Concealer vs Foundation – Difference Between Foundation and Concealer

Published Categorized as Makeup Tips

Have you ever been browsing the makeup aisle and seen makeup products marked as “concealer” and “foundation” though both items look totally similar? They aren’t! In fact, the two are quite different. In this post, we will explore the differences between concealer vs foundation, as well as how each one is best used. Let’s go!

Hi beautiful! Just to let you know, we earn a modest commission off of purchases made through Amazon affiliate links on this page. Don't worry, it's of no extra cost to you. We love the products we recommend in this post, and we hope you do, too!

Table of Contents

Dermablend Flawless Creator Lightweight Foundation, 40N: For light to medium skin with neutral undertones with a hint of pink, 1 Fl Oz

Concealer vs Foundation

Before we get into the nitty-gritty, let’s make things simple. Below is a quick breakdown of the main similarities and differences between concealer and foundation.

Differences Between Foundation and Concealer

  • Concealer is thicker than foundation; Foundation is used as a base layer
  • Concealer is used as spot treatment; Foundation is used all over the face
  • Foundation comes in natural colors; Concealer also comes in color correcting formulas and colors (such as green, purple, etc)
  • Foundation should be matched as close to your natural skin tone as possible; Concealers should be at least one shade lighter than your natural skin tone
  • Concealers come in smaller packaging; Foundations usually come in larger packaging, such as tall glass bottles

Similarities Between Foundation and Concealer

  • Both foundation and concealer are intended to correct and balance the look of the skin
  • Foundations and concealers are forms of face makeup
  • Both come in natural skin tones, for the most part
  • Concealer and foundation can be used simultaneously on the face

We’ve written about these points in more detail in the following sections to help you learn about what foundation and concealer can do for you.

Is Concealer the Same as Foundation?

Are concealer and foundation the same thing?

Nope. They aren’t.

Foundation is used to create a natural base for the skin. When choosing a foundation, you’ll want to match as closely to your skin tone as possible, while also choosing the correct coverage for your needs.

In general, foundation has several coverage types, from sheer all the way to full coverage. In addition, foundation comes in different subsets when it comes to the finish, and that is usually matte or a dewy.

Concealer, on the other hand, is used as spot treatment. Concealer is called concealer because it literally is meant to hide your trouble spots. This includes dark blemishes, under eye circles and redness of the skin.

Concealers can come in a variety of colors, and some are meant to be color correcting to ensure that your finished look hides any hyperpigmentation, redness or otherwise unsightly area of your skin. This NYX Color Correcting Concealer Palette is a great example of a concealer that is made to hide trouble zones while also correcting skin tone issues.

NYX PROFESSIONAL MAKEUP Color Correcting Concealer Palette
Buy on Amazon

What Is Concealer and Foundation Used For?

First off, concealer is used to cover dark spots and blemishes.

Let’s say you’ve got a particularly gnarly portion of your face that you want covered. Unless you’ve got a full coverage foundation, you’ll likely not be able to get away with hiding those troublesome spots with foundation alone. Concealer was designed, in most cases, to go over your foundation to cover up whatever zones your foundation missed.

Foundation, on the other and, is used to create a base for the rest of your makeup. Think of it as a “clean slate”. And while it may not completely eradicate every blemish on your face, foundation is typically crucial for an even-toned and well put together makeup look for both daytime wear and night.

Concealer vs Foundation Color

What are the differences in their colors?

Concealers can come in a variety of colors, including green, orange, white and other seemingly odd colors. This is because these colors are meant to correct, or hide your problem spots under your foundation.

Having said that, concealers can and often come in natural shades. When choosing a concealer, try to grab one that is a shade lighter than your natural skin color as this will aid in hiding redness, scar and other skin issues. But be careful. Choosing a color too light may end up looking patchy, even with foundation over it.

As for foundation, this generally comes in only natural colors which makes sense as it is designed to function as your “clean slate” base layer. Never buy a foundation that is too light or too dark as this will become blaringly obvious as your face turns out to be a different color than your neck. How embarrassing!

Concealer Lighter Than Foundation

Remember, your best bet is to purchase a concealer that is lighter than your foundation. This will aid in blurring the appearance of unsightly spots, redness or scarring!

What Is Concealer?

What’s Concealer For?

Generally speaking, a concealer is for “concealing” your problem spots. It is often used as a spot treatment and for dark circles under and around the eyes.

Some concealers are made for specific purposes, such as hiding dark circles, for banishing redness and hyperpigmentation or for color correcting certain areas of your skin. But there are many generalized concealers you may choose from that can be used for all of these purposes and more.

One of the most popular concealers on the market is the Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Concealer that is affordable as well as anti-aging.

Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Eraser Dark Circles Treatment Multi-Use Concealer, Light, 0.2 Fl Oz (Pack of 1)
Buy on Amazon

Do I Need Concealer?


If you have areas of your face you really want covered but foundation doesn’t seem to be doing the trick, you’ll likely want to purchase a concealer to throw on under, or over, your foundation to help create a more seamless and flawless look.

On the other hand, if you have a foundation you really like, and you’re one of the lucky ones that doesn’t have many problem areas on their face, you can totally skip the concealer and still pull off a beautiful and well put together makeup look.

What Is Foundation?

What Is Foundation For?

Foundation is used for creating a base layer on your face. Most people will require a foundation just to create a smooth and neutral canvas on which to apply their makeup. Foundation is used to balance the skin tone and to smooth out the skin. It is often paired with a setting powder like Coty Airspun Loose Translucent Powder to further solidify the base and keep the foundation from sliding around. This setting powder often also adds another layer of smoothness to compliment the rest of the makeup.

Coty Airspun Loose Face Powder, Translucent, Pack of 1
Buy on Amazon

RELATED: What is Setting Powder and What is it Used For

Do I Need Foundation?

Yes. That is, in most cases, we would recommend it.

While most people do wear foundation in addition to the rest for their makeup there are some that don’t. But even if you don’t like the idea of a liquid, cakey or sticky foundation, you can also opt for a lighter more sheer powder version of foundation, like the Covergirl & Olay Simply Ageless Foundation, that can give your skin a healthy glow without necessarily skipping the foundation all together.

COVERGIRL & Olay Simply Ageless Instant Wrinkle-Defying Foundation, Medium Light
Buy on Amazon

Using Foundation and Concealer

What goes first concealer or foundation?

Typically, foundation is the recommended product to apply first, rather than concealer. Why? Because by applying concealer first, you may apply too much and also, you may run the risk of accidentally swiping away your concealer as you apply your foundation over it.

Nevertheless, there are many who rather apply their concealer before foundation, such as in the video below.

This especially when the foundation is a powder versus a liquid. Applying concealer below foundation can help minimize the appearance of pores and keep makeup in place.

We recommend you experiment with the order of your makeup routine to see what works best for you.

Can I Use Concealer Without Foundation?

There are many who use concealer without foundation and actually claim it to be better than using foundation alone. Check out Haley Kim’s No Foundation Routine below to get the details on how it’s done.

Can I Use Foundation as Concealer?

You can! But be careful, though! Too much foundation can have you looking cakey, and remember that not all foundations are created equal.

The best foundation to target trouble zones would be those that are full coverage, and even then, not all full coverage foundations will perform like a concealer.

With that in mind, if you are in a pickle and need to cover spots and redness fast, go ahead and reach for a full coverage foundation to target those annoying areas. But in general, we’d recommend a concealer to erase and blur your imperfections.

Concealer or Foundation: Which Should I Buy First?

Which should you use or prioritize when you’re buying?

It really isn’t up to us to say whether concealer or foundation should be the ultimate priority as everyone’s skin needs are different.

Those looking to hide spots, redness, dark circles and blemishes will probably want to have a good concealer handy, while those blessed with fairly clear skin and less problem zones are likely to be able to get away with a foundation and do just fine.

Remember, not everyone wishes to cover their every imperfection. If that’s you and you prefer a more natural look, go ahead and stick to foundation only OR concealer only. Either can yield a natural result with minimal effort!

If you want all imperfections covered, be sure to grab both a foundation and a concealer. Trust us, you’ll be glad you did!

NYX PROFESSIONAL MAKEUP Color Correcting Concealer Palette

Concealer vs Foundation: Each Meets Different Needs

To close, it is important to recognize that everyone’s skin is different and that everyone has different needs. Both concealer and foundation have their pros and cons, and though the two are often used together, you could totally use one or the other on its own.

We hope this has helped clear any confusion about the difference between concealer vs foundation!

Check out these related posts on our blog to learn more about choosing the best foundation for your skin:


Is concealer the same as foundation?

Nope. They aren’t the same.
Foundation is used to create a natural base for the skin. Concealer, on the other hand, is used as spot treatment.”

What’s concealer for?

Generally speaking, a concealer is for “concealing” your problem spots. It is often used as a spot treatment and for dark circles under and around the eyes.

What is foundation for?

Foundation is used for creating a base layer on your face.

Can I use concealer without foundation?

There are many who use concealer without foundation and actually claim it to be better than using foundation alone.

Can I use foundation as concealer?

You can! But be careful, though! Too much foundation can have you looking cakey, and remember that not all foundations are created equal.

By Ellis James

We design luxuriously glamorous bags, organizers and life essentials for you. At Ellis James Designs, it’s all about YOU. Your bag, Your way. Our exclusive designs are timeless, indulgent and most importantly inspired by you. What will be your first Ellis James Design?


  1. Technically according to the rules of makeup foundation should go first, but sometimes due to concealer’s consistency and formulation, you can wear it under foundation. It really depends on your needs!

  2. Lately I’ve only been using a little concealer under my eyes, but when I go out, I’m all about that foundation and concealer combo!


  3. I use both however I did not know that I should use foundation first. I have been using it wrong all along. Thanks for all the info.

Comments are closed.