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Underpainting Makeup Is the Latest Beauty Trend That Makes Mature Skin Look Smooth, Flawless and Youthful

This genius layering technique won't settle into fine lines!

We’ve been taught the same old, standard makeup routine for decades now: foundation, concealer, contour, blush and eye makeup. And if we have some extra time, we may even throw on some primer, setting spray and perhaps even a touch of highlighter. While we’ve stuck to our makeup routine for decades, that doesn’t mean we aren’t open to trying new things. That’s exactly what ths viral underpainting makeup method is that has taken TikTok by storm. This way of applying makeup ends up looking less cakey, uses less product — which saves us money in the long run — and creates a gorgeous, flawless finish that looks natural. Here, all the tips and tricks to underpainting makeup, plus our favorite products to use when trying the technique.

What is the underpainting makeup technique?

Underpainting makeup technique

The underpainting makeup technique is most commonly attributed to makeup artist Mary Phillips, who is known for using it repeatedly on her clients like Jennifer Lopez and Penelope Cruz. It involves using foundation as the last step in your face makeup routine. In other words, foundation is layered over your contour, concealer, blush and highlighter (depending on your preference). Phillips is a fan of this method because of how natural of a finish it creates — it just looks like skin as she shows in the video below.


filmed my favorite complexion technique feat. the @makeupforever HD Skin Sculpting Palette with my beautiful model @xoxoemira! This palette is the perfect tool to achieve a sculpted look ❤️ @sephora #makeupforeverpartner #hdskin #underpainting #maryphillips

♬ original sound – Mary Phillips

Underpainting makeup is a great trick if you feel like your contour or bronzer is too harsh and feel like it takes a long time to blend it out. Or maybe you don’t like how your concealer sits on top of your foundation, creating a cakey finish. This is where underpainting comes in. By applying concealer, contour and blush first, you can then seamlessly cover any harsh lines, extra pigment and blend any spots you missed when you add foundation on top.

Different ways to underpaint makeup

There are different preferences when it comes to underpainting makeup. Some, like makeup artist Brandy Allen, who’s worked with Lynn Lynn Whitfield and Mary J. Blige, do everything under the foundation, as described above. Or as TikToker @Danielllestrada shares in the video below, she underpaints her makeup and applies blush on top.

The other ways to underpaint makeup consists of adding contour and concealer before foundation, but then apply blush and highlighter after. Or if you like a bright pop of color on your cheeks, you’ll want to apply it on top of foundation. That’s because Allen says “this technique is usually used when someone wants to apply a lighter layer of foundation and have a flushed blush look.”

Related: Makeup Artists: The Strategic Way to Apply Blush to Accentuate Your Best Features

The benefits of underpainting makeup

mature woman applying makeup to face

There’s so many reasons to try underpainting makeup, and it works especially well for those with mature skin. With this technique, you end up applying less makeup, which won’t settle into fine lines or wrinkles. “The benefits [of underpainting] are using less foundation and having a more natural contour, highlight and blush appearance,” adds Allen. “The goal is for the color to appear softer on the face under the foundation.”

However, although a gorgeous finish when done right, it’s important to know what to avoid — which Allen says is blending too much. “The most common mistake is over-blending the foundation with the contour, highlight and blush. This eliminates the purpose of the technique.” To learn the right way to underpaint makeup, keep scrolling.

How to do the underpainting makeup method

how to do underpainting makeup

If you’re ready to try out the trend, grab your brushes and follow the steps below:

Step 1: Prep skin

Skin prep is one of the most important steps of any makeup routine. Apply your favorite lightweight moisturizer, preferably with SPF, and follow with primer.

Step 2: Grab your makeup + tools

While your skin care sets, now is the time to gather the products (concealer, contour/bronzer and blush) and tools you’re going to use. As far as tools go, “I recommended using brushes for the underpainting and a sponge for overpainting the foundation,” advises Allen. “The brush will set the products under the foundation and the sponge will be sure to apply the foundation on top of the underpainting without blending all the products together.”

Step 3: Apply concealer

Use concealer to cover any blemishes, brighten the under-eye area and add to any areas you want highlighted, such as the T-zone, cheekbones and chin.

Step 4: Sweep on a contour or bronzer shade

If you’re going for more of a sun-kissed, bronzed look, choose a warmer bronzer, and if you’re contouring to add more definition to your facial structure, opt for a cooler-toned bronzer. Regardless of which look you’re going for, use a cream bronzer and apply to the temples, sides of the nose, right under the cheekbones and along the jawline.

Step 5: Add blush

How much blush you choose to put on is completely up to personal preference. If you want a super-natural finish, lightly apply a cream blush just on the apples of the cheeks. If you really want your blush to show through the foundation, apply a bit more cream blush than you normally would.

Step 6: Blend the concealer, contour and blush

Lightly and evenly blend out all of these base products before moving on to foundation. “All products need to be softly blended with no hard lines for a smooth finish,” says Allen.

Step 7: Sweep on foundation

Once you have blended out your concealer, contour or bronzer and blush, it’s time for the foundation. The best method for foundation when underpainting is to add a few drops of a light to medium coverage formula to the back of your hand, then pick up the pigment with a sponge and lightly blend in circular motions over the face. The key here is to be gentle as blending too rough will make your base makeup disappear, completely defeating the point of underpainting.

See the below video from Phillips for her tips on applying foundation over your base.


Replying to @. some tips on how to apply foundation after you’ve blended your underpainting! lmk if you have more questions about this💕 #underpaintingmakeup #foundationhacks #foundationtutorial

♬ original sound – Mary Phillips

Step 8: Set makeup with powder + setting spray

If you feel you need more blush or you found the blush did not peak through the foundation, feel free to add a little more. Otherwise, you can set your makeup with powder, and add eye and lip makeup if wanted. To ensure your look lasts all day, apply a setting spray all over.

To see these steps in action, watch the below video from @allanaramaa on YouTube.

The best products for the underpainting makeup technique

When underpainting, it’s important to use cream products. Powder makeup is more difficult to blend out and move around with a brush, therefore creating a not-so-smooth finish. Plus, makeup artists almost always recommend cream over powder for mature skin, as powder can easily settle into fine lines, whereas cream smooths over them. Below, you’ll find the makeup artist beloved products to use for underpainting.

Best skin prep products to use before underpainting makeup

It Cosmetics Confidence in a Gel Cream Oil-Control Face Moisturizer
IT Cosmetics

IT Cosmetics Confidence in a Gel Cream Oil-Control Face Moisturizer (Buy from Sephora, $59)

If you tend to lean on the oilier side when it comes to your skin type and are worried about the cream products making you look even more oily, opt for a moisturizer made to control oil. This one by IT Cosmetics feels so cooling and smooth on skin, and is made with niacinamide, peptides and airlicium that work together to keep excess oil at bay.

Cerave Facial Moisturizing Lotion A.M.

Cerave Facial Moisturizing Lotion A.M. (Buy from Amazon, $16.96)

This is another great skin-prep option, and it can be found at any drugstore. By now, we know how important it is to apply SPF everyday before you step outside, and this moisturizer boasts SPF 30. Plus, it contains hyaluronic acid and niacinamide to deeply hydrate and brighten skin.

Best bronzer or contour products to use for underpainting makeup

Product image of Colourpop Bronze Stix

Colourpop Bronze Stix (Buy from Colourpop, $10)

A great, affordable cream bronzer on the market is this one by Colourpop, which comes in six gorgeous shades. It glides on skin effortlessly, so there will be no harsh rubbing or tugging on skin while blending out. Plus, its packaging makes it easy to bring on-the-go.

LYS Beauty

LYS Beauty No Limits Cream Bronzer Stick (Buy from LYS Beauty, $20)

This bronzing stick is a cult-favorite, and for good reason. Not only are all shades the perfect shade of bronze (doesn’t look too orange on skin), it melts into skin like butter.

Best concealer to use for underpainting makeup

Kosas Revealer Super Creamy + Brightening Concealer

Kosas Revealer Super Creamy + Brightening Concealer (Buy from Sephora, $30)

It’s right in the name — this concealer really is super creamy and a beloved favorite by many makeup artists. Best of all, it’s made with caffeine to ease puffiness and hyaluronic acid to plump creases under the eyes.

Best foundations to use for underpainting makeup

Makeup Revolution Skin Silk Serum Foundation
Makeup Revolution

Makeup Revolution Skin Silk Serum Foundation (Buy from Ulta, $14)

For those who want a super light, skin-like coverage, we love this foundation serum by Makeup Revolution. It has a dewy finish, leaving your complexion absolutely glowing. Plus, because of its serum formula, it feels very lightweight on the skin — almost like you don’t have any foundation on at all!

L'Oreal Paris True Match Nude Hyaluronic Tinted Serum Foundation
L’Oreal Paris

L’Oreal Paris True Match Nude Hyaluronic Tinted Serum Foundation (Buy from Amazon, $14.44)

Reviewers swear by this lightweight serum foundation because of its luminous finish. What’s more, it’s infused with skin care like hyaluronic acid to moisturize skin at the same time.

Related: The 10 Best Drugstore Foundations for Mature Skin Under $20 That Will Make You Glow

Best blush to use for underpainting makeup

Saie Beauty Dew Blush Blendable Liquid Blush
Saie Beauty

Saie Beauty Dew Blush Blendable Liquid Blush (Buy from Sephora, $25)

For a blush that looks like it melted into your skin, look no further than this liquid blush by Saie. Whether you decide to layer this under or over your foundation, you’ll get a gorgeous, pigmented finish.

Best setting products to use for underpainting makeup

Maybelline Fit Me Loose Powder

Maybelline Fit Me Loose Finishing Powder (Buy from Ulta, $9.99)

Finish off your underpainting makeup look with a dusting of powder. If you have oilier skin, you can even try “baking” your makeup with a finely-milled loose powder.

Product image of Milani Make It Last Original Natural Finish Setting Spray

Milani Make It Last Original Natural Finish Setting Spray (Buy from Amazon, $8.40)

To ensure your underpainting makeup look lasts all day, top it off with a setting spray. This one by Milani costs less than $10 and can be spritzed on skin before applying makeup to work as a primer too!

For more makeup tips and tricks, click through these stories:

6 Natural Eye Makeup Looks for Women Over 50 That Prove That Less Is More

The 12 Best Foundations for Mature Skin That Will Cover + Repair Flaws

Celeb Makeup Artists: These Are the Best CC Creams for Even, Glowing Skin All Day

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