The Best Makeup Products for Beginners — Plus, What Order to Use ThemAugust 16, 2023
Knowing which makeup products to include in your kit can be tricky even for a makeup expert, so if you’re new to makeup, we don’t blame you for not knowing where to start. With tons of products to choose from, it can get a little confusing, especially if you’re not sure which ones will work best for you. Ahead, we’re sharing must-have products for newbies plus the exact order to apply them.
As the name suggests, primer is the first step in your makeup routine because it primes your skin for the rest of your products. Although primers can vary in formulation (some are water-based while others are silicone-based), they all help to smooth out your complexion prior to applying base products like foundation and concealer.
The Best Primers for Beginners
The Urban Decay All Nighter Primer is perfect for beginners because it’s ideal for all skin types and works well for everyday use. The formula grips your complexion makeup, extending your foundation’s staying power for up to eight hours, so you don’t have to worry about reapplying throughout the day. It also leaves your skin feeling lifted and smooth even before you go in with your base routine.
Foundation First, Then Concealer
Multitasking beauty products are great for beginners because they can simplify your routine by offering tons of benefits in one quick step. A primer that doubles as a facial moisturizer, the YSL Beauty Nu Glow in Balm is a perfect example. It hydrates and nourishes your skin while also priming it for makeup application. If you like a dewy makeup look, this should be the first step in your routine.
If you have an oily skin type, you can opt for a mattifying primer, like the L’Oréal Paris Prime Lab Up to 24H Matte Setter, to help keep shine under control. Formulated with 1% LHA and salicylic acid, this drugstore primer has an instant mattifying effect. Since LHA and salicylic acid are dermatologist-approved chemical exfoliants, this formula also helps visibly rebalance your skin with continued use over time.
Although this one is up for debate, we recommend applying your foundation before following up with a concealer. With tons of different coverage levels, finishes and formulas, you can customize your foundation to your aesthetic preferences and skincare needs.
The Best Foundations for Beginners
If you prefer more natural-looking coverage, try the YSL Beauty Nu Bare Look Tint. It’s lightweight and goes on somewhat sheer, but it can be layered for more coverage. Infused with glycerin and hyaluronic acid, it leaves your skin looking and feeling more hydrated for a fresh, glowing and healthy-looking complexion.
For full coverage plus color correction (translation: a formula that conceals redness and discoloration at once), check out the Maybelline New York Fit Me! Matte and Poreless Foundation. In just a few swipes of your finger or a makeup brush, you’ll find that dark marks and blemishes practically disappear.
Not sure if you’re more into natural- or full-coverage finishes? Try a formula with medium-buildable coverage, like the Giorgio Armani Beauty Luminous Silk Foundation. From the silky, lightweight texture to the glowy, radiant finish, we love everything about this foundation. It blurs imperfections while maintaining a second-skin look and feel for a flawless, no-makeup-makeup effect.
After applying foundation, use a smaller brush (or your fingers) to apply concealer. Tap it on your under-eye area, as well as on top of any blemishes or imperfections peeking through your foundation.
The Best Concealers for Beginners
Say goodbye to cakey, dry concealers that feel uncomfortable after a few hours. The Valentino Beauty Very Valentino Concealer is a skincare-infused formula with a creamy texture and weightless feel. Powerhouse ingredients like caffeine and vitamin E help depuff and brighten the skin, making this concealer a great option for the under-eye area. Complete with a luminous finish, this longwear formula will last up to 24 hours without caking or creasing.
If your goal is to camouflage dark spots, consider trying the IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Dark Spots Concealer + Serum. This serum-concealer hybrid not only instantly masks dark spots,it works over time to fade the look of them while minimizing fine lines, dark circles under eyes and uneven texture. Inside the formula, you’ll find soothing, hydrating ingredients like caffeine, hyaluronic acid and niacinamide. The double-ended applicator is also especially useful for beginners — it comes with a doe-foot applicator for applying the product on one end and a mini kabuki brush for blending on the other.
Concealer meets eye cream with the cult-favorite Kosas Revealer Concealer. Enriched with caffeine, provitamin B5, peptides, hyaluronic acid and more, this skin-loving formula claims to visibly brighten and reveal brighter skin over time while instantly concealing under-eye circles, dark spots and blemishes.
Bronzer, Blush and Highlighter
Cream blush is the easiest to apply — all you have to do is tap it onto the high points of your cheeks and blend. After that, apply a bronzer in either a powder or cream formula. Top things off with a highlighter anywhere that the light hits your face for a dewy, sunkissed look.
The Best Bronzers, Blushes and Highlighters for Beginners
We recommend starting your collection off with the Maybelline New York Cheek Heat Gel-Cream Blush. This gel-cream formula washes your cheeks with the prettiest flush of color for a naturally rosy look. It comes in six stunning shades, from a cool light pink to a deep, juicy berry. Don’t be surprised when you want to collect them all.
For a more intensely pigmented option, try the Urban Decay Hydromaniac Dewy Liquid Blush. This glowy cheek tint is available in six bold shades with a dewy finish and hydrating feel. It delivers vibrant color payoff, layers well with foundation and even gives your cheeks a plumped-up look.
If you have oil-prone skin, a powder blush might be a better fit for you. We adore the Lancôme Blush Subtil Powder Blush because it has a moisture-balancing formula that’s oil-free and oil-absorbing. It delivers gorgeous color that lasts for hours without looking dry, and though it’s a powder, the velvety formula practically melts into your skin.
Depending on the shade you choose and where you choose to apply it, the L’Oréal Paris True Match Lumi Glotion Natural Glow Enhancer can serve as a bronzer or highlighter. To use it as a bronzer, opt for a shade darker than your natural skin tone and place the product on the areas of your face that the sun naturally hits, such as your cheeks and temples. For a highlighter effect, choose a lighter shade and tap it on the high points of your cheekbones, your nose and your cupid’s bow. You can even use this dynamic luminizing skin tint in place of your foundation to boost the glow of your complexion on minimal makeup days.
If the super glowy look isn’t your vibe, you can opt for a matte bronzer instead. The Saie Beauty Sun Melt is a balm bronzer with a velvet finish that will warm up your complexion beautifully without adding any extra sparkle. You can also use it to contour when you’re feeling a little ambitious.
We recommend doing your brows before the rest of your eye makeup (this ensures a mess-free application). When it comes to brow products, you have quite a few options to choose from. You can go with brow gel, brow wax, pomade or a classic brow pencil, to name a few.
The Best Brow Products for Beginners
We love the NYX Professional Makeup Zero to Brow Longwear Brow Gel for beginners because it comes with everything you need to achieve the brows of your dreams. It’s a dual-ended brow gel with a spoolie brush on one side to comb your brows into place and a doe-foot applicator on the other to apply the product. After applying your gel, you can go back in with the spoolie to blend out the color for a natural look. Pro tip: A little goes a long way with this formula, so you can start by applying a small amount of gel and blending it evenly throughout your brows with the spoolie brush.
Got naturally thin or light brows? Fuller-looking brows are within your reach with the L’Oréal Paris Infallible Volumizing 24H Wear Brow Mascara. The volumizing formula thickens your brows while the 3D-grip brush ensures that every single brow hair is coated in the tinted gel.
After you’ve applied your eyeshadow, line your lashes with an eyeliner. If you’re new to eyeliner application, you may want to stick to a gel or pencil rather than a liquid eyeliner.
The Best Eyeliners for Beginners
For a sleek cat-eye, try the Lancôme Le Stylo Eyeliner Pencil. It’s a little easier to manage than a liquid liner, especially if you’ve never used one before.
Whether you want a crisp line or a diffused, smudged eyeliner look, the ILIA Beauty Clean Line Gel Liner should do the trick. The fine tip gives you the precision and control of a pencil, while the gel formula glides effortlessly across your skin for easy application.
After eyeshadow and eyeliner, top off your eye makeup look with mascara.
The Best Mascaras for Beginners
If you’re looking for some va-va-voom, check out the YSL Beauty Lash Clash Extreme Volume Mascara — it gives lashes a falsie-like appearance. Choose between black, brown and electric blue shades.
When building your makeup kit, it’s a good idea to include a waterproof mascara, too, like the Giorgio Armani Beauty Eyes to Kill Waterproof Mascara. This mascara gives you a full, fringey lash line that won’t budge or smudge throughout the day.
While lipstick preferences differ from person to person, we can recommend a few options that get good marks across the board.
The Valentino Beauty Rosso Valentino Refillable Lipstick in Ethereal Red is the perfect Old Hollywood-style red lipstick. Just one stroke of this vibrant formula packs a seriously pigmented punch.
Finally, set your makeup in place by spritzing on a setting spray. Doing so will ensure your makeup stays put all day and all night.
The Best Setting Spray for Beginners
Formulated with hyaluronic acid and aloe vera extract, the IT Cosmetics Your Skin But Better Setting Spray hydrates and revitalizes your skin while controlling shine and keeping your makeup looking fresh for an impressive 16 hours.