What’s the Difference Between Concealer and Foundation Makeup 2024? Experts Explain

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Explore the fundamentals of a flawless base as we explain, “What is the Distinction Between Concealer and Foundation Makeup?”

Our experts break down each product’s unique roles and benefits to help you build a flawless makeup routine tailored to your skin’s needs.

What’s the Difference Between Concealer and Foundation Makeup: The Basics

Concealer and foundation are staples in the realm of makeup, but they serve distinct purposes for your skin. Concealer is a high-coverage product that addresses imperfections such as dark circles, spots, and redness.

It’s often thicker in consistency and is used to brighten and color-correct targeted areas. Think of it as your detail-oriented friend that helps you spot-treat the tiny details.

On the other hand, the foundation is like the supportive base of your makeup routine. It comes in various formulas, including liquid, powder, and cream, offering buildable to full coverage.

The foundation aims to improve your skin tone, creating a smooth base for all other makeup. It’s available in shades to match different undertones and provides a finish that can range from matte to glowy.

Here’s a quick rundown:

  • Concealer: Spot treatment, thicker, color correcting
  • Foundation: Overall skin tone, lightweight to rich, evening out

Skincare benefits are often baked into these products, too, with hydrating ingredients for dry skin, antioxidants and vitamins to nourish, and non-comedogenic options for oily skin. Some even include anti-aging properties to minimize the appearance of fine lines.

Choosing the right textures and finishes for your skin type is crucial. If you have oily skin, you might prefer a matte finish to reduce shine, while dry skin types may lean towards a foundation with a more hydrating effect to avoid flakiness. Remember, a primer can provide an additional layer that helps create a natural look by smoothing the skin, allowing makeup to apply more evenly.

Application Techniques for Flawless Results

A hand holding a makeup brush applies concealer and foundation to a smooth, clean canvas, demonstrating the difference in coverage and texture

How to Apply Foundation

Preparation: Start with a clean, moisturized face to prevent flakiness. A primer is crucial as it creates a smooth base for your makeup, helping to even out skin tone and ensure longevity.

Tool Selection: Your tools can vary depending on the foundation type.

  • Liquid Foundation: A beauty sponge or brush is ideal.
    • Beauty Sponge: Dampen the sponge and gently bounce it across your skin for a dewy, non-cakey look.
    • Brush: Use a buffing foundation brush to achieve medium to full coverage with a more polished finish.
  • Powder Foundation: A dense brush or a fluffy kabuki brush works best to create an even base.


  1. Dot the foundation on your forehead, cheeks, and chin.
  2. Start blending outwards in circular motions, focusing on areas with discoloration or redness.
  3. Apply a second layer to areas with blemishes or acne scars for extra coverage, blending thoroughly.

Tip: If you have drier skin or desire a more dewy finish, consider using a tinted moisturizer or mixing a bit of moisturizer with your foundation.

How to Apply Concealer

Color Correctors: Use color correctors to neutralize discoloration before applying foundation.

  • Green to reduce redness
  • Peach or Orange to combat darkness or hyperpigmentation

Concealer Selection: Choose a concealer 1-2 shades lighter than your skin tone to brighten areas.


  1. Apply the concealer over dark circles, blemishes, and areas of uneven skin tone.
  2. Use a small brush or ring finger to gently pat and blend the edges for full coverage without creasing.

Build and Blend: Apply in thin layers for buildable coverage. Blend around the edges to seamlessly integrate with your foundation.

Set: To prevent creasing and to set the concealer, lightly dust with translucent powder.

Tip: A beauty sponge is great for blending concealer under the eyes or around the nose for a non-cakey, natural finish.

Choosing the Right Products for Your Needs

A table with various makeup products: concealer and foundation in different shades and textures, accompanied by a chart or infographic highlighting the key differences between the two

Selecting the Ideal Shade and Coverage

Your foundation should match your skin tone as closely as possible to create a uniform canvas—test shades on your jawline for the best match. Coverage ranges from sheer to full; your choice should depend on the desired end effect. Concealer shades should be one to two shades lighter than your foundation to brighten dark circles and spot-treat blemishes effectively.

Considering Skin Type and Concerns

Dry skin can benefit from hydrating formulas containing ingredients like hyaluronic acid or glycerin to help hydrate and reduce the visibility of fine lines. On the other hand, oily skin types may prefer a matte finish to help absorb excess oil. If tackling redness or discoloration, look for products with color correctors or additional skincare benefits like antioxidants and vitamins.

Exploring Different Formulas and Textures

Foundations come in liquid, cream, and powder forms, each with a unique finish from matte to dewy. Concealers vary in consistency; some are buildable and blendable for customizable coverage. Consider cream concealer for more substantial coverage and liquid concealer for a more natural look.

Tools and Techniques for Seamless Application

Apply foundation with tools like a brush, beauty sponge, or even your fingers, starting from the center of the face and blending outward for a smooth, flawless finish. Concealer application should be precise; gently blend with a small brush to apply on specific areas. Set your concealer to prevent creasing and maintain a pristine finish all day.

Frequently Asked Questions

A tube of concealer and a bottle of foundation sit side by side on a clean, well-lit vanity table. The labels are clearly visible, and the products are arranged neatly

Can I achieve a flawless look using just one, either foundation or concealer?

Absolutely! Depending on your skin’s needs, you can use foundation for overall coverage or spot-apply concealer to targeted areas to conceal specific blemishes or discolorations.

How do I determine whether my concealer should be lighter or darker than my foundation?

Your concealer should be one to two shades lighter than your foundation if you use it under the eyes or to highlight. For contouring or covering spots, it can be the same shade or, in some cases, slightly darker.

What’s the correct order? Should concealer or foundation be applied first for the best results?

Generally, you should apply your foundation first to create an even canvas, followed by concealer to tackle any areas that need extra coverage. Exceptions apply if using powder foundation; then concealer goes on first.

Is it possible to substitute foundation for concealer in my makeup routine?

Substituting is tricky; foundation offers overall coverage, while concealer is designed for higher coverage where you need more help. Yet, a buildable, high-coverage foundation can be layered in a pinch over areas needing more attention.

What are the unique benefits of using concealer in makeup application?

Concealer targets more minor, more specific areas, providing high coverage to obliterate under-eye circles or blemishes, leaving you looking refreshed and your skin imperfections masked.

What’s the role of a primer when using concealer and foundation together?

Using a primer before foundation and concealer creates a smooth surface, holds makeup in place longer, and can make both products apply more effortlessly and look even better on your skin.

Do you use concealer before foundation?

It’s common to apply concealer after foundation to avoid overusing the product and to ensure precise spot coverage.

Should concealer be lighter or darker than foundation?

Concealer should be the same shade as your foundation for blemishes or spots and one shade lighter for under-eye brightening.

Can you just use concealer instead of foundation?

Yes, you can use concealer instead of foundation for targeted coverage or a lighter overall application.

Where do you put concealer for beginners?

For beginners, apply concealer under the eyes, over blemishes, and on areas with redness or discoloration.

Do you need moisturizer before concealer?

Yes, applying moisturizer before concealer helps hydrate the skin and create a smooth base for makeup application.

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