A Step-by-Step Tutorial for Flawless Makeup Application

July 14, 2023
Angela Melero
By: Angela Melero | Makeup.com by L'Oréal
Close-up of a person with dark hair wearing natural makeup and pink lipstick
Honestly, there are no rules on how to apply makeup. In fact, that’s pretty much what we love most about it. Whether you like to do your foundation before or after your eyeshadow is totally up to you. Prefer to wear your lip liner alone rather than with lipstick? Go for it! But, that being said, there are some general techniques that can help make your application appear effortless and last a long time. Here, makeup artist Alana Dawn is sharing a foolproof step-by-step guide to how to apply your makeup for a flawless finish every time.

How to Apply Makeup for Beginners

Put on Primer

Once your face is cleansed and moisturized, the first step is to apply primer. Be sure to use a formula that works for your skin type — for example, try the NYX Professional Makeup Face Freezie Cooling Primer + Moisturizer if you have dry skin, or the Maybelline New York Fit Me! Matte + Poreless Mattifying Face Primer if you have oily or combination skin. (The former is a moisturizer-primer hybrid with a cooling feel we love during the warmer months.) Applying primer will help prep your face for the following steps while helping your makeup last throughout the day.

Apply Foundation

Using a makeup sponge, dab foundation all over the skin and blend it outwards. Be sure to extend it down onto your neck, too. For a full-coverage pick that feels lightweight, we love the Lancôme Teint Idole Ultra Wear Foundation. Choose between 50 warm, cool and neutral shades to find the one that best matches your skin tone. If you prefer a buildable medium-coverage option, we recommend the Valentino Beauty Very Valentino 24 Hour Wear Liquid Foundation or the L’Oréal Paris True Match Super-Blendable Foundation

Melissa applying Lancôme Teint Idole Ultra Wear 24H Long Wear Foundation with a sponge


Next, apply concealer below your eyes to brighten up your face and draw attention to your eyes. We recommend the Maybelline New York Super Stay Full Coverage Under-Eye Concealer for its power to mask dark circles while also keeping the delicate under-eye area hydrated.

Dab on Blush

Cream blush is extremely popular because it is easily buildable and creates a pretty, totally natural-looking flush. Dab the Maybelline New York Cheek Heat or the Urban Decay Hydromaniac Dewy Liquid Blush onto the apples of your cheeks and extend up toward the temples using a rounded brush for a youthful glow.

Highlight and Contour

Add a bit of a liquid highlighter, like the NYX Professional Makeup California Beamin' Face and Body Highlighter, along the top of your cheekbones, on the cupid’s bow, the center of the chin and on the bridge of your nose to brighten up the areas of your face where the sun naturally hits. Then, swipe a contour powder along the sides of your nose, along the forehead (near your hairline) and hollows of your cheekbones to add some shape and dimension to your complexion.

Melissa applying NYX Professional Makeup California Beamin' Face and Body Highlighter to her cheekbones

Use Eyeshadow

With your fingers or a fluffy eyeshadow brush, apply a shadow of your choice to your eyelids to give them a simple but chic wash of color. If you’re a beginner, try using an eyeshadow stick, like the IT Cosmetics Superhero No-Tug Waterproof Eyeshadow Sticks, for creamy, saturated color in just a few swipes. 

Finish the Eyes

Fill in your brows using a brow pencil or gel — use a pencil if you have thin, sparse brows that need a bit of a boost and a gel if you have thicker brows to lock your hairs in place. Then, swipe on a volumizing mascara, like the YSL Beauty Lash Clash Extreme Volume Mascara or the Maybelline New York The Falsies Surreal Extensions Mascara, for an eye-opening effect.

Collage with an orange background and a photo of a person with dark hair in profile, applying mascara to their eyelashes

Smooth on Lipstick

Finally, apply your favorite lipstick — we’re obsessed with the L'Oréal Paris Glow Paradise Balm-in-Lipstick with Pomegranate Extract because it feels like a nourishing balm while still providing vivid color payoff.
Melissa applying lipstick
Art Direction, Makeup and Photography: Melissa San Vicente-Landestoy

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