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When you’re just starting to learn about makeup, you don’t automatically know everything. You might find yourself wondering, what is the correct order to apply makeup?

If you’ve been searching the web for this answer, you’ve probably found several different answers and orders of application.

Makeup Glossary

Hopefully you’re okay with a flexible answer here too, because I’ll let you in on a little secret:

There is more than one “correct” order to apply your makeup.

There are actually several different correct orders, and you can choose any of them!

If you watch any video makeup tutorials, you’ll probably notice that many people do their eye makeup before their face makeup – but just as many do their face makeup before their eyes.

In general, there are some steps that should be followed in a certain order, and some that are interchangeable.

Let’s go over the possible correct orders of makeup application, and the “don’ts” of makeup.

First: Rules of Applying Makeup

DO: Always prep your skin with moisturizers, toners, primers, and whatever other skincare you choose BEFORE starting other makeup.

DON’T: Put liquid or cream products on top of powders* – they will look VERY cakey.

*An exception to this rule can be liquid highlighters. Sometimes, liquid highlighters look okay on top of powder, but sometimes they do look cakey. Experiment with your specific products, and if it looks cakey apply it before powder.

And honestly, those are the only real “rules” you should follow!

What is the correct order to apply makeup?

To answer, we are going to group together four different areas of makeup.

A: Eye makeup (everything from eye primer to eyeshadow to lashes)

B: Face makeup (from primer to foundation to blush to powders)

C: Brows

D: Lips

Some people consider brows to be a part of their face makeup; Others consider brows to be a part of their eye makeup, because of their close proximity on the face. Since brows can fit under either category, we are going to consider it its own area of makeup.

Generally, lipsticks and other lip products are applied last. This article assumes that all lip products will be applied at the very end of your makeup routine.

You can apply makeup in any of these orders:

  • Eyes, brows, face
  • Eyes, face, brows
  • Face, eyes, brows
  • Face, brows, eyes
  • Brows, eyes, face
  • Brows, face, eyes

(with lips at the end if desired)

And ALL of these ways are correct!

However, within these categories, there are some certain steps you should follow in order.



Correct Order of Eye Makeup

  1. Eye primer (or concealer if you use that instead)
  2. Eyeshadow
  3. Glitter, liquid eyeshadows, metallics (optional)
  4. Eyeliner
  5. Mascara
  6. Lashes

When applying eyeshadow shades, the most common order of application is as follows:

  1. Light matte shade similar to skintone
  2. Matte transition shades
  3. Mid-toned shades
  4. Deepest shades
  5. Shimmers/Satins/Duochromes/Metallics

This isn’t a firm order that you must follow; some makeup artists start with the deepest shade and work their way to lighter shades. Some people use more satins or shimmers than mattes.

The order you apply eyeshadows will also change depending on the desired outcome.

Correct Order of Face Makeup

If using POWDER bronzers, blushes, and highlighters:

  1. Primer
  2. Color correcting (optional)
  3. Foundation
  4. Concealer
  5. Powder
  6. Bronzer/Blush/Highlighter
  7. Setting spray (can be saved for end of whole makeup routine)

When using all powder (pressed or loose) bronzer, blush, and highlighters, it doesn’t actually matter which order you apply these three products – though most people apply them in order stated.

But if you are using a cream blush or highlighter this order changes drastically – because you always use creams before powders, remember!

If using CREAM bronzers, blushes, and highlighters:

  1. Primer
  2. Color correcting (optional)
  3. Foundation
  4. Concealer
  5. Bronzer/Blush/Highlighter
  6. Powder
  7. Setting spray (can be saved for end of whole makeup routine)

Because of the cream products, you will switch the order of those and powder. Powdering after cream products will prevent them from being cakey and will set them in place.

What if I’m only using one cream product?

Let’s say you’re using all of the products listed here, including a powder bronzer, a cream blush, and a powder highlighter.

  1. Primer
  2. Color correcting (optional)
  3. Foundation
  4. Concealer
  5. Cream Blush
  6. Powder
  7. Bronzer/Highlighter
  8. Setting spray

If you also used other cream products, such as a cream highlighter or contour, you would apply it at the same step as cream blush.

You can alter this order depending on the types of products you are using.

Correct Order of Brow Makeup

This is difficult, because there are many types of brow products: pomades, pencils, powders, gels, etc. Most people only use one or two types of brow products.

For the most part, you should use a pomade, pencil, or powder product first. Use gel last to set your brows in place.

That section was a bit easier, huh? Haha! I highly suggest reading my full guide on eyebrow products if you are looking for more information.

Correct Order of Lip Makeup

I’m pretty sure you can figure out how to wear lipstick on your own, but there are certain items that should be applied before or after others – if you choose to use them.

If you’re wearing multiple lip products, layer them like this:

  1. Lip liner
  2. Lipstick
  3. Lip gloss

If you’re wearing two shades of lipstick for an ombre effect, apply the darker shade first and the lighter shade on top.

I usually only wear lipstick, in which case the “order” doesn’t matter!

Pin this for later:

Do you know what the correct order to apply makeup is? Whether you're a teen or beginner that is just starting out with drugstore makeup basics, or an experienced makeup lover who only uses high end products, it is helpful to know all the different makeup steps you can take - and what order to take them in!

My Order of Makeup Application

I usually apply my makeup in this order, with minor adjustments for cream products when I use them:

  1. Eyes
    1. Primer
    2. Eyeshadow
    3. Eyeliner
    4. Mascara
    5. Lashes
  2.  Face
    1. Primer
    2. Foundation
    3. Concealer
    4. Powder
    5. Bronzer
    6. Blush
    7. Highlighter
  3. Brows
    1. Pencil
    2. Gel
  4. Lips
    1. Liner
    2. Gloss

And I finish off with setting spray at the very end!

The routine and order of my makeup has changed a lot over the past year. I used to do my brows first, then face, then eyes. I’ve totally flipped that around, and that’s okay. Your routine can change day-to-day to fit your needs for that day.

Don’t feel like you have to listen to beauty gurus that say you “HAVE to do your eyes first!” or “it’s dumb to do brows before foundation” or whatever else they claim. The order of your makeup application is more about personal preference than anything else.

I hope this post helps you. If you have any specific questions, feel free to reach out to me and I’ll try to help!

What order do you apply your makeup in?

xoxo, Kailey



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