How to Do Makeup: A Step by Step Guide for Applying Makeup Like a Pro

by Rich Jones
How to Put on the Perfect Makeup in Easy-to-Follow Instructions

Some women just seem to breeze through life: they always look great and make it seem like it’s easy, too.  Well, they’re faking it!  Everyone has to put in a little work to look great, and if you’ve been wondering how to do makeup step by step so that you look natural and beautiful, these simple makeup tips will show you how to do light makeup for day out in simple, easy-to-follow steps.  Each area of the face has its own section, so if you’re wondering how to do eye makeup or foundation or lipstick, just skip to that section.

First Things First: Start with a Clean Canvas

Applying makeup step by step like a professional is a lot like painting a picture, and you want to start with a clean canvas.  And, before you learn how to do light makeup for a day out, you have to clean your face, or you will be asking how to get rid of acne instead of how to put on makeup.  At the very least, use cotton pads and water to remove any dirt, oil, or dead skin cells that might have accumulated overnight.  If you’re trying to figure out how to get rid of acne, you might opt to use a cleanser instead of plain water.  Once finished, pat your face dry, but leave some moisture, as this will help your skin absorb your moisturizer.

Either way, once you’ve cleaned your face, you want to apply any medication, serums, etc. to your face BEFORE you apply moisturizer.  When you’re ready to moisturize, move from the center of your face outward.  Don’t forget your neck, including the back, as this will help keep all of the skin nice and tight.  Keeping your skin moisturized will prevent your makeup from flaking and will reduce clogged pores – which is very important if you’re also wondering how to get rid of acne.  Don’t forget to apply moisturizer underneath your eyes, as this skin is sensitive and delicate and needs a little extra TLC.  Finally, if your moisturizer doesn’t have sunscreen, apply it last.

How to Do Light Makeup for a Day Out? Start with a Good Foundation!

Clear, even-toned skin is the key to a healthy, all natural makeup look.  If you naturally have beautiful skin and don’t have to worry about how to get rid of acne, count yourself lucky.  Otherwise, take special care with this step of applying makeup.  Do it right, and the secrets of how to do makeup step by step will become clear as day.

Knowing how makeup works helps you understand how to do makeup for your own skin.  Primer gives your face a smoother surface, it evens out your skin’s texture, and it helps your makeup stay on longer.  When learning exactly how to put makeup on your skin, it can either be with your fingers or with a flat foundation brush.  If you use your fingers, be sure they’re clean or how to get rid of acne will be your next question.  If you do have acne, or other skin issues, and need some skin care tips, check out our article 21 Organic Skin Care Secrets to Look 10 Years Younger.

After primer comes foundation.  For an all-natural makeup look, go with the lightest weight possible that still provides the coverage you want.  For people with acne, one of the hardest questions to answer is how to put makeup on.  If you tend to get acne, look for a medium weight, oil-free foundation to help minimize your breakouts.

Foundation Considerations

Be sure to choose the right shade, as there’s nothing that can make people say, “She needs to learn how to do makeup!” more than an unsightly baseline on your jaw or neck.  To check that you’re using the best color for your skin tone, swipe two to three different shades on your cheek and pick the one that is the least noticeable.

When applying makeup, start from the center and move outward, and don’t forget your eyelids.  Without foundation on your eyelids, the difference in skin tone will make you look like you spent all night in a club.  One of the most-offered pieces of advice from makeup artists about how to do your makeup is to make sure to blend in your foundation at your ears and on your neck to avoid the tell-tale baseline.

Concealer

After foundation comes concealer.  Another trick to how to put makeup on is to tap it on with your fingertips – this helps create a less obvious edge to the concealed spot.  If you’ve been applying makeup the same way for a while, it might seem natural to do it before the foundation, but resist the temptation to do that.  Using it on top of foundation means you need less, which gives you that all-natural makeup look.  If you’re not sure what color concealer to use when you’re deciding how to do your makeup, here’s a chart from Cosmopolitan, below, or click here.

If The Spot Is...Use This Color Concealer
Blue toned spots (scars, shadows, etc.) on FAIR skinPale pink
Blue toned spots on MEDIUM skinPeach
Blue toned spots on DARK skinOrange-pink
Purple or darker shadows on olive or tanned skinYellow
RednessGreen
Yellow tonesPurple

Finally, brush on setting powder.  This will help lock everything in and prevent your foundation or concealer from cracking later in the day.  To keep the all-natural makeup look, avoid using mineral powders as it will cake up if applied over foundation and leave you asking how to get rid of acne for all the clogged pores you will get.  Your best bet is a loose, translucent powder as this won’t change the color of your foundation using a flat-shaped brush.  If you want a slightly more polished look, try a pressed powder and apply it with a buffing motion.

How to do Makeup Step by Step #1:  Brush your setting powder on while your foundation is still wet, to lock in the foundation and help it stay on longer.

Facial Features 101

Eyebrows

Before you even start thinking about how to put makeup on your eyebrows, you have to make sure they’re shaped attractively.  You don’t want any clown shaped arches or evil villain brows.  If you’re not sure how you should shape them, have them professionally waxed or try an eyebrow stencil kit.

One of the keys for how to do light makeup for a day out is to stick as close as possible to your natural contours, and eyebrows are no different.  Basically, you should follow your natural brow line.  If you align a cosmetics brush with your nose and the inside corner of your eye, this is usually where they should start.  Align it with your nose and the outside corner of your eye; this is where they should stop.

Once you’ve tidied up your eyebrows, and they’re clean and dry, you can get on with the business of how to do your makeup.  Use an eyebrow brush to brush them upwards to see where they’re uneven.  Take an eyebrow pencil the same color as your eyebrows and with short, light strokes going in the same direction as your existing hair, fill in any uneven spots.

If you want solid cover, you can use a brush and some eyeshadow powder in the same shade to brush on more coverage.  Grab your eyebrow brush again, and give it squirt of hairspray before doing your final brush through.  This will help your eyebrows hold their shape throughout the day.  Give them some extra definition by using a small, fluffy brush to add extra setting powder lightly around the edges.

Cheekbones

Blush is one of the most useful tools in your cosmetics drawer.  This step in applying makeup can bring out your cheekbones, make your eyes pop, and give you a healthy, natural glow.  But – there’s always a BUT –  when deciding how to do your makeup, you have to choose the right color. It can be tricky, so here’s an easy-to-use the chart to help you out:

If Your Skin Has This Undertone...Use This Color Blush
Gold or YellowPink, orange, or reddish pink
Pink or RedLight pink, peach, or mocha
Plum or BlueBright oranges or pinks

Once you’ve selected your color, grab a blush brush that has a full (not fan-shaped), wide head.  If you’re using a cream blush, you can just use your fingers.  When putting it on, go a little heavier than you think looks like all-natural makeup.  Now, how to do light makeup for a day out when it comes to blush is a bit more specific than just “on your cheeks.”

If Your Face Is...Put Your Blush...
RoundOn the length of your cheekbone, from underneath your eyes and blend to your temple
Heart-shapedOn just below the apples of your cheek and blended to the hairline
LongOn just below the apples of your cheek, but don't extend all the way out to your temples

Eyes

Aside from contouring, which deserves an article all on its own, applying eye makeup is probably the most complex part of applying makeup.  Not only do you have several colors in the same area, but you also have a whole array of colors to choose from, depending on your outfit, the time of day, and where you’re going.

To start, use an eyeshadow primer to smooth the surface of your eyelid.  If you haven’t used one before, try Thank Me Later Eyeshadow Primer.  Alternatively, you can use concealer or foundation to prime your lids for eye makeup.

Once that is dry, it’s time to add color.  For an all-natural makeup look, you will need four shades of eye makeup:

  • a highlighter that is a bit lighter than your natural skin tone
  • a matte middle shade that blends with your skin
  • a contour shade that is a bit darker than your natural skin tone, and
  • a matte black


If you’re wondering how to do your makeup like a professional, the key is good brushes, and you will need a few different eyeshadow brushes:

  • small, flat brush for eyeshadow
  • small brush for blending
  • medium brush for blending
  • smudger

Step-By-Step Eye Makeup Guide

Step #1:  Take your flat brush and dust it in the lightest shade powder.  Apply it around the inner corner of your eyes, on both the top and bottom and blend it outwards.  Use the same color and brush to highlight just underneath the arch of your eyebrow

How to Do Makeup Hack #2:  For a more solid, vibrant color, dampen your brush and reapply the highlighter.

Step #2:  Use a mid-size blending brush to apply the shade that matches your skin tone above the crease, starting at the outer corner and working in.

Step #3:  Using a small blending brush, apply the contour shade of your eye makeup into the crease.  Always keep the contour shade LOWER than the mid-tone shade in step two.

Step #4:  Using a small flat brush, mix the mid-tone and contour colors and apply it to below your eye along the lower lash line until it meets the highlighter color from step one.

Step #5:  Apply the black eyeshadow using the small flat brush to the outer corner of your eye, on both the top and bottom, to accentuate your eyes.

How to Do Makeup Hack #3:  Remember how you used a cosmetics brush to determine the outer corner of your eyebrow?  That same line will be where your eye makeup should stop.

Eyeliner

After your eyeshadow is in place, it’s time for the eyeliner.  In keeping with the all-natural makeup look, save the cat eye application for an evening out.  If you want to learn how to do light makeup for a day out, grab a pencil in a brown or dark grey shade.

How to Do Makeup Hack #4:  Sharpen your pencil every time you use it to eliminate bacteria that accumulates on the tip.  If it is soft, pop it in the freezer for 30 seconds before you sharpen it.

A good rule of thumb when considering how to put makeup on to line your eyes is that the eyeliner on the top lid should usually be about three times wider than the bottom.  To apply, make a dotted line with your pencil on your top lid, starting from the outer corner and working inward.  One of the most important things to remember when learning how to do your makeup is: don’t pull your lid taut to apply as the line will look distorted when you let go.  Get as close to the lash line as possible, and go all the way across.

Next, connect the dotted line by using a small eyeshadow brush with stiff bristles along with a slanted tip to sweep eyeshadow in the same color as your liner on top of the dotted line.  Be sure to blend it in so that the dots aren’t showing.  Use whatever powder is left on the brush to line your lower lid.  Start at the outer corner and stop about halfway across.

Mascara

Now, for the pièce de resistance of your eye makeup – mascara.  First, decide how you want to enhance your lashes to pick the best mascara for you: more volume?  Longer?  Both?  And, if you are muttering to yourself, “Best mascara? What difference does it make?”, check out these photos of the SAME eye with 100 different mascaras.

Start with a lash primer.  This will keep your mascara from smudging or smearing and making you look like you just stepped out of a hot shower.  Then, for the best mascara results, take some of your translucent powder and dust it lightly over the primer.  All you need is a light coat!  Too much, and it will look caked on – like you don’t know how to put makeup on.

If you want longer lashes, rotate your brush as you put on the mascara.  If you want thicker lashes, wiggle it back and forth.  For best mascara performance, before it dries, use a lash comb to separate lashes and remove clumps.

How to Do Makeup Hack #5:  To get the best mascara finish, hold a spoon on your eyelid when putting on mascara to catch any mistakes and avoid stray marks on your eyelids.

Lips

When it comes to learning how to do light makeup for a day out, for a healthy, natural look, you’ll want to exfoliate your lips a couple of times a week.  You can gently scrub with a wet toothbrush to remove any dry skin, or you can make your own scrub with a bit of sugar in olive oil.

Once you’ve removed the dry chapped skin from your lips, you need to apply lip balm with UV protection.  The skin on your lips is thinner than anywhere else on your body, and lip gloss even magnifies the sun’s UV rays.  Neutrogena makes a great tinted lip gloss with SPF 70.

When applying it, start from the center and blend outward.  Since lipsticks that are on the market don’t bleed, you don’t need to worry about how to do your makeup using lip liner unless you want to create a bit more symmetry or really enhance your pucker.  If you opt for a liner, it should match your lips, not your lipstick.

How to Do Makeup Hack #6:  After applying one coat of lipstick, blot and add a second.  This will help it stay on longer and add a bit more shine as well.

And, you’re done learning how to put makeup on!

Beauty Product Recommendations

Trying out new techniques can get a bit overwhelming.  Just getting it right is hard enough – you don’t want to have to worry about which of the million products out there to buy.  So, here are a few recommendations to get you started.

Best Foundation

For a natural look that stays put all day, try Estée Lauder’s Double Wear Stay-in-Place Makeup.  Not only does it go on smoothly and lightly, it stays on at least twice as long as any other brand.

Best Blush

Bare Minerals Blush comes in a variety of colors and adds vibrant color to your cheeks without being too heavy or clogging your pores.

Best Eyeshadow

e.l.f. Eyeshadow Palette is hands down the best eyeshadow collection.  It comes in a variety of neutral colors, and it stays put.

Best Eyeliner

This Powerpoint Eyeliner from MAC Cosmetics stays on all day – no smudging, even if you are ugly crying.  Well, maybe not ugly crying, but definitely all day.

Best Mascara

The Roller Lash from Benefit Cosmetics is the best mascara on the market.  It’s water resistant and even has a curve setting feature that holds tight for up to 12 hours.

Best Makeup Brushes

Sigma Beauty’s Best of Brush Set gives you everything you need to apply your makeup with polish and artistry.  And remember, the best makeup brushes are clean makeup brushes, which are also one of the best pieces of advice on how to get rid of acne.

We hope you enjoyed this article!  Please feel free to comment with suggestions for new content and follow us so you’ll never miss another post.

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