Body Makeup 101: A Guide To Head-to-Toe Makeup Application

Want to cover veins and scars or just looking for an overall glow? Say ‘hello’ to body makeup.
Written by Témi Adebowale
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Body Makeup 101: A Guide To Head-to-Toe Makeup ApplicationFotaro1965/Shutterstock

While most beauty lovers are well-versed in what goes into a full-face makeup application, body makeup still seems to be uncharted territory for many makeup mavens. Although it’s been used for years, body makeup is mainly seen as a beauty product that is best for those who wish to cover up tattoos or scars — and while it is great for both of those things, it can also be useful for the times when your neck, chest, arms, back, or legs are exposed and you want their tone to better match your face.

Sure, there is a bit of a learning curve when it comes to mastering the art of body makeup, but our guide — featuring commentary from two beauty pros — will help you get a flawless makeup application from head to toe.

Body Makeup 101

Body makeup is most often used on the legs, arms, and collarbone, but it really can be applied anywhere you want color or coverage. There are, however, some areas that are harder to apply body makeup to than others, so you’ll either need to approach them with extra care or just avoid them altogether. “It's important to avoid armpits because when you sweat it can make it streaky,” explains Brittany Lo, a professional makeup artist and founder of beauty wellness brand Beia. “Another hard place is the back simply because one cannot reach the entire area.” Her advice? “Ask for help to ensure a smooth looking finish.”

Celebrity makeup artist Jamie Greenberg also recommends skipping the underarms, and she says to pay special attention to the backs of the legs and cracks of the arms. “They are very hard areas to perfect, so you have to spend more time and get more detailed in that area,” she says.

From a product perspective, there is a lot of body-specific makeup out there, but many people choose to multitalk and use their face products below the neck. While it’s absolutely fine to do so, you’ll need to be aware of two key factors: price and consistency. Lo noted that you’ll likely go through your face makeup faster than your body makeup, which may be a little harder on your pocketbook. “Generally, the price point per ounce or milliliter for face makeup is more expensive than body makeup, so you could use face makeup on your body, but it may cost you a bit more,” Lo shares.

And then there is the consistency of the formula to consider. Greenberg says that many face products are too dry for use on the body. “I do find that face makeup is a little drier than body makeup,” she explains. But, not to worry, she has a pro tip for adding hydration. “I like to add a little bit of moisturizer to the foundation for the body,” Greenberg shares. Another option? “Or I just use a brand that already exists for specific body makeup,” she adds.

How to Apply Body Makeup

So, what’s the best way to ensure a flawless finish from head to toe? Our experts share their body makeup application tips:

  1. Exfoliate & Moisturize: Similar to self-tanner, it’s best to apply body makeup on smooth, hydrated skin to avoid streaking. Be sure to let the moisturizer dry to avoid any mixing or slippage with the makeup.
  2. Consider Your Tools: Rub the product into your hands or on your brush before applying it to the body to ensure an even application. Just like concealer, body makeup will look its best when it’s been slightly warmed.
  3. Set It: Set the body makeup with powder for less transfer and creasing (your favorite facial setting powder or baby powder will do the trick). Lo does warn that this trick is not foolproof: “I do caution brides, in particular, who wear white gowns that their body makeup is not going to be waterproof, so you may see a transfer and you will have to be okay with it.”
  4. Take Your Time: It may take multiple layers or extra blending to get your body makeup to look exactly the way you want. Be patient — the results will be worth it!

The Best Body Makeup Products to Try

Now that you know the basics of body makeup, you may be ready to add a product or two to your arsenal. Below are the tools and formulas that promise to perfect the skin below the neck:

For Newbies: Vita Liberata Body Blur


This product is a great choice for body makeup novices, as it’s meant to blur imperfections and deliver a subtle glow without overpowering. There are four shades ranging from fair to deep, and shea butter and organic glycerin help to moisturize and hydrate your skin for luminous limbs long after you wash it away. $39,

For Easy Application: ANISA Beauty Pinnacle Body Brush


Most body products can be applied with your hands, but using a brush ensures smoother and quicker coverage. The easy-to-grip handle and flat, upright base make applying any body makeup a breeze. Oh, and it can also double as your go-to for applying skincare like SPF, body oils, or moisturizer. $50,

For a Flawless Finish: TEMPTU Air Basic Airbrush Kit


The closest you’re going to get to a professional makeup application at home, this cult-favorite kit turns your favorite liquid foundation into the perfect formula for face and body. The airbrush tool has three settings so you can achieve your desired level of coverage. $195,

For All-Day Wear: MAC Studio Radiance Face And Body Radiant Sheer Foundation


Hydrating, long-wearing, and waterproof, MAC’s multitasking face and body foundation is a classic for a reason. You can expect about eight hours of wear with this pick, and it can be applied with fingers, a sponge, or a brush. The best part? It comes in 30 versatile shades. $33,

For The Ultimate Blend: Fenty Beauty Face & Body Kabuki Brush 160


Buff your way to a streak-free finish with this dual-purpose face and body brush. The angled design is great for getting into nooks and crannies, while the soft, synthetic bristles offer just the right amount of density to blend both liquid and powder formulas. $34,

For Full Coverage: Tarte Shape Tape Waterproof Body Makeup


Inspired by the brand’s beloved concealer, the body version of Shape Tape comes in eight buildable shades that are capable of covering veins, bruises, and scars with a matte and waterproof finish. $39,

All products featured are independently selected by our editors, however, AEDIT may receive a commission on items purchased through our links.

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TÉMI ADEBOWALEis an editor at AEDIT.

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