Set of decorative cosmetics on light colorful background
Image: Africa Studio/Shutterstock

You’re probably thinking, is it really that important? It is. Applying your makeup in a specific order is the difference between matte makeup that lasts all day and dusty makeup that rubs off by lunch. If you find that your eyeshadow ends up by your eyebrows rather than your eyelids, or concealer streaks randomly appear later in the day, then you need to change the order in which you’re applying your makeup.

The first thing you should always reach for is primer. Primers are essential for reducing redness, evening out your complexion, and smoothing out your pores. If you pass on the primer, no matter how much foundation you apply you won’t be able to reduce the size of your pores. Primer also allows for the rest of your makeup to go on more smoothly. Without primer, your foundation and bronzer are more likely to slip off halfway through the day. For your best makeup, apply primer to your lips and eyelids too.

Next you want to apply foundation before concealer. Don’t worry about covering up specific pimples or blemishes just yet. Apply an even coat of liquid foundation. This first coat will slightly cover up any blemishes and allow for the concealer to work much better. When concealer is applied first the foundation breaks up your concealer and leaves blemishes, dark circles, and pimples even more visible. Once your foundation is set, carefully use concealer for any red marks and spread it in an upside down triangle under your eyes.

Apply your bronzer next, and then worry about blush. Think of your bronzing stroke as the number three on each side of your face, rounding the top of your forehead by your hairline, coming in on your lower cheeks, and lightly brushing along your jawline. Apply your blush lightly on top of where you just put bronzer on your cheeks. You never want to apply bronzer or blush on the tops of your cheekbones because this is where light naturally hits your face, so you should keep it the lightest area on your face. Drawing under your cheekbones will create a striking contour.

Moving to your eyes, work on your eyebrows first. This way you can use them as a guide for the rest of your eye makeup. Brush them out and fill them in. Your eyelids are now a blank slate, which is just how they should be for applying eye shadow. Eye shadow must go first so that it doesn’t diminish your eyeliner or fall onto your eyelashes. Next, draw a fine line of eyeliner. Sharpen and darken it. Finish with mascara. If you add mascara too soon, then you’ll make it more difficult to see your eyes when using eyeliner.

Finish everything off with a thin coat of powder foundation or fixing dust. This will be the top layer that absorbs oils throughout the day so that your more important makeup doesn’t have to. And of course, don’t forget your lipstick!