The Definitive Correct Order for Putting on Your Makeup

Strategy over skills

If you’re anything like us, you tend to just go on autopilot when it comes to applying your makeup every morning. But if you want to minimize smudging--and messes in general--here’s a guide to putting on your makeup so it always looks (and stays) fresh.

1. Primer or moisturizer. Pick one, not both--as even the lightest lotion can make a primer less effective. Not sure of which to choose? If you’re on the drier side, opt for the moisturizer and skip the primer. If you’re on the oilier side, go straight for the primer. 

2. Eye makeup (shadow, liner and mascara--in that order). Between smoky shadows and inky liners, eye makeup tends to be very messy. By starting with this step, you can easily clean up any mistakes without disrupting the rest of your makeup later. First, lay down your shadow to add some dimension to your lids, and then define your eyes with liner. Save the mascara for last so you don’t get your lashes dusty. (And if you do smudge, spot-treat with a moisturized Q-tip.)

3. Foundation, then concealer. Even out any blotchiness with a light layer of foundation. Afterward, apply concealer as needed. This way you’ll use less makeup overall, which will give you smoother coverage with less chance of it caking up or settling into fine lines later.

4. Bronzer (if you typically wear it), followed by blush. Bronzer is used to warm up your entire face, whereas blush is used to add color just to your cheeks. Sweep bronzer on the high points of your face first (so your forehead, down the bridge of your nose and tops of cheekbones), and then apply your blush to balance out the tone.

5. Lips. If you’re committing to a bold color, be sure to line your lips and fill them in with a pencil in a similar shade first. This will not only keep everything in the lines, but it will also keep the color on your lips longer. 

6. Eyebrow pencil or gel. Let the rest of your makeup dictate how much (or how little) brow definition you need. If you’re rocking a more natural look, use a brow gel to smooth the hairs into place. If you’re glamming it up a bit, use a brow powder or pencil to fill them in.

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Jenny Jin Headshot Vertical 2023

Beauty Director

Jenny Jin is PureWow’s Beauty Director and is currently based in Los Angeles. Since beginning her journalism career at Real Simple magazine, she has become a human encyclopedia of...