Basic Makeup Steps in Full Detail

Basic Makeup Application by Little Lulu
Basic Makeup Application by Little Lulu

Review: Steps in Makeup

  1. Prepare the Skin for makeup.
  2. Concealer
  3. Foundation
  4. Bronzer
  5. Set Makeup with Powder
  6. Cheeks
  7. Lips
  8. Eyebrows
  9. Eyes
  10. Highlight


Thorough Details of a Full-Face Basic Makeup Application

Preparing the Skin for Makeup

  1. The purpose of preparing the skin for makeup is so that the skin looks its absolute best, is protected, and so that the makeup looks flawless.
  2. HYGIENE is important when beginning any makeup application. Make sure you have hand sanitizer on you or that you wash your hands before touching your client’s skin. Brushes should be clean and makeup products should be disinfected before the appointment. I like to carry hand sanitizer on me during the makeup application and use it in front of my client so that she feels comfortable if my hands come in contact with her skin.
  3. CLEANSE the face with a makeup wipe. For sensitive/dry skin, use a cream-based makeup remover such as Bobbi Brown’s hydrating cream cleanser. Cleanse the face with a sponge whenever possible. Use a gentle wet cloth if necessary to remove cleanser thoroughly.
  4. HYDRATE. Even if your client has oily/combination skin, it is important for the skin to look hydrated and to glow. Think of it as a fresh drink of water for the face. Some of our clients tend to overly dry their faces with astringents,  and when the foundation comes on, it starts to flake or look cakey. Alternatively, make sure the cream is not too heavy for their face type or the makeup will slip right off and/or will not last as long. If the client’s skin is mature skin or very dry, consider using a hydrating serum underneath the moisturizer. Hydrate under the eyes, patting the eye cream with either your finger or a brush. **It is important to take the client’s hygienic considerations when touching their skin, so if they are uncomfortable with your hands touching their faces, use a brush to apply creams.**
  5. SPF. If your face cream does not have an SPF or your client will be outdoors for his/her event, it is important that the client wears a lightweight SPF for protection from the sun.
  6. PRIME. If your face cream does not already have a built-in primer, use a primer on the client’s skin. A primer has several benefits: Pores will appear smaller, it will protect the face from heavy makeup entering the pores, acts like a shield to protect against environmental factors such as pollutants, etc. **Some primers have SPF, such as Laura Mercier’s Primer. Primers can also be hydrating, illuminating, or mattifying. Consider the type of illusion you would like to create and the client’s skin prior to choosing a primer.**
  7. For On-The-Go or Every Day makeup, you can find 3-in-1 solutions to hydrate, protect, and prime. Some great options are: Bobbi Brown’s Protective Face Lotion, Laura Mercier Primer with SPF, Smashbox Hydrating Primer.
  8. For detailed information on Skincare, check out the Skincare Guide for Perfect Skin.


  1. The reason to begin with concealer before foundation is because when we are tired, need an instant uplifting look to our face, it begins to show underneath the eyes. Additionally, first signs of aging occur underneath the eye. For this reason, when we apply foundation first, we overcompensate how much foundation is actually needed causing us to use too much product on the face.
  2. The best way to apply concealer is with a brush, so that if you need to layer product, you may do so with a brush (whereas, your fingertip will spread it).
  3. First consider and analyze the hues you have under the eyes and refer back to Correctors and Concealers. Will you need to correct the color first and then apply a concealer? Do you only need some concealer? If you need corrections, apply a light peach or pink correction with a brush. Make sure you get the inner corners of the eye where darkness hides!
  4. Layer on concealer on top of the correction with a brush. Blend and seal by tapping the corners and sides of concealer with your finger gently as to not rub off.
  5. For brightening under the eyes, you can use an eye brightener which acts much like a corrector. Think, YSL’s Touche Eclat. You can also apply it a bit under the eye and under foundation by creating an inverted triangle which gives a nice illusion later.
  6. For dark spots on the face, use a peach-toned corrector that does not brighten under the foundation.
  7. When re-touching through-out the day, dab on a bit of concealer to experience an instant refresh.


  1. Foundation should match your face perfectly. That’s right, your FACE, and NOT your neck. Sometimes our neck is darker than our face. If you put a foundation a shade warmer than your actual skin tone, then it will most likely turn orange (this is called oxidation). Therefore, if you need your face to match your neck, use a bronzer, but more about that later. Foundation should match so well that it could be used on certain areas of the face to neutralize redness and not need to put it all over the face if not necessary.
  2. Consider whether your client has pink tones or is more olive-toned. This will let you know if you need a “warmer” tone. I personally do not believe in pink foundations because, referring back to color theory, how will you cancel the redness on the face? I tend to go for more yellow tones to neutralize the face of my clients, and then add warmth back gradually.
  3. Consider the skin type for foundation. Dry skin: Creamy foundations, oil-based foundations, hydrating foundations, water-based foundations. Normal/Combination: Creamy foundations, oil-free foundation. Oily skin: Oil-free foundations. Powder foundations.
  4. Consider the coverage needed. Foundations range from full coverage (such as creamy foundations) to sheer (water-based foundations). For example, if your client only has a bit of redness and normal skin, consider using a light-weight water-based foundation. Even a tinted moisturizer could do the trick!
  5. Apply foundation with a brush for precision as the oil of the hands tend to blend and spread foundation while a sponge absorbs the foundation and gives no coverage (don’t waste your makeup product- invest in a foundation brush!


  1. Bronzer can be used to warm the face and neck, to give a healthy glow, and to add darkening corrections/contour the face.
  2. When choosing a bronzer, consider if the client naturally tans cinnamon or golden by holding the two shades of bronzers to the chest of the person. If the person tans more cinnamon, use a cinnamon bronzer or else it will look orange and vice versa. Some people are more neutral, so you can find a neutral tone bronzer or use either or cinnamon/golden.
  3. If contouring, follow the Best Makeup Application for Face Shapes guide.
  4. For a natural bronze glow, start with the neck and apply some bronzer under the cheekbones, to the forehead, the chin and don’t forget the nose.
  5. Bronzer is not a good idea for those who have scars, marks or dark spots on the face. Use a warmer sheer powder all over the face instead.


  1. Powder sets all makeup. Apply it loosely with a brush for no to sheer coverage, or with a sponge for sheer to medium coverage.
  2. You can use a translucent/universal powder if you are fair/light, but stray from them if your skin is warmer/olive because it can appear ashy. You can use a sheer coverage powder, oil-control powder, or hydrating powder which locks moisture into the face but keeps shine out.
  3. Foundation powder is nice for oily/combination skin, but if you are to use this, use it before bronzer or other makeup. Do not overdo the powder with dry skin.
  4. Sheer yellow powders cancel redness. Peach ones cancel dark spots on the face.


  1. Wait, cheeks first and not the eyes? That’s right! Think of it this way, your client is running late or she gets an emergency phone call and she needs to jump out of your chair and go, she would still look decent. If you began with her eyes, it won’t look so great! Also, some clients do not like a lot of makeup so it is always easier to add on more or less as she feels comfortable rather than removing it.
  2. Consider the client’s skin situation, the eye makeup she would like, and if you applied bronzer.
  3. If the client’s skin is reddish already and she does not like that, use a blue-toned blush or a peach-tone blush to warm the face.
  4. A natural blush should only be applied to those customers that are not wearing bronzer or the face will appear dirty rather than natural.
  5. A POP of color right on the cheekbones should not over-do it if your client is wearing bronzer as it will simply accentuate the cheeks.
  6. Bright colors work if the client wants her face makeup to accentuate the cheeks and lips, but the eye makeup stays neutral.
  7. A soft blush is best if the eye makeup is dramatic. Unless you’re a drag queen, then do all the steps dramatically (especially contouring).


  1. A makeup artist MUST contain two important lip liner colors in their makeup kits: Natural and Red.
  2. A lip liner will help the lip color last longer.
  3. You cannot do a red lip without red lip liner.
  4. You can simply use a natural lip liner, spread it all over the lips, and use gloss over it for a color that will last all night.
  5. A natural lip color does not always have to be matched with a lip liner, but it looks oh so much more professional, precise, and cleaner when you do.
  6. When doing a natural or soft color lip, apply the color first and then apply a natural lip liner. It looks more natural.
  7. When doing a bright color such as red, bright raspberry or bright orange (or any other color that is bright and you’re feeling creative), use a lip liner first. The best tip is to go from the corner of the lip to the center, even on the upper lip to avoid that awkward “cupids bow” lip moment. Smudge the color into the center of the lip softly, then apply the bright lip color, stain, etc.
  8. I do not personally apply gloss over bright colors, as it already stands out enough.
  9. Again, consider the eye makeup. Why the dramatic eyes and red lips? WHY? Choose one, or you’ll be nicknamed Bozo the Clown and your friends will not let you live it down.


  1. Outline the shape of the brow with a brow pencil the shade of your hair in soft wispy strokes. Use a stencil if needed.
  2. Use an angled brush to apply powder and fill the holes.
  3. If the eyebrows are brunette or full, so they do not look too pronounced, fill in the brows with a powder a shade softer than the pencil.
  4. Blend by combing the brows with a brow brush.
  5. Apply concealer right around the edges to soften the brow color with a concealer brush.
  6. Use a brow gel to hold brows in place.


  1. If you will be using dark colors, layer powder underneath the eyes so you can just wisp out fallout later. Or use cream shadows so you do not have to worry about fallout.
  2. The easiest and most universal way to create a makeup look is to begin by applying a light color all over the lid from under your brow bone and down. This shade should be a shade or two lighter than your skin tone. Stay away from metallics, shimmers or bright white (unless you’re very fair, OR a drag queen). The only acceptable tone for a light glaze under the brow bone is beige.
  3. Choose a middle color. Press the colors on with an eyeshadow brush. Yes, press. DO NOT RUB or it won’t look like the color. So, press the shadow onto the eyelid and THEN rub back and forth to blend, bringing it up above the crease but leaving space for the lighter color under the brow bone. Do it several times to achieve the color intensity you want.
  4. Choose a darker color. PRESS the darker color onto the direct eyelid. You can use a blending brush between the two different colors on the line that separates them, so they can blend naturally.
  5. Line the eyes. For a more natural look, you can wet an eyeliner brush and dip it into a dark eye shadow. I like to start with a thin line inside the eye and then make it a bit thicker towards the ends.
  6. You can also use a gel liner! These are amazing, have great pigment and apply smoothly.
  7. If you want to smudge your eyeliner, use an eye pencil or kohl eyeliner, then with a brush, gently smudge the eyeliner.
  8. If you apply eyeliner under the eye, you MUST apply it above. But if you apply it above, you do not necessarily need to apply it under. Listen, or your client will look like her eyes are backwards.
  9. Finally, apply LOTS of mascara but make sure the brand you are using is clump-free. I love to exaggerate. Decide whether they need to be curled, if they need lengthening, etc. Apply the mascara accordingly. For a nice application, the outer lashes should extend outward, the middle lashes upward and the inside lashes inside.
  10. For creating eyes for your face shape, check out Best Makeup Application for Eyes.


  1. Apply highlighting to accentuate features in the face by using a light powder or shimmer/brightening powder.
  2. Highlighting is usually applied underneath the eyes, on the top of the cheeks, middle of forehead, center of nose and chin.
  3. Refresh your memory by checking the Best Makeup Application for Face Shapes guide.

Practice makes perfect. To request in-person lessons, use my contact page.

5 thoughts on “Basic Makeup Steps in Full Detail

  1. Aw, this was a very nice post. In thought I want to put in writing like this moreover taking time and actual effort to make an excellent article but what can I say I procrastinate alot and not at all seem to get something done. acfbbgdfgfeb

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