How to apply makeup like a pro

Want to look as good as Meghan Markle did on her wedding day? Genetics aside, there’s some tips and tricks the pro makeup artists use to ensure a flawless finish that lasts all day (or night). From getting your base right to perfecting your pout, here’s everything you need to know for a pro application day in, day out.

Choosing your foundation

There are two main considerations when choosing a foundation; colour and consistency. The colour should be a near-match to your skin tone. Testing it on your jawline is the best way to check. Wait till the test patch has dried as well to ensure the colour doesn’t change as it sets. If in doubt, going a colour lighter is safest as you’ll be layering colour back on with a contour, bronzer and blush later on.

Consistency depends on what level of coverage you like and what sort of skin you have. For fuller coverage a liquid foundation is your best bet. Find a formula specifically designed for your skin such as matte finish for combo or oily and moisturising/dewy for dry skin types. Powder foundations offer a more natural, light coverage which makes them great for everyday use. But they can be very drying on your skin so better suit oily complexions or layering over a hydrating moisturiser.

Order of application

As long as everything ends up on your face it doesn’t matter what order you do it in, right? Wrong. Applying a flawless face of makeup is all about layering your products and doing them out of order means layers that blend into one another rather than sit flawlessly.

The correct order is:

  • Moisturiser
  • Primer
  • Foundation
  • Concealer
  • Setting powder

Why? Moisturiser is used to treat the skin so should always be applied on a bare face. Primer comes next to minimise pores and smooth out your skin (the canvas) for painting. Foundation should always be applied before concealer as you won’t know what needs concealing until it’s underneath your primary layer. And setting powder is designed to hold everything in place, which is useless until it’s actually been applied.

Powder tricks for oily skin

There are a few exceptions to the rule when it comes to powdering your face. If you have oily or combination skin you probably find that certain areas are shiny throughout the day. Worse still, they tend to lose product and leave your face looking blotchy. To prevent skin oils from breaking up your makeup it helps to add an extra layer to your base. After your primer take a translucent setting powder and brush it over the areas of your face which end up shiny. This added mattifying step will keep your foundation in place all day.

Always use fresh makeup

Believe it or not makeup does expire. Once the products have reached their shelf-life they are more likely to break up on your face, lose pigment and become dry or cakey. Using fresh makeup is going to give you a more professional end result. Expiry dates for common makeup items are:

6 Months: mascara, cream eyeshadow

12 Months: moisturiser, foundation, concealer, eyeliner, lipstick

24 Months: powder eyeshadow, blush, brow pencils, other powder

To ensure your makeup lasts as long as promised it should be stored in a cool, dry place like your bedroom dresser or bedside table. Even if you haven’t finished your products yet it’s recommended to replace them. Try and keep to drugstore brands for products with shorter lifespans (like mascara) and shop online for great deals on high-end products.

Get the perfect smokey eye

Beginners in particular shy away from a smokey eye but it’s not as hard as it sounds. One of the key secrets is building up the layers of depth in the corner of your eye, rather than jumping straight to dark shades that create the illusion of smaller eyes. Start every eyeshadow look with a transition colour through your crease. It should be a neutral brown/cream shade similar to your skin tone. Even after this first colour you’ll notice more depth to your eyelids. A well-executed smokey eye will use two shades; one lighter and one darker. For example, a chocolate brown from the outer corner into the centre of your crease followed by a true black applied carefully on just the outer corner. You should also focus on getting the smokey aspect of your eyeshadow right before adding any glitter or other shades across the whole lid.

A natural finish for your brows

Brow pencil by itself can be harsh and unnatural but powder sometimes lacks the necessary drama. Combine the two for a natural, sculpted brow in minutes. Use a creamy pencil to underline your arch and give it structure. Follow up with powder to feather in the gaps throughout your brow.

Keep lipstick out of fine lines

Whether it’s a neutral shade or a dramatic pop of colour, your lipstick can make or break the look. Dry, cracked lips are a recipe for lipstick sinking into the fine lines and creases of your lips. Lip balm is a great solution to soften your lips but it won’t get rid of the flaky skin already present. Try exfoliating your lips for the perfect pout. There are specific products available for this purpose but if you’d like a DIY version; mix 1 teaspoon coarse sugar, a drop of olive oil and some honey for sweetness. Combine into a paste and rub over your lips. Wipe off with paper and see the difference it makes to your lipstick.

Julia Hammond
Julia Hammond
Julia Hammond is a Melbourne-based freelance writer who has worked with major brands and blogs from The Urban List to You can find her online at
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