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Underpainting with Makeup: Tiktok’s Latest Trend Explained

woman applying contour before foundation underpainting with makeup tiktok trend

Mary Philips is a pro makeup artist known for her work on A-list celebs like Kendall Jenner and Hailey Bieber. Many are crediting her for the resurgence of an old, yet newly trending makeup technique: underpainting. Philips says underpainting is “like laying down the bones under the skin… the ‘bones’ being the contour and highlight, and the ‘skin’ being the foundation.” But what exactly does that mean?

How to practice underpainting with makeup

Underpainting is essentially applying contour and concealer under foundation, but the secret lies in the technique and tools you use. Read on for a step-by-step guide.

Mary Philips underpainting makeup

Step 1: Contour

Begin by applying contour to your cheekbones, jawline, and forehead. Philips uses the Westman Atelier Contour Stick in shade Biscuit, but I like to use SCB’s bronzer for this step because it provides a warm glow beneath foundation. She then uses a Tweezerman brow brush to contour her nose before blending everything with a MAC foundation brush.

Mary Philips underpainting with makeup

Step 2: Concealer

Next, you want to apply SCB’s liquid highlighter beneath your eyes, under your cheek contour, and down the bridge of your nose. Philips then takes a concealer brush and adds NARS’ Creamy Concealer back under her eyes. The trick is to apply concealer everywhere you would normally, including your forehead and chin, to brighten your complexion.

Mary Philips underpainting with makeup

Step 3: Foundation

Use one pump of a light-coverage foundation (Philips uses Chanel Vitalumiére) and blend it with a fluffy brush (one you would normally use for powder). This ensures that the foundation does not completely cover the contour and highlight.

Mary Philips underpainting makeup finished look

Step 4: Glam

Go in with the rest of your makeup: blush, powder, mascara, lipstick, etc. In the end, your skin should look fresh and natural.

woman sitting in front of pictures underpainting technique

The History of Underpainting

Keep in mind, Philips did not invent this technique, she popularized it. Other celebrity makeup artists like Scott Barnes and the late Kevyn Aucoin were doing this long before Tiktok influencers joined the party… but how did underpainting get its name?

Underpainting is a technique artists used in the Renaissance period. It involved simply applying a base layer of paint as a blueprint before painting over it to create a more detailed picture. The most notable 16th-century artist who mastered underpainting was Titian, known for his life-like depictions of people and places.

Who Should Try Underpainting?

Anyone looking for a “skin-first” finish. The point is to achieve “full glam” without looking like you have a face full of makeup on. 

Let us know in the comments if you think this technique is for you and tag us on Instagram if you try it out using SCB products!

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