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How to Apply Makeup, According to a Makeup Artist

The Right Way to Wear Makeup

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It seems like every day, there’s a new beauty or skincare product on the market. But, while you’d love to try them all, where do they fit into your current regimen? If you get a new serum, does it replace your current moisturizer? Should you be using concealer as well as foundation? “There are so many products available, it can be overwhelming,” says Benjamin Ruiz, Global Makeup Artist for Laura Mercier. But applying the correct products in the correct way can go a long way in helping you looking your absolute best. So we had Ruiz share his a step-by-step method to taking the madness out of putting on your makeup. 

Photo: Corbis Images


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Ideally, choose a moisturizer that has SPF already in it so that you don’t have to apply your daily sun protection after you moisturize. A separate eye cream is also worthwhile, since they're made specifically for the delicate eye area. Apply it before you put on your face moisturizer.

Put it on right: Don’t just dip your dirty finger into your cream. For hygiene purposes, use a clean cotton swab to scoop out a nickel-sized amount. Warm it up in your hands and then press it into your face. Then massage it in for 30 seconds. Don’t forget your neck and the tips of your earlobes (earrings make ‘em dry!).

Our picks: Peter Thomas Roth Max All Day Moisture Defense Sunscreen Lotion or Cream ($42;, Amala Beauty Rejuvenating Eye Cream ($128;


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A primer really sets you up for makeup success. “It creates a beautiful canvas and gives longevity for your foundation,” says Ruiz. “Even if you don’t use foundation, it will soften the appearance of your skin and help concealer to stay put.” Feel like you’ve got too much on your face already? Opt an alphabet cream (BB or CC, for example), like the first-ever EE cream, Estée Lauder Enlighten Even Effect Skintone Corrector SPF 30 ($40;, instead of using a primer and a foundation.

Put it on right: Warm up a dime-sized amount and then massage it into the face. Cover entire face with it and bring it down the neck to soften the appearance of the skin.

Our Pick: Laura Mercier Foundation Primer Radiance ($20;


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If you want a lighter coverage, try a tinted moisturizer instead of a full-coverage foundation. “Every woman should have two foundations in her beauty arsenal: her every day, go-to foundation and something a bit heavier for special events to optimize ‘photo op’ moments,” says Ruiz. Match your foundation to your neck or jaw line so that you don’t end up with a lighter head and darker body or vice versa.

Put it on right: Don’t do the dot-dot-dot and start blending, says Ruiz, because “by the time you get to the last dot, it’s a little dry and difficult to blend.” Instead, squirt some on to your hand, warm it up and then blend it in using your fingers or a sponge. Then, using the dry side of the sponge, buff it into your face. (See how it's done in this video on How to Apply Foundation for Flawless, Even Skin.)

Our pick: Stay All Day Foundation by Stila ($44;


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Some women skip foundation and go straight to concealer. Other women don’t bother with concealer if they use foundation. No matter what you used before, concealer covers broken capillaries, dark circles and blemishes. Here's a pro tip: you don’t have to conceal your entire eye area, says Ruiz. “Maybe you just have darkness in the inner eye, so target your concealer instead of spreading it all over,” he says. “Less is always more.”

Put it on right: Get two shades of concealer—a lighter one and a darker one—and blend them together on the back of your hand with a brush to get a custom camouflage color. Test the shade on your chin first. When you’re satisfied with the shade, gently brush a bit of concealer onto the area where you need it and then press it in with your finger. Continue until the area is covered.

Our Pick: Shiseido Perfecting Stick Concealer ($27;


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Face powder sets your foundation and prevents your skin from getting too oily or shiny. Plus, it makes your face look smoother and helps to minimize any small imperfections.

Put it On Right: Ruiz prefers using a puff over a powder brush. He folds it like a taco, taps off excess, and presses and rolls it into the skin. “This way, you set your foundation without leaving any residue behind,” says Ruiz. If you prefer to use cream blush or highlighter, apply it before you put on powder. Otherwise, you risk the blush “pilling up.”

Our Pick: RMS Beauty UnPowder ($34;

Eye Shadow

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For all-day staying power, blend a bit of eye shadow primer, such as Bare Minerals PrimeTime Eye Primer ($18;, onto your lid. For even longer staying power, opt for a cream shadow over a powder. When choosing colors, remember that dark shades recede (best for the crease) and light shades make things come forward (best for the lid and orbital bone).

Put it on right: Blend a cream formula in with your finger, making sure that the color diffuses as you get to the outer edges of your eyes. If you’re using a powder, be sure to use a brush and not the applicator sponge. Start in the center of the lid and brush the color out to the left and then to the right. “You want the color to be concentrated in the center and then blend it out,” says Ruiz. Then start blending a lighter color up so you don’t see starts and stops.

Our pick: Laura Mercier Caviar Sticks, ($28;


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“Liner can increase the volume of your lashes by tenfold,” says Ruiz, who prefers cake liner or kohl pencils. Avoid the cat-eye look and other high-graphic looks for everyday.

Put it on right: Line your upper lash line by aiming for the roots of your lashes. Apply it and then smudge it with a brush to blur the line. Whatever you do, don’t line the waterline (the inside of your eye); it can cause an eye infection. (Learn more 10 Pro Eyeliner Tricks to Upgrade Your Look.)

Our pick: Vapour Mesmerize Eyeliner ($20;


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Curl your lashes first and do it in three stages: the base first, then the mid-section of the lash. Finish off by getting the little baby lashes on the outside. “These tiny lashes are the unsung heroes and can really make your eyes pop,” says Ruiz. Change out your mascara every three months so that it’s fresh and doesn’t leave your lashes dry-looking and clumpy.

Put it on right: Go for one or two coats. Start at the base of your lashes and wiggle the wand a bit as you pull it up and out through the lashes. Use a light circular motion on baby lashes. Then, wipe off the wand and barely touch the bottom lashes.

Our pick: FLOWER Outstretched Lengthening Mascara ($8;


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Blush makes your complexion look radiant and alive. It’s not hard to put on; the secret is to not overdo it. “Go easy on applying the color,” says Ruiz. “It’s simple to add more, but it’s more difficult to try to dial it back once it’s on.”

Put it on right: No matter what you see on Instagram pics of your friends, do not go old school and brush blush all the way up your cheekbone, using it as a contour device. Apply powder blush only to the apple of the cheek so it looks like a flush. If you need more color, opt for cream cheek blush or a cheek stick, which you can even layer on top of the powder blush.

Our pick: Loreal Visible Color Lift Cream to Powder Blush ($12;


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Lip color is a great way express yourself so be adventurous with it. “Wear whatever color you want—nudes, reds, plums, brights,” says Ruiz. “Life is too short—it’s only lipstick.”

Put it on right: Lining and then filling in your lips with a pencil can help your lipstick stick. “But it’s a personal choice that you can certainly skip," says Ruiz. When applying lipstick, use a brush, dab some in the middle of your bottom lip and then roll your lips together to distribute it. Then come back and add a bit more to the outer edges. For a high-shine look, add a dab of gloss or petroleum jelly over the color. Pucker up, buttercup—you’re ready to face the day! (Now, learn how to make your lip color last with How to Keep Your Lipstick from Fading.)

Our pick: Colorlicious Lipstick by CoverGirl ($6;


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