What's the Difference Between Concealer and Foundation: Top Makeup Tips

Woman with foundation on

Foundation and concealer are two essential products for every makeup bag. You don't just need one or the other—you need both. 

You might be asking yourself, “what's the difference?” If so, you're in the right place. While both of these products can help even out your skin tone and smooth your complexion, they have two very distinct roles.

We’ll also find out which one you should be applying first. Yes, there's a method to the madness, but believe it or not, you've stumbled upon a hot topic in the makeup community. We are going to go over the order we think is best, and then you can draw your own conclusions. 

What Is Foundation?

Foundation is an all-over face makeup that comes in many different forms. 

You can get it in liquid, cream, or even powder. Foundation also comes in a variety of shades and tones. Ideally, you want your foundation to be an identical match to your natural skin tone. Otherwise, your face may not match your neck or hairline, and no one wants that. 

Foundation also comes with different coverage levels. It works for both a natural, sheer makeup look or a full coverage layered look. A good foundation should be buildable, and we recommend a liquid foundation for maximum versatility.

Liquid foundations tend to come in tubes or bottles, and we recommend a foundation with a pump to keep your makeup clean—like HIDE. You can apply a liquid foundation with your hands, a damp sponge, or a synthetic brush.

Pay attention to the ingredients list on your foundation. You want something with a water base and no added oils, especially if you have acne-prone skin. Some formulas contain ingredients that could further irritate your skin. 

As the name suggests, this product is the foundation of the rest of your makeup look. It gives you that even uniform complexion perfect for your brush, bronzer, and highlighter. 

What is Concealer?

If you have any skin issues, like acne, sun spots, or dark circles (and pretty much all of us do), concealer is going to be your best friend. 

You can count on a good concealer to cover it all. Like foundation, it comes in a variety of different coverages, shades, and forms. Unlike foundation, concealers have a thicker consistency, because you’re meant to layer it on top for even more coverage. The thickness gives you a more even layer of coverage on any problem areas. 

If you are looking for a concealer that can cover it all, even tattoos, you can't go wrong with HIDE Premium Concealer. The formula is long-lasting and oil-free, which will give you a matte finish that lasts all day. 

Aim for concealer that’s a shade or two lighter than your natural skin color if you want to take advantage of its highlighting effects. When you apply it to places like under your eyes and on the t-zone, it will brighten the face. However, you don't want that shade all over your face. It can make you look washed-out and won't match your skin tone.

Buy a concealer that matches your foundation shade if you're looking to cover acne or imperfections in places you don't want to brighten. Otherwise, you might end up with white spots on your face where your concealer doesn't match your foundation. 

Do I Need Both Concealer And Foundation?

The short answer, yes, you need both. Having both foundation and concealer is key to achieving a flawless and smooth complexion. 

Even if you have perfect skin, you will eventually have some discoloration or blemish that you need extra coverage to conceal—that’s just life. 

In some cases, you can use your foundation like a concealer, applying another layer just in one area that needs it, but this doesn't offer the same level of coverage you'll get from a concealer. You'll also end up using a lot more foundation than you would concealer. 

However, if you have just a concealer and not foundation, you don't want to use it all over your face. You may set out to only conceal your problem spots, but it's easy to get carried away, and you're going to end up with a full face of concealer sooner than later. 

Concealer isn't ideal when it comes to covering large areas. Since it is so much thicker than foundation, it doesn't feel nice all over the skin. They have two different jobs, and both are important to any makeup look. 

Which One Do I Apply First?

So, you have both a foundation and a concealer, but which one should you apply first? 

While some people say otherwise, we argue that foundation goes on first. After all, it's called foundation for a reason.

Your foundation creates an even base for the rest of your makeup. It hides redness and discoloration and gives you a great jumping-off point. Plus, until you apply your foundation, you won't know how much concealer you need!

If you apply your concealer first, you're going to end up taking some of it off when you apply your foundation. You may end up using more product than is necessary because you'll have to go in and reapply in places that were disturbed by the foundation application. Several layers of concealer can also give you that cakey look that nobody wants.

Start with your foundation and let it settle. Then go over any additional hyperpigmentation, blemishes, or dark spots peaking through with just enough concealer to cover them for that natural finish. 

Liquid foundation and then concealer is the most efficient and will leave you with the most natural-looking coverage.

Tips For Using Foundation

There are a few simple tips and tricks to help you achieve that flawless finish when using foundation.

Always start with a clean canvas. If your skin is free from any excess dirt and oils, your foundation will go on smoother. Cleaning your skin before will also help prevent clogged pores. If you have dry skin, your foundation will end up highlighting that. So make sure you're exfoliating when needed and using a moisturizer. A good skincare routine is key. 

When you go in with your foundation, be conservative. Don't start with a lot of product. You can also add more and build up the coverage. Remember, it's harder to take it away than add.

When using a foundation brush, stipple it on your skin, don't rub. Rubbing the brush can cause streaking—plus, it’s just plain uncomfortable. The same applies if you are using a wet sponge to put on your foundation. Dab the sponge gently for the best coverage and a smooth finish. 

Buff it out. Make sure to blend your foundation down your neck to avoid any harsh makeup lines. You should also buff around the edges of your face, ears, and hairline to make sure everything looks blended. 

Tips For Using Concealer

Using concealer might seem self-explanatory, but there are certain techniques you can use to ensure you have a natural-looking finish.

When applying concealer under your eyes, draw an inverted triangle. Take the concealer down the side of your nose and then up to the outer corner of your eye. If you just put it under your eyes, you will be emphasizing that area instead of concealing it. The inverted triangle will brighten up your face and hide your dark circles.

If you’re going for slightly less coverage, but you still want to brighten up that area, apply a diagonal line from the inner corner of your eye to just below where your circles end. Then, apply a diagonal line from the outer corner of your eye, upwards. 

Blotting is a great step to do after applying concealer to prevent it from settling into the creases. You can also blot throughout the day if you have oily skin.

In Summary

You want to find a solid foundation and concealer you can use in everyday life. 

Foundation is an all-over face makeup that you can apply as the base to any look. HIDE Premium Foundation is a great choice because it's waterproof, long-lasting, and oil-free. Plus, it’s a full coverage foundation that can cover anything—even a tattoo. 

HIDE's concealer has all the same benefits as the foundation, just with a thicker consistency. This concealer is great to hide blemishes, dark spots, sun spots, and any other imperfections. 

Flawless-looking skin is achievable with the right products and techniques!



The chemistry of cosmetics - Curious | science.org

Acne - Symptoms and causes | Mayo Clinic

Minimizing Pores | WebMD