How to Apply Makeup in 10 Minutes or Less

Woman with makeup

Plume Creative / Getty Images

Let's face it: There's no shortage of full-coverage makeup looks out there, from intricate eyeliner to highlighting, contouring, and everything in between. We'll be the first to admit that sometimes it's helpful to get back to the basics when it comes to makeup application. And if you're new to the makeup scene, easing into a simple routine will help you get comfortable with products, textures, and your own skin. With a few basics under your belt, you'll be able to experiment like your favorite Instagram artist in no time. Let this simple routine be your introduction to how to put on makeup. Discover our 10-step routine, below.

1. Prep Skin

The most important step before applying makeup is to identify your skin type and perfect your skincare routine. Your skin is the canvas, so having a fresh palette to paint on will make choosing the right products easier. Use a cleanser daily, an exfoliator two to three times a week, and a hydrator in the morning and evening.

E.l.f. Complete Skincare Set
E.l.f. Complete Skincare Set $51

2. Use Sunscreen Daily

The first line of defense against aging comes in the form of SPF. Rain or shine, sunscreen should be applied everyday post-moisturizer to offer protection and combat wrinkles, dark spots, and uneven skin tone. Short on time? Look for a double-duty SPF that contains priming benefits.

Supergoop! Glowscreen Sunscreen SPF 40
Supergoop! Glowscreen Sunscreen SPF 40 $36

3. Apply Foundation

If you prefer lighter coverage, try a tinted moisturizer or a BB cream. If your skin requires more coverage, a foundation is your best bet. Somewhere in the middle? Find a foundation with a buildable formula (this will give you more control as to how much coverage you'll get).

Maybelline Fit Me Matte + Poreless
Maybelline Fit Me Matte + Poreless Liquid Foundation $8

When it comes to application, the type of formula will determine your tool. For example, stick foundations blend more evenly with a buffing brush while liquid foundation works best with a beauty sponge. Powder foundation can be applied using a dense packing brush to yield higher coverage or a fluffy powder brush for a lighter coverage.

Beautyblender The Original Beautyblender
Beautyblender The Original Beautyblender $20

4. Add Concealer

Once you have your base applied, you can build up coverage on any spots that need concealing (namely, dark spots, breakouts, and undereye circles). Apply concealer with your ring finger to the areas that need it most, and use a patting motion (versus rubbing) with your finger, a beauty sponge, or a flat concealer brush. You'll find concealers in balm form are best for high-coverage areas while liquid concealers are ideal for underneath the eyes.

Mineral Fusion Liquid Mineral Concealer
Mineral Fusion Liquid Mineral Concealer $26

5. Apply Blush and Bronzer

While foundation and concealer create an even base, your skin can be left looking flat. That's where blush and bronzer come in: Sweep bronzer onto the outer edges of your face then apply blush to the apples of your cheeks for added dimension. On lighter makeup days, cream blushes and bronzers are great alternatives to powder.

Wander Beauty Trip For Two Blush and Bronzer Duo
Wander Beauty Trip For Two Blush and Bronzer Duo $36

6. Sweep on Eyeshadow

If you want to wear eyeshadow, be sure to set the lid first with an eyeshadow primer (otherwise you'll risk the shadow creasing into your eyelids). Achieve a quick, easy look with a cream eyeshadow or, if you're feeling adventurous, do a smoky eye and contour the eye with powder shadows.

Pyt Beauty Day-To-Night Eyeshadow Palette
PYT Beauty Day-To-Night Eyeshadow Palette $32

7. Line Your Eyes

There are a number of forms an eyeliner can take: pencil, pot, gel, liquid, and kohl are among them. Pencil liners can be used to draw a simple line on the upper and lower lids or for adding smokiness on the outer corners of the eye. For graphic eyeliner, opt for liquid or gel formulas. The key to nailing down the application? Practice, practice, practice.

hard candy
Hard Candy Stroke of Gorgeous Felt Tip Eyeliner $5

8. Fill in Your Brows

We often hear that eyebrows are the frame of the face. As such, many find they that their brows require a little more attention. Lightly fill them in with powder, pencil, or gel depending on how dramatic of a look you're going for. Adding a small amount of color and filling in the sparse spots will transform your brows (and consequently, your face).

It Cosmetics Brow Power Universal Eyebrow Pencil
It Cosmetics Brow Power Universal Eyebrow Pencil $24

9. Apply Mascara

If you have straight lashes that fall outward, curl your lashes first. Then, apply your mascara by wiggling the wand from the roots of your lashes, through to the ends. A black mascara will pump up the drama while a brown one is great for daytime looks.

Thrive Causemetics Liquid Lash Extensions Mascara in Crystal
Thrive Causemetics Liquid Lash Extensions Mascara in Crystal $24

10. Apply a Lip Color

Having your full face done pre-lipstick application will help you choose which color would pair well with your look. A balm will add hydration (versus color) while a gloss will add shine. You'll have more creative freedom with lipsticks or liquid lipsticks.

Sigma Infinity Point Lipstick
Sigma Infinity Point Lipstick $25


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