There’s this unspoken assumption that makeup application knowledge and skills come naturally with being a woman; that they’re built into us when we’re born. In reality, you probably already know that no one hands us a girly tool-belt with everything we need. Not even a how-to book. We learn the hard way – after years of frosty blue eyeshadow applied up to our eyebrows and orange foundation that ended in a tragically unblended line on our chins. Fortunately, those days are behind us and now, proper makeup application is no longer a secret. Have you ever wondered what are the best ways to apply makeup? Well, today’s your lucky day.
Step 1: Prep your skin
Any makeup artist worth their salt will tell you that the most important part of your makeup application comes before the products even touch your skin. Think of your skin as a canvas that is being prepared to hold a masterpiece. It needs to be prepped and primed, so that it looks its best and the products apply flawlessly.
- Wash - Start by washing your face. Luke-warm water is best because cold water will irritate your skin, while hot water will dry it out. It’s also recommended to exfoliate a couple of times a week, especially if you have dry skin. Getting rid of dead skin cells is important in achieving that perfect finish.
- Prime - Next, it’s time for face primer. Depending on what your skin needs, you can opt for a smoothing primer, a pore-filling one, a brightening one, etc. This will perform the double duty of minimizing your skin issues, while giving your face makeup a base to adhere to, so it will last longer.
Extra tip: Don’t forget to moisturize! Contrary to popular opinion, moisturizer isn’t just for dry or dehydrated skin. Oily skin needs the extra help, too; just make sure to pick an appropriate product for your skin type – a lighter one for oily skin and a richer, heavier one for dry skin.
Step 2: Perfect your canvas
Whether you have visible skin issues or not, you want your base makeup to be perfect, and look like skin. The secret to "no makeup" makeup is a flawless base. How do you achieve that? By picking the right foundation for your skin type and making sure you apply it with the right tools.
- Product – Having the right kind of product is half the battle, so let’s talk foundation types. They come in a few different categories, depending on finish (matte, dewy, satin), formula (liquid, cream, powder, cushion, etc.) and coverage (light, medium, or full). The one you need depends on what your skin is like and what look you’re trying to achieve. If your complexion is unblemished, you can get away with a low-coverage product like a BB cream, while if you have some spots, acne or discoloration that you’re not confident about, you should opt for a higher coverage product, like a medium-to-full coverage foundation. Dry skin will look and fare better with a fresh, luminous finish, and the excess sebum in oily skin will be controlled better by a foundation with a matte finish and a powder consistency.
- Tools – The other half is picking the right tools for your foundation application. Base products used to be applied with your fingertips or a powderpuff. That later evolved into makeup brushes and more recently, a new generation of makeup sponges. Makeup brushes (buffing brushes, stippling brushes, or flat brushes) offer more coverage, but can leave brush stroke marks. Sponges offer a very natural finish, but a comparatively lower coverage, so pick your "weapons" wisely.
Extra tip:Wash your tools at least once a week – dirty brushes and sponges can become a breeding ground for germs and create skin problems, like break-outs.
Step 3: Use colour products in moderation
Colour products are the most visible on your face, but they’re also the easiest to get wrong, so one of the best ways to apply makeup is to use it sparingly. Remember you can always add more, but taking away when you’ve used too much is difficult.
- Eyes – One of the most important things you need to remember about eyeshadow is to blend. Especially when you’re working with multiple colours, blending is essential, as it allows the colours to meld together and create a beautiful finish on your lids. Always start working from the lightest colour to the darkest one and swap your brushes out for smaller and smaller ones as you move to darker and darker colours that require detailed work. That way, your look won’t get muddled.
- Lips – Always use a lip liner in order to achieve a clean and crisp line when wearing a bold lipstick colour. But instead of applying the liner first, apply it after the lipstick, in order to clean up your lip line and "cheat" a perfect application.
- Cheeks – Be mindful that the age-old advice of smiling and applying blush on the apples of your cheeks won’t work for most people. British makeup artist Wayne Goss explains why: when you smile, your cheeks appear higher up on your face, but when your face is resting your cheeks will "drop" and your blush will appear to be misplaced and unflattering. Experiment with different kinds of blush placement and see what’s most flattering for your face shape.
Extra tip: Remember contour isn’t necessary for everyday makeup, but if you do choose to wear it, make sure to choose an ashier colour dedicated to contouring, so it mimics the natural shadows on your face. Bronzer is too warm and it will look unnatural, no matter how much you blend it.
Step 4: Apply the finishing touches
Finishing touches help make your makeup look complete, as well as make it last longer. While not essential, taking the time for details like these makes all the difference between a mediocre makeup look and a great one.
- Clean up – Oftentimes, you can end up with fall-out on your cheeks after eyeshadow application. Instead of trying to wipe it away with your fingers and smearing it everywhere, take a brush loaded up with translucent powder and brush the fall-out away.
- Add some oomph – Don’t forget about the little things, like highlighting your cheekbones, inner corners and cupid’s bow. This is also a good time to add false lashes, if you want them, or some glitter, to take the look to the next level.
- Set your work – After all that hard work, you wouldn’t want your face to "melt" two hours later, so help it last with some translucent powder on the T-zone and a spritz of finishing spray.
Extra tip: Take some of your products with you for touch-ups. A lipstick or powder compact won’t take up much space in your bag, but will prove to be life-savers later.