Concealer vs Foundation: Differences And How To Choose The Best Products

Posted by

Are you one of the 44 percent of American women who won't leave their homes without wearing makeup? At a minimum, many women wear concealer or a foundation. Both concealer and foundation are designed to cover and hide imperfections. So, when it comes to concealer vs foundation, which one do you chose and why?

Concealer vs Foundation | The Difference

a makeup foundation, concealer and two other makeup essentials

Image Source:

Both foundation and concealer are makeup used to hide imperfections of the skin. So when it comes to concealer vs foundation, which one do you use? Concealers are heavily pigmented and used as spot treatments to hide blemishes, dark circles under eyes, dark spots, pimples, and other unwanted marks on your skin. Concealers are a recent addition to the makeup toolkit; Max Factor launched the first line of concealers in the 1950s. When picking a concealer, it's best to choose one that is one or two shades lighter than your skin tone to cover up blemishes and dark under-eye circles.

What Is Foundation?

Foundation is a skin-colored cosmetic used to create an even complexion, to cover flaws, and sometimes to change the skin tone. Cosmetics have been used since antiquity. In ancient Greece, women applied white lead powder and chalk to lighten their skin. Roman women also strove to have pale complexions.

From the Middle Ages in Europe to Victorian England to Pioneer American, women preferred pale skin. Tanned skin implied that you were poor and had to work outdoors; having a pale complexion was associated with being wealthy. In 1928, a woman named Lydia O'Leary created a make-up foundation to conceal the port wine stain on her face. She named the product Covermark, and it was the first foundation to be patented.

The major difference in concealer vs foundation is the amount of pigmentation in the formula.

What Is Concealer? 

Concealers are highly pigmented makeup available in a wide range of colors. Because of their saturation with pigment and their resulting opacity, they do a better job of concealing skin flaws than foundations. Not only do concealers hide blemishes, but they can also be used to augment skin color if used in conjunction with a foundation. They can lighten or darken skin color, as well as add effects like highlights and shading to enhance your appearance.

With the wide range of pigment colors, concealers are the preferred choice in hiding flaws and are especially effective when used with a foundation.

Choosing the Right Concealer 

a woman pointing to her dark under-eye circles

Image Source:

There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all concealer, so they come in a variety of colors. Some people may have to use several colored concealers on different areas of the face to cover the diverse flaws concealers are manufactured to correct. For example, covering dark circles may need a different concealer than covering up redness or acne.

If you are confused about which color of concealer to use, don't feel alone. We've put together a quick guide to help you decide which concealer (or concealers) is right for you.


Each concealer color is designed to camouflage specific skin imperfections.

  • Beige concealer - used to hide dark under-eye circles, unify color, and brighten the skin
  • Yellow concealer - used to hide dark under-eye circles that have purple or lilac undertones
  • Green concealer - used to hide redness or pink marks on the skin, including acne, recent scars, or veins
  • Orange or salmon concealer - used to hide dark under-eye circles that have blue or grey undertones or for covering dark shadows on your top lip
  • Lilac concealer - used to hide imperfections that have beige or brown undertones, such as scars or birthmarks


And just when you think you have figured out which concealer you need, you'll find yourself in the makeup aisle faced with deciding whether you need it in stick, cream, liquid, powder or mousse form. Here, the type of concealer you choose will be determined by your skin type.

Well-hydrated skin will benefit from a stick concealer, which provides great coverage but can be difficult to spread and may highlight expression lines. If you have oily skin, a powder can give you a light matte finish while hiding flaws.

Mousse and cream are the most versatile, and both are ideal for most skin types. Cream concealers provide dense coverage, while mousse provides a lighter coverage in comparison. Both are easy to spread, and the mousse develops a powder-like consistency once it has been applied to the skin. Liquid concealer will also spread easily while providing medium coverage. Like cream and mousse, liquid concealer is fairly versatile, though not recommended for oily skin types.

There are a few exceptions to this guide. When using under-eye concealer, fair skin users will want a beige, yellow, or pale pink concealer. For those with darker complexions, dark beige or peach tones may work best. Also, since the skin under the eyes is delicate, you will probably want to choose a powder or mousse concealer as some heavier-textured concealers crack after application.

Choosing the Right Foundation

a liquid makeup foundation with other makeup accessories

Image Source:

Foundation is useful for camouflaging a wide variety of skin flaws, but it is primarily used to even out skin tone. As we all know, different parts of our bodies have different skin tones. Even our faces can have areas that are darker or fairer than the rest of our skin tone. So, a foundation can be used to enhance skin complexion, especially for women (or men) who are naturally pale. It isn't a matter of concealer vs foundation; foundations work better when combined with concealers.

The goal is to choose a foundation that is the same color as your skin. Unfortunately, that is easier said than done, especially in the makeup aisle where the store lighting can change your complexion drastically and the mirrors—if you can find one—are often smaller than compacts. In choosing concealer vs foundation, foundations require more consideration simply because of the large selection to choose from.

Find Your Shade Match

You've all seen women swiping makeup onto their forearms, but this is not a good way to find the right foundation. The skin on this part of your body is slightly darker than your face. The best advice we've heard for finding your perfect shade match is to go shopping for foundation without wearing any on your face. Put a small dab of foundation near the center of your face and blend it out toward your hairline; you are trying to match the sides of your cheeks. Then, instead of hunting aimlessly for a mirror, go outside and take a selfie! It is important to test the color of your foundation in natural lighting.

Take a good look at the photo. Can you easily see where you applied the makeup? If not, you've found a close match. Sometimes, you are in between shades; one is too dark, but the next lighter shade is too light. If you are faced with that dilemma, go with the slightly lighter shade. Foundation will naturally darken as it combines with the oils on your face. And if you feel as if your face is a bit pale, you can always warm up your complexion with bronzer.

Consider Your Skin's Undertones

Unless you are trying to color-correct your complexion, it's best to match your skin tone. If you have a warm complexion (yellow, peach, or gold), go with a foundation with yellow undertones. If you have a cool complexion (pink, red, or blush), pick a foundation with a pink undertone. If you don't know whether your complexion is cool or warm, you can play it safe and pick a foundation with a neutral undertone.

Know How Much Coverage You Want

Understanding how coverage levels look when applied is key to picking the right foundation. If you only occasionally wear makeup, the full-coverage foundation will feel heavy on your skin. You will probably want to go with lighter coverage. However, realize that with light to medium coverage, you will still be able to see your skin through the foundation. Light to medium foundation may also require mid-day touch-ups to maintain a flawless complexion.

If you have uneven skin tones and multiple blemishes you want to disguise, go with a full-coverage foundation. It won't require touch-ups and will cover a multitude of flaws.

Consider Your Skin Type

Is your complexion normal, dry or oily? When choosing a foundation, your skin type matters. Matte finish foundations work best on oily complexions, cutting through the shine. If your skin is normal or dry, a dewy foundation may add the radiance you need. If you are a woman of a certain age with mature skin, try using a satin finish foundation instead of a matte finish, which can emphasize flaws and wrinkles.

Choose Your Shade According to the Season 

The color of your foundation will not work year-round. Our complexions darken in the spring and summer when we are more active outdoors—even if you wear sunblock. So, be mindful of this when the seasons change.

Concealer vs Foundation | Conclusion 

Turning your face into the perfect canvas requires choosing the right tools for the job. This is where it is important to know when to use concealer vs foundation.

You will use a concealer to camouflage hard-to-hide blemishes like under-eye circles, acne, scars, and birthmarks. The important considerations when choosing a concealer are the blemish color you are trying to conceal and your skin type. This will determine the color of concealer or concealers you purchase. Concealers come in stick, cream, liquid, powder or mousse form, and which one you choose depends mostly upon your skin type and the amount of coverage you desire.

You must take even more factors into account when you are choosing a foundation. Experiment with different brands and shades to achieve the even complexion you want. Then, when the season's change, you will most likely have to find a new shade to match a summer or winter skin tone.

Who's on First?

Although used together, applying concealer vs foundation is debated. The rule of thumb is to always apply your foundation all over before applying concealer. If you apply foundation first, it will even out your skin tone and cover many imperfections. Then, you can go back over with the concealer and treat spots instead of large areas. If you apply concealer first, it will get smeared over a larger area and blend with your foundation. It could even change the color of the makeup and undo the effect of the foundation.

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

The goal of applying makeup is to achieve a flawless complexion that looks like your own skin—only better. So, when it comes to choosing concealer vs foundation, remember that you don't have to choose one over the other; they work best as a team.

Featured Image Source:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.