Concealer vs. Foundation: Which One Should You Use?

Many ladies are often confused with the differences between certain types of makeup. Who can blame them? It’s hard to know what sets one product apart with such a wide array of makeup products and the hype surrounding them.  For example concealer vs. foundation.

Although concealer and foundation are used to tone and color the skin, they’re not exactly interchangeable.  There are distinct nuances between the two and a specific order in which you apply them.

Concealer vs. foundation: What’s the difference?

Here’s a complete overview of the differences between concealer and foundation to help you in your makeup application.

What’s a concealer?

Concealer does what you might expect to do from its name alone – conceals! It conceals the parts of your skin you don’t want to be seen, be it freckles, pimple marks, dark circles, or other spots or blemishes. If you want to brighten up shadows or dark spots on your face, you can choose a shade slightly lighter than your natural skin tone.

Other concealer types, such as color-correcting ones, that target specific blemishes such as hyper-pigmentation and reddened skin. For instance, cult-favorite green concealers like the Urban Decay Naked Skin Color Correcting Fluid are perfect for neutralizing skin discoloration caused by rosacea, acne, and dryness. They also help blur flaws instantly while leaving your skin bright and illuminated.

Concealers are typically medium to full coverage, which makes them hard to take off after a long day (especially if you don’t know how to remove makeup without a makeup remover). They usually come in liquid, cream, or powder form.

Benefits Of Using Concealer

Concealer is excellent for various purposes. Depending on your needs and preferences, you may find getting the coverage and look you want is the best choice. Here are a few of the most notable benefits of using concealer:

1. Spot Coverage

Concealer is the best choice for focused coverage of dark spots, redness, and other discoloration. Its concentrated formulation can provide the extra coverage needed to hide blemishes and even out skin tone without changing your entire look. And you can use it no matter the size of the area you need to target. Spot coverage is often difficult to achieve with foundation.

2. Under Eye Brightening

Using a light-reflecting corrector concealer to brighten up dark circles under the eyes is an easy and effective way to look more awake and refreshed. The best concealers come in various formulas designed to reflect light, making them ideal for hiding dark circles and creating a more even complexion. It also helps to hide any fine lines and wrinkles that may appear in the under-eye area, helping to keep your complexion looking smooth and flawless.

3. Color Correction

Depending on your skin tone, you may have redness, sallowness, or other discoloration issues. Concealers can help balance out these skin issues, and many formulas are designed especially for color correction. Undertones are also an issue that concealer can help with. For example, yellow-based formulas can help neutralize the blue or purple tones often associated with dark circles, while green-based formulas can help to reduce redness.

4. Highlighting and Contouring

Concealer can also be used to enhance the shape of your face through highlighting and contouring. If you want to create the illusion of fuller cheeks or define your jawline or nose, using concealer to highlight and bring up certain areas of the face can be a great option. This helps to create dimension and depth, allowing you to enhance your features for a more sculpted look. Concealer provides an even coverage that’s not as heavy or difficult to blend as traditional contouring products.

5. Quick Touch-ups

Concealer is also great for quick touch-ups on the go. If you need to hide a blemish or brighten up dark circles during the day, concealer is easy to apply and can provide the coverage you need. It’s also perfect for quick fixes if you’re in a hurry. A little concealer can go a long way and help you look your best with minimal effort.

6. Versatility

Concealer can cover up blemishes, brighten dark circles, even out skin tone, and enhance features. It’s incredibly versatile and can be used in multiple ways, making it an excellent choice for anyone looking for an easy way to get the perfect complexion. It can be used alone for light coverage, or it can be used in combination with a foundation for a more full-coverage look.

Things To Consider While Choosing Concealer

Different people have different needs when it comes to concealer. From texture to coverage, there are many factors to consider when choosing the right one. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

1. Skin Type

Choose a concealer that works with your skin type. If you have dry or sensitive skin, look for a formula that is specifically moisturizing and gentle. If you have oily skin, look for a matte formula that will help keep shine at bay. You want to choose a formula that won’t irritate your skin or be too heavy. There are also combination formulas for those with both dry and oily skin. This concealer can help balance out various areas of your face.

2. Coverage

The type of coverage you need will depend on your area. If you have dark circles or redness, a more full-coverage option can help to hide these issues. A light coverage formula may be better if you want an even skin tone. You can also find a medium coverage formula perfect for everyday use. Consider your needs before choosing a formula, and look for one that provides the coverage you’re looking for.

3. Shade Matching

It’s crucial to find a concealer that matches your skin tone. If it’s too light, it can make you look ashy and unnatural. If it’s too dark, it can make your complexion look muddy. Many shades are available, so take the time to find one that matches your skin. Test out a few shades at the store and see how they look on your face in natural light. You can also use a color-matching tool online to find the perfect shade.

4. Texture

The texture of your concealer is equally as important as the shade. A liquid formula will provide a more natural finish, while a cream or stick formula may be better for full coverage. A powder formula can work well for those with oily skin. Consider your needs and preferences before choosing a formula. Different textures will provide different looks, so take the time to figure out what works best for you.

5. Specific Concerns

As mentioned, there are formulas explicitly designed for specific skin problems. If you suffer from redness, dark circles, or other discoloration, specialized concealers can help. Look for a formula designed for color correction or brightening if you need extra coverage in those areas.

6. Storage Location

Keep your concealer in a cool, dry place. Avoid storing it in the car or near any heat source, as this will speed up the expiration process. Most concealers come with a shelf life of 12-18 months after opening, so keep track of when you opened yours! It is good to place them in a refrigerator for formula-driven products and in a dry place for regular concealers. However, while traveling, it is important to keep the item protected. The best option is to place it in a makeup bag.

7. Convenience and Style

Achieving a flawless complexion starts with the right makeup essentials. These key products work together, from concealers to foundations, to create a seamless base for your beauty look. And when it comes to keeping these products organized and easily accessible, the perfect bag for makeup kits becomes an essential accessory.

Imagine having a dedicated space for your concealers, ensuring they are always within reach whenever you need to cover up blemishes or dark circles. Pair that with a specialized foundation compartment, allowing you to quickly find the perfect shade for a smooth and even skin tone.

Whether you’re a makeup enthusiast or simply looking for a more organized beauty routine, these bags are the perfect companion. They provide a stylish and practical solution for keeping concealers, foundations, and other essential makeup items in one place, ensuring you’re always prepared to achieve that flawless complexion.

Pros and Cons Of Concealers


1. Targeted Coverage

Concealer provides focused coverage that can be used to hide blemishes, dark circles, and other discoloration. Even smaller areas can be covered precisely without affecting the rest of your complexion.

2. Buildable Coverage

Many concealers can be layered for increased coverage without looking heavy. This makes it easy to get the perfect look without using many products. You can also mix and match formulas to get the coverage you need. This also makes it easy to customize your coverage depending on your target area.

3. Versatility

Concealers can be used for spot coverage, highlighting, and contouring. You can also use it to brighten the under-eye area or even skin tone. It’s incredibly versatile and can be used in multiple ways.

4. Portable

When you’re on the go, concealer is perfect for quick touch-ups. It’s easy to apply and can provide the coverage you need. It’s also perfect for quick fixes if you’re in a hurry.

5. Quick Application

Applying concealer is typically faster than applying foundation. Because of its concentrated formula, it’s easy to quickly dab on a few dots to cover a specific area without having to blend all over the face.


1. Limited Coverage

Concealers may not provide sufficient coverage for larger areas or overall complexion. For a full coverage look, you may also need to use foundation.

2. Potential for Cakey Appearance

When layered or applied incorrectly, some concealers can appear cakey or settle into fine lines. Because of the concentrated formula, it’s important to blend carefully and use a light hand.

3. Color Matching

Concealers tend to come in a limited range of shades, so it can be challenging to find the perfect match. You can find a shade that blends well, but it may not be an exact match.

4. Additional Step

Using concealer as a part of your makeup routine requires an extra step. You may need to spend more time blending and applying it, making your routine take longer.

What about foundation?

While concealer is a spot treatment for your blemishes, the foundation takes it up because you apply it all over your face to even out your complexion. The foundation is the base for the rest of your makeup, perfect for creating a uniform skin tone.

When choosing the type of foundation to use, select one as close as possible to your natural skin tone. You wouldn’t want to walk around all day with a face that’s lighter in color than your neck! Here’s a handy guide to finding the right foundation to match your skin.

Benefits Of Using Foundation

1. Even Skin Tone

Foundation is designed to provide an even, consistent layer of color on the face. It helps to create a more uniform complexion and even out skin tone. This makes it an excellent choice for those seeking an even look without concealer.

2. Skin Protection

Foundation can also protect the skin. Many formulas contain SPF to protect against sun damage, while others may be designed to help keep skin hydrated and nourished. Look for formulas that are specifically designed to provide skincare benefits.

3. Enhanced Complexion

Using foundation can help to enhance and improve the look of your complexion. Depending on your chosen formula, you can achieve a natural glow or a matte finish. Applying a thin foundation layer can help blur imperfections and create a more even complexion.

4. Long-Lasting Coverage

Compared to concealer, the foundation provides longer-lasting coverage. It is designed to stay put all day and can help you look your best for hours without needing to be touched up. This makes it an excellent choice for those looking for all-day coverage. 24-hour formulas can provide an even longer-lasting look.

5. Seamless Blending

The most popular foundations for women are designed to be easy to blend and apply. They help to create a more natural look that won’t appear cakey or patchy. You can use a brush, sponge, or your fingers to apply foundation for a seamless finish.

Things To Consider While Choosing Foundation

1. Skin Type

When choosing foundation, it’s important to consider your skin type. Some people have oily skin, while others may have dry or combination skin. Look for a formula specifically designed to work with your skin type. If you have oily skin, look for a matte formula that will help control shine. If you have dry skin, look for a hydrating formula that will help keep your skin moisturized all day.

2. Coverage

The type of coverage you need will depend on the look you’re going for. Choose a light coverage formula for a more natural, sheer finish. Opt for a medium to full coverage foundation if you want more full coverage. Consider the areas of your face with a light coverage formula. If you want more coverage, look for a medium or full-coverage option. Many foundations also come in buildable formulas, which allow you to layer the foundation for increased coverage.

3. Finish

The finish of your foundation will also depend on the look you’re going for. Opt for a satin or dewy formula if you want a natural finish. If you want a matte finish, look for a matte foundation. There are also illuminating formulas that will help to brighten up the complexion and provide a luminous finish.

4. Shade Matching

A range of shades is available, so finding a foundation that matches your skin tone is important. You may need to mix a few shades together to get the perfect shade. Some brands offer color-matching tools online to help you find the ideal match. It’s also a good idea to swatch a few shades at the store to find the one that best matches your skin.

5. Formulation

Liquid formulas have a more natural finish, while mousse and cream formulas can provide more coverage. Powder foundations are great for those with oily skin, as they help absorb oil and keep your complexion looking matte. Consider your needs and preferences before choosing a formula.

Pros and Cons Of Foundations


1. Comprehensive Coverage

Foundations are designed to provide full coverage on the face. From the face to the neck and chest, the foundation can help to create a more even complexion. This makes it ideal for those who want an all-over coverage look.

2. Customizable Coverage

Foundations come in various coverage levels, so you can customize the look to meet your needs. You can start with a light layer for a sheer finish or build up the coverage for a more full-coverage look. Avoid layering too heavily, as this can make the foundation look cakey.

3. Skin Tone Matching

As more people are embracing their natural skin tone, it’s essential to find a foundation that matches the exact shade of your skin. This helps to create a more natural and seamless look. Various shades are available, so take the time to find a good match.

4. Longevity

Foundations are designed to last longer than concealers, so you don’t need to worry about touch-ups. Many formulas are even designed to last up to 24 hours. This makes them ideal for those who want all-day coverage.

5. Skin Benefits

Some foundations contain ingredients that offer skincare benefits such as hydration, antioxidants, or anti-aging properties. Look for a formula that is specifically designed to provide skin-nourishing benefits.


1. Heavy Feel

Foundations tend to have a heavier feel than concealers and can sometimes be too thick. This can make it difficult to blend the foundation smoothly. Some formulas are designed to be lightweight, so look for one that won’t feel too heavy on the skin.

2. Potential for Cakiness

If misapplied or layered too heavily, foundations can look cakey or patchy. It’s important to blend the foundation lightly and evenly to avoid this. Start with a thin layer and build up the coverage as needed.

3. Difficulty in Shade Selection

Because of the wide range of shades available, it can be difficult to find the perfect match. A foundation can be slightly too light or too dark, making the complexion look unnatural. Take the time to swatch a few shades at the store and find one that matches your skin perfectly.

4. Potential for Oxidation

Some foundations can oxidize and change color over time. This is usually due to the ingredients in the formula, like silicones. To avoid this, look for a foundation that is designed to be long-lasting and won’t change color over time. A good primer can also help to prevent oxidation.

5. Complex Application

Applying foundation evenly and flawlessly may require more time and skill than using concealer alone. You may need a brush, sponge, or fingers to blend the foundation properly. If you’re in a hurry, concealer may be the better option.

Concealer vs. foundation: Which one is better?

Before and after concealer
Source: bareMinerals

If you prefer a natural and fresh everyday look, or if you just want to even out your complexion, a foundation close to your natural skin color would be enough. But if you’re wondering how to cover your pimples and dark circles, I suggest you prioritize investing in a high-coverage concealer vs. a foundation. Concealers usually offer thicker and fuller coverage than a foundation and will typically do fine on their own.

However, go for both if you’re going for a fully done-up look! The foundation is necessary to ensure that the rest of your makeup goes smoothly, while concealer is essential in covering up the spots your foundation can’t cover. Make sure you blend them together seamlessly for the most flawless look. You can then follow up with the rest of your makeup, such as lipstick, contour, and eye shadow.

Also, aside from covering up blemishes, did you know that concealer can also be used in some makeup hacks? For instance, you can use some concealer around your eyebrow makeup to get sleek and chiseled brows. You can also use some to accentuate your cupid’s bow or achieve the trendy Korean gradient lip.

Concealer vs. foundation: What should you apply first?

Ask nearly every makeup artist, and they’ll say it’s better to apply your foundation before the concealer.

Why? Well, it’s just more logical. The foundation is meant to even out your skin tone and reduce the appearance of discoloration, blemishes, and excess redness. It’ll be hard to judge how much concealer you’ll need to use until you’ve applied your foundation. Foundation also serves as the base of your makeup routine, hence its name. If you put concealer first, you’ll find it harder to blend the two together than if you applied the foundation first. You’ll end up with a heavy and cakey makeup look.

However, if you regularly use a powder-type foundation, put on your concealer first. Doing it the other way can result in an uneven and less smooth look.

How to apply concealer and foundation?

Here’s the frustrating thing about foundation and concealer: When they’re expertly applied, they turn your face into a bright, perfectly even, and smooth-looking pearl. But when they’re not applied well, they have the potential to make your skin look oily and flaky, highlight fine lines you didn’t know existed, and leave you with a chalky-looking mask. Not fun at all!

Here are the steps to achieving flawless-looking skin so you’ll never have to handle patchy, cakey, and heavy makeup messes.

Step 1: Choose your formula

Most foundation formulas fall between sheer, medium, and full coverage. If you like embracing your freckles, choose a lightweight, sheer, or hydrating foundation. If you want to even out skin tone, look for a foundation that’s medium-coverage, which typically say “satin” or “semi-matte” finish.

If you have redness, blemishes, or hyper-pigmentation, opt for high-coverage concealers to give you that full face beat.

Step 2: Prep your skin

Do not EVER skip this step. No matter the differences between concealer and foundation, they both tend to settle into the crevices and creases of dry skin.  If your face isn’t cleansed and moisturized first, you can forget about having beautiful seamless makeup.

After using a gentle cleanser or face wash, massage a lightweight moisturizer over your face, then wait at least 15 minutes for the skin care products to sink in before proceeding with the rest of your makeup routine.

Step 3: Apply and blend

How you apply your concealer and foundation is ultimately up to you, but if you want them to blend seamlessly into your skin for that Photoshop-level finish, I’d suggest you use a Beautyblender. Loved by makeup artists worldwide, the egg-shaped makeup sponge will naturally distribute your makeup. It also won’t leave little lines and streaks on your face like brush bristles.

Once your sponge is ready (dampen it first so it works well), apply a few drops of foundation over the main points of your face (cheeks, chin, and forehead). Then, with dabbing motions, quickly tap the round part of the Beautyblender over the blots to blend the foundation out toward your jaw and hairline. Keep dabbing under your jaw and chin to blend the edges of the foundation seamlessly.

Afterwards, dab concealer over the areas that need more coverage. Then, using the pointed side of the Beautyblender, blend it on to your skin until it looks natural and flawless.

Step 4: Set it

With a kabuki brush or whatever big fluffy brush you have, gently swirl loose-setting powder over the areas that tend to get oily and shiny, like your T-zone. If you apply too much powder accidentally, spritz your face with a setting spray or a face mist to melt the powder into your skin. Instead of your skin looking chalky, the spray or mist will provide a natural finish.

Makeup without foundation: can I use concealer instead?

As mentioned before, the difference between concealer and foundation is their formula. The consistency of a concealer is heavier and thicker than a foundation’s, so if you use it on your entire face, you might clog up your pores and have a breakout. Makeup is already known to be bad for your skin, so if you start having these habits, you can further damage your skin in the long run.

But, if you’re one of the blessed ones with natural skin that’s even and pretty much flawless, you can opt for makeup without foundation and use a little concealer on your dark sports and blemishes. Just make sure to apply moisturizer or serum beforehand so that the concealer will go on smoothly. You don’t want to ruin your otherwise fresh face with makeup that looks heavy and cakey.

Can I use foundation as a concealer?

Generally, you can but it won’t be as effective. The foundation is normally less opaque, so it won’t provide the same coverage as a concealer. Having several layers of foundation on your face will also make your makeup look cakey and unblended.

If you want to test whether it’ll work for you, try using a liquid foundation with a heavier formula.

  1. After applying foundation on your entire face, observe the areas the need extra coverage.
  2. Squeeze a bit of the liquid foundation on the back of your hand and then dab on the areas that need cover-up. To blend the foundation on to your skin, repeat dabbing and blending until the foundation until you achieve your desired coverage.
  3. Apply some powder afterward to help set the makeup and avoid a patchy look.
Woman dipping wand into concealer
Source: Giphy

If you’re like me and have both blemishes and uneven skin tone, foundation and concealer are god-sent. While both can be used as standalone products, there shouldn’t be a concealer vs. foundation debate as both products work better when they’re used together.

Combining foundation and concealer will always lead to great makeup looks as your skin tone is even, and all blemishes are covered. Even if imperfections are hiding beneath all the makeup, you can walk outside your home with your head held high and your strut confident.

Top Makeup Brands: Concealers and Foundations    

Choosing a suitable foundation and concealer is the key to applying makeup to achieve a beautiful complexion. Reputable cosmetics companies have built their name by constantly producing outstanding goods suited to various skin types and customer preferences. These reliable solutions guarantee that your makeup accentuates your natural beauty while offering the desired coverage and finish.

  1. Fenty Beauty by Rihanna: Fenty Beauty is celebrated for its expansive shade collection, which makes it possible for people of all skin tones to discover their ideal match. Their Pro Filt’r foundation’s matte finish is ideal for those with oily skin types.
  2. NARS: Numerous foundation and concealer options are available from NARS, including the renowned Radiant Creamy Concealer, renowned for its buildable coverage and luminous finish.
  3. Estée Lauder: The Double Wear Stay-in-Place Foundation is a favorite for long-lasting coverage. It’s prevalent for oily skin as it controls shine throughout the day.
  4. Tarte Cosmetics: Shape Tape Concealer by Tarte is a cult favorite because it offers complete coverage and brightening benefits. To complement various skin tones, it comes in a range of hues.
  5. Make Up For Ever: Make Up For Ever, which is well-known for its HD Foundation, offers a solution that offers a smooth, natural finish ideal for photography and films.
  6. Laura Mercier: One of the go-to products for people with excess oil is Laura Mercier’s Translucent Loose Setting Powder, renowned for setting makeup and preventing oiliness.
  7. Urban Decay: Urban Decay’s All-Nighter Liquid Foundation is renowned for its waterproof and long-wearing composition, which guarantees a flawless appearance that lasts.

These top makeup brands have carved out a position in the market by providing foundation and concealer products suitable for various skin types, including powder foundations made to provide long-lasting coverage and concealers for oily skin. The best brand and product to use ultimately come down to personal taste, skin tone, and requirements for a perfect complexion.

Frequently Asked Questions

1) How to get concealer out of clothes?

The best way to remove it is by using a stain remover. You can use a store-bought stain remover or a homemade dish soap and water mixture. Soak the garment in the solution for 30 minutes before washing it, then air dry.

2) How to apply concealer for dark circles?

First, use your ring finger to dab a small concealer onto the dark circle. Gently blend it outwards towards the corners of your eyes. Use a small brush or sponge to help blend the edges and set it with a light dusting of loose powder.

3) Why does my concealer crease?

The most common reason for concealer creasing is due to the wrong formula or texture. If your skin is dry, use a liquid or cream formula. A primer and setting spray can also help to prevent creasing and keep your makeup in place.

4) How to find the right concealer shade online?

It can be tricky to buy concealer online since you can’t swatch it in person. The best way is by looking at swatches from other customers online. Compare your skin tone to those in the swatches, and then opt for a shade that matches.

Bottom Line

Choosing between concealer and foundation can be tricky, but by taking the time to consider your needs and preferences, you can find the perfect product for you. Concealers are great for targeted, buildable coverage and quick application, while foundations are perfect for more full-coverage looks and all-day wear. With all the options available, you can easily find the right product for your needs. Just remember to take the time to apply and blend the product for a natural-looking finish properly.

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