Which Do You Apply First? Concealer or Foundation?

Woman putting concealer on client

There’s an ongoing debate in the makeup community about which one goes first: concealer or foundation. This is one of the most common questions regarding makeup application, so if you've ever asked yourself this, you're not alone. 

If you want to achieve a flawless and smooth complexion, applying your makeup correctly is the only way to do it. To answer this age-old question, we will consider a few things. What kind of concealer and foundation are you using? That’s going to affect the proper application technique.

Specific application techniques can help you create an even, skin-like finish, while others may leave you looking overdone and cakey. While there is nothing wrong with looking like you're wearing makeup, you still want it to look smooth and effortless. 

While there are good arguments for both, we think there is a general rule you should follow. Our team at HIDE will go over what sets foundation and concealer apart and which one you should be using first in your makeup routine.

What’s The Difference Between Foundation And Concealer?

Although foundation and concealer both help cover imperfections and leave you with a smooth complexion, they serve two distinct purposes. So these two products are not really interchangeable. 

Let's first take a look at what sets foundation and concealer apart.


Foundation is the base of your makeup routine. It should be as close to your natural skin tone as possible to help create an even skin tone to build your look off of. 

Foundation is best to achieve overall coverage. Coverage can vary depending on whether you want a sheer, medium, or full coverage makeup look.

The formula tends to be thinner than a concealer, and since it goes all over your face, it can protect your skin from outside impurities.


Concealer, as the name suggests, conceals imperfections in a concentrated area. 

Concealer is a much thicker formula than foundation. Since it is denser, it's not ideal to completely cover your face with it. You'll feel like your skin can't breathe, and it may clog your pores.

A good concealer will allow you to wear a thin layer of foundation. You can use the concealer to cover any redness, dark spots, or blemishes still showing through your foundation.

The Case For Concealer First

Let's go over why some like to use the concealer-first technique. 

Some people who don't like a full-coverage look opt for concealer first. They want to conceal and then use as little foundation as possible to finish the job. Some makeup artists believe if you go concealer first, you are less likely to end up with cakey foundation.

Since concealer is also very pigmented and versatile, it can be buildable for more max coverage or sheered out in areas you only need to conceal a little. 

The most convincing argument for using concealer first is if you are using color-correcting concealers. A green corrector can go on first to cover blemishes. Similarly, you can use a peach corrector under your eyes to help hide dark circles. If you have a colored concealer on, you definitely want to cover it with foundation or concealer, so the finished look matches your skin tone.

If you are using a powder foundation, this is another time it makes sense to apply concealer first. This application order allows you to blend your concealer evenly, which would be harder to do on top of powder.

However, if you’re doing this, you’re likely to end up using a lot more concealer than you intended, because you haven’t done anything to even out your skin tone yet. 

The Case For Foundation First

It's called foundation for a reason, so generally speaking, foundation is meant to come first. 

Foundation evens your skin tone and reduces the appearance of blemishes or other imperfections. It gives your face that first layer of coverage, giving you a great base to build off of. Make sure your foundation matches the shade and undertone of your natural skin for ideal coverage.

Once your foundation is on, you'll have a better idea of how much concealer you need and where. Foundation first means you'll be able to focus on the areas that really need coverage. 

If you apply your concealer first, you will end up moving it around and removing it from the areas you were trying to conceal while blending your foundation. You will have to go back in with concealer to recover your imperfections. So foundation first means you will end up using less concealer since you'll only need one application. It's also a huge time waster if you have to reapply.

So foundation first, then spot-conceal in the places where you feel you need additional coverage. 

The Verdict

As a general rule, you should be applying your foundation first and then concealer. Of course, do whatever works for you—makeup is about having fun and expressing yourself. We’ve just found that this seems to work better. 

Start with a flawless base and go from there, especially if you are using a liquid foundation. You will end up using less concealer if you apply your foundation first. It allows you to see where really you need concealer and where you don't so you won't potentially end up wasting product. 

Foundation and then concealer means you can always layer on more if you need it. If you put on your liquid or cream concealer first, you may end up moving it off the blemish or imperfection you are trying to cover.

If you choose to put a color-correcting concealer under your foundation, make sure you aren't blending it into areas that don't need it. These concealers can interfere with your skin tone if they end up all over your face. You can apply the color-corrector over your foundation and then apply a thin layer of concealer that is your shade over the area to match it to your foundation. 

Choosing The Right Type Of Foundation

If you are on the hunt for the right type of foundation for your skin, you already know it can be a daunting task.

A liquid foundation is an excellent option because you can use it in a variety of different ways. We recommend a medium to full coverage foundation, even if you don't always want that level of coverage. 

It's easy to sheer out a higher coverage foundation if you want a natural look. However, it's a lot harder to build up a sheer foundation to a full-coverage level. You can try adding your daily moisturizer to your liquid foundation if you want a light coverage tinted moisturizer look. 

As we mentioned before, the most important part is using a foundation that matches your natural skin. HIDE Premium Foundation comes in various shades and undertones, making it easier to find one just right for you. We also have a shade finder if you need a little extra help.

HIDE foundation is waterproof and long-lasting but feels lightweight. The formula is oil-free and great for all skin types. 

Choosing The Right Type Of Concealer

There are just as many options on the market for concealers as there are for foundation. You want to find a concealer that's just the right consistency, not greasy or dry.

Unlike foundation, if your goal is to brighten your face, you want to choose a concealer one shade lighter than your foundation. This shade will look great under your eyes and in your t-zone. 

If you are covering imperfections in random areas of your face, you may want a second concealer that is the exact match to your skin tone. This way, it will be easier to blend your concealer into your foundation seamlessly. If you use the concealer you use to brighten on a blemish, you will just end up highlighting it, which is definitely not the goal. 

HIDE Premium Concealer is excellent for covering redness, sun spots, dark circles, and blemishes. Plus, it's easy to pick the right shade of concealer if you are already using HIDE's foundation. 

In Summary

So we've settled it: foundation first and then concealer. 

Foundation is meant to be the base for the rest of your makeup. It evens out your skin tone and minimizes your imperfections. You can quickly achieve overall coverage that doesn't feel too heavy. Concealer is great to use after foundation to target and cover any areas of concern. You will be able to blend it out seamlessly into your foundation. 

Using concealer after foundation also means you will use less product. You won't have to reapply because your foundation application moved it out of place.

However, do what you find works best for you. There are no real hard and fast rules when it comes to makeup. It's more important that you're using high-quality products. HIDE foundation and concealer is a great option for any makeup bag. Our products will leave you with a flawless complexion that will last all day. 



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