This is how to layer your makeup products for your best base yet

Here, you’ll finally find out whether you’re meant to apply your concealer before or after your foundation, some easy contouring hacks and the prep steps you’re probably missing…

Before you even think about adding a pop of lip colour or going nuts on the eyeshadow and eyeliner, the best makeup looks start with a good base.

And while there are no rights and wrong in terms of makeup application (your beauty, your rules) – if the order of products is confusing the crap out of you, get ready to be saved by Benefit’s Head Makeup Artist, Lisa Potter-Dixon, who has shared her guide to a glowing, your-skin-but-better, base.

STEP 1: Prep

The most important thing to do in order to achieve a gorgeous, glowing base is to prep your skin thoroughly. “If you don’t moisturise your skin before you apply your makeup, it won’t sit as well, it won’t last as long and it won’t look as good”, says Lisa. And yes, even oily skin needs moisturising too.

“Best case scenario is to moisturise 10 minutes before you apply your makeup to allow it to settle on the skin.”

This is how to layer your makeup products for your best base yet

Quick tip: Apply your moisturiser and then do your hair or brush your teeth before moving onto makeup.

“When moisturising, really work it into the complexion and down the neck, and if you’re prone to any dry areas, add extra cream in those spots. Do this no matter of your skin type, because the makeup will combat any other dilemmas like oiliness.”

Lisa’s faves: Pro-Collagen Marine Cream, £85, Elemis, Skinesis Dynamic Defence Anti-Ageing Day Cream SPF 15, £54, Sarah Chapman, Essential Moisture Day Cream, £9.50, No.7.

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STEP 2: Prime glow

There are so many different types of primers, formulated to do different things. Here’s how to pick the right one for you…

“If you suffer from excess oil and open pores, a silicone based primer is best”, says Lisa. “Make sure it’s non-comedogenic so that it doesn’t block your pores.”

“My favourite is an illuminating primer – putting this under your foundation will give a long-lasting glow to your skin. For fairer complexions go for one with a silver undertone, deeper complexions go for one with a golden undertone.”

You should always apply your primer after moisturising, but before foundation. “Start in the centre of the face and blend outwards, and add more in oily areas (if you have any) as this will help to combat the shine throughout the day.”

Some people like to wait a few minutes for the primer to adhere to the skin, but Lisa says “you can apply your foundation immediately after.”

“Use your fingers to apply your primer as the warmth from your fingers will help to work it into the skin.”

STEP 3: Foundation

“One of the biggest mistakes made we tend to make with foundation, is that we apply too much, thinking that the more we apply, the more it will help to cover any skin dilemmas”, says Lisa. “Whereas actually, your foundation is there to even out your skin, and your concealer is the problem solver.”

If you’re currently using more than one pump of your liquid foundation, you may want to try scaling it back. “You can always add more but it’s harder to take back. Less is always more with foundation.”

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“My favourite way to apply foundation is with a damp beauty blender as I find this gives almost an airbrush finish”, says Lisa. “Having it slightly damp means that the product doesn’t soak into it and there’s less wastage.”

Always start in the centre of the face and work outwards, and avoid applying too much around the hairline, as this can cause obvious build-up.

“Don’t forget to also blend down your neck for an even finish”, says Lisa. “If you prefer a powder, apply it in the same way but with a compact. fluffy brush and dust it on in circular motions as this gives a much nicer finish.”

Lisa’s faves: Sheer Glow Foundation, £33.50, NARS, Candid Foundation, £9.99, Revlon, Original Foundation SPF15, £28, Bareminerals.

STEP 4: Concealer

In case you aren’t already well acquainted, concealer is your best friend.
“If applied correctly it can hide anything and everything; dark circles, redness, blemishes and hangovers.”

“You need two different types of concealer in your kit – a liquid-based one for under your eyes and a cream-based one for everywhere else”, says Lisa.

For underneath the eyes, go for one about half a shade lighter than your foundation, as you want this area to be lightened. Why liquid? “The eye area is 40 per cent thinner than anywhere else on the face, meaning that fine lines are much more visible in this area and a liquid concealer is less likely to crease”, says Lisa.

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The cream concealer can be the same shade as your foundation, as it’s going to be used on the rest of your face and you want this concealer to act more like a camouflage. “Cream consistency is better for this as it’s more malleable and will bond to the skin without budging and will look more natural.”

“For the under eyes, draw a ‘v’ with your concealer, going from the inner corner of the eye, down to the top of the cheekbones and back up to the outer corner of the eye”, says Lisa. “This way, if you have any darkness in this area, the ‘v’ will cover it in its entirety.”

“Blend the concealer upwards towards the lower lash line using either a damp beauty blender or fluffy eyeshadow brush.”

Always apply concealer on top of your foundation so that you can target certain areas. If you apply it underneath, it will just move and be rubbed away as you blend your foundation.

“If the under eye area is very oily, feel free to lightly dust with translucent powder.”

When applying your concealer to the rest of your face, Lisa recommends using your fingers to create warmth and bind your concealer to your foundation better. But you can also use a damp sponge or a concealer brush if preferred.

“Apply the cream concealer only where you need it, and push it into that area to target the dilemma, then keep working it in until it’s seamlessly blended and looks like a part of your base”, says Lisa. “Layer if necessary, but focus on your blending for a smooth finish. Otherwise, it can appear patchy throughout the day if it’s just left sitting on top of the skin.”

Lisa’s faves:

Liquid – Pro Filt’r Instant Retouch Concealer, £19, Fenty, Erase Eye Concealer, £8.99, Maybelline, Magic Away Liquid Concealer, £24, Charlotte Tilbury
Cream – Boi-ing Industrial Strength Concealer, £18.50, Benefit, Secret Camouflage, £28.50, Laura Mercier, and The Sensual Skin Enhancer, £38, Kevyn Aucoin.

STEP 5: Bronzer

Bronzer and blusher work in perfect harmony together. Don’t think that you have to pick one or the other, because they do completely different things.

“Bronzer should be used to give you a healthy, warm complexion, whereas blusher, gives you a pop of colour”, says Lisa.

Whether you use a powder, cream or liquid bronzer, the application can be the same for all.

“The quickest and easiest way to apply your bronzer, is by doing a figure of three either side of the face, starting at the forward, going down o the cheeks and then under the jawline”, says Lisa. “This will give you a soft, natural contour.”

Don’t forget to blend down the neck too, so that your neck matches your face.

Lisa’s faves: Hoola Caramel, £26, Benefit, Soleil Ta De Chanel, £36, Chanel, Matte Bronzer, £8, NYX.

STEP 6: Blusher

Peaches, pinks, and terracottas – the world of blusher can be a big one, but once you’ve found your ideal shade, application is easy.

“The quickest way to apply your blusher is by smiling and putting it onto the apple of your cheeks and blending it upwards towards the top of your ears”, says Lisa. “Less is more, and as long as you make sure the majority of the colour is on the apples you can’t go wrong.”

As well as shades, there are plenty of textures and formulas to choose form. “Powder is a great buildable blush, and you can get a variety of finishes from matte to shimmer. This texture also tends to have the biggest selection of shades.”

“Cream blusher is great for a dewy finish and works really well with liquid foundation”, says Lisa. “Lastly, liquid blusher is ideal for a natural flush of colour. Just apply to a blusher brush and buff into the skin.”

Lisa’s faves: Cheekleaders Palette (available in Bronze Squad and Pink Squad), £52, Benefit Cloud Paint, £15, Glossier, Pot Rouge for Lips Cheeks, £22, Bobbi Brown, Blush, £4.50, e.l.f cosmetics.

STEP 7: Highlight

Highlighting (when done correctly) is super effective. It can add structure and luminosity to your face instantly.

“The best place to apply highlighter is on the high points of the face”, says Lisa. “These are the areas that the light hits, which in turn makes the structure of the face stand out. Buff along the cheekbones and under the brow bone, down the centre of the nose, and on the cupid’s bow.”

Similar to blusher there are many types of formulas and finishes of highlighter. “Liquid can be a little tricky, but can look so beautiful”, says Lisa. “Try pressing it into the skin with your fingers and utilise it down the centre of the legs and highpoint of the shoulders too.”

“Cream highlighters tend to be sheer, which is perfect for an ‘inner glow’ that looks more like skin”, she says. “Again, blend with your fingers or use a fluffy eyeshadow brush to buff it in.”

As for powders, these tend to be the most intense types of highlighter with the most shades and finishes available. “They’re really buildable, and my favourite way to apply powder highlighter is either with a fantail brush or an eyeshadow brush.”

“If you want a super, high-shine glow, layer a powder highlighter over your liquid or cream highlighter.”

Lisa’s faves:
Liquid – Liquid Highlighter, £9, ASOS Design, and Illuminator Drops, £30, Iconic London.
Cream – Cream Colour Base in ‘Hush’, £19, Mac Cosmetics, and Baume Essentiel, £33, Chanel.
Powder – Cookie (from the Cheekleader Bronze Palette), £52, Benefit, and Glow Powder Highlighter, £15, Topshop.


  1. Double-dip bronzer: Dust your bronzer across your eyes for an effortless eyeshadow look.
  2. Eye-light: Press highlighter onto the inner corner of the eyes to brighten.
  3. Don’t forget your face framers: Apply a fibre gel, like Benefit Gimme Brow (£21.50) through your brows for a groomed finish

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