How to Apply Makeup in 10 Minutes or Less

12 Simple Steps for Perfect Daytime Makeup

Woman applying make up with products in background
Dougal Waters / Digital Vision / Getty Images

Every woman who wears makeup has her own routine and favorite products. While it's great to have a go-to system in place, could you use a few tips to make it last longer? What if you're new to it and have only dabbled in a bit of mascara or eyeshadow, maybe some lip gloss?

Makeup is complicated and it can be confusing when you have your entire kit lined up on the vanity. To help you out, let's walk through the basic steps of a typical daytime makeup routine that will leave you looking great without all the guesswork.

 Feel free to skip any of these if, for example, you aren't into eyeliner.

Begin With the Skin

The most important part of your beauty routine is to get your skin in tip-top shape. Once you have a fresh, gorgeous palette to paint on, you only need to highlight your eyes or your lips or perhaps your bronzed skin (hello, bronzer!) for the perfect look.

Apply Sunscreen Daily

A dewy, fresh complexion is sexy and youthful. Starting with a clean face, apply sunscreen to your face. Rain or shine, you should get in the habit of applying sunscreen every day. You can even use a tinted moisturizer with SPF 50, which allows you to skip the foundation step.

If you have dry skin, think about applying moisturizer before your sunscreen. For oily skin, rinse your face with warm water and pat dry before applying sunscreen.

Apply Concealer

Apply concealer with your ring finger to the spots that need it most. For most women, this is under the eye, in the hollow sockets on the inside of the eye, along the nose, and on the chin.

Blend in by patting—never rubbing—the concealer.

If you like, you can use a concealer brush to apply concealer. You may find that it works better than your finger to get into some of the tight spots that need it most.

Foundation Is Next

Apply a tinted moisturizer or foundation to your face, making sure to blend along the jawline so you don't have a tell-tale line.

A foam sponge works great for this task.

Very few people need to actually apply foundation all over the face. Simply apply it where you have uneven skin tone (usually along your nose). In wintertime, if your cheeks tend to get ruddy, apply it there as well. For more sheer, natural coverage, consider a tinted moisturizer, which goes on much lighter than typical foundations

Next Up: Blush, Bronzer

Apply blush on the apples of your cheeks. If you want to appear sun-kissed, apply a bronzer as well. At this point, feel free to use a highlighter pen to brighten your face.

Apply Eyeliner

Now that your face is set, it's time to make up your eyes. Begin by applying eyeliner to your lids.

There are many different ways to apply eyeliner. For instance, you might want to play with a smokey eye or a cat eye, though there are many more options. For a basic eye, simply apply liner to the upper lashes and the lower lashes, smudging along the lower so it doesn't look drawn on. 

Prime Your Lids

If you wear eyeshadow, be sure to set the lid first with an eyeshadow primer. Otherwise, the shadow will melt into your eyelids and it won't last long. If you don't have eyeshadow primer, concealer will work in a pinch.

Shade in Your Lids With Eyeshadow

Just as there are many ways to apply eyeliner, you can experiment with different eyeshadow looks as well. For a basic eye, simply apply a base shade on the lid of the eye and add a darker contouring shadow in the crease. Make sure to blend it all in well. 

Curl Those Lashes

Curl your lashes with an eyelash curler. You can blast your curler for three seconds with a hairdryer to make the curl hold better, just be sure to test the metal to ensure it's not too hot first.

Move on to Mascara

Apply mascara by wiggling the wand from the roots of your lashes on through to the ends. Do it twice for a touch more drama.

And Finally, Your Lips

Once you have your face made up, you can see exactly what type of lip treatment you need. You can either fill in your lips with lip liner and apply lip balm or gloss over it, or you can line the lips first then apply lipstick.

Some women opt for just gloss or balm, especially if they are playing up their eyes. 

Set Your Makeup

Finish up by setting your face with loose powder or a spritz of Evian spray. For aging skin, dewiness is desired. Makeup artist Bobbi Brown likes to warm up a moisturizing face balm in the palms of her hands. She then presses the balm onto the cheeks and any places that seem to be a little too matte.