7 Expert Tips for Wearing Concealer Without Foundation

August 21, 2023
Alanna Martine Kilkeary
By: Alanna Martine Kilkeary | Makeup.com by L'Oréal
person applying concealer under their eye area

Sometimes when you’re getting ready, the last thing you want is to apply a thick layer of foundation. While this doesn’t necessarily mean you want to go bare-faced, sometimes a lighter face of makeup is just the way to go. If you don't want to rely on a tinted moisturizer or CC cream, have you thought about just using concealer? That’s right, a good full-coverage, long-wearing formula will allow you to mask imperfections and even out your skin tone while keeping things fresh and light all day long. Not to mention, it’ll save you time on your makeup routine so you can quickly get ready and head out the door. 

We tapped NYC-based makeup artist Kasey Spickard and LA-based makeup artist Courtney Hart for their expert tips and tricks on wearing concealer without foundation. Learn how to get the most out of your concealer for a lightweight, everyday makeup look, below. 

Tip 1: Always Prioritize Skin Prep

According to Spickard and Hart, prepping the skin is key when it comes to wearing concealer without foundation. “Prep your skin well,” Hart shares. “Makeup sits better on cleansed and hydrated skin so the more you focus on skincare, the less makeup you will need to wear.” 

Before applying makeup in the morning, cleanse with something gentle like the Youth to the People Superfood Cleanser and follow up with a nourishing moisturizer like the Laboratoires Filorga Global-Repair Balm. Don’t forget to reach for broad-spectrum sunscreen — we like the SkinCeuticals Physical Fusion UV Defense SPF 50 for its glowy, lightweight and tinted formula. Together, these products will help create a smooth, hydrated base for your concealer, allowing your makeup to look more like skin.  

Additionally, Spickard loves starting out with a water-based moisturizer like the Lancôme Hydra Zen Cream Gel and adding a layer of makeup primer on top. Choose a primer that best suits your unique skin type and concerns. If you have oily skin, the L’Oréal Paris Prime Lab Prime Lab Up to 24H Matte Setter manages excess oils, minimizes shine and extends your makeup wear time for up to 24 hours. If you have dry skin, the Giorgio Armani Beauty Luminous Silk Hydrating Primer is infused with shea butter and glycerin to help you achieve a smooth, luminous and hydrated base. 

L’Oréal Paris Prime Lab Prime Lab Up to 24H Matte Setter

Tip 2: Use the Right Type of Concealer

Since you’re skipping foundation, it’s not a bad idea to pick up a full-coverage concealer. We suggest the Urban Decay Quickie 24HR Full-Coverage Waterproof Concealer or the Lancôme Teint Idole Ultra Wear All Over Full Coverage Concealer for their long-wearing formulas and natural matte finishes. If you prefer something lighter and moisturizing, the IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Dark Spots Concealer + Serum provides medium, buildable coverage and offers 24 hours of hydration. 

“You want to find [concealer that is] creamy and blendable,” Hart adds. “I love the Iris and Romeo Best Skin Days Treatment Concealer. [It’s] creamy in texture and blends really seamlessly into the skin.” 

Tip 3: Find the Right Shade

When using concealer in place of foundation, finding a shade that matches your skin tone and undertones is of paramount importance. “Remember, if you’re only going to be applying concealer, you aren’t going to want to use one that’s one or one and a half shades lighter than your skin tone (like you would for the under eyes),” says Spickard. 


Instead, use a concealer that matches your skin tone like you would for foundation. If you have a hard time finding a shade that matches your skin tone, try the Rare Beauty Liquid Touch Brightening Concealer or the Valentino Beauty Very Valentino Concealer as they both have wide shade ranges that are organized by undertone.  

Tip 4: Or Mix Multiple Shades 

As Spickard mentioned, finding a shade of concealer that matches your skin tone when you're not wearing foundation is super important. After all, the whole point of wearing concealer instead of foundation is to keep things skin-like and natural, so if you’re using the wrong shade, that’s going to call more attention to your makeup. If you don’t have a shade that perfectly matches your skin, use a few shades of concealer to create the right match. Your under-eye concealer may be too light, and your summer concealer may be too dark but mixed together, they can create the perfect skin match. 

Tip 5: Apply Minimally and Strategically

The trick to using concealer in place of foundation is to follow a less is more mentality. Once you’ve chosen your preferred concealer formula, apply it with a very targeted application to only the areas that need it. “Use light dabs of concealer to cover discoloration, blemishes or areas you want to even out,” says Spickard. “I like to tap my finger into the product and then use a dabbing motion to work the product into the skin with my ring finger.” Wash your hands and use the warmth from your fingers to blend the concealer in seamlessly. If you don’t like to blend your makeup with your fingers, a damp makeup sponge or a stippling brush can also work. 


“The technique I use [to apply concealer] is to focus on the center of the face and blend outward,” Hart shares. She begins by applying concealer to the under-eyes, around the nose, a tiny bit on the center of the forehead and on the center of the chin. Then, she uses a fluffy makeup brush to buff out the concealer, blending outwards. “Covering those key areas will usually conceal most discoloration,” she adds. After blending the concealer with a brush, Hart also likes to finish it off by using a damp beauty sponge to blend her concealer and ensure there are no visible demarcation lines. 

IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Dark Spots Concealer + Serum

Tip 6: Set Your Concealer With Powder

To prevent caking, smudging and creasing concealer throughout the day, use a small fluffy brush and translucent power to lightly set your face. The NYX Professional Makeup Studio Finishing Powder or the ONE/SIZE Ultimate Blurring Setting Powder are great for this. If you like to powder your face throughout the day, the IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Pores Pressed Setting Powder includes a mirror and comes in a purse-friendly compact. 

“Pro tip, you can also spritz a damp beauty sponge with setting spray and tap it all over the face,” Spickard adds. If you want to try this hack, we recommend using the Urban Decay All Nighter Waterproof Makeup Setting Spray — the fan-favorite, waterproof formula will keep your makeup fresh and smudge-proof all day long.
Urban Decay All Nighter Setting Spray

Tip 7: Mix Concealer With Your Moisturizer 

If you’re in a rush, skip spot concealing and opt for all over coverage. “A trick I love to use is to simply mix a small amount of my concealer into my moisturizer and apply it as a tinted moisturizer,” Hart shares. “It’s an easy way to look polished and put together with minimal effort.”

If you want to try out this simple hack, she recommends using a buildable concealer like the Tower 28 Beauty Swipe All-Over Hydrating Serum Concealer. Depending on how much coverage you desire, mix your concealer with a lightweight moisturizer like the CeraVe Daily Moisturizing Lotion or the Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cream with Squalane, and allow the warmth of your hands to blend the two together. The result is a custom tinted moisturizer with your desired level of coverage, plus it’s quick, perfect for on-the-go, and you don’t need a makeup sponge or a brush to apply it to the skin. 

Tower 28 Beauty Swipe All-Over Hydrating Serum Concealer
Additional Reporting By: Reece Andavolgyi Photographer: Nelson Huang

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