While there’s no one “right” way to apply makeup, there is a general order that’ll make it easier to deliver more consistent results. If you’re trying to find that the proper order is, then you’ve come to the right place. At JCPenney, we’re here to share some helpful makeup application tips so you’ll always look your best.

To help you create a consistent makeup routine and up your game, we’ve listed down a step-by-step guide on the many ways to apply makeup (this includes your primer, foundation, mascara, and more). The guide will walk you through all the products and share our best application techniques, and product recommendations.

Before diving into makeup, it's essential to pre-treat your skin to ensure an even foundation, so finish your morning skin care regimen before applying makeup. This regimen includes washing your face with a cleanser, applying a moisturizing SPF, and then using your primer.


 A good primer will help you create an even foundation and extend the wea time of your makeup. If your skin is dry, choose a gel-based one, such as e.l.f. Power Grip Primer infused with hyaluronic acid.  

If you’re looking for a primer that targets specific skin concerns, such as redness, look no further than the Smashbox Photo Finish Correct Anti-Redness Primer. This primer not only cancels out redness but strengthens skin against damage from environmental aggressors like pollution and blue light.

Foundation is one of the few face makeup products that you don't want people to see, which means it should look like your skin. Make sure you choose a formula that works for you and pick a shade that complements your skin tone and undertone. If you're buying online, double-check your foundation swatches or use a Virtual Try-On tool to find the perfect shade.


If you suffer from oily skin, you might want to consider a matte foundation, such as the Relevant Rele-Wand™ 3-N-1 Foundation. Its cushiony texture uses a combination of emollients to create a durable film matrix on the skin for extended wear. The foundation utilizes a vegan alternative to Beeswax and nourishing oils, it easily penetrates and nourishes the skin for a soft, natural finish that lasts for hours. 

To apply your foundation, use a sponge in the compact to get full coverage, or a face brush to get medium coverage, and sweep the soft foundation over your face until it’s an even layer.

If your skin is dry, you may want to consider a liquid foundation. For example, you can use a thin liquid foundation like exa beauty High Fidelity Foundation. It’s super-charged anti-pollution actives shield against free radicals and urban pollution so you can safely power and play all day.

When using liquid foundation, use a damp makeup sponge or beauty blender to get even coverage; just wet and squeeze until slightly damp. Bounce and roll the foundation over your skin to buff in.


Foundation does an excellent job at evening out your complexion. However, a concealer covers up blemishes, dark circles, and imperfections. 

When you’re trying to decide what type of concealer you want (or need) to use, there are two main types to consider.

You can use an all over concealer like the Revlon Colorstay Skin Awaken Concealer that helps brighten and brighten areas of your face. Alternatively, you can use an under-eye concealer to cover up dark circles or fine lines, like Kimchi The Most Concealer. You can also use both depending on what your makeup needs are.


Now that you've established an even foundation, it's time to add depth to your face with bronzer or contouring. 

For an effortless, natural look, use a bronzer such as Pixi On-The-Glow Bronzer just below your cheekbone and around the face’s circumference with a large fluffy brush. Apply lightly and gradually build up coverage until you achieve the look you’re looking for.

For a sculpted look, contour your cheeks and nose with cool toned bronzing products that are 2-3 shades darker than your natural skin tone, such as NYX Professional Makeup Wonder Stick Contour and Highlighter Stick.


Blush is one of the best ways to add color to your skin and make your face look fuller. Use a soft cheek brush to apply your color to your cheeks at the apples and then swipe up to your temples for a lift. 

We recommend the RMS Beauty Redimension Hydra Powder Blush that works on different skin tones.


Finish off your face makeup with a highlighter to highlight the high points on your cheeks. The true match of the natural glow is the natural glow in your skin. 

Apply the Kimchi Pearls Gone Wild Powder Shimmer Highlighter to your face with the tips of your fingers for a more focused glow. A liquid base highlighter or luminizer is also great for under foundation. To achieve a full-on glow try using e.l.f Halo Glow Liquid Filter.

You can also use a fan brush to sweep the highlighter across your face, over your bridge of nose and anywhere else you would like to highlight your face. If your skin is dry and need some hydration, use a cream base or liquid highlighter. You can use your fingers to gently apply the highlighter to your skin using the ring finger.


The simplest way to use eyeliner is to use it after your eyeshadow but before your mascara. When you first start out with eyeliner, it’s hard to create an even line with a pencil. Instead, use small strokes and go back over the line to connect broken lines and create as thick of a line as you’d like.

If you want a liner that's easy to control and maintain sharpness, opt for the Always On gel eyeliner by Smashbox. It’s weightless gel formula glides on super-saturated color without any budging or flaking. This eyeliner can even be used for tightlining – a technique in which you apply liner on your waterline.

If you prefer liquid eyeliner, choose Reina Rebelde’s Rebel Eye Definer Liquid. This waterproof eyeliner delivers a long-wearing color with a demi-sheen finish. Choose your eyeliner based on the look you want to achieve.


Before you apply mascara, curl your lashes with an eyelash curler to enhance their length and curl. Then, use a lengthening mascara like Revlon’s So Fierce, sweeping it from the base to the tip of your lashes. Apply two coats for added drama, and don't forget to add mascara to your bottom lashes by wiggling the wand vertically.

You can also opt for a volumizing mascara like Too Faced Better Than Sex Volumizing Mascara that separates and plumps each lash for an intensified look.


Once you've finished applying your face and eye makeup, it's time to focus on your lips. Adding lip color can enhance your overall look and bring everything together. However, to ensure your lipstick stays in place throughout the day and doesn't bleed or smudge, using a lip liner is key. 

When choosing a lip liner, opt for a shade that closely matches either your natural lip color or the lipstick you plan to wear. Start by outlining the outer edges of your lips, following their natural shape. You can slightly overline or under line to adjust the shape as desired. Then, gently fill in your lips with the liner to create a long-lasting base for your lipstick.

Consider using the NYX Professional Makeup Slim Lip Pencil in your ideal shade. It is highly pigmented and adds definition. Or choose Be Legendary by Smashbox – a primer-infused lip liner that glides on easily & feels comfortable on your lips.


Begin by either using the lipstick bullet directly on your lips or a lipstick brush for a more precise application. Start from the center of your lips and glide the color outward towards the corners. There are countless options available in terms of shades and formulas, allowing for endless experimentation.

If you're into pigmented nude tones, consider trying out Nudiversal Lip Duo by CTZN Cosmetics. This lipstick and lip gloss duo is available in 25 nude shades so you can easily choose yours. For a long-lasting matte finish, you might enjoy Lime Crime’s Velvetines Liquid Matte Lipstick. Its richly pigmented formula won’t fade even after your meal and requires minimal touch-ups throughout the day.

Whether you opt for bold hues or subtle tints, the key is to find a lipstick that complements your style and enhances your natural beauty.

With this step-by-step guide, you'll can now master the basics of makeup application and create flawless looks with ease. And, we have all makeup essentials, so be sure to check out our online Beauty department. Happy makeup-ing!