Beauty Debate: Do You Apply Concealer Before Foundation or Vice Versa?

April 30, 2020
Samantha Holender
By: Samantha Holender | Makeup.com by L'Oréal
concealer or foundation first

Concealer is the MVP in my makeup bag. From covering breakouts (of which I have many these days) to brightening up my sleep-deprived under eyes, it’s the handy dandy magic eraser that can pretty much do it all. While concealer will forever and always be a mainstay in my makeup routine, I’ve come to learn that my method of application doesn’t always match up with that of the pros. You see, I, along with our Senior Social Media Editor, Jillian Selzer, apply concealer before foundation. But celebrity makeup artists Angela Calisti and Cassandra Garcia disagree — they stan the foundation-first method. Here, we’re discussing the pros and cons for each side of this complexion question.

The Argument: Foundation Before Concealer

According to Calisti, foundation first is the way to go — especially when you’re trying to cover skin discoloration, acne or other marks. “Applying concealer afterwards gives a more flawless finish, helps you clean up contour and helps you concentrate on problem areas,” she says. “Doing concealer after foundation will help you see where you need to add brightness to the face — sometimes you need a concealer in areas other than just the under eyes.” Calisti explains that when you apply your concealer first, the product could lift up during your foundation application, take away coverage and leave your blemishes or discoloration more visible. 

Garcia agrees with this method. “Sometimes I’ll do foundation before concealer because I’m just feeling a little messy!” she says. “I  can rub foundation or tinted moisturizer in with my hands, see how it oxidizes and not have to worry about messing up the perfection I created in the under eye.” Another reason she’ll opt for the foundation-first technique? It allows her to build up coverage over dark circles and provide more fluid blending. “When you have dark under-eye circles, concealer is the most important — it’s the finishing touch. It’s going to provide you the most coverage, so you want time to perfect it.” 

The Argument: Concealer Before Foundation 

While Selzer and I see both sides to the argument, we both apply concealer first when doing our everyday makeup. Personally, I find that when I start with concealer, my final look is more glowy, dewy and lightweight. I always opt for a liquid formula, like the NYX Professional Makeup Born To Glow! Concealer, and blend it out to cover any discoloration or acne marks. Once that’s done, I find that I rarely even need foundation. And if I do want to add it, my coverage ends up being much lighter and focuses strictly on problem areas.

Another reason to apply concealer before foundation? It can prevent your concealer from settling into fine lines. “I always find that my concealer will settle into fine lines around my eyes or forehead when I apply foundation first,” says Selzer. “Putting a concealer on first eliminates the problem.” She adds that giving the product a moment to dry down before going in with foundation is key. “If you give it a second to sink in, the product is less prone to lift up as you apply foundation.” 


Chaunte Vaughn