Are You Applying Your Beauty Products in the Right Order?

If only beauty followed a paint-by-number approach, we'd always know exactly when and where to put our skincare and makeup products. Luckily, we created this easy-to-follow guide with the help of a top dermatologist and makeup artist. Now you'll never put your concealer before your foundation again (and yes, that's a hint).

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As with any important task -- cooking, painting, reading -- the order in which you do things can have a major effect on the results. After all, you wouldn't paint before you prime, or start reading a book on the very last chapter, right? Well, the same can be said for applying skincare and makeup products. Layering your anti-aging treatments in the right sequence can make them work better; applying your makeup in a methodical manner can make it look better. Here, starting from a freshly washed face, we'll answer the question we know you've asked, "What comes next?"

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1. Toner

"Because of its lightweight, almost waterlike texture, toner should be the first thing you use on your skin after washing," says Paul Jarrod Frank, M.D., a cosmetic dermatologist in New York City. The job of a toner is to balance skin's pH and remove any excess makeup or oil that your face wash might have missed.

2. Serum

Think "lightest to thickest" when you're applying skincare products, Frank says. Serums, which can range in texture from liquid to gel, should come next. Plus, serums also tend to contain a high concentration of active ingredients, so you want to get those on your skin ASAP.

3. Moisturizer

A moisturizing cream or lotion gives skin a protective shield and locks in your serum's active ingredients. 

4. Sunscreen

If your moisturizer doesn't contain SPF, add it now. Ideally, pick a lightweight formula with at least SPF 30.

5. Primer

Primer typically contains silicones to smooth skin's surface and prepare it for foundation.

Learn more about picking the perfect primer.

6. Foundation

Now you're ready for your base. "Think of foundation as just that, the foundation for all of the other makeup," says Fiona Stiles, celebrity makeup artist and founder of online beauty shop Reed & Clarke. "By applying your foundation first, you can apply the thinnest layer needed and then touch up and conceal any redness, blemishes, or blotches afterward." If you conceal prefoundation, it will only get thinned out as you blend your base, Stiles says.

Figure out how to get the best foundation for you.

7. Concealer

You guessed it -- concealer comes next. Use it only where you need it.

Browse concealers for every skin concern. 

8. Powder

"I always, always set my makeup with loose powder," Stiles says. "This will keep the foundation and concealer from slipping off your face." 

9. Blush

If you use a powder blush, layer it on over the loose powder. If you're a cream blush girl, skip the powder step and swipe the creamy color over your foundation and concealer. "Something to remember is that like goes with like," Stiles says. "That means liquids or creams go with liquids or creams and powder goes with powder."

Baffled by blush? Get the basics.

10. Brows

Groom and define your brows before applying any other eye makeup, Stiles says. Why? The eyebrows frame your face and can help you see exactly what you need to do to your eyes. 

11. Eyeshadow

You're ready for shadow. 

12. Eyeliner

Now that your lids are shaded, define eyes with a pencil or liquid liner. 

13. Mascara

Make this the last step in your eye makeup routine. The dark pigment will cover any eyeshadow powder that might have fallen onto lashes during the application process. 

Learn how to boost your thinning lashes.

14. Lips

Use the rest of your makeup as a guide to determine just how strong you want to go with your lip color. A general rule: If your eyes are more neutral, you can pull off a bright pop of color. If your eye makeup is more dramatic, go for a subtle lip shade. 

See red lipsticks for every skintone.


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