Does the concealer come before or after the foundation? Almost every makeup novice is faced with this question. While there are many different opinions on how to use concealer in your makeup, the most unbiased answer to this question is: it depends. It depends on a lot of of factors like the kind of foundation you are using and how much your skin actually needs concealing. I’ve been into makeup for quite a number of years and have experimented with both the ways. So today I’ll be sharing my thoughts on which way works best for different situations so you can pick whichever way suits you the best.
Concealers serve a wide array of functions in makeup. And one of them is color-correcting. If you have a color-correcting concealer/corrector, its best used before your foundation. This is because all correctors have a prominent color base (i.e undertone) to them to help neutralise different problem-areas in your skin. So use a pink one to neutralise blue veins showing through, an orange one for under-eye dark circles (works best for Indian skintones) and a green one for redness; all before your foundation. I’ll be talking about color-correcting in detail in a separate post where I’ll talk about the ‘why’, ‘how’ and ‘who’ of color-correcting.
Using a concealer before the foundation also helps in evening out much of your skintone so you only really need a tiny bit of foundation over the entire face. This can help if you have large problem areas (like your cheeks) and have trouble with makeup caking up.
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In general, if your concealer does not match the exact shade of your foundation, it is best to use it before your foundation. Else you’ll be left with patches of concealer showing over your foundation. And no one wants that! There is, however, an exception to this which I’ll be talking about later in this post.
Additionally, if you are using powder foundation (like the MAC Studio Fix Powder+Foundation, one of my favourites btw), you’ll have to use your concealer before the foundation. This is because your liquid or cream concealer would not blend well over the powder foundation.
As you can see, using a concealer before the foundation does have a lot of advantages but there is a major drawback to doing it this way as well. Using a concealer first means applying the foundation over the concealed areas. This can lead to the concealer shifting around or thinning out which can defeat the entire purpose of the concealer.
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Optionally, you can also use your concealer after you have applied your foundation.
Earlier in this post I mentioned about using your concealer before the foundation if it does not match the latter. However, if it is intentionally a different shade than your foundation, then it would have to come over the foundation. Like in the case of highlighting concealers. As we talked about earlier, concealers have a lot of functionalities and another one of them is highlighting. If you wish to highlight certain areas of your face with your concealer, then choose a lighter shade concealer and use it after you’ve applied your foundation.
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Additionally, if you don’t have large areas to conceal (like just a few spots on the face or around your nose) you can use a concealer after a thin layer of foundation. The layer of foundation creates an even base and covers the minor imperfections. So you’re only left to conceal the isolated major ones, hence preventing concealer over-use.
I personally prefer it this way but again, everything has its limitations. One of the major ones is that your concealer needs to match exactly with your foundation. Unless of course, you’re highlighting (like your under-eye area).
Do you have to choose?
What if you have large areas to conceal but the concealer shifts or sheers down when you blend the foundation over it? Then, there is a third option. Take the middle ground! That is, you can use your corrector/concealer before your foundation to correct only the hard-to-cover imperfections (like dark under eye area or medium-large areas of acne/spots), layer a light layer of foundation over it to even everything out and then spot conceal only over the areas that require even greater coverage or have moved around while blending the foundation.