You’ve watched the tutorials, you’ve got the right products, but your makeup never ends up looking as good as you want it to. But why?! If you’re no stranger to patchy foundation, moon-faced highlight and muddy eyeshadow, you may be able to empathise with the rest of us who can’t manage to get our faces on fleek. Not to worry – that’s what we’re here for. We put in the graft so you can have the knowledge. From tools to techniques, we’ve delved into the ways you can take your makeup from beauty-school drop-out to fully fledged Insta goals.

The right tools for the task

Loads of us underestimate the power brushes have for getting our war paint on point. Believe it or not, the tools you use can make or break your look. If you’re using a standard foundation brush and hoping for sheer coverage, it ain’t gonna happen. You need to go for a duo fibre brush or a damp beauty sponge to achieve that look. And if you want your eyeshadow to pop, don’t apply it with a fluffy brush. Pack on the colour with a dense, flat brush and use the fluffy number for blending.

Real Techniques Real Techniques Foundation Brush £8.99 Buy Now
B. B. Duo Fibre Stippling Brush £8.99 Buy Now
Real Techniques Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Makeup Sponge £3.99 Buy Now
Studio London Superdrug Studio Blending Eyeshadow Brush £2.99 Buy Now
Revolution Revolution Pro E101 Eyeshadow Brush £1.99 Buy Now

Back to basics

Everyone has their own base routine, and there are so many products you can experiment with to find your perfect formula. Whatever you choose, most of us will have two main components in our routine: primer and foundation. Primer helps foundation do its job – it minimises the appearance of pores and fine lines, giving your foundation a smooth base. But you have to use the right combo.

Foundations and primers come in all shades and sizes, but they usually fall into three main categories – silicone-, water- or oil-based. Silicone feels thicker, water is light and more sheer, and oil is great for curbing dry skin. When you’re picking a foundation/primer combo, make sure their bases are a match. If you use a water-based foundation, you need to be swiping left on all oil- and silicone-based primers. The products will end up repelling each other and your base will be patchy. You can mix oil and silicones, but water ALWAYS goes with water.

Another common mistake is using too much primer. That stuff really spreads, so a pea-sized amount is more than enough for your whole face. Using too much can cause makeup to look bobbly and uneven.

Water products

Nip + Fab NIP+FAB Make Up Primer Water 100ml 1 £6.63 Buy Now
Bourjois Bourjois Healthy Mix Serum Foundation Beige Clair 53 £10.99 Buy Now

Silicone products

Revlon Revlon PhotoReady Pore Reducing Primer £12.99 Buy Now
L'Oreal Paris L'Oreal 24H-Matte Waterproof Foundation 12 Natural Rose 35ml £8.99 Buy Now

Oil products

Revolution Revolution Baking Oil £6.00 Buy Now
B. B. Flawless Silk Foundation W8 £4.99 Buy Now

Highlight standards

Highlight is the finishing touch to any grid-worthy makeup look, and we can’t get enough of it. But how to you get that blinding glow without turning yourself into a disco ball? The secret is buffing. It’s all well and good dusting the product onto your cheekbones, but it means the powder sits on top of your makeup looking glittery. If you use a small fluffy brush and buff it into your skin with circular motions, it’ll blend flawlessly and leave you with a glow to die for. If you prefer liquid highlighters, use a sponge with quick dabbing motions to achieve the same effect.

Barry M Barry M Liquid Chrome Highlighter Drops - Beam Me Up £6.99 Buy Now
B. B. Blending Sponge £3.32 Buy Now
e.l.f. e.l.f. Baked Highlighter Moonlight Pearls 704 £5.00 Buy Now
Brand Description of the Product Price Buy Now

Prime and pack for pigment

A lot of us prime our faces, but taking the time to prime our eyelids isn’t anywhere near as popular. Turns out it should be… If you want your pigment to pack a punch (and, let’s face it, who doesn’t?), using an eyeshadow primer is going to change your life. Pat the product all over your lid with a flat concealer brush until you achieve an even coverage. The stickiness of the primer will make your shadow pop and help it last all day. Using a dense brush, pack the eyeshadow on with a pressing motion for show-stopping colour payoff. Blend out any harsh lines with a fluffy brush and you’re good for the grid!

Revolution Pro Revolution Pro Eye Elements Eyeshadow Primer Core £4.00 Buy Now
Studio London Superdrug Studio Blending Eyeshadow Brush £2.99 Buy Now
Revolution Revolution Pro E101 Eyeshadow Brush £1.99 Buy Now