How to apply makeup if you're an absolute beginner

Try this step-by-step tutorial.
How to apply makeup, for beginners
Not sure where to start? Here are a few tips that can help.Getty Images
/ Source: TODAY
By Aly Walansky

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As a makeup rookie, it may feel like there are too many steps to consider and a million possibilities of how it can go wrong. But at the end of the day, it’s really all about the basics and building from there. With practice, the rest will follow.

TODAY Style spoke with expert makeup artists to get all the tips a beginner will need.

1. How to prep the skin for makeup

Wearing makeup starts with skin, so the basis for good makeup is a good skin care routine. “Exfoliate your face and neck 2-3 times per week,” freelance makeup artist Bryan Cantor told TODAY. This is very important as it will help clear up your skin and get rid of all of the dead skin cells on the surface.

“Not only will you look more healthy and radiant, but this will allow your skin care routine to penetrate your skin better,” said Cantor, who has worked with celebrities ranging from Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, to Jill Zarin from "The Real Housewives of New York."

For a powerful exfoliator, try Kate Somerville's ExfoliKate Intensive Exfoliating Treatment. For more sensitive skin, try Caudalie Gentle Buffing Cream. “On the days you don’t exfoliate, and every night, use a gentle but thorough cleanser like Philosophy’s Purity Made Simple," said Cantor.

Kate Somerville's ExfoliKate Intensive Exfoliating Treatment, $75, Amazon

“This product is a powerful exfoliator. It instantly clears your skin and gets rid of all the dead skin cells on the surface. This allows makeup last longer on your face as well as leaving you look radiant,” said Cantor.

Caudalie Gentle Buffing Cream, $29, Amazon

“This exfoliator is great for sensitive skin,” said Cantor.

Philosophy Purity Made Simple, $31, Amazon

“This one-step cleanser removes dirt, oil and makeup and leaves skin toned and hydrated,” said Cantor.

Use a face mask up to three times per week and don't forget to moisturize

“Normal, oily and combination skin types can use the Glamglow Supermud Activated Charcoal Treatment to cleanse impurities and banish any blackheads. For normal to dry skin, try the Goddess Skin Clay Mask from Charlotte Tilbury to clear imperfections while firming and hydrating your skin. A great mask for sensitive skin is the SK-II Facial Treatment Mask,” said Cantor.

37 Extreme Actives High Performance Anti-Aging Cream, $195, Amazon

“The best moisturizer I have ever used is 37 Extreme Actives High Performance Anti-Aging Cream. With over 50 of the best anti-aging ingredients in one moisturizer, it lifts, firms and fights the effects of free radicals and pollution like no other on the market. The results are truly incredible. For normal to dry skin use the original formula,” said Cantor.

2. How to find the right foundation for your skin tone

When finding the perfect shade, keep in mind that most people’s face, neck and chest are all different colors.

To make everything look uniform, match your foundation to your chest and then apply it to your face and blend it down onto your neck. “This will make all of your exposed skin look like it’s one uniform color and prevent you from looking like someone Photoshopped a tan head on a pale body, or vice versa,” said Cantor.

Luminous Silk Foundation from Giorgio Armani Beauty, $64, Sephora

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“This is a very natural-looking foundation and won’t cause breakouts. It looks like healthy skin in person ... and photographs beautifully in flash photography.”

3. How to find the right concealer

Different concealers do different things. You should have one concealer for under your eyes and another for covering blemishes and concealing red or irritated skin, according to Cantor.

“To conceal redness, use a tiny bit on a fluffy blending brush, like the MAC 224S, and work it into the bristles by tapping it on the back of your hand a few times to remove excess product, and then tap the product repeatedly over the area you want to conceal and softly blend the edges,” said Cantor.

MAC Cosmetics Pro Longwear Concealer, $24, Nordstrom

“This concealer is best for hiding redness and blemishes,” said Cantor.

“For under-eye concealer ... use the brush tip to draw a triangle under your eyes, with the wide side near your eyes and the tip of the triangle pointing down towards your nose. Be sure to leave a bit of space between the product and your lash line for a natural look. Then, use your finger tip to gently tap it into the skin and slightly blend it out. The heat of your finger will help it sink into the skin and make it look more natural.

Retoucher from Charlotte Tilbury, $35, Charlotte Tilbury

“For under-eye concealer, my go-to concealer is the Retoucher from Charlotte Tilbury. The built-in brush makes it easy to apply, illuminating the dark circles under the eyes,” said Cantor.

4. How to apply lip color

Prep your pout

No matter how great your lipstick is, it will not look good on chapped lips. “To get the most pop for your pout, a good lip care routine is essential,” said Cantor. Start with a scrub to smooth your lips.

Dior Addict Lip Sugar Scrub, $34, Sephora

“This is a stick formula scrub that you apply like a lipstick, then rub your lips together to exfoliate. It is simple to use, and because it has a sugar base, it melts away and does not need to be rinsed off,” said Cantor.

First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Lip Therapy, $12, Amazon

“Next, hydrate your lips with a balm like First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Lip Therapy to ensure a plumped-up pout. Leave on as long as possible, and then blot it completely off your lips right before you are ready to apply your lip product,” said Cantor.

MAC Prep + Prime Lip, $24, Amazon

“Just before applying your lip product, apply a lip primer like Prep + Prime Lip from MAC cosmetics to smooth away texture and help your lip products stay on your lips,” said Cantor.

Add a pop of color

The best way to make your lips pop is to wear a lip color in the most vivid, arresting shade you can find. “Neon is a huge trend right now, so finding a great neon lip product is a great way to bring a pop of color to your look while also embracing the trend,” said Cantor.

Urban Decay Revolution High-Color Lip Gloss in Savage, $11, Urban Decay

“This is an excellent way to rock this trend,” said Cantor.

Benefit Cosmetics High Brow Glow Luminous Highlight and Life Pencil, $22, Sephora

“This incredibly versatile products makes highlighting quick and easy. Simply draw a line over your Cupid’s bow and then melt it in with your fingertips or blend it out with a brush,” said Cantor.

The Cupid's bow is the curved area just above your lips and below your nostrils.

5. How to apply eye makeup

“A foolproof way to take your eye makeup to the next level is to add some black eyeliner in your waterline and smudge it into your lashes,” said Cantor.

To take it to the next level: Add a swipe of glitter eyeliner to your upper lash line to give a flash of light when you bat your eyes.

Urban Decay Heavy Metal Glitter Eyeliner, $21, Sephora

Marc Jacobs Beauty Highliner Glam Glitter Gel Eyeliner, $25, Sephora

6. How to apply brow makeup

Brows are key to framing the face. “Make sure you find a brow pencil (or brow gel) that is close to your brow shade, but it doesn't have to match exactly,” said Annie Tevelin, makeup artist and founder of SkinOwl.

Glossier's Boy Brow, $16, Glossier

“It comes in straight-forward shades that are easy to apply and crates a full and arched brow,” said Tevelin.

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