How to Apply Makeup for Beginners: A Complete Guide

Woman putting makeup on someone

Since ancient times, men and women have been painting their faces to represent beauty, culture, and religious honor. It’s no question that the beauty industry has made huge leaps and strides when it comes to makeup, but the goal remains the same: to enhance the beauty we have within by finding a makeup look that fits it.

Applying makeup is no easy feat. Along with finding the best ways to apply concealer, foundation, and the basics, you also have to do your mascara, eyebrows, contouring, and everything in between. Plus, getting that effortless, just got out of bed look isn’t as easy as it seems. Part of learning how to apply makeup involves learning how to conceal blemishes and imperfections. That’s where HIDE comes in. 

If you’re a first-time makeup user and are just beginning to explore the world of makeup and beauty products, don’t sweat it! This guide breaks it all down for you so you can find the perfect beginner makeup routine.

Makeup Basics: What You’ll Need

Before we start going over technique, let’s talk about what tools you need to have in your makeup bag.

Concealer and Foundation

The most important place to start when perfecting your makeup look is with a good concealer and foundation. Concealer’s job is to hide imperfections, blemishes, dark spots, acne, scarring, and even tattoos. It’s generally thicker than a foundation is and offers heavy-duty coverage to hide even the toughest areas.

Foundation, on the other hand, is a lighter formula that offers coverage for your entire face—not just one or two areas like concealer. Foundation is literally the basis of your makeup look. It’s what you use to build everything else on and what holds everything together.

The biggest difference between concealer and foundation is what they’re used for and how they work. Luckily, HIDE offers both concealer and foundation to hide even the darkest spots and blend in your makeup to create a seamless, lightweight finish to help you build the rest of your look on.

Primer, Highlighter, Contour

Primer is another important piece in your makeup bag, but did you know you can use concealer to prime your eyelids for eyeshadow? Dab a small amount of concealer onto the area, blend, and apply eyeshadow. This decreases creases and gives your eyes a seamless, natural-looking finish.

It’s also important to have a primer for your face. Primer helps even out your skin before your makeup application by filling in any textured areas. This can help a foundation go from cakey to nearly perfect. Most primers are gels, creams, or sprays.

Highlighter and contour are also important things to have in your makeup drawer. Without these two items, your finished makeup look may lack the chiseled dimension you see most celebrities and influencers rocking. Highlighter and contour help make the shadows and bright spots that complete the makeup look.

Highlighter emphasizes the parts of your face that naturally catch the light. For instance, your nose, your cheeks, and the center of your chin all catch the light. The areas of your face that naturally catch shadows like your cheekbones, the outskirts of your face, and around the ball of your chin and nose should have contour.

Eye Makeup

No makeup look is complete without the eyes. This includes mascara for the lashes, makeup for the brows, eyeliner, and eyeshadow to complete the look. While you don’t have to use all of these each time, it’s important that you don’t forget to do your eyes.

Blush and Pops of Color

The last basic item to have in your makeup bag is blush and any other color you want! For instance, if you want a pop of color in a lipstick or lip gloss, this can add the perfect finishing touch your makeup needs to shine. If you want to put a pop of color in your eyeshadow, this can also help finish your look. Blush is a great way to add a natural rosiness to your foundation.

There are other makeup products out there like setting sprays, bronzer, lip pencils, and more, but they aren’t necessary for your makeup routine as a beginner. If you’re worried about getting the hang of applying your makeup, stick with these simple makeup tools to start out with. Once you get the hang of it, you can look into more makeup tools. 

Steps to Apply Your Makeup

Now that you know what makeup products to keep handy, here’s how to apply makeup for beginners in five easy steps.

1. Prep and Prime Your Canvas

Just like an artist preps their canvas before painting, it’s vital to prep your skin before putting makeup on it. This is the first and easiest step.

To prep your skin, use a gentle cleanser and moisturizer. This removes any dirt or oils from your skin so they’re not trapped under your makeup all day. While makeup rarely causes acne, it can if you don’t properly cleanse your skin and remove your makeup.  Be sure to find a product that works for your skin type.

2. Apply Concealer and Foundation

Next, it’s time to apply your concealer and foundation. This step can be tricky, not because applying these makeup products is difficult, but because many disagree about what to apply first. Does concealer go on first? Some swear by it. Others swear by using foundation first.

What’s the Right Order?

There is no right or wrong to how to put makeup on. If you have a tried and true method, stick with that. But it’s always great to learn, so here’s a brief description of each method and why people swear by them.

People put concealer on first because they believe it makes foundation (especially powder foundation) less cakey and helps conceal blemishes and pigmentation more efficiently. It’s also important to color correct before you use foundation, so if you’re using a color-correcting concealer, it’s vital to use this first.

However, some swear by using foundation first. Foundation goes all over your face, while concealer only goes on blemishes or dark spots. Some like to use foundation first to get a better idea of where they need concealer. This can save you from having to reapply if you use concealer first and then end up moving it around while blending your foundation. We compared these two methods, so you don’t have to. Just check out our blog post about which to apply first!  Now let’s talk about how to apply them.

How to Apply

We’re big fans of liquid foundation because it’s versatile, doesn’t cake up as easily, and goes over acne and blemishes to hide them completely. HIDE’s Premium Foundation is a great option because it comes in different shades and undertones and has a medium to full level of coverage. It will give you long-lasting coverage all day long, even through sweat, humidity, and rain.

You can apply liquid foundation with your fingers, a makeup sponge, or a thin-bristle foundation brush. After you apply your foundation, go in and put concealer over the places you want to cover up. HIDE’s Premium Concealer is another great option for this step. Dab some concealer under your eyes, around your acne, and anywhere else you want to conceal. Then, using your fingers or a makeup sponge, blend your concealer in.

3. Apply Highlighter, Contour, and Blush

After applying the two bases of your makeup, concealer, and foundation, it’s time to add some dimension with highlighter and contour. Did you know you don’t need to go out and buy two separate makeup products to do this? You can use concealer.

Now, if you want to invest in a good highlighter and contour, go for it. They will be great tools to have in your makeup drawer. But, if you don’t want to get two new products, concealer will work. Simply find a concealer that is two shades lighter than your natural skin tone for your highlight and one that is two shades darker for your contour.

The lighter color should go on the parts of your face that naturally catch the light. For instance, the ball of your nose, the apples of your cheeks, your chin should all be brightened. Next, use contour on the places that naturally catch shadows. Blend in for a perfect look.

To top it all off, dab some color on the high parts of your cheeks and blend in an upward motion to create a lifted, rosy look.

5. Do Your Eye and Lip Makeup

The last step is the eyes. Finish your makeup look by applying mascara, eyeliner, eyeshadow, and doing your eyebrows. You can keep it simple with a neutral shade of eyeshadow or add a pop of color! It’s completely up to you.


As you’re learning what makeup looks you like the best, remember that makeup is about having fun and expressing yourself. If you don’t get it perfect the first time, that’s okay! We’ve got tons of tips and tricks to help you on your makeup journey and walk you through everything you need to know.



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Skin Discoloration & Pigmentation Disorders: Causes & Treatments | Cleveland Clinic