face makeup | City Beauty



How To Apply Face Makeup: Step By Step Tutorial

September 2, 2020 By

Face makeup is the foundation for any look you’re trying to achieve. Whether you want to look glamorous for a night out or effortless for a casual gathering — learning your face and accentuating your best features can make your look shine no matter what vibe you’re rocking. Highlighting and contouring — two of the biggest makeup trends for decades — is a technique using shading and brightening to showcase your curves, angles, and all the beauty of your natural features. “One of the reasons why people highlight and contour their faces is because it can help to create a more defined look,” says esthetician and skin care consultant Lori Jacobson. Pedro Gonzalez-Curiel, a celebrity makeup artist and product development manager at LUXIE Beauty, says highlight and contour is also used “to give depth to the natural shape of your face.” Even if you’re not on social media, you’ve probably witnessed the sorcery that is highlight and contour on the faces of many big-time celebs and models. You may have even marveled at its mystery. But I’m here to tell you… a powerful technique like this does not have to be mysterious. If you want a simple way to help your face look instantly more structured and lifted — letting your best features take the spotlight — here’s our fool-proof guide to highlighting and contouring!

Wait… Is It Bad For My Skin to Wear Layers of Makeup?

Not if you use quality makeup and take proper care of your skin. Makeup is only going to be bad for you if you neglect to wash it off, use makeup that contains irritants, or continue to use expired makeup (makeup can develop irritants as it degrades). A flawless face makeup look starts with good skin care. Be sure to
cleanse your face every night to wash away the day’s dirt, makeup, and sweat. On heavy makeup days, don’t skip toner — it can give you the extra clean you need to get that last bit of grime out of your pores without stripping your skin of its natural moisture barrier. If you like to wear makeup frequently, it’s a smart idea to work regular facials into your routine as well. But washing and moisturizing your face every single day is the best way to maintain supple, glowing skin — so consider facials an addition, not a substitution.

How Do I Prep My Skin for Face Makeup?

You may have heard about, or maybe you already use, face makeup primer. Primer is a step between moisturizer and makeup that helps create an even surface and the perfect texture to “grab” onto makeup and keep it in place for all-day wear. It is often compared to priming a canvas before painting. As it turns out, while primer can be a lifesaver for special events, the majority of makeup artists and estheticians do not recommend using primer every day. “Here is the truth: you don’t need a primer,” beauty expert Marie Lewin breaks it down for us. “Primers fill in and clog and enlarge pores, good skincare that balances your skin is enough. No beauty professional will recommend them for daily use.”
Celebrity makeup artist and author, Mandie Brice agrees: “I don’t even always recommend an all-over face primer. I generally believe if there are no skin concerns, primer isn’t usually necessary most of the time.” Expert after expert advises that primer is no substitute for a good skin care routine. 

Try not to think of face makeup as only a cover-up for blemishes and trouble spots. Face makeup is a tool — one you can use to enhance your natural beauty, draw attention to the features you were born with, and help you look and feel like your most confident self. And all that starts with skin. Nourish your skin with potent serums, don’t be afraid of oils — which can get hydration deeper into your skin — moisturize with full coverage creams, and incorporate some targeted treatments to keep your skin looking smooth, supple, and ready for anything you throw at it.

Remember to Blend

When it comes to putting together a full face of makeup, Pedro Gonzalez-Curiel, wants you to keep in mind, “It’s the blending onto your skin you need to put more emphasis on.” Blending is the difference between seamless and “cakey” when it comes to face makeup. It can feel tedious at times, but the end result is a flawless finish. If you blend properly, face makeup doesn’t even look like makeup at all — just unblemished skin on a beautiful face. When following the steps below, remember that if you don’t blend thoroughly and evenly, no makeup “hack” is going to work. Blending is the number one tip to remember when applying face makeup. I’d call it the foundation, except…

Foundation: The Foundation

Now that your skin is prepped, time to lay the foundation…literally. First, you’ll want to determine which type suits you best – liquid or powder. This boils down to personal preference, but if you don’t yet have a favorite, follow this general rule: powder foundations are great for combination or oily skin types, while dry skin loves liquid foundation.

Step One: Dot your powder or liquid foundation evenly on the high and low points of your face.

Step Two: Blend in a circular motion until it fully and seamlessly melts into the skin. 

*Quick Tip: Blend your powdered foundations with a makeup brush and liquid foundations with a slightly dampened beauty sponge. Gently press the foundation into your skin with the sponge or use circular motions with your brush to completely blend.

Concealer: Expert in Espionage

Anything you’re looking to hide, concealer is equipped to cover. The trick is, apply concealer in thin blended layers. If you are looking for more coverage, apply another thin layer. Do not be tempted to glob concealer on in the hopes of covering more. Go bit by bit and blend, blend, blend!

Step One: Apply a few dots of concealer under your eyes close to the lash line.

Step Two: Using your clean fingers or a makeup sponge, tap to blend in your concealer – never rub it, especially under your eyes. If the coverage isn’t quite where you want it, apply another layer.

Step Three: Apply concealer to any blemishes around the face, use the same tapping technique to blend.

Step Four:  With a powder puff, gently press a little loose face powder wherever you applied concealer to help set it.

*Quick Tip: If you use a powdered foundation: apply concealer first, skip the powder on step four, and apply your foundation instead. For liquid foundations: apply your concealer on top of your foundation.

Contour: The Shadow

“The contour is meant to enhance the shadows your face naturally makes,” reminds Gonzalez-Curiel. “A good contour never warms up your complexion, that’s what a bronzer does.” Finding the right shade to contour your face is going to involve a bit of trial and error. The best advice is to pick a color one or two shades darker than your skin tone, not three, four, and five shades darker. Also, stick to the same undertones. If your foundation is warm, your contour should be too, and vice versa. 

Follow the map your features draw on your face. Remember, you are enhancing the shadows your features cast to draw attention to your natural beauty. 

Step One: Suck in your cheeks for an easy guide, and with a brush, apply contour in sweeping upward motions. Blend all the way up to the soft point where your ear meets your cheek. This will accentuate the hollows of your cheeks and make way for your cheekbones to stand out.

Step Two: Find your temples. Dot your contour brush against your temple, staying close to your hairline, and blend out in a circular motion. Contouring here helps define the edges of your face.

Step Three: Along the sides of your nose, delicately apply some contour from the top of your nose bridge down to the nostrils. This is an easy way to make your nose appear thinner or broader. For a thinner look, apply the contour closer to the top or bridge of your nose. For a more broad impact, start the contour father down the sides to leave ample room for highlight.

Step Four: Very lightly apply contour along the underside of your jaw. Use a gentle hand here, you don’t want to paint yourself a 5 o’clock shadow. Use the contour to subtly define the edge of your jaw.

Highlight: The Star

Highlight draws the eye to areas you want to stand out. When looking at the map of your face, think about where the sunlight would naturally hit. These are called the “high points” of your face – the tops of your cheekbones, your brow bone, your Cupid’s bow, and the bridge of your nose. The high points are exactly where you apply highlighter.

Advice for finding the right highlight color is the same as advice for finding the right contour: “For Highlight go one to two shades lighter in the same family of undertones you use. If you are Neutral, Warm, or Cool make sure to stick to that family,” advises Gonzalez-Curiel. But luckily, “There is a lot of wiggle room, as many highlighters can be used universally.” Mandie Brice points out. So that will help you take guesswork out of the shade while the steps below take the guesswork out of placement.

Step One: Dab and blend highlighter along the top of your cheekbone. Blend all the way up into your temple contour.

Step Two: Apply highlighter to the middle of your forehead. Blend out across your brow bone and up to your center hairline.

Step Three: Draw a line of highlight down the bridge of your nose. Blend from the center out. 

Step Four: Dot a tiny bit of highlighter on your chin and cupid’s bow right above your mouth. Gently blend by tapping. Be sure not to rub or pull.

Powder: Your Insurance Policy

Powder will preserve and prolong your face makeup by absorbing the excess oils that can melt your makeup off your face throughout the day. That’s why it is sometimes referred to as setting powder, it “sets” your face makeup. This is different from powder foundation, setting powder is a translucent powder that can be pressed or loose. It blots onto the skin without leaving color behind and — if you follow the application tips below — it won’t smudge or blur all your beautifully blended highlight and contour.

Step One: Use a powder puff and tap off any excess before applying it to your face.

Step Two:  Gently press and roll the powder puff into your skin. Don’t rub. You don’t want to smudge any of that perfectly applied face makeup.

*Quick Tip: If you use powdered foundation along with a powder contour and powder highlight, you can skip this extra layer of powder. You may benefit more from a setting spray to help hold your makeup in place. But check the ingredients. Many setting sprays contain alcohol to help keep oil at bay, but that can be very drying to your skin, especially with repeated use.

Finish the Look

All those layers of makeup may sound like a lot, but if you are applying and blending thoroughly, you should achieve a natural-looking, full coverage base with no caking or cracking in sight. If you follow the steps above, your cheekbones should look more pronounced and your face brighter and more shapely. This is a to-die-for look unto itself and you can certainly stop there — but maybe there are a few more features you’d like to accentuate. Below are application tips to target the areas you want to draw the most attention to.


: You can prep your eyes with a primer if you like, but make sure it is a primer specifically formulated for the delicate eye area. However, a better way to prep your lids is with Lid Lifting Treatment. This lightweight cream nourishes the sensitive skin on your eyelids while reducing the appearance of fine lines and creases, leaving you the perfect canvas for a stunning eye look.

Apply: Use the same techniques used in applying highlight and contour. Put a lighter shadow in the inner corners of your eyes and under the brow bone, while you apply a darker color into the crease to create depth.

Line: Eyeliner can help your lashes appear thicker and your eyes look bigger depending on the techniques you employ. One technique for larger-looking eyes is to take a nude pencil eyeliner and apply it to your lower waterline. When it comes to your upper eyelid — whether you want dramatic black liner or playful, bright colors — start with small, soft strokes when you line your lid. If you want a heavier look, you can always apply more, but remember, it’s easier to build than take away. If you want to take your look to the next level, winged cat eyeliner is a popular and feminine look (click here for a step-by-step tutorial). And don’t forget mascara! Elongate and accentuate every one of your lashes to make your eyes pop.


: The best lip look starts with smooth, supple lips. Keep your lips moisturized with ultra-hydrating hyaluronic acid and nourishing oligopeptides. In addition to that, check out this blog on how to properly exfoliate your gentle lips without damaging them.

Line: Pick a lip liner that matches your lipstick. In small, short strokes, line your lips. If you want your lips to appear fuller, line just outside of your natural lip line, but be careful! A subtle line outside your lips will give the illusion of naturally plump lips, but go too far and your lips may look obviously overlined.

Fill: Grab your favorite lipstick, glossy or matte, and fill in your lips. Apply in light, feathered strokes, but don’t be shy, your lips will pop with full coverage! Make sure to go all the way to the liner, but not beyond it.

Deliver Some Extra Umph: Take a lip liner a shade or two darker than your lipstick. Draw a line down the center of your bottom lip. Blend it. The contour will give you the appearance of fuller lips practically bursting at the seams.


: The best prep for your eyebrows is to not over pluck or wax. Keeping eyebrows clean prevents any blocked hair follicles that contribute to the appearance of thinning eyebrows. There is also a new hack for soft feathery eyebrows using soap that you can read about here! Outside of that, the best prep is to brush your brows up and out with a clean spoolie.

Fill: Again, follow the map of your face. Aim to accentuate the appearance of your own natural brow rather than cover it up. Whether you prefer a brow pencil, powder, or gel, the application techniques are the same. Start on the inside edge of one eyebrow and draw with soft short strokes to gently fill in up to the highest point of your arch. Avoid harsh lines by keeping your pressure light. Then follow the direction of hair growth on the tail of your brow and continue soft hairlike strokes stopping before you reach your temples. Careful not to go too far, your eyebrows should stay above your eyes.

*Quick Tip: If you are using a brow powder, apply with a stiff angled brush. For brow gel, use a spoolie.

Don’t Change Who You Are

Face makeup can dramatically change your look — sometimes it can make you
completely unrecognizable. But City Beauty wants you to recognize who you see in the mirror. We share Pedro Gonzalez-Curiel’s point of view: “What I like to do with makeup is enhance one’s beautiful features. Not Altering your look, but making your natural beauty stand out.” You’re already beautiful! Makeup is just one way to celebrate that beauty. 

Do you put on a full face of makeup every morning or are you more of a skinimalist? Comment below and let us know!

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