that if you ever need help, you can always reference our Colorescience blogs to help you along the way. Remember that we aren’t only the masters of successfully putting SPF in makeup, but we are also well-versed in the art of mineral makeup. So, when you are on the market for safe, reliable, beautiful makeup, Colorescience mineral cosmetics are the way to go.

And just like that, with the help of Colorescience, your makeup routine just got so much better! We hope you enjoy the looks that come from what you’ve learned today, and that you have added a life lesson to your toolkit.

By Hà Phương

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