The Benefits Of Applying Concealer Before Foundation (& Vice Versa)

There are pros and cons to each method.

by Hilary Shepherd
Originally Published: 
AWondering if you should apply concealer or foundation first? Makeup artists weighed in on the debat...

When it comes to putting on makeup, you may have wondered if you should apply concealer or foundation first. The truth is that the order in which you apply products can vary based on personal preference. Maybe you like to apply your eye makeup first, then follow with your base. Or perhaps you follow the TikTok-viral trick of applying translucent powder and setting spray before foundation. No matter which order you prefer, you likely incorporate both concealer and foundation at some point during your makeup regimen. And while it might not ultimately matter which one you apply first, experts reveal that there are a few pros and cons in applying one before the other.

Applying Concealer Before Foundation

According to Sarah Uslan, LULA founder and makeup artist to celebs like Olivia Colman and Tori Kelly, applying concealer before foundation can be beneficial in that you’ll likely end up using less foundation — and you may even decide to forgo foundation all together once you see the “awakening results” of concealer. (Not a bad idea if you like using less product.) Of course, that depends on the type of concealer you use and whether or not you use more than one concealer. “A trick is to [use] two shades,” she tells Bustle. In addition to using a brightening concealer, consider using another color that’s just a step up from the first shade, as it can be used to spot spot-correct blemishes or pigmentation. “I don’t see any cons to [using concealer before foundation],” she adds.

Gilbert Soliz, makeup artist to Kim Petras and Paris Hilton, says he likes using concealer before foundation to achieve a technique called “underpainting,” where concealer is used to highlight. “You start by applying concealer and your contour,” he tells Bustle, “then foundation is applied on top. It gives the skin more dimension and lots of durability.” The pro adds that a full-coverage concealer, like Hide Premium Concealer, works best for this strategy.

But Kim Baker, celebrity makeup artist and founder of Glamazon Beauty, says that as a professional, the only time she applies concealer before foundation is when concealer is too light. Applying foundation on top of concealer, she explains, can help to color correct concealer if it’s too light. (If you need help figuring out your skin tone, these tips will help you determine the right makeup match.)

Yuchen Liao/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Applying Concealer After Foundation

Baker prefers applying foundation first, which allows concealer to act as a highlighter. “I love for my concealer to be one or two shades lighter than my skin to create [illumination] in all the places light would hit naturally,” she says. “It also adds dimension to my facial features.”

For Uslan, she only uses foundation first if she’s “warming up” someone’s complexion to match their body. “This happens a lot in the summer months when people wear loads of sunscreen on their face and neglect their bodies.” To give her clients some warmth, she will “take their foundation shade up and then apply concealer afterward so that it doesn’t feel too light.” A downside of utilizing this method outside of the sunnier months, she notes, is that you might use more foundation than what is needed in order to compensate for looking less awake.

The Bottom Line On Whether Concealer Or Foundation Goes First

Soliz mentions that the order ultimately depends on three factors: your technique, the formula of the foundation and concealer, and the finish. He prefers applying concealer before foundation, which allows him to create and control the amount of highlight or brightness he needs. What’s more, Uslan adds, starting with concealer helps prime the face for the rest of your base makeup while adding dimension and brightness under the eye.

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