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?"
"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.
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.
A moisturizing cream or lotion gives skin a protective shield and locks in your serum's active ingredients.
If your moisturizer doesn't contain SPF, add it now. Ideally, pick a lightweight formula with at least SPF 30.
Primer typically contains silicones to smooth skin's surface and prepare it for 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.
You guessed it -- concealer comes next. Use it only where you need it.
"I always, always set my makeup with loose powder," Stiles says. "This will keep the foundation and concealer from slipping off your face."
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."
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.
You're ready for shadow.
Now that your lids are shaded, define eyes with a pencil or liquid liner.
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.
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.