Should You Apply Concealer or Foundation First ?

foundation or concealer first

The world of makeup is full with a range of questions about application techniques and a variety of opinions on what works best. But there’s one question that beauty experts appear to have contrasting views on and that is should you apply concealer or foundation first?

The short answer is, it depends on your skin’s needs and of course, your preference, but understanding the basics of how these products work together can help you decide what might suit you best.

There’s no doubt that both concealer and foundation are important in obtaining a flawless makeup look. Concealer helps to spot cover if you will, blemishes, dark circles, and other imperfections.

Foundation on the other hand is used to even out skin tone and create a smooth base for the rest of your makeup. There are no hard and fast rules as to which order you need to apply these products and you can of course mix it up – but it can have an impact of your makeup’s overall look and longevity.

Understanding Makeup Basics

All makeup enthusiasts, whether you’re a budding makeup artist or just someone who wants to create a great look should understand how to apply makeup properly to achieve good results. And it all starts with the base.

The base is the foundation of your makeup, and it’s what creates a flawless, even complexion. Your base should match your skin tone and provide coverage for any blemishes or imperfections.

The two main products to consider when starting with your base is foundation and concealer. Each one has a role to play in covering up skin issues and creating a smooth, balanced appearance.

Concealer Vs Foundation

What’s the Difference between Concealer and Foundation?

You’ve seen both products, you know they’re usually some kind of skin color but are you still confused as to the difference between concealer and foundation? Should you use concealer or foundation? Should you use both every time? Or are you concerned about the order of application – is it concealer first or foundation first for the perfect look?

What is Concealer?

Concealer is a beauty product that does as the name implies and conceals or covers blemishes and skin issues, by matching your skin tone. You can use it to cover dark under-eye circles, redness and rosacea, acne scars, pimples, blemishes and even fine lines.

Concealer usually comes in a small tube or pot and is applied directly to the affected area. It is a tiny bit thicker and more pigmented than foundation and can provide more targeted coverage in specific areas.

For particular skin concerns, you can find colored concealers now. Green concealers for example are used to tone down redness and are helpful for rosacea. A better term for these colored products is color correctors. They work on the basis of neutralizing skin discoloration as opposed to covering it up. Complimentary or opposing colors cancel each other out as per color theory. Purple correctors for example help combat yellow tones in the skin. If you do fancy trying one out, apply it before concealer.

What is Foundation?

Foundation in comparison, has a different role. Where concealer is used to target problem areas, foundation is applied all over the face and neck to even out skin tone and provide a uniform base for the rest of your makeup. Think of it like a blank canvas on which to build up your look. It’s lighter in texture usually when compared to concealer and available in a range of shades to match all skin tones.

Foundations come in various forms and formulations to cater to different skin types, coverage preferences, and desired finishes. Some of the most popular foundations are liquid, which are also available in different finishes.

Cream or stick foundations can also be found giving you more choice, as well as powder foundations that are suitable for those with oilier skin. Mineral foundation is a good option for those with acne prone or sensitive skin, since they are usually formulated with natural ingredients.

Skin type and undertone as well as your coverage needs are all factors that will help you choose the most suitable foundation. Testing on the wrist or along the jawline can help you find the perfect match for your skin tone. In addition to the right shade, proper blending is essential and key to achieving a natural and flawless finish.

Concealer or Foundation First?

The question of whether to apply foundation or concealer first is a common one, and the answer is not definitive. Opinion is divided among makeup artists and beauty editors since some recommend applying foundation first, while others prefer to start with concealer.

To be honest, you can really start with whichever product you prefer. Your choice will usually boil down to the type of coverage you’re looking for and knowing what these products do will help guide you.

Both Products Have a Place

Both products are essential for achieving a flawless look but their purposes often overlap causing confusion among users. Foundation acts as your canvas providing overall coverage to even out uneven skin tones while concealer targets specific imperfections like blemishes or under-eye circles with precision.

Applying Foundation First

Applying foundation first provides a base for your makeup and helps to even out your complexion. It can cover minor blemishes and redness well and gives a balanced, overall, uniform look.

Don’t forget that you are in control of how much product you apply. For instance, for a more natural look, a light application can do the trick and it’s perfect if you plan on contouring your face too. But if you do need more coverage, simply use a little more in problem areas.

Starting with foundation first is the easiest way for many makeup enthusiasts as its the base on which to build upon.

Applying Concealer First

Contrastingly, many experts recommend starting with concealer since it can help to cover particularly stubborn blemishes or areas of discoloration. It’s also effective if you are looking to cover dark circles or puffiness under the eyes.

You can actually reduce the amount of foundation you’ll need too as you’ll find you’ll need less once your problem areas have been taken care of.

The key, when applying concealer is not to use too much and to blend it in well using small, gentle tapping motions.

Consider the coverage you need when deciding whether to apply concealer or foundation first. If you have specific areas of redness or skin issues, start with concealer. This will allow you to target those particular areas and ensure you get maximum coverage. Follow that with foundation to even out your overall skin tone for a balanced look.

Ultimately, the role of concealer and foundation is to provide coverage and to create a uniform and even skin tone. It is absolutely your own personal preference as to which product you start with as even the experts mix it up at times. Experimenting with different products and techniques will help you find what works best for you.

Tips to Choose the Right Products

Before purchasing a new concealer or foundation, it’s worth considering a few things to help you select the most suitable one. Your skin type, the type of coverage you’re looking for, as well as the type of finish you would like are all relevant factors.

Skin Type

For dry skin, a liquid or cream foundation and concealer will provide a hydrating base that won’t settle into fine lines or emphasize dry patches. Alternatively, a powder or matte formula is more suited to those with oily skin. This type of formula can help control shine and keep makeup in place throughout the day.


If you want full coverage, a cream or stick foundation and concealer will offer the most opaque finish. However, for a more natural look, a tinted moisturizer or light-coverage liquid formula could be a better choice.


The finish of products you use can also impact the overall look of your makeup, something that’s often overlooked. A matte finish will provide a more polished look, while a dewy finish will give your skin a more radiant glow. For a long-lasting option, a waterproof or gel formula will stay put even in the hottest conditions.

Types of Products Available

Foundation and concealers come in all sorts of formulations these days and there really is something to suit all skin types:

  • Cream: A thick, blendable formula that offers full coverage.
  • Stick: A solid formula that can be applied directly to the skin for targeted coverage.
  • Liquid: A lightweight formula that can be built up for medium to full coverage.
  • Powder foundation: A powder formula that provides full coverage and can be used as a foundation or setting powder.
  • Tinted Moisturizer: A lightweight formula that provides sheer coverage and a natural finish. Not technically a foundation but gives a natural, “no makeup” look.
  • Matte formula: A formula that provides a flat, long-lasting, shine-free, matte finish.
  • Gel: A lightweight formula that provides medium coverage and a natural finish.
  • Waterproof: A formula resistant to water and sweat, making it ideal for long-lasting wear.

It’s a lot easier to find the most suitable products when you keep in mind your skin type, coverage needs, and finish preferences.

Preparation for Makeup Application

To create the best makeup looks, preparing your skin properly before application is really important. This helps to create a smooth even base for your makeup. It also helps it look good and last longer throughout the day.

  1. Cleanse: The first step is cleansing your skin removing any dirt, oil, or makeup residue. This will help create a clean canvas for your makeup.
  2. Exfoliate: If you have dry or flaky skin, you may want to exfoliate first to remove loose dead skin cells. This helps to create a smoother surface for your makeup and will help you get a good result. Use a gentle exfoliator to avoid irritating your skin and don’t overdo it.
  3. Moisturize: It’s important for hydration purposes to moisturize your skin. It also provides the nutrients your skin needs to stay healthy. Moisturizer helps your makeup go on more smoothly and prevents it from looking cakey or patchy.
  4. Apply primer: If you want your makeup to last longer, consider using a primer. It helps to create a smooth base for your makeup and also helps it to adhere to your skin. A small amount is all that’s needed, focusing on areas that tend to get oily or where your makeup tends to wear off first.
  5. Give it a few minutes: If you have a more extensive routine, give your products a few minutes to sink in before applying makeup. This ensures your skin is properly hydrated, nourished and ready.

Finishing Touches

Following your base, it’s time for the finishing touches to complete your look. For a flawless finish, check out the following,

  • Powder – Use a powder after applying foundation and concealer to help set your makeup and prevent it from smudging or rubbing off. If you have oily skin, a powder is also useful to help control shine. Use a large fluffy brush to apply a light dusting all over your face.
  • Blush – Add a pop of color to your cheeks and give your face a healthy glow with some blush. Choose a shade that complements your skin tone and apply it to the apples of your cheeks, blending it out towards your temples.
  • Highlighting – Accentuate your features and give your skin a luminous glow. Apply it to the high points of your face, such as the tops of your cheekbones, the bridge of your nose, inner corners of the eye and your cupid’s bow.
  • Spray – A setting spray can help keep your makeup in place all day. Hold the bottle about an arm’s length away from your face and mist it over your makeup. Use after contouring too to prevent smudging.
  • Liner – Eyeliner defines your eyes and makes them appear larger. Use a pencil or liquid liner to line your upper lash line, and smudge it out slightly for a softer look.
  • Mascara – Helps to make your lashes appear longer and fuller. Apply it to your top and bottom lashes, wiggling the wand from the base to the tips.
  • Contouring – To help sculpt your face and create the illusion of higher cheekbones and a slimmer nose, try contouring. Use a matte bronzer or contour powder and a small angled brush to apply it under your cheekbones, along your jawline, and down the sides of your nose.
  • Bronzer – Warms up your complexion and gives a healthy-looking, sun-kissed glow. Apply it to the high points of your face, such as your forehead, nose, and cheekbones with a fluffy brush.

Experiment with different techniques to find what works best for you. For example, try using a stippling brush to apply foundation, or a beauty blender to blend out concealer. Using makeup helps to accentuate your best features whether it’s your eyes, lips, or cheekbones. For a natural look, make sure it matches your skin tone.

Common Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Applying makeup gets easier with practice but there are a few mistakes that many people have in common. Watch out for the following:

Applying Too Much Product

Yes using too much product is definitely one of the biggest mistakes people make when applying makeup, especially foundation. Use a small amount to start with and build it up as you go if you want to avoid a caked or harsh look. You can always add more, but it’s a tad harder, not to mention a waste, to remove excess product once it’s already been applied.

Not Blending Properly

The secret to proper application is blending. It’s easy to end up with streaks or patches If you don’t blend properly. Use a blending brush or sponge to blend the product well into your skin. Some people use fingers which is also fine but make sure to blend well around the edges of your face, including your hairline and jawline.

Using the Wrong Shade

Choosing the right shade of foundation is a bit of an art and takes some time. Don’t rush it, as the wrong shade won’t do anything for you and can actually make your skin appear dull or washed out. Testing along your jawline will help you find the right shade and it should be a good match with your skin tone.

Applying Too Much Concealer Under Your Eyes

When applying concealer under the eyes, less is more. Too much can lead to creasing and smudging, especially if you have fine lines or wrinkles. A small amount is all you’ll need to start with, blend it in well and simply add a little more if you need to.

Remember to apply your products sparingly, blend well, and choose the right shade foundation and concealer for your skin tone. Doing this can help you achieve a flawless and natural-looking base that will last all day.

Additional Makeup Tips and Tricks

There are always a few extra tips and tricks with makeup that can help you achieve the perfect look:

  • Apply foundation with a damp sponge for a natural, more dewy finish. This technique can also help you use less product, reducing the chance of overdoing it.
  • Apply concealer sparingly, focusing on the areas that really need the extra coverage. You can make your foundation go a longer way by doing this too.
  • To avoid a heavy, cakey look, use a light hand when applying both foundation and concealer. Build up coverage gradually, using small amounts of product at a time.
  • Consider using a color-correcting concealer to address specific skin concerns, like patches of redness or dark circles. This can help you achieve a more even skin tone without having to use as much foundation.
  • A mattifying primer can be helpful for those with oily skin. Put on before your foundation to help control shine and keep your makeup in place for longer.
  • Always blend your makeup well, using a brush, sponge, or even your fingers. This can help prevent harsh lines and ensure a seamless finish.

Importance of Sun Protection

UV rays from the sun can cause damage to the skin, including premature aging, dark spots, and even skin cancer so it is a crucial step in any skincare routine. It’s important to put it on before putting on any makeup making sure it is at least SPF 30 to help protect your skin from these harmful effects.

One concern people have is the texture of sunscreen affecting their makeup but you’ll find many available are designed to be worn under makeup. Some foundations and BB creams contain SPF, but it’s not always a high enough factor and you may not apply enough to get adequate protection.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best order to apply concealer and foundation?

For the most part, put foundation on first and then concealer. This way, you can use your foundation to even out and balance skin tone and then use concealer to spot-cover any blemishes or dark circles.

Should concealer be lighter or darker than foundation?

Concealer should be one to two shades lighter than your foundation. This helps to brighten up the under-eye area and give a more awake and refreshed look.

How do you apply concealer for dark circles?

Apply a color corrector that is one shade lighter than your skin tone for dark circles. Then apply your concealer in a triangular shape under your eyes. Blend it well using a beauty blender or brush.

What is the best way to apply concealer and foundation over 50?

For those over 50, use a lightweight formula that won’t settle into fine lines and wrinkles. Apply foundation first and then use a light-reflecting concealer to brighten up the under-eye area.

What is the difference between color corrector and foundation?

Color corrector helps to neutralize any skin discoloration, such as redness or dark circles. Foundation helps to even out your skin tone and provide coverage. Color corrector is typically applied before foundation.

How long should you wait between applying concealer and foundation?

Its a good idea to wait a few minutes between applying these products to allow the concealer to set. This helps to prevent your foundation from rubbing off and ruining your coverage.

JTB Team

The author JTB Team

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