What Is The Difference Between Foundation & Concealer?

What is the difference between foundation and concealer?

The big difference between a foundation and a concealer is that you use foundation all over your face as a base. You use concealer on smaller areas such as under the eyes to hide dark circles or to cover a pimple or other redness. A foundation should be close to your own skin tone while a concealer should be slightly lighter.

What is foundation?

A foundation is a skin-colored cream that you use all over the face as a base, it is to even out the skin tone and hide small blemishes.

Foundation is available in several different degrees of coverage, some foundations provide a very light coverage where your own skin shines through, then there is medium coverage and full coverage. You can also build up the coverage with a foundation.

How do you know how much a foundation covers? It usually says on the packaging how high the degree of coverage of the foundation is.

Apply foundation

You can apply a foundation in several different ways. There are different make-up tools that can be used when applying foundation depending on the degree of coverage you want.

Light coverage

If you do not want to feel so made up but still want to even out the skin tone, it is the hands that give the easiest application. If you use your hands to lubricate your face with foundation, remember to always wash your hands beforehand.

You can also use a beauty blender to get a light coverage. Remember to moisten a beauty blender before use.

Medium coverage

If you want a medium coverage of your foundation, you can also use a beauty blender here and build up your foundation in layers. A beauty blender also gives a very nice and even result and is easy to work with to build up the coverage.

Full coverage

If you are looking for a full coverage of foundation, you should have a foundation brush where the straws are dense and compact. This makes results more comprehensive.

What is concealer?

A concealer is there to hide dark circles under the eyes, pimples, blemishes or other blemishes you may have on the skin that you want to hide. But you can also use a concealer to brighten certain areas of the face, also called “high-light”.

You do not use a concealer all over the face as a foundation – but only in specific places. Even on a concealer, there is a different degree of coverage. There are matte, dry and creamy concealers, but also light-covering and thin.

Do I have to choose a product in the whole make-up bag that I can not live without, it is without a doubt a concealer!

Different colors of concealer

When it comes to concealers, there is something for everyone. Concealers are available with different pigments to hide specific problems – so do not be afraid to try different colors.

Green shade

If you have woken up with an angry red pimple or if you want to hide red areas around the nostril, the green concealer does the work for it.

Green color neutralizes red tones. It also works great if you have sunburned yourself in the sun and want to dampen the red in the face or if you have a sensitive skin that flares up easily and turns red.

Yellow shade

Yellow shades conjure away purple tones, so if you e.g. hit you and got a bruise, you should choose the yellow shade.

You can also use this shade to high-light parts of the face. You can also use a yellow concealer on the eyelid as a primer for the eye shadow.

Purple shade

If you feel a little dull and tired, you should try a concealer in a purple tone as the purple color brightens up. A purple shade on concealer suits you best with a lighter skin tone. With a purple shade, you get a feeling of luster.

Orange shade

If you are darker in your skin tone and want to hide blue tones in the skin, an orange concealer is right for you. It hides dark circles but also pigmentations well.

Pink shade

Do you suffer from dark circles under the eyes? Or have you had too little sleep? Then you should use a concealer that has a salmon pink shade in it. The pink tone hides both green, blue and purple shades that can appear when too little sleep.

Apply concealer

Apply to the places where you want extra coverage or need to light up. You apply a concealer in the best way with a small makeup brush that accesses the small areas around the eye or the nostrils.

Even a small rounded brush with compact straws works great to use to apply concealer.

You can also use a beauty blender here as it is a bit pointed at the top – which means that it can reach small corners around the eye better.

How to choose foundation?

When buying foundation, you should start from your own skin tone and choose the one that is closest.

A foundation should not make the skin darker, but it is there to even out the skin tone – and then it must match the skin tone you have.

The foundation should not be visible at all on the skin, but blend in perfectly.

It is a good idea to buy in a store so that you can test before, but sometimes it takes a while before you find exactly the right shade – and that can mean that you first buy the wrong one.

In addition to nuance, there are more things to think about. What do you want? A foundation that covers as much as possible or a more natural one that mainly evens out?

One that is matte or one with a little luster? There are many different varieties and it can be good to know what you want before you start looking.

In addition, you should also start from your skin type.

If you have dry skin, you should choose a foundation that is moisturizing, if your skin is sensitive, mineral foundation can be a good idea, and if you have oily skin, you should avoid an oil-based foundation.

Then try to find one that is in the same tone as your skin and avoid one that is too dark as it can give an unnatural result.

In the summer, however, you may need to use one that is slightly darker because you are often tanned then and thus slightly darker.

Foundation often costs from a few dollars, sometimes even less, and up to many hundreds.

However, it is not always the price that determines how good a foundation is and it is not always possible to start from reviews or recommendations either.

Usually you have to try to find a variety that you like and that suits your own skin as well as possible.


When applying foundation, it is an advantage to clean and moisturize before, it often gives a better result. Feel free to use primer before also for a smoother result that lasts longer.

Then start with the foundation in the middle of the face and work your way out.

You can use it all over the face or just where it is needed, but many people prefer to cover the whole face.

Use a beauty blender, a foundation brush, or your fingers, and buff / dab on the foundation on the face. In this way, you build up a coverage gradually, it becomes a smoother result and you avoid streaks.

Finish by gently pressing a piece of paper (preferably a softer kind) against the face to remove excess foundation.

Then you can apply any blush and then finish with, for example, powder (for example a transparent powder) or setting spray.

How to choose concealer?

If you have dry skin, you can advantageously choose a liquid concealer, but if you have oily skin, a thicker and firmer variant is preferable.

Otherwise, you should think about the same thing as when you buy foundation; choose a shade that is as close to your own skin tone as possible – this applies if you want to cover pimples and the like.

But as I said, there are also concealers in other shades, so if you want to cover redness or visible blood vessels, choose a concealer that goes in the green direction instead.

There are also products that combine several colors, for example on a small “palette”, so you can get a green, but also other shades.

They are suitable if you want to hide red areas, but also, for example, pimples and / or dark circles under the eyes.


Do you only use concealer, and not foundation? In this case, prepare the skin by cleaning it before and moisturizing.

Then apply primer to get a good result. Do you also use foundation? In that case, apply foundation first and then concealer.

If you want to hide dark circles under the eyes, you can apply the concealer as a triangle under the eye and then dab it out until it melts into the skin.

Apply in the same way as foundation; with fingers, beauty blender, or brush and by dabbing – do not smear, it gives no even and natural result.

Concealer or foundation first?

There is no right or wrong way to apply concealer first or your foundation first. It is entirely a matter of taste and up to yourself what you prefer.

If you use a concealer in a shade such as purple, red or green, it should always be applied first to hide your problem areas and then you apply your foundation – so that they blend in nicely with your skin.

Personally, I always put the concealer last as I use it most to brighten up around the eyes – to give the impression of a more alert look. But the days I have pimples that I want to hide, I put concealer on those places first and then foundation over.

Can you use concealer as a foundation?

No I would not recommend using a concealer all over the face for several reasons.

A concealer is usually in a shade lighter than your own skin tone and it has a completely different texture than what a foundation has. It is usually much thicker than a foundation.

But you can definitely use only concealer in the places you want to cover and let the rest of the face last, unless you want a more natural look.

Foundation and concealer in one

Now there is foundation that you can also use as a concealer. This means that it is a foundation that you can use all over your face.

But you can also use it as a concealer only as it has the same coverage as a concealer.


The difference between a foundation and a concealer is that a foundation is used as a whole base over the entire face while a concealer is used to cover smaller areas of the face such as dark circles, pimples or redness of the skin.

A concealer is available in several shades to neutralize the different colors we can experience in our face and which we want to hide.

Concealer is chosen in a shade lighter than your own skin tone. You want a foundation as close to your own skin tone as possible.

You can of course use foundation alone or just a concealer depending on what result you want – but together they give a flawless base.


S Mittal. (2020). Makeup or mask: makeup’s effect on salesperson trustworthiness

K Brinegar. (2014). The correlation between makeup usage and self-esteem

D Mee. (2012). Medical makeup for concealing facial scars

M Kajita. (2021). Basic Research on How to Apply Foundation Makeup Evenly on Your Own Face

N Bhatia. (2020). A split-face, controlled study to assess the compatibility of tretinoin 0.05% acne lotion with facial foundation makeup

L Caisey. (2006). Skin color and makeup strategies of women from different ethnic groups


This article has been reviewed by our editorial board and has been approved for publication in accordance with our editorial policies.

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