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How to Apply Makeup Like a Pro

Learn how to nail your makeup look every time.
  • Clare Holden
May 08, 2024

We’ll be honest: Learning how to apply makeup—and make it last—can feel a bit daunting. Social media is full of makeup application techniques and tutorials, but they rarely cover the basics. It can be hard to know where to start or even what to use to create your desired look.

That’s precisely why we’ve put together this back-to-basics guide. Here, we cover everything from skin prep (a must for great-looking makeup) to what order to put on makeup for the most seamless, natural-looking finish. We’re also sharing a simple seven-step makeup routine that you can adapt and adjust to suit your own personal preferences. Find it all and learn how to do makeup like a seasoned pro, below.

Tip 1: Prepare Your Canvas

Where makeup application is concerned, skin prep is often left out of the equation. But making sure your skin is clean, smooth, and hydrated is one of the best ways to ensure your products go on evenly.

We recommend starting by cleansing your face with L’Oréal Paris RevitaLift Radiant Smoothing Cream Cleanser, which provides gentle exfoliation and leaves the skin soft and smooth.

After cleansing, you can apply a facial serum, if desired, as well as moisturizer. If you’re prepping your skin for daytime makeup wear, complete your routine with sunscreen. We love the L’Oréal Paris Bright Reveal Broad Spectrum SPF 50 Daily UV Lotion because it provides broad-spectrum protection against UV rays and helps prep the skin for makeup without leaving behind a chalky white cast.

Once you’ve finished your skincare routine, you’ll want to wait at least 15 minutes before starting on your makeup steps. This helps ensure all of your products are absorbed and reduces the chance of your products pilling.

Tip 2: Form a Game Plan

It seems obvious, but having a plan in place will make your makeup application so much easier. We recommend searching social media to get an idea of what sort of look you’re hoping to create, as this will also help narrow down what products and tools you need. Dewy, no-makeup makeup may call for a sheer foundation or skin tint, for example, while matte, full-coverage foundations are better suited for full glam looks. Once you have your desired look in mind, go ahead and set aside the products you think you’ll need to nail it. For a basic makeup look, we recommend the following:

  • Makeup primer
  • Foundation
  • Concealer
  • Blush and/or bronzer
  • Highlighter
  • Eyeliner
  • Eyeshadow
  • Mascara
  • Brow gel
  • Lipstick or gloss
  • Lip liner (optional)

Tip 3: Gather Your Tools

It’s also a good idea to gather your tools before you get started on your makeup application—simply because you don’t want to be rummaging through your makeup bag midway through your routine. The tools you’ll need depend on the products you intend to use. While you can use a brush or sponge to apply liquid foundation, for example, you need a brush for powder foundation. The same goes for bronzer and blush. At a minimum, we recommend grabbing a clean makeup sponge, a large fluffy brush for your powder makeup products, and a tapered eyeshadow brush for applying color to your lids. Having a few cotton swabs handy to clean up any mistakes can’t hurt, either.

Tip 4: Follow the Correct Application Order

Now, we can get into what you’re really here to find out: how to apply makeup. Makeup order of application can vary slightly depending on the products you’re using and the look you’re seeking to achieve, but typically, it follows a pretty standard structure. We’re breaking it all down in our step-by-step makeup application guide below.

Step 1: Apply makeup primer

Face primers help provide grip so your makeup can apply smoothly and stay in place. We suggest looking for one that also addresses any concerns you may have. For example, if you’d like to minimize the appearance of large pores and create a smoother canvas for your makeup application, try L’Oréal Paris Prime Lab Up to 24H Pore Minimizer. A green-tinted primer like L’Oréal Paris Prime Lab Up to 24H Redness Reducer, meanwhile, can help balance out a red or blotchy complexion. Both are non-comedogenic and suitable for all skin types, including sensitive. Whichever you choose, be sure to apply an even layer to your entire face.

Step 2: Create your base

Once you have your skin prepped and primer on, you can move on to foundation. Generally, it’s best to begin with foundation and then if necessary go in with your concealer. However, if you are in the midst of a breakout, covering any blemishes with concealer before you apply your main base helps to create a more even finish. This method can also be used to color correct.

The L’Oréal Paris True Match Super-Blendable Foundation is ideal for everyday wear as the lightweight formula blends easily and provides a natural-looking, skin-like finish. Place it on the face using your fingertips or a flat foundation brush and then blend it into the skin with a stippling brush or sponge.

If you require a little extra coverage in certain areas, the L’Oréal Paris Infallible Full Wear Concealer up to 24H Full Coverage provides full coverage with a flawless matte finish that lasts up to 24 hours. Dab it directly onto the skin where needed, then blend the pigment out with a sponge or concealer brush.

Step 3: Contour and highlight

Contour is used to create the illusion of shadows and add definition, while highlighter helps accentuate the high points of your face to mimic a sunlit glow.

If you don’t have a dedicated contour product on hand, we recommend using the same concealer as above—only, instead of matching it to your skin, choose one that’s a shade or two darker than your base. Use the built-in applicator to draw a small line beneath your cheekbones, on either side of your nose, and along your hairline just above your temples. Then, blend well with a sponge, taking care not to drag the product too far from where you applied it.

Next, add radiance with highlighter. For a natural look, we suggest using a liquid highlighter, such as L’Oréal Paris True Match Lumi Glotion Natural Glow Enhancer, Face and Body. Use your fingers to dab the luminous formula onto the tops of your cheekbones and beneath your brow bone. Then, pat any excess highlighter onto your cupid’s bow and the bridge of your nose for a subtle-looking glow. For night or summer looks, you can also apply this product along the collarbone and on the tops of the shoulders for a radiant finish.

Inarticle How To Apply Makeup Mobile1

Step 4: Add blush and bronzer

If you prefer to work with powder products, a matte bronzer like the L’Oréal Paris Infallible Up to 24H Fresh Wear Soft Matte Bronzer can be used in place of contour—though you’ll want to apply it slightly higher up on your cheekbones. We suggest using a medium-sided tapered brush to dust a shade slightly darker than your skin tone onto your temples and along your cheekbones for a natural sunkissed effect.

Finally, no face makeup is complete without a touch of blush. We suggest opting for a long-lasting blush like the L’Oréal Paris Infallible Up to 24H Fresh Wear Soft Matte Blush. Pick a shade that flatters your skin tone and undertone (here’s how) and dust it onto the tops of your cheekbones for a soft wash of color. If you prefer a bolder blush look, you can add more for a more intense finish.

Step 5: Move on to eye makeup

Now’s the time to apply your eyeshadow, eyeliner, and mascara. For a simple eyeshadow look that works well for day and night, sweep a shimmery brown shadow, like the L’Oréal Paris Colour Riche Monos Eyeshadow in Pain au Chocolat, onto your lids with a fluffy brush. Blend the color just past your crease, then pat a slightly lighter shade onto your inner corners to help make your eyes appear brighter.

Even if you decide to skip the eyeshadow, adding eyeliner is essential if you want to define and accentuate your eyes. The L’Oréal Paris Infallible Pro-Last Waterproof, Up to 24HR Pencil Eyeliner’s creamy texture glides on smoothly and comes in an array of colors if you’re looking for something more vibrant than the standard black or brown. Use the pencil eyeliner’s tip to trace your upper lash line for a subtle look, or flick the liner toward the tail of your brow to create a soft cat eye effect—both are incredibly flattering and versatile looks.

Finally, complete your eye makeup with mascara. We love the L’Oréal Paris Telescopic Instant Lift Waterproof Mascara, which features a special double-hook bristle brush to grab, load, separate, and lift your lashes. To get a more precise application, take a small hand mirror and look down into it as you apply your mascara—this enables you to get closer to the eyelashes.

Step 6: Tame your brows

Brows frame the face, so definitely try to set aside time in your makeup application to do them properly. Start by filling in any sparse areas with the L’Oréal Paris Brow Stylist Shape & Fill Mechanical Pencil. This easy-to-use pencil comes in five shades to flatter a range of different brow colors. If you’re stuck between two, we recommend opting for the lighter shade—you’ll get a softer, more natural-looking finish that way.

Once your brows are filled in, tame them and set them in place with L’Oréal Paris Infallible Volumizing 24H Wear Brow Mascara. Just brush the volumizing formula through your brows and they’ll hold their shape for up to 24 hours.

Step 7: Apply lipstick or gloss

Finally, complete your makeup application with lipstick or gloss. If you opt for lipstick, we suggest first tracing the outer border of your lips with lip liner for a defined finish. The L’Oréal Paris Colour Riche Matte Lip Liner is a makeup bag staple as it can be worn on its own or paired with a coordinating shade from the L’Oréal Paris Colour Riche Intense Volume Matte Lipstick collection. You can even use it with a gloss, such as the L’Oréal Paris Glow Paradise Lip Balm-in-Gloss with Pomegranate Extract.

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