Foundation VS Concealer

In the beauty world, there are two essential products that makeup artists can’t live without: concealer and foundation. But what is the difference between them?

While there is no right or wrong way to use these products, it can be confusing for some people when trying to include concealer and foundation in their beauty routine.

In this article, we will go over everything you need to know about concealers and foundations. We’ll also discuss how these products differ from each other, along with showing examples of how to use both of these products correctly. 

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Table Of Content

Concealer is only meant to hide imperfections, foundation is used on the entire face to even out the complexion.

The main difference between foundation and concealer is the formula.

As you might guess from its name, a concealer is supposed to hide dark circles and imperfections. 

It comes in a much smaller tube than a foundation because it is not meant to be used on the entire face.

Concealers are more pigmented than foundations and they also have a thicker formula.

foundation formula
Foundation has a thin formula
concealer formula
Concealer has a thicker formula

Now that you know the main difference between concealer and foundation, let’s dive into more details.

Although concealer and foundation are both used to cover up blemishes or other skin imperfections, they can’t necessarily replace each other.

A good example would be if someone has hyperpigmentation on certain areas of the skin. Instead of using a concealer all over the face which can result in a cakey look, they might use a light coverage foundation to even out the skin tone. After that, they go over with a concealer to hide any dark spots that can’t be covered by the foundation. This trick gives the skin a natural look and allows you to use less concealer.

What’s a foundation?

Foundation is a staple face makeup product that is meant to be applied to the whole face. It works to even out the skin tone and it helps to reduce the look of blemishes, dark spots, discoloration, or redness.

So basically, foundation is the base of any makeup look. It creates a smooth canvas so that the rest of the makeup products can blend easily on top.

There are many different types of foundation formulas:

Liquid foundations: These foundations come in a liquid formula. Silicone-based foundations are the most popular among this type of foundation but there are also water based liquid foundations. These foundations provide light, medium or full-coverage to the skin.

They are designed to blend easily into the skin using a makeup sponge, brush, or fingers.

This liquid foundation is one of the most popular foundations. It has a lightweight formula that blends easily into the skin.

maybelline fit me foundation

Powder foundations: these foundations are available in pressed or loose powder formulas. They are lightweight and might include some oil-absorbing properties which work great for people with oily skin. Some powders foundations have a silky formula that gives the skin a beautiful and natural and minimal makeup look. To know more, check these powder foundations for older skin

l'oreal powder foundation

Cream foundations: these foundations have a thick formula and they are usually more pigmented than liquid and powder foundations. The difference between cream and powder foundations is the texture and the type of coverage. Cream foundations work great to cover pimples, acne, or major discolorations.

honest beauty cream foundation

Stick foundations: These foundations are stored in a tube so they are easy to carry on everywhere. They have a thick and creamy formula that provides full coverage to the skin. 

Maybelline New York Balance Stick Foundation

BB cream: the ‘BB’ stands for ‘beauty balm’ which makes the BB cream a light coverage makeup base with skincare benefits like an ‘SPF’. They have a lighter formula than foundations but they are heavier than a tinted moisturizer.

Related: BB Cream Vs Foundation

maybelline bb cream

CC cream: CC stands for ‘color correcting’ which means a CC cream is meant to color correct skin discolorations or redness. 

You can use a CC cream as color-correcting primer too.

To see the effect of a CC Cream, check these before and after photos.

It can be tricky to choose a shade of CC Cream since there aren’t too many different ones available.

IT Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC cream

Foundations come in many different shades to suit all skin tones. There are many different tests you can do to know your exact shade match. Pick a foundation with the same shade and undertone as your skin tone to get a natural look. 

Foundations offer a variety of coverage options. Depending on your skin needs, you can choose between sheer, medium, or full coverage foundations.

Sheer coverage foundations give the skin a natural look. They’re not meant to hide major discoloration but they give the skin an even look. They’re easy to blend and they can be a great option for an everyday natural look.

Full coverage foundations are more pigmented. They provide more coverage and give the skin a flawless look. These foundations are more suitable for special occasions or photoshoots.

Foundations come in different finishes: satin, velvet, matte or dewy….

Each finish is suitable for a certain skin type. For example, matte and satin foundations can work well for oily skin whereas dewy foundations are more suitable for dry skin.

Not everyone needs to wear foundation so it all depends on your skin needs.

What is concealer?

You can use concealer to cover up any spots on your face. It’s designed for use in certain areas and it will hide all of the imperfections you might not be able to get covered by the foundation.

Concealer is not meant to be used for covering the entire face.

It can be applied under the eyes to cover dark circles or on top of blemishes and skin discoloration.

To get a brightening effect on the under eyes, you can choose a concealer that is one shade lighter than your skin tone.

Another type of concealer is color corrector which is used to neutralize skin discoloration.

In general, a color corrector is a specific shade that can cancel out the color of what you put it on top of.

Color correctors are available in different colors such as:

Green: hides redness and rosacea.

Purple: neutralizes yellow undertones.

Yellow: hides dark circles and brightens light and dark skin tones.

Pink: hides dark circles and brightens fair skin tones.

Peach: neutralizes dark circles and grey spots.

color corrector colors

Concealers come in different formulas: liquid, cream, or stick.

Liquid concealers are the most popular. They come in many shades so finding your perfect match won’t be hard! They are also easy to use as they can be applied using the doe-foot applicator.

An example of a liquid concealer is the Revlon PhotoReady candid concealer. It has a doe-foot for precise application and it’s available in 18 shades.

revlon photoready candid concealer

Cream concealers come in a sleek compact. They have a thicker texture and they offer more coverage. Due to their formula, cream concealers might feel drying on the skin so make sure to moisturize your skin very well before application.

Read More: Cream Vs Liquid Concealers.

nyx conceal palette

Stick concealers are heavier in consistency than liquid concealers. They give the skin a matte finish which makes them work great for oily skin.

They come in a tube packaging which makes them convenient for travel or touch-ups on the go.

Concealers can be blended with sponges or fingers.

Damp makeup sponges give the skin a natural finish and they help absorb any excess product.

When choosing the concealer color, pick the same shade of your skintone or go ONE shade lighter. Choosing a very light shade can make your concealer look ashy and picking the wrong undertone can make your concealer look orange.

To get a smooth crease-free look, try to cook your concealer before blending.

Read More: Concealer Vs Highlighter

Does concealer go on before or after foundation?

Applying foundation and concealer in the wrong order can cause your makeup to look patchy and cakey.

Foundation is the base of any makeup look and it is ideal to apply your foundation first and then go over certain areas with your concealer.

Applying concealer before the foundation can make it hard to get a smooth finish. 

Concealers might separate if applied under foundation. They might also move as you blend your foundation on top.  

The best way to apply concealer is after foundation. You can use a brush rather than using your fingers or directly from the tube.

For better results, use a primer underneath so the two products have something extra to stick to. Set the concealer and foundation with a powder to prolong the longevity of your makeup look. You can use a loose or pressed powder depending on your skin type and personal preference.

The only time you want to start with concealer is if you are using a color corrector.

If you have extreme redness or dark circles, you can start with a color-correcting concealer first, then use a foundation to even out the skin tone, and then use another light layer of concealer if you still need coverage.

If you’re using a powder foundation, it’s best to apply concealer first. For liquid formulas, always start by applying foundation first.

Is it better to use concealer or foundation?

We all know that there are times when we want to look put together and then there are other times where we just want to get a natural look.

Choosing between concealer or foundation depends on the look you are going for.

If you don’t have dark circles and you prefer a natural everyday look, go for a light coverage foundation. It’s comfortable to wear and it evens out the skin tone without looking like you’ve put on too much makeup.

nyx bare with me skin veil foundation

If you have dark under eyes, you need to use a concealer. Face foundations have liquid formulas that might not be suitable for the under-eye area. 

People who have an even skin tone but need to hide some blemishes can use concealer and skip foundation. No need to use foundation and add another layer of makeup if you don’t need it.

If you’re going for a flawless full-coverage makeup look, use both. Start with foundation as a base and then go over with concealer to hide dark circles and blemishes.

If you’re a makeup beginner and you’re not sure which product will make your face look its best, try using both. You can use foundation first and then concealer on top to hide any discoloration.

You can choose a concealer with one shade lighter for the under-eye area to get a brighter look.

Foundation vs concealer vs bb cream

Foundation is a base makeup product that covers up your skin. It doesn’t have any moisturizing properties or skincare benefits. It offers light to full coverage to reduce the look of blemishes and even out the skin tone while creating a smooth base for other makeup products such as blush or bronzer.

Concealer is meant to cover up imperfections on the skin. It can be used to cover blemishes, redness, and dark circles under the eyes.

BB creams have a very lightweight formula. There are lighter than foundations and they give the skin sheer coverage. It’s a makeup product with skincare benefits as it might include sunscreen protection. The difference between concealer and BB cream is the type of coverage.

Physicians Formula Super BB Beauty Balm Cream

Tip: if you don’t have any skin discoloration or pimples, you can apply bronzer without foundation for a natural look. You can use blush without any foundation too. Follow these tips and tricks to keep your blush from fading throughout the day.

Read More: BB Cream Vs Sunscreen

Foundation vs concealer vs primer

Primer should be applied before sunscreen or any other makeup product. It is used to prepare the skin for makeup application.

Not all people need a primer so it all depends on your skin type and the look you’re going for.

If you have oily skin you might need a shine control primer to control oil throughout the day.

Or if you have mature skin, using a smoothing primer can give your skin a smooth base by burring fine lines and wrinkles.

In general, primers create a barrier between your skin and makeup. They help the foundation to go on smoother. One of the main differences between primer and concealer is the formula. Primers are light and clear whereas concealers are thicker.

Related: Primer Vs Foundation


When it comes to makeup, do you have a hard time deciding whether you use concealer or foundation?

The answer is simple. Foundation is the base of any makeup look and Concealer is meant to conceal blemishes and skin discoloration.

If you have an even skin tone but you need to cover some minor blemishes and dark circles, then go with a good coverage concealer.

However, if you have a lot of redness or skin discoloration, you can start by applying a foundation to even out the skin tone. After that, you can use concealer as a spot-solution to hide blemishes that need more coverage. 

To get a flawless makeup look, both concealer and foundation are necessary.

For a natural look, you can choose between the two depending on your skin needs.

Do you use concealer or foundation? Tell us in the comments below which one is your favorite?

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Claire is a beauty enthusiast and lover of all things makeup. Her blog is a resource for makeup tips and tricks, product reviews and beauty tutorials.

7 thoughts on “Foundation VS Concealer”

  1. I’m Dutch. I ever use foundation, always concealer. Skincare is where it’s at for us Dutchies. We don’t like the feeling on our faces. Sunscreen and a decent skincare routine are far more mandatory. Similar to the French, you will not find many women here that use foundation. Concealer usually has less silicone than foundation ( l know you can get water-based ones too) but again, it’s that feeling of having something all over the face. As a model, most makeup artists will never use foundation all over the face anyway.. it takes away from your natural skin and the majority are just not about that. I’m not saying we’re all the same; but the majority of us will just use sunscreen, bit of concealer and something on the lip. 🙂

    • great! if foundation works for your face and under eyes then you don’t need to layer any other product or use a concealer.


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