Foundation vs Concealer: What’s The Difference?

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Much like the age-old question “Which comes first? The chicken or the egg?” the never-ending debate between foundation vs. concealer has been around since time immemorial.

Both foundation and concealer products are essential to your makeup routine if you want to achieve a flawless-looking finish.

different kind of foundation and concealer in a table with various sizes of flat brushes for application

Some already have these products in their makeup bag but are still not satisfied with their makeup looks.

Why? Maybe because they’re applying it in the wrong order.

If you are among those who can’t get it right… we got you! We’re ending the debate once and for all.

Excited to know the difference between concealers and foundations and how you should incorporate them into your makeup routine? Read on to learn more.

Foundation vs. Concealer: What’s the Difference?

An infographic featuring the difference between foundation vs concealer

In the world of makeup, foundation and concealer are both must-haves in everyone’s makeup bag.

But what is the difference between concealer and foundation? 

Both products may look quite similar to each other, but believe us when we say they totally serve different purposes. 

Let us introduce you to both products. 

What’s a Foundation?

As the name suggests, a foundation is meant to build a clean base on your face and even out your skin tone. 

A foundation can blur imperfections too, but it looks more natural-looking because its shade is almost similar to your skin tone.

Since this product is not a one-size-fits-all deal, it comes in different consistencies and shades to match anyone’s makeup goals and skin needs.  

This product can be applied with a damp beauty sponge, foundation brush, large stippling brush, or fingers. 

Remember to also apply it on your neck for a seamless look.

Now remember that there are different types of foundations. Check out our guide to find out what to expect from each of them so you know which ones to pick for your needs.

1. Liquid Foundation

A woman applying liquid foundation with a brush on her face.
  • Buildable from medium to full coverage
  • Gives dewy and matte finishes
  • Easy to blend
  • Hydrates skin
  • Long-lasting
  • May clog pores if you’re not using a non-comedogenic product
  • Ideal for normal, combination, oily, and sensitive skin types

2. Cream Foundation

A jar of beige cream foundation on a white background.
  • Gives a flawless and hydrated finish
  • Highly-pigmented 
  • Hydrates skin
  • Easy to apply 
  • Great for dry and mature skin
  • May crease in humid weather

3. Stick Foundation

  • Dot and blend application
  • Mess-free
  • Buildable coverage
  • Its thick texture may look cakey if not blended well
  • Great for combination or oily skin

4. Powder Foundation

A compact powder compact on a yellow background.
  • Gives a barely there look
  • Easy to apply
  • Lightweight
  • Soaks up excess skin sebum
  • Reapplication is required
  • Mostly mineral-based
  • Ideal for sensitive and irritable skin types

5. Serum Foundation

  • Loaded with skincare benefits
  • Easy to buff and blend
  • Can be blended into a moisturizer
  • A few drops will go a long way
  • Great for all skin types

6. Tinted Oil Foundation

  • Best for ultra-dry skin
  • Gives a glowy and radiant look
  • Evens out skin tone

7. Whipped Mousse Foundation

  • Super lightweight
  • Leaves a matte finish
  • Does not clog pores 
  • Ideal for oily skin
  • May look patchy if not blended well
  • Light coverage so reapplication is necessary

8. Cushion Foundation

  • Buildable coverage
  • Available in dewy, semi-matte, or matte finish
  • Light and comfortable to wear
  • Hydrates, protects and repairs skin
  • Works well for a variety of skin types
  • Can be long-lasting      

What’s a Concealer?

A woman is pointing her finger at her eye.

Quite literally, a concealer is used to conceal, blur, or hide blemishes and imperfections, including dark circles, active acne, and healed pimple marks.

Many also use concealers to give their complexion a brighter appearance.

Generally, concealers tend to have a heavier and thicker consistency than foundation. They provide medium to full coverage, which makes them harder to remove with just water. 

Like foundations, concealers also come in different types and textures. Finding the best ones for your needs will help you achieve that flawless makeup finish.

All you need to do is dab a light layer of pigmented concealer on areas you want to conceal using a concealer brush or a small fluffy brush. 

You can also use your fingers, but make sure they are clean to avoid irritation.

Getting the right concealer shade for your skin tone is also a must! Otherwise, it will give you more problems than solutions, and we totally don’t want that to happen to anyone!

With so many types and textures available, finding the perfect concealer for your needs might be quite overwhelming. That’s completely understandable!

To help you decide, here’s a quick list for you.

1. Liquid Concealer

  • Great for all skin types, most especially dry skin
  • Buildable to full coverage 
  • Hides dark circles and acne
  • Dewy or matte finish formulas

2. Cream Concealer

  • Thick formula
  • Heavier coverage
  • Effective in covering imperfections
  • Adds brightness
  • May clog pores if the formula used is non-comedogenic

3. Cream to Powder Concealer

  • Has a creamy and lightweight texture
  • Powdery and matte finishes
  • Ideal for normal to combination skin types
  • Heavy coverage

Foundation vs. Concealer: Which Goes First?

Alright, let’s now settle the never-ending debate.

Which comes first between foundation and concealer in doing your makeup routine?

Our answer to that is foundation. 

Most makeup artists start by creating a clean base by applying foundation before the rest of the products.

Simply put, a foundation makes a smooth canvas so that the other products can blend easily on the surface.

Using this product as the first layer of coverage will make the look more natural. 

Since it has initially blurred the blemishes, it allows you to see which areas need further concealment. Therefore, you won’t need to apply several layers of concealer. 

Applying concealer first before foundation may cause it to crease or get rubbed off when blended. It is a waste of product and creates more work for you since you need to retouch the area.

Too many products on the skin also feel heavy and can potentially aggravate existing skin problems. Regular concealers are thicker in texture, so using them on your entire face to create a base will make the look very chalky or cakey.

Just like constructing a house, a foundation sits at the bottom of the structure to make it sturdy. In makeup, a foundation also works the same.

Creating an even base will allow the rest of the products to shine and do their jobs.

a woman wearing white bathrobe applying concealer under her eyes infront of bathroom mirror

Are There Cases Where Concealer Comes First?

We concur with everyone out there who says that the order to apply makeup will always be a personal preference.

We are born with different skin types and needs, so we totally understand if there are cases where applying concealer is best done before foundation.

If you have heavy dark undereye circles, redness, discoloration, and acne scars that still show through no matter how much coverage of foundation you have, a concealer may need to be applied first.

This will help you conceal skin issues right away and avoid using too much product.

Primer vs. Foundation vs. Concealer

We’ve already broken down the differences between concealer and foundation in the earlier sections, but what about primer?

If you’ve just heard about this, a primer is a product that’s meant to be used quite literally as its name suggests: to prime the skin before makeup application.

A primer is a preparatory product that is applied to the face after your skincare routine. 

Like all other products, it also comes in different formulations, giving users more options to choose from based on their needs. 

Primers may come in a facial serum to boost skin hydration or a traditional silicone-based primer that helps smoothen texture and blur large pores.

It’s also worth noting that coating your face with primer helps keep the makeup products stay longer and prevents you from oiling up.

This product will definitely change your makeup game in no time!

A woman is applying makeup in front of a mirror.

How To Correctly Apply Concealer and Foundation?

Nobody wants a cakey-looking makeup look, right?

Foundation and concealer products can do wonders for your overall look only if they are blended well and applied in the correct order. 

Using concealer instead of foundation or using foundation as concealer won’t work and should be regarded as myths now!

To achieve flawless-looking skin, here are five easy steps to follow:

Step 1: Prep Your Skin

Before starting your makeup routine, wash your face with a gentle cleanser to remove dirt and excess oil. 

Then apply your favorite hydrating serum and moisturizer to keep your skin’s exceptional glow. 

Wait for at least 15 minutes for the skincare products to settle in. 

Step 2: Apply Primer

Take a pea-sized amount of primer and rub it between your hands. Then gently pat it onto your skin and spread it evenly.

We recommend applying more to areas with concern such as enlarged pores. These problematic areas are usually found in the T-zone (forehead, nose, and chin).

Let the primer set in for about a minute or so.

Step 3: Apply Foundation

After you’ve primed your face, you’re now ready to create a clean base using foundation!

Apply a few drops of foundation on your face’s main points (forehead, cheeks, and chin) and spread it evenly through short strokes or dabbing motions using a damp sponge, beauty blender, or stippling brush.

Continue blending to even out the product on your skin. 

Step 4: Apply Concealer

We would like to reiterate here that the answer to the question “Is foundation and concealer the same thing?” is always a big NO.

Applying concealer is preferably done after foundation application. Once your clean base is set, you may now determine the areas that need concealing.

Dot the concealer product with its applicator or with a small fluffy blush and gently press and blend it.

If more coverage is necessary, you may reapply the product and blend it seamlessly into the base. 

Step 5: Set It

Once you’re done blending, apply your preferred loose-setting powder to seal your foundation and concealer.

Gently swirl your big fluffy blush with setting powder over areas where you get shiny and oily.

If you’ve applied too much setting powder by mistake, our tip is to dust the excess powder off with a fluffy brush.

Do this before applying a face mist or setting spray to melt the powder onto your skin.

A woman is holding a large green leaf over her face.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Use Concealer for Hyperpigmentation?

For hyperpigmentation, use a concealer and a color corrector to help you achieve a balanced, even look.

Are Concealer and Foundation the Same Thing?

Many people tend to think that foundation and concealer are the same, but there is a huge difference between the two. 

Foundation is meant to be used as a base for your makeup, while concealer is meant to brighten up the skin and cover blemishes or dark circles. 

You can use a bit of concealer on top of your foundation to help with any problem areas.

Can I Mix Concealer with Foundation?

While it is possible to mix concealer and foundation, it is not necessarily the best idea. 

This is because you may end up using too much of either product, leading to a cakey or heavy look. 

Can I Mix Concealer With Moisturizer?

Yes, you can mix concealer with moisturizer. 

In fact, many people do this to create a custom foundation or tinted moisturizer. 

Simply adding a small amount of concealer to your regular moisturizer can give you the coverage you need without feeling like you’re wearing a lot of makeup. 

If you have dry skin, this can also be a good way to add extra hydration. 

Just be sure to choose a concealer that matches your skin tone, one that isn’t too heavy.

Foundation vs. Concealer: Final Say

Using foundation and concealer can help you create a gorgeous makeup look that gives you a whole lotta confidence!

Just remember to choose the right products for your skin type, apply concealer after foundation, and blend, blend, blend in order to achieve flawless-looking skin. 

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  • Janille Gultiano

    Jan, a distinguished freelance makeup artist, also boasts a BA in Mass Communication, laying the foundation for her diverse talents. For over four years, she's carved a niche as a captivating content writer, with her articles resonating in various spheres. Beyond writing, her expertise extends to crafting robust Public Relations and Corporate Communications strategies. Each endeavor reflects Jan's unique blend of creativity and precision

  • Noelia Genov

    Noelia boasts eight years as a professional makeup artist and 6 years mastering skincare. She is a licensed esthetician and makeup artist in New York and her expertise spans from transformative makeup looks to in-depth skincare solutions.

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