Makeup For Beginners: A Guide To Underpainting

Makeup For Beginners: A Guide To Underpainting

What Is Underpainting? 

You may have seen the viral makeup trend taking over beauty TikTok called underpainting and found yourself thinking, “what exactly is underpainting?”

Makeup artists have been using this technique for years! It’s an easy way to create that effortlessly contoured look. 

There are different methods of using this technique, but essentially the secret lies within the order and layers in which you apply your makeup. You typically start with applying products like blush, bronzer, highlighter, and contour before using your foundation. The application may seem harsh at first because you will be putting the layers down in thick lines all over your face, but the trick is to use your blending brush to smooth out the colors and to finish it off with a blurring layer of foundation. 

The result? A sculpted and contoured makeup look even beginner makeup users can achieve! You may even find that this method comes out a little more natural than the typical version of contouring. 

This is a hack for those looking to create the effect of dimension and depth in their makeup to really sculpt out those cheekbones. 

Our trusted Mented Mentor Derrick, @derrickdavismua, shows us his version of underpainting using only the cult-favorite Skin by Mented foundation stick. 

Before You Get Started

Underpainting can involve using a lot of makeup, which means you will want to start off creating a barrier between your skin and the makeup you will be applying. 

We always suggest that our Mented Fam start their makeup with our mattifying Perfect Prime Primer. This will prep your skin before you start to apply makeup by smoothing out your pores. 

The Perfect Prime Primer is even packed with skin-loving ingredients like Jojoba Seed Oil and Vitamins C&E! 

This primer will help control your shine and make sure that your flawless look lasts all day!

Derrick’s UnderpaintingTips

Start with your Skin by Mented highlighting shade. Derrick uses the shade L10 and puts it in the areas where they want to bring attention to and highlight. After application, blend that light shade out in a controlled motion. Keep your foundation brush movements very seamless and smooth. 

Next up is your Skin by Mented contour shade. For this, Derrick uses the shade M40 and applies to the areas needing contour. They continue to blend out that contour shade with the Mented Cosmetics Angled Cheek Brush

Don’t be afraid if your makeup looks a little crazy in the beginning! The trick is to just keep blending. They take their time carefully blending it out creating shadow and depth in the nose area. This helps create shadows. 

This next step requires your normal Skin by Mented foundation shade. Derrick uses L20 and puts it in the places where they didn’t apply any of the contour or highlight shades. This will fill in the blanks. 

Again, take your time blending it out. Make sure you blend the contour, the highlight, and the foundation shade all together. This will give you that multidimensional look which is the whole point of underpainting! 

If all else fails, KEEP BLENDING! Seriously, it will work out just blend, blend, blend. This will help smooth everything out. They use the Mented Cosmetics Loose Powder Brush to marry the whole look together and to reinforce their contour again.

Finish off the look by setting your under eye with the Skin Silk Loose Setting Powder. Derrick uses the Light/Tan shade first. They then go in with the Deep/Rich shade to reinforce the contour and smooth everything out once again. 

That is the final look! 

The Difference Between Highlighting & Contouring

Skin by Mented Application


Phew! We know that’s a lot of information. After all of that, you may even be wondering what the difference between highlighting and contouring even is! Don’t worry Mented Fam, we’ve got you covered! 


The goal is to bring attention to certain areas of your face, primarily your nose, cheeks, the center of your forehead, and your cupid’s bow. You’re trying to essentially lift up your bone structure. 

To highlight, you will need to start with a lighter shade of makeup than your normal foundation shade.


Next up is contouring. Think of this like the opposite of what the highlight is supposed to do. You will use a darker shade of foundation to bring depth and shadows to your makeup look. 

You’ll want to focus your contour to your jawline, cheekbones, and the sides of your nose. 

Choosing the Right Brush

Choosing the right brush for each step in the underpainting process is important! Try to match the brush size to the shape and area that you are working on at any given moment. The head of the brush should be just smaller than the area of application. This may mean that you cycle through three or even four different brushes during the process, but it will help you nail the final look. 

Foundation Brush 

Foundation Brush and Skin by Mented


The brush you will be using the most while underpainting will be your foundation brush, so it’s important that you choose the right tool for the job.

Mented Cosmetics made sure to create our foundation brush with densely packed soft, synthetic fibers. It was designed to make buffing and blending your foundation effortless. 

Angled Cheek Brush

Angled Cheek Brush

When you’re looking to create that sculpted look, you’ll need the help of our Angled Cheek Brush. This is the brush Mented recommends for applying blush, bronzer, or highlight. It’s designed to fit perfectly into the contours of your cheek, making underpainting blending a breeze. 

Loose Powder Brush

Skin Silk and Powder Brush


To finish off your underpainting look, you’ll need to switch over to the Loose Powder Brush to apply your Skin Silk Loose Setting Powder. 

As always, this brush is vegan-friendly and provides a light layer of product. It’s also the perfect brush for blending your makeup seamlessly to create a natural skin-like appearance. 


If you’re experimenting with trying more full coverage makeup looks, this underpainting technique is a great way to get started. With practice, you will be able to create that soft and airbrushed effect Derrick has on lock! 

Try underpainting for yourself using your favorite Mented products and don’t forget to tag us on social media! 

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