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11 Tips for Better Makeup Application

InstaNatural Team
acne cleanser creams detox exfoliate eyes face Hyaluronic Acid lips makeup moisturizer pores rose Salicylic Acid scrubs skin sunscreen toner Vitamin C

Female wearing red lipstick

The best makeup applications should focus on enhancing your favorite features. Tasteful makeup takes what's already there and helps it shine. As such, makeup is only as good as the skin you apply it to! The health of your skin can make or break how well your makeup goes on and how it looks once applied. Dry skin, clogged pores, and wrinkles can wreak havoc on even the most flawless makeup application. Here are 10 tips for applying your makeup beautifully — an art that starts with healthy, well-cared-for skin.

Cleanse Your Face Thoroughly

A clean face helps makeup adhere to your skin better and last longer. Right before you apply your makeup, make sure to cleanse thoroughly. Washing with a good facial cleanser will remove dirt, oil, makeup, and other impurities from your skin to help your makeup go on smoothly.

Look for facial cleansers that kill two birds with one stone. For example, if you want to exfoliate while you cleanse, look for a cleanser with exfoliating properties like gentle enzymes or jojoba beads.

Alternatively, if face washes tend to dry your skin out, stick with a gentle cleanser with plenty of natural oils to keep your skin soft and hydrated. Look for ingredients like jojoba oil, olive oil, and essential oils.

Finally, if age spots or lines are a concern, opt for a cleanser that brightens while it cleans. Look for cleansers powered by Vitamin C!

Apply a Toner

Before you moisturize, you might benefit from applying a toner to your face and neck. Toners can help almost every skin type look better in makeup. If you have oily skin that is prone to breakouts, a toner can help clear away some of that oil before you apply makeup. On the other hand, if you have very dry skin, you can find a toner with more moisturizing properties for extra hydration. Here are just a few benefits of using a toner:

  • Minimizes pores
  • Hydrates
  • Balances skin’s pH
  • Refreshes skin
  • Restores the skin’s natural barrier
  • Allows treatment products to better penetrate the skin

Apply your toner with a cotton pad directly after cleansing. Follow with an appropriate serum and moisturizer for your skin type.


Female using a body scrub on abdomen You might wonder what in the world exfoliation has to do with makeup. Let's start with what "exfoliating" means. When you exfoliate, you remove the dry, dead cells from your skin's surface and reveal the luminous, new skin underneath. It is recommended to exfoliate 1-3 times a week, depending on your exfoliation method and skin type. Gentle scrubs and masks can be incorporated up to 3 times a week, while chemical peels and sensitive skin types should stick to 1-2 times a week. If your skin is looking 

dull, feeling uncomfortable, or products aren’t absorbing well, you could benefit from a boost in exfoliation.

How does exfoliation affect your makeup? One of the purposes of makeup is to help your skin look smooth and even, but if the skin underneath isn’t smooth, your makeup won’t apply correctly. After you apply your powder or foundation, does it look pancake-esque? Does your skin look dry or rough? If so, it could be the result of dead skin hindering the best application of your makeup.

When you exfoliate with a facial scrub — especially one with brightening agents — you give your makeup a smooth, radiant canvas to work with. As a result, you'll find that you don't need nearly as much makeup to make your skin look even and healthy.

Chemical vs. Mechanical Exfoliation

Note that mechanical exfoliation — scrubbing, sometimes with an abrasive brush or scrub — isn't the only way to get rid of dead skin cells. You can also exfoliate chemically with alpha hydroxy acids, enzymes, and retinol (vitamin A). These chemicals assist skin cell turnover and stimulate the formation of newer, healthier skin cells. Different skin types and concerns benefit from different forms of exfoliation and some skin types can benefit from both!

Lip Scrub

The benefits of exfoliation don't just apply to your face; they work for your lips as well. If you struggle with dry lips or vertical lipstick lines, exfoliation is your new best friend. Just like your face, exfoliating your lips will unveil a softer, smoother, and more kissable layer of skin. Exfoliation can be especially beneficial in the winter, when your lips have to combat dry air, cold temperatures, and harsh winds. Scrubbing your lips helps them retain moisture, so you can kiss winter's chapped lips goodbye.

Here's where your makeup comes in. Not only will exfoliating make your lips softer, it will give you a smoother, more even base to which to apply lip liner, lip stick, and lip gloss. Your lip makeup will look better and last longer. As a bonus, lip scrubs are usually made with sugar, so they taste amazing and make exfoliation a pleasure. 

To get your scrub on, you'll first need a soft-bristle toothbrush. If you have extra-sensitive skin, go with a kid's toothbrush. You can buy a lip scrub or make your own at home. For an easy sugar scrub, combine one-quarter cup of coarse sugar with enough coconut oil to make a paste.

Put the scrub on your lips or your toothbrush and gently brush your lips in a circular motion. Leave on your lips for at least a minute after you scrub, rinse off, and finish with a lip moisturizer or balm. Aim to exfoliate about once a week.


Remember that your makeup will only look as hydrated as the skin you put it on. If your skin is dry, tight, and flaky, your foundation and/or powder will reflect that. Before you put on a smidge of makeup, make sure you moisturize. This tip is for more than just vanity; moisturizing is one of the best things you can do for the health of your skin, regardless of your skin type.

In fact, a 2012 study in the journal Dermatology and Therapy found that moisturizers make the skin stronger by restoring the stratum corneum, or the outermost layer of the skin. Moisturizers act as a barrier to prevent water loss, in addition to replacing skin lipids and other important molecules.

The result? Your skin appears smoother, softer, and shows fewer fine lines. That makes your makeup's job infinitely easier. Just make sure to give your moisturizer time to dry — applying makeup while it's still damp can result in blotchiness.

Use an Eye Cream

Female pulling at under eye bags
Creases in your eye shadow and under-eye concealer can make even freshly applied makeup look like you've been wearing it for days. The same goes for uneven eyelid surfaces throwing off the line of your eye liner. Fortunately, the right eye cream can address all of these problems.

Dry skin and fine lines are usually the culprits behind these makeup faux pas. Moisturizing your eyelids and under-eye area is just as important as moisturizing the rest of your face. For the freshest, most precise eye makeup, you have to devote a little extra attention to the delicate skin that surrounds it. We recommend either an eye gel or serum; products with thicker consistencies tend to have the most powerful effect. With either product, try to find something that does it all — addresses the appearance of fine lines, diminishes puffiness, brightens dark circles, and moisturizes.

Two ingredients you might want to look for are hyaluronic acid (HA) and plant stem cells. What makes youthful skin look youthful is its superior ability to retain water, making it resilient and firm. As our skin gets exposed to the injuries of daily living as well as the aging process, it begins to lose moisture, causing wrinkles, dryness, and other problems.

The molecule responsible for retaining water in the skin is HA, which is especially helpful around the eye. Likewise, the theory behind plant stem cells is that they can trigger the growth of your skin's stem cells to counter the effects of aging.

Nourish Lips

Just as exfoliation helps lipstick apply smoother, keeping lips hydrated with a nourishing lip balm will make lip color apply easier and last longer. Lip balms help soothe dry lips, but with regular use, they can prevent the dryness from occurring in the first place.

Apply a lip balm morning and night, at the very end of your skin care routine. For chapped lips, reapply a layer right before bed. In the morning, applying lip balm at the end of your skin care routine but before your makeup will give the balm time to absorb. Excess lip balm can cause lip color to fade faster or smear, so dab away any excess right before applying lip color.

For lips that struggle with dryness, look for nourishing lip primers to wear underneath lipstick. You can also opt for colored balms and glosses to give lips hydration while adding a pop of color.

Address Your Spots Before Concealer

Concealer can certainly make blemishes, dark spots, and other imperfections lighter, but it won't make them vanish. For that, you need to address the underlying problem.

For breakouts, before you apply concealer try using a spot treatment on your blemishes. Ideally, the spot treatment will contain ingredients like salicylic acid, which can penetrate the pore wall to clear out blackheads causing oil and bacteria. Salicylic acid also has a preventive effect, in that it helps unclog your pores to stop breakouts from happening in the first place.

If sun spots, redness, or uneven skin tone are a problem for you, try applying a serum before your makeup. Look for products with vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), or Niacinamide to help nourish, hydrate and brighten for younger-looking skin.

Wear Sunscreen

Person spraying sunscreen into palm of hand

This may not directly relate to everyday makeup application, but it's arguably the single most important thing you can do to keep your skin radiant, smooth, and young. By applying a sunscreen daily before you put on makeup, you'll:

  • Avoid freckles and fine lines
  • Maintain an even skin tone
  • Preserve the strength of your skin's collagen and elastin (skin's building blocks) 

When you do those things, you'll find that you don't need much makeup to look incredible. Best of all, you can once again kill two birds with one stone if you pick a good daily sunscreen.

Many moisturizers are infused with sunscreen, which will help keep your skin hydrated and protected while streamlining your routine by moisturizing as you apply sunscreen. Make sure the sunscreen you choose also offers protection against different types of UV light (UVA and UVB). If you want to be even more efficient, you can even find sunscreens with antioxidants like vitamin E and green tea extract that add anti-aging properties.

Detoxify on Occasion

Our skin puts up with a lot from us, daily makeup wear included. To give your skin the rest and rejuvenation it deserves, don't forget to use a clarifying mask every once in a while. Your pores will thank you for an occasional deep cleaning by looking better than ever, with or without makeup.

A mask will also help you detoxify the skin, flushing out impurities, toxins, and other harmful materials. Mud masks are particularly effective, ridding your face of excess dirt and clearing blemishes. Try to find a mask that also has plenty of moisturizing ingredients to help restore your skin's natural softness. Shea butter, aloe vera, and jojoba oil are all excellent at softening the skin.

With most masks, you'll apply a generous layer and allow it to dry for approximately 10 to 15 minutes. Once dry, remove with a cloth and warm water. Use about once per week to keep your skin looking fresh.

Finish with A Spritz Of Rose Water

Have you ever noticed how actresses and models with professionally done makeup always have a natural, radiant glow about them? Well, you don't need fortune, fame, or a makeup pro to get that look — you need rose water.

After you’ve applied your makeup, gently spritz the skin with Rose Water. This additional step will set your makeup and help it last all day, while also providing incredible skin benefits. The beautiful thing about this trick is that it works whether your skin is dry or oily. If your skin is dry, the water prevents your skin and makeup from looking dull. If it's oily, the mist can help absorb excess oil production throughout the day for a shine-free look.

Mist lightly, holding the product 8-10 inches from the face. Once you spray the skin, the result will be a natural glow that lasts all day!

So much of what goes into beautiful makeup is beautiful skin. Properly nourished, hydrated, and cared-for skin will give you a look that makeup alone could never rival.


Image via Flickr by Zenspa1