Do You Apply Concealer or Foundation First?
The classic way is often the best.
The classic way is often the best.
When it comes to makeup there are several arguments that you probably have gotten into with your friends or strangers online. There’s the debate on whether you should apply foundation or eyeshadow first, and even debacles on when to sculpt your brows. One topic that has people changing sides every few years is the application of foundation or concealer. If you’ve ever asked yourself if you’re supposed to apply concealer or foundation first, don’t feel like a rookie. These face makeup products are often used in alternating orders and depending on who you ask, you may find different answers on the foundation versus concealer first debate.
Let’s cut to the chase right here and note, there is a correct way to apply foundation and concealer, and doing so in the right order is a vital step for the best makeup look possible. Keep reading if you want to learn what goes first so you can nail the best application for your face makeup.
Staying true to its name, foundation is exactly what it sounds like; a beauty product that acts as a flesh-toned base to your makeup. Traditionally, foundation has been formulated in a liquid or powder texture, but this has evolved with the ever-changing landscape of beauty. You can now find foundation in cream, stick, gel, spray or even foam formulations that offer matte, tinted or dewy finishes.
In addition to a variety of foundation formulations, different finishes and a spectrum of colors, makeup wearers can also choose foundation based on coverage. A popular option is a lightweight buildable foundation that offers medium to full coverage with as many or few layers as you please. Try the L’Oréal Paris True Match Super-Blendable Foundation which comes in 47 true-to-skin colors that adapt to any skin tone.
Full-coverage options like the waterproof and transfer-proof L’Oréal Paris Infallible Up to 24H Fresh Wear Foundation in a Powder are also available to press into the skin for a natural pigment, creating a smooth canvas for any blush or bronzer going on top. In one swipe of the matte formula, this powder foundation covers blemishes without caking on the skin. With the variety of formulas, the one you choose will ultimately be based on personal preference or the specific type of beauty look you’re creating.
It’s important to note that even though it’s a commonly used makeup product, foundation (and concealer) has not always been available to everyone. Foundation shade availability for those with darker complexions was often overlooked, prompting many makeup wearers to mix multiple foundations to get a shade that would work for their skin tone. Beauty brands still have a long way to go, but there has never been a better time to wear makeup with the extensive shade options available for people of all skin tones — from white porcelain complexions to medium olive tones to the darkest brown shades.
Face concealer is another makeup product that aligns with its name. It’s very similar to foundation in its purpose in a makeup routine, with both being used to cover blemishes on the face. However, concealer is different since its ultimate purpose is to fully cover imperfections. Think of concealer as the little sister to foundation (and we mean that in one very obvious way). Concealer is often sold in smaller portions, with a precise applicator wand and has a thicker consistency for intentional coverage in specific areas.
While both products are pigmented and come in different formulations, finishes and coverage, the final texture and use differ greatly. Some use concealer to cover blemishes like acne, dark under-eye circles and even the occasional hickey. A thicker texture is preferred for covering these concerns to guarantee they won’t be seen no matter how long you’re wearing the product. This differs from foundation that has a thinner texture for an all-over base.
So, do you use concealer before or after foundation? Sometimes there are no rules to makeup, but when it comes to foundation and concealer you’re going to want to use it in a specific order to create the smoothest face makeup base. First things first, you’re going to want to finish your skin care routine with sunscreen as the last step. Then start your makeup, with a designated face primer, like the L’Oréal Paris Prime Lab Up to 24H Pore Minimizer, which smooths and blurs skin as an added prep for makeup.
If your goal is even coverage for a smooth canvas like we mentioned earlier, you’ll want to apply foundation before concealer. A major pro for applying foundation first is that you’ll usually end up using less foundation to even out the skin’s complexion. Additionally, many foundations come in formulas thinner in consistency than concealers. If you apply a thick concealer underneath a thin foundation it can lead to patchiness when you start to blend. Start your face base with the L’Oréal Paris Infallible 24 Hour Fresh Wear Foundation which applies to the skin in an ultra-thin layer to give an even, smooth complexion. After you’ve blended your foundation, you can add a concealer like the L’Oréal Paris Infallible Full Wear Concealer up to 24H Full Coverage to spot correct any outstanding areas that need the extra coverage or to highlight your face a la contour.
As with anything in makeup, there are exceptions to the rules. When it comes to foundation and concealer order, one major exception is color-correcting concealer. Concealers like the L’Oréal Paris True Match Color Correcting Crayon should be applied before foundation and brightening concealer to help neutralize any areas of discoloration. To balance out any red or purple pigmentation, opt for green concealers or yellow concealers (respectively).
Underpainting makeup is another trending application process where you apply concealer, contour and blush before foundation for a more seamless blend of makeup without unwanted shadows. Another time you’ll want to apply concealer first is when targeting dark under-eye circles. Some formulas, like the L’Oréal Paris True Match Eye Cream in a Concealer, 0.5% hyaluronic acid, are made with skin care ingredients that your skin deserves to absorb. To get the best use of a product like this, dab a little concealer on your under-eye area before applying foundation. You can then add another light layer of concealer on top to brighten that area in your final beauty look.
At the end of the day, do what works best for you — even if that means applying concealer under foundation. With so many TikTok creators introducing hacks into their makeup routines, we wouldn’t be surprised to see more and more people reversing the order of their foundation and concealer. If you’re just getting used to how to apply makeup, stick to the basic rule. If you’re a pro, you may find yourself experimenting — and we can always get behind some makeup exploration.
Photographer: Nelson Huang, Art Director: Hannah Packer, Producer: Becca Solovay, Beauty Content Director: Shalwah Evans, Visual Designer: Sarah Duvivier, Wardrobe Stylist: Alexis Badiyi, Wardrobe Assistant: Jazmine Alzado, Makeup Artist: Jonet Williamson, Hair Stylist: Akihisa Yamaguchi, Digi Tech: Jacky Jiang, Photo Assistant: Tyler Andrews, Model: Mecca Allah