The Difference Between A Foundation And Concealer

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Foundations and concealers  are both cosmetics which you apply to the skin to hide imperfections. They come in a variety of shades to match different skin tones. When  applied and blended in correctly they can mask spots, blemishes, scars and pigmentation quite effectively. So what is the difference between a face foundation and a concealer? This is a frequently asked question by many women so I decided to write a brief article on the differences between these two make-up essentials

What is a foundation and how does it work?

A foundation is tinted liquid or powder that you put on your face to give you an even skin tone.

Generally it is applied all over the face with a brush or make-up sponge to give a smooth flawless look to the skin.

Foundations give different depths of coverage depending on your needs as well as providing a perfect base for your make-up.

There are 4 types of coverage that can be achieved with various formulas and degrees of pigment in different foundations. 

  • Sheer is a transparent almost natural look as there is very little pigment in the formula. Blemishes appear minimized but aren’t covered entirely.
  •  Light coverage is slightly more opaque and will cover uneven skin tone but some blemishes may still be visible.
  • Medium coverage hides almost all skin imperfections including freckles, discolouration,  blotchiness and scars.
  • Full coverage foundation is used to hide scars birthmarks and hyperpigmentation. This formula contains the most pigment.
face foundation bottles

What is a concealer and how does it work?

Concealers also come in different skin shades, textures and formulas. Unlike foundations they are thicker and more heavily pigmented. 

To cover spots, blemishes and dark circles under the eyes apply the concealer directly and blend with a brush. A stick concealer can be hard to spread due to it’s thick formula. In this case use your finger tips for blending. The warmth of your fingers will  loosen it helping it to blend easily.

Make sure to choose the correct concealer for your skin type!

Different skin types (and skin issues) call for different concealers. Whether your skin is oily, dry, sensitive or acne-prone there is bound to be a  formula that’s right for you. Below are a few of the textures that concealers come in:

  • Liquid concealers are good for most skin types and especially for acne-prone oily skin. You can build them up for complete coverage of acne spots and other blemishes. You need to set it with powder to prevent it from creasing into fine lines.
  • Stick concealers are good for normal to dry skin. The thick heavy formula masks blemishes and hyperpigmentation really well. However they don’t blend easily so using them on small areas is recommended. They are ideal for touch ups throughout the day. 
  • Cream concealers are also good for normal to dry skin and like the stick concealers they give heavy coverage helping to hide uneven skin tone.

Concealers aren’t just used for hiding skin imperfections, although that is their main job. Highlighting, contouring and accentuating facial features using a concealer that is a couple of shades darker than the skin tone has become a popular trend. 

Use a concealer as a colour corrector

Also called colour correctors, concealers come in shades of orange, green, pink, yellow, purple and blue.

  • Orange neutralizes brown spots and dark circles under the eyes on medium to dark skin tone.
  • Green cancels redness on fair to medium skin.
  • Pink brightens fair skin. 
  • Yellow corrects redness and cancels purple/ blue tones. 
  • Purple cancels dull yellow undertones on light to medium skin.
  • Blue neutralizes hyperpigmentation on fair skin. 

Once you have applied the appropriate colour corrector cover it up with foundation and setting powder for a flawless uniform look.

Which one should you apply first foundation or concealer?

There are many  steps to putting on makeup using different products. However  when it comes to foundation vs concealer the general rule of thumb is to apply the foundation first (except when using a colour corrector). This is because  foundation is applied to the entire face whereas concealer is used on small targeted areas of the skin. If it is applied first then it might get smudged when putting on the foundation thus revealing the blemishes.


Foundations and concealers do pretty much the same job. They are chosen the same way according to skin type and skin tone. Both are buildable to give the desired coverage. But if you don’t have any major skin issues then you can get away with just wearing a foundation and skipping the concealer altogether. 

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