Should I Do My Hair Or Makeup First? (Explained)

Makeup artist and hairdresser preparing bride before her wedding


Are you getting ready for a big event soon and wondering how to best optimize your look?

Maybe you’ve started styling yourself daily and are looking to figure out the best order to get ready in.

If you are wondering whether you should do your hair or makeup first, we have everything you need to know laid out in this article!


Should I Do My Hair or Makeup First?

Woman in beauty salon getting styling


You should generally do your hair first.

Doing your hair can take some physical exertion and even make you sweat—which can mess up your makeup.

Using heating tools can also lead to sweating.

If you want to layer your edges, doing it after your makeup can mess up your contour or foundation.

Doing your hair first will also make sure that your makeup will be looking fresh as you are heading out the door.

There are a few situations where you might consider doing your makeup first.

We’re going to walk through the pros and cons of each choice and then some factors you can consider when deciding which is best for your particular situation.


Pros & Cons for Doing Makeup First

Selective focus of cheerful makeup artist


Though doing your hair first is generally the safer bet, there can be specific circumstances to take into account that might lead to you doing your makeup first.

Let’s walk through the pros and cons of doing your makeup first.


Pros of Starting with Makeup

Profile of makeup artist applying face powder


  • More Time. If you are on a time crunch, starting with makeup might be the best bet. For many people, makeup plays a larger role in pulling together their overall appearance. Messy hair can be cute, but messy makeup really isn’t.
  • Securing Your Hair. Normally when you are doing your makeup, you pull your hair back. You want to be able to work on all of the beautiful canvas that is your face. If you have a special hairstyle, pulling it back might mess it up. This is especially true if you have to use something like clips or bobby pins to pull back your hair. It is a less important factor if you have a cotton or satin headband you can loosely tie around your head to keep your hair out of your face without messing up your makeup.
  • No-Heat Methods. If your hairstyle involves letting your hair air dry, it doesn’t make that much sense to wait to do your makeup. There are two main types of no-heat methods: updos/braids and no-heat curlers. For no-heat curling methods, you need to leave them in your hair for many hours. It doesn’t make sense to wait hours to start your makeup when you could just as easily do it while your hair dries!


Cons of Starting with Makeup

Many professional cosmetics for make up


  • Sweating. Hair dryers and heating tools like flat irons or curling rods can result in sweating which can mess up your makeup. Not only can sweating ruin your makeup look, but it can also clog your pores and result in breakouts.
  • Interference from Hair Products. Hairspray, heat protection, and hair oil can get on your face while you are doing your hair and really mess things up! This is especially true of aerosol products that can be hard to control the flow of—and most hair products are aerosol!
  • Kinks in the Hair. If you have a hairstyle that needs to be slicked back with gel or you like to lay your edges flat, doing so can definitely affect your makeup. If you really want to do your makeup first (for example, if you have an advanced or complicated eye look) you could always hold off on doing your foundation and contour until after your hair is done but do your eye makeup first.


Pros & Cons of Doing Hair First

Drying hair


Again, the traditional advice is to stick with doing your hair first.

And this is the usual way for good reason! Here is the breakdown of the basic pros and cons of doing your hair first.


Pros of Starting with Hair

Hair Dye at Beauty Salon


  • Your Hair Has Time to Set. Sometimes it is important to let your hairstyle rest for a while before putting on the finishing touches. If you are using hot rollers or a no-heat hairstyle product like foam rollers, it’s probably best to put them in before you start your makeup. This way, your hair will have the chance to set while you put on your makeup.
  • Fresh Look. Doing your makeup first can ensure that you leave with a fresh makeup look on your face. This is especially true if you have a complicated hairstyle that is going to take an hour or more to complete.
  • Fresh Edges. If you like your edges slicked down and styled, it’s best to do them before you put on your makeup. Doing it afterward can mess up your makeup. After all, you don’t want your foundation mixing with your hair gel!
  • Sweating. You want to avoid sweating when you have your makeup on your face. Hairstyling can be exhausting and hot. Doing your hair first will prevent sweat from taking off your makeup. Also, when you sweat, it can allow makeup into your pores, which can lead to breakouts. You definitely don’t want breakouts ruining your next makeup look!


Cons of Starting with Hair

Female hairdresser styling customers hair


  • Less Time. Your makeup is generally a more important part of your look and also usually takes longer than hair. You don’t want to spend all your getting ready time on your hair and suddenly realize you don’t have enough time to finish your makeup! This is why it can be important sometimes to do your makeup first, especially if you struggle with time management.
  • Clipping It Back. If pulling your hair back is going to ruin your hairdo, you should probably wait until after you do your makeup. However, this can usually be avoided by getting a soft, loose headband that can hold your hair back without creating kinks. However, if you only have hair clips on hand, it’s probably best to just stick to doing your hair afterward.


Some Situations to Consider

Process of making makeup


Are you still not sure which method works best for your specific circumstance?

Do you think you might be an exception to the age-old advice to do your hair before your makeup?

Well, there are a few specific situations to consider if you want to know which option is best for you.


Situations to Do Your Hair First

Young woman with beautiful hair


1. You Are Wearing an Undo

Does your hairstyle involve putting your hair up?

If this is the case, you are already going to have to pull back your hair or put it up to do your makeup, so you should probably just go ahead and put your hair up in the first place.


2. You Are Using Heating Tools

Typically, hairstyling is done with some type of heating tool, be it a blow dryer, curling iron, or hair straightener.

Not only can these tools make you sweat, but they also require you to use heat protection.

Since you have to spray heat protection all over your hair (usually using aerosol), there is a high chance you will get it on your face.

You want the chance to wipe it off if you do!


3. Your Hairstyle Is Complex

If your hairstyle is complex, you might want to do it first.

For one thing, complex hairstyles have a higher chance of tiring you out and making you sweat.

For another thing, if your hairstyle is extravagant, you might benefit from some extra time on the front end.

After all, extravagant hairstyles are often accompanied by fairly natural makeup that is quick to do.

You don’t want to run out of time on your hair and only have a partially done style if you are going for something big!


4. Your Hairstyle Is the Main Attraction

Maybe you normally do your makeup first, but your hairstyle is the main attraction for this particular event.

If you are doing some wild styling like a beehive hairdo or dressing up as Marie Antoinette, it’s probably best to do your hair first.


5. You Are Going to Lay Your Edges

For many women, laying their edges with gel is an important part of their hairstyle.

If you want to make sure that your baby hairs are secure and in shape, it’s best to do so before you put on your foundation and contour.

The reason for this is that the gel could mix with the foundation and contour, creating a splotchy look and even causing your baby hairs to appear discolored.


6. You Have Oily Skin

If you have oily skin, you want to make sure your makeup is as fresh as possible for whatever event you are going to.

Even if you use makeup products created specifically for oily skin, the chances are that your face will probably get shinier as the night goes on.

This means that you should do your makeup right before you head out to maximize the freshness of your look.


7. Your Hair Will Be Out of Your Face

If you are doing an updo or a braid, you might as well get it out of the way before you start on your makeup

Since you are going to have to pull your hair back anyway when you do your makeup, putting it into braids beforehand will remove an unnecessary extra step.


8. It Is Summertime

If it is hot outside, you are almost certainly better off doing your hair first.

This comes back to the sweating and heat issue.

Not only can sweating make your makeup run, but it can also clog your pores and create breakouts.


9. You Are Getting Protective Braids

If you have natural hair and are getting a protective hairstyle, you always want to get your hair done before doing your makeup.

Sometimes this can take hours, and your makeup could get messed up during that time.


Situations to Do Your Makeup First

Make-up artist applying eyeshadow


1. Your Hair Is Air Drying

Maybe you already have damaged hair, or you are just avoiding using heat for whatever reason.

If this is the case, it can be a good idea to air dry your hair.

If you shower right at the beginning of your routine for getting ready, letting your hair dry while you do your makeup can be a great way to save time.


2. You Are Using a Heat-Free Style

If you are using a heat-free styling method, it’s unlikely that you are going to sweat off all your makeup while you style your hair.

You might put in your curlers before starting on your makeup, but you can wait to take them out and actually style your hair until after you have made up your face.


3. You Are Short on Time

Now, this might not apply if you are having a particularly crazy hair day.

Usually, though, makeup makes up a bigger part of your look than your hair.

Most women have simple go-to hairstyles that they can employ in case they run out of time, like a quick ponytail or bun.

If you only have a short amount of time to get ready, it’s probably better to throw up your hair after perfecting your makeup.


4. You Can’t Pull It Back

If you are wearing your hair down and don’t have a way to pull it back without ruining it, it might be better to go ahead and do your hair first.

After all, it’s not cute to have kinks going all around your head from a tight headband or set of clips

Also, not every hairstyle will be able to be saved if you do get kinks in it.

This is something important to consider!


5. You Are Wearing a Multi-Day Hairstyle

This one might seem obvious to some, but it’s worth stating: if you already have your hair mostly done and just need to do a few touch-ups, it’s best to do your makeup first.

After all, even if you don’t get around to working on your hair, you will probably look fine if you are wearing a hairstyle meant to last multiple days.


6. What If I’m Getting My Hair Professionally Done?

If you are getting your hair done by a professional, it almost always makes more sense to get your hair done before your makeup.

Professional hairstylists often use heated tools along with lots of products.

They can take one or more hours to do a style, and you might find yourself sweating through the process.

The exception is if your hair stylist and/or makeup artist specifically advises you to switch the process.

You are working with professionals for a reason, and if they think it’s better to do makeup first in your case, it’s probably best to trust them on that one.


The Third Circumstance: Doing Your Hair and Makeup Together

Makeup and hairstyle process with beautiful young woman in modern interior room with green plants


Yes, you read that right.

There are some rare circumstances when it makes more sense to do your hair and makeup at the same time.


1. Professional Artists

If you are getting both your hair and makeup done by a professional team, it will sometimes be more efficient to get them done at the same time.

Think about the last time you watched behind-the-scenes for a fashion show or a movie production.

Often, you will see stars and models in the makeup chair with multiple hands on them, working on different parts of their appearance.

If you are getting your makeup professionally done, your makeup and hair artists will know whether this is a possibility.

Sometimes makeup and hair work together frequently as a team and are comfortable doing their jobs at the same time.

Other times, a style might be complicated enough that it must be done separately.

However, if you really need both to be done at the same time because of the programming for your event, don’t be afraid to advocate for yourself.

There are many hairstylists and makeup artists that can work at the same time to maximize efficiency.


2. Certain Styles

Some hairstyles require time simply sitting around.

Think about hot rollers or no-heat curls.

In this case, it makes sense to put the hair styling device into your hair and then go along with your makeup routine until your hair dries or the curls cool.

This is especially true of those more old-fashioned hair styling devices like Velcro rollers.

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