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As if it’s not tough enough figuring out why there’s a need for lash primer and lip liner when we first started using makeup, the order of applying them can be a little confusing as well.

Should we apply the eyeliner first or the mascara? Should concealer or foundation go first? When do we apply the lipstick? How about blusher?

This rough guide, complete with explanations, will tell you what works and why it works :

1. Base: Primer, foundation, concealer, then powder

applying foundation

A primer is an often neglected product, but this creates the base that will help your foundation glide on more smoothly and last longer. This should always be the first step of any makeup routine. Even our writer’s boyfriend knows that!

Next, use a foundation to create an even-coloured canvas first before your concealer. A concealer acts as a touch-up, to cover any other blemishes that can’t be covered by the foundation. Also, because of the consistency of most concealer, applying foundation over it often means you’re rubbing the concealer off, defeating the original purpose of concealer – to stay and conceal blemishes. Another reason why concealer should go next is because concealer is usually drier and you want to use as little of it as you can. Foundation helps to cover and lighten a lot of imperfections already, so concealer can be used sparingly.

You may have seen people applying powder as their last step to seal the makeup. But in the midst of applying your eye and lip makeup, your foundation may start budging. So, powder first before you move on to the colours. You can always powder again at the end of the routine if you really prefer a matte look.

2. Eye makeup: Eyeshadow, eyeliner, then mascara

Eyeshadows are usually a little more translucent, and so it should go first. Applying eyeliner over the eyeshadow also ensures that they show up more obviously. It is also advisable to apply your eyeliner before mascara. It’s tougher to apply eyeliner after you’re done with mascara since your lashes will be tougher, lifted and longer, thus, they’ll be in the way.

3. Lip makeup: Lip balm, lip liner, lipstick, then lip gloss

This is probably common knowledge to most people – but just in case you’re unsure, this is the correct order. Use the lip balm to moisturise your lips so that your other lip product can go on more smoothly. You can use a tissue paper to dab off excess balm if you want a strong, matte lip look. The lip liner goes next to ensure that the lipstick doesn’t budge later. After the lipstick, apply some lip gloss on top of it if you want extra shine.

As for whether eye or lip makeup should go first – it doesn’t really matter. If you’re intending to go for va-va-voom eye makeup, we’d suggest you do it first, so you can spend more time on it (how many times do we rush through the end of our makeup process because we realise we’re running late?) Also, it’s easier to visualise the right lips to go with an elaborate eye makeup after the latter is done, and vice versa.

4. Apply blusher last

Your blusher gives you a healthy glow and often defines whether you look like a zombie or rocking an ethereal look. Thus, take a step back and look at what you’ve applied, then decide how much glow and what colour you need to add to your complexion.