It’d be nice if anyone who wanted to could pull off beautiful makeup from the get-go. Instead, most of us end up looking like a terrifying clown person the first time applying, whether we go all-in on full-face makeup or are just trying to pull off basic makeup.
Or at least, that was the reality pre-internet. These days, there are articles, beauty YouTubers, Instagrammers, and so many easy ways to learn makeup for beginners, compare results, and get tips. We’ll walk you through a simple makeup tutorial that you can use for your everyday look.
The Types of Makeup Products You’ll Need
One of the toughest parts of how to do makeup, for beginners, is figuring out all the available products. And once you learn what they are, how do you figure out what should be in your basic makeup kit? It’s trial and error and lots of practice!
Maybe you enjoy plumping mascara and want that coating your lashes every day, but you hate applying eyeliner. Perhaps your light makeup look of choice doesn’t require a full foundation base, but you always like to dab on a little concealer at target areas.
You won’t always pick the right shade. You might not blend as smoothly as you’d like, or mess up a line and make things worse while trying to correct it. You might cheap out on an item when you should have spent for quality or overspent when you could have gotten away with a drugstore version.
Guides and instruction can’t expedite this learning process for you. It’s ongoing since there are so many choices, and our needs/wants change over time! But by knowing what types of makeup products are available, you’ll have a better understanding of how to make makeup work for you.
- Makeup Brushes or Blending Sponges: You will need these if you don’t want to use your fingers or if you plan on using a powdered product, and it doesn’t come with its own mini brush.
- Makeup Remover: What goes on must come off.
- Cleansers and Moisturizers: Any makeup routine should start with clean, hydrated skin, and still leave you with healthy skin afterward.
- Primer: Provides an even base on which to apply other makeup. It smooths and brightens, plus improves product coverage and longevity.
- Concealer and Foundation: They are like two sides of the same coin — the foundation is for all-over coverage and comes in many varieties to fit different needs, while concealer targets smaller spots that need extra attention, with special blends for under the eyes.
- Bronzer, Blush, and Highlighter: These are optional, but really round things out, adding a sunkissed glow, some rosy cheeks, and pops of brightness where the contours of your face would naturally catch the light.
- Setting Spray: Locks in your face makeup, so it’s ready to last hours without reapplication — but don’t spritz it on until finishing your eyes and lips, too (there’s also setting powder you can poof on).
- Eyebrow Gels and Pencils: Used to shape, darken, and fill — or if you’re already got a great brow game, clear gels can just keep them in place throughout the day.
- Eye Shadow: Shadows adds color and interest to eyelids and under the brow, accentuating or contrasting a look but almost always bringing attention to your eyes. Otherwise, why apply it on daily?
- Eyeliner: This is meant to trace the bottom of the upper lid, corners of the eyes, and sometimes waterlines. It comes in liquid, pencil, or gel varieties and can alter the look of your eyes pretty dramatically, so it’s an easy way to do a little but see a lot of rewards while sticking with simple makeup.
- Mascara: Swiped onto eyelashes, it is definitely easier to use than eyeliner and still adds plenty of bold definition and volume, changing up your natural eye look without much effort
- Lip Liner: This is an optional choice, really, but a useful one that adds definition and an extra illusion of plumpness, plus helps improve the longevity of your lip look.
- Lipstick, Gloss, or Tint: Adds color or shine (or both) to your lips, which can either accentuate a natural look or quickly create a bold new one.
How to Apply Makeup for Beginners
This isn’t quite a natural makeup tutorial because a natural look centers on your palette. These steps will work whether you’re going for a lowkey office look or a wild party accent. But it’s a basic outline to do light makeup that won’t require full contouring or special blending methods.
1. Always start with the face as a whole, not eyes or lips individually — unless you’ll only be applying a single simple item like lipstick or mascara for the day. Cleanse and then hydrate with your moisturizer of choice, spreading it across your forehead, nose, and cheeks. Start at the center and work your way outward, rubbing it in completely with circular motions.
2. Make sure your skin is dry before applying primer, but follow the same route around the face. Avoid putting it under and around your eyes as it can cause some creasing later. Also, use the smallest amount possible that reliably coats your face.
3. There’s a bit of debate about how to apply liquid foundation and concealer — which comes first? Generally, you’ll want to do the foundation — either overall or only to blend certain areas — and then see what blemishes or discoloration is still visible. Then you’ll dab on concealer where necessary. A caveat exists in how to apply foundation that’s powdered — then concealer should always go first to prevent clumping.
When applying, try to evenly smooth the foundation against your skin, but don’t rub. Apply it a little down the neck if you messed up on your color match so that there’s no visible cut off line showing.
4. Bronzing, blushing, and highlighting are like the contour trinity, but if you aren’t actively shaping your face, they’re simple to work with. Bronzer should be applied with a light touch and mostly hit your forehead, the corner of your cheeks, and down your jawline into the chin area. Blush goes lightly on the fullest area of the cheeks, which will show up when you smile.
Highlighter is flexible, but for quick makeup, it makes sense down your nose, at the inner corners of the eyes, and dabbed at the center of the chin and forehead. Definitely blend in your highlighter, but be careful not to eviscerate it back into nothingness.
5. Then move onto the eye section, starting with eye shadow. Be careful not to apply excessively — you want a light dusting and to avoid caking. Use a lighter and darker tone to create a dynamic flow, with the lighter tone splashed across the entire eyelid and the darker tone moving back from mid-lid to the outer corner of the eye. Blend for a smooth transition.
6. Eyeliner stays close to the upper lash line and takes lots of practice to perfect. You’ll need a waterproof formula or pencil to tackle your lower water lines. Try to keep your lines straight and start as thin as possible; you can always add size, but you can’t easily take it away.
Eyeliner can extend from the inner corner of the eye past the outer corner in a dramatic cat-eye wing, or go across the middle of the lash line to make your lashes look fuller. Whatever shape and size you’d like to go for, eyeliner can probably accommodate it.
7. For eyebrows, pick a color as dark as you’d like to go for a full fill (if you have dyed hair but blondish eyebrows, for example), or well-matched to your own color to just fill a few spots or enhance an arch. Swipe in a gel to keep your brows slickly uniform, or use the brush to position the hair at a slight upward angle.
8. Mascara is easy — move it back and forth along the root of your lashes slightly and then swipe upward in a smooth motion, dragging the mascara along to the lash tips. Be sure not to pull them forward, not up and back, or they could touch your eyelid. Only apply a maximum of twice to avoid clumps or stickiness.
9. Attend to your lips at last; make sure to stretch your lips for the best coverage, pulling your mouth wide without becoming taut. Lip liner traces the very outer edges of your lips so that there’s slight overlap onto the skin. You do not want to trace around your lips on only, or even mostly, skin.
10. Then just apply your lip product of choice, starting from the center and moving toward the corners of your mouth. Get into the corners moving toward your inner mouth; otherwise, it might look excessive.
And if there’s a shine to your product, do not get it on the surrounding skin or it will look over applied– wipe away any accidents with something flat like the edge of a fingernail or Q-Tip. Rub your lips together side to side and front to back to fill any cracks or empty spots.
11. Finally, spritz some setting spray over your entire face, or very lightly brush setting powder all over. It doesn’t need to blend or dry. You’re all done!
For simple makeup looks, you don’t have to use every step in this makeup tutorial. Some people are comfortable with a swipe of lipstick and concealer on their blemishes; then they head out the door for work. But if you were content with that, you probably wouldn’t be here.
So experiment a little. Learn how to use your products well. Practice before you’re stressed and uncertain on a time crunch.
Start cheap and work your way up to where it seems worth it. Yet, at the same time, don’t write off an entire type of makeup because of an experience with a bad cheap product. You wouldn’t swear off purple over a broken purple crayon.
Your face is your canvas; treat it like a masterpiece.