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When to put on concealer: before or after foundation?

We don’t need to tell you that concealer is a miracle cosmetic. It’s like magic in a tiny little bottle! It makes fine lines disappear, covers up blemishes & corrects imperfections. Dark circles? It’ll banish those too. Highlight those gorgeous cheekbones? Done! A great concealer does it all.

But are you applying your concealer the right way?

Sure, a great formula will likely hold up no matter how you apply it, but there are methods that can extend the wearability of your makeup & give you optimal results. This brings us to the age-old question: Do you put concealer on before or after foundation?

Layering your makeup in the correct order ensures the smoothest, dreamiest & most long-lasting look possible. Today’s blog is all about whether you should apply concealer before or after foundation & how to perfect your layering technique. Keep reading for the full scoop!

Concealer vs. foundation: what’s the difference?

Every cosmetic product is formulated for a specific purpose. Knowing what that purpose is allows you to get the most out of your makeup. Concealer & foundation are both designed to give your skin that flawless look, but each miracle cosmetic is unique in what it offers. Before we go any further, let’s quickly recap the difference between concealer & foundation.


Concealer is a thicker, more concentrated & more pigmented cosmetic product than foundation. Additionally, unlike foundation, concealer is not meant to be used all over the face. It’s meant for specific problem areas that require intense brightening or opaque coverage, like undereye bags, age spots, or pimples. For this reason, concealer is typically sold in smaller amounts.


Foundation serves as the base level of coverage in any makeup look — hence the name! It is applied to the entire face & is formulated to be more diluted & fluid in terms of feel than most concealers. While your foundation will cover subtle imperfections, it typically won’t be able to correct deep scarring, moderate to severe acne breakouts, or deep wrinkles (unless you’ve opted for a super high-coverage formula).

Does concealer go on before or after foundation?

This is the question that’s been floating around the cosmetics world for as long as we can remember. Let’s solve this mystery once & for all.

So what goes first: concealer or foundation? While there is a preferred method, the real answer is: it depends. We recommend following the guidelines below when trying to decide between foundation & concealer for the first step of your makeup routine.

foundation before concealer

The overwhelming majority of beauty professionals recommend this application order. Why? Because a foundation-first approach ensures concealer isn’t wiped away & doesn’t dull the brightening aspect of concealer formulations. Covering your concealer in a layer of foundation prevents it from giving you that luminous & youthful look.

Additional benefits of choosing to go foundation-first include:

  • it provides a more seamless finish

  • your concealer will last longer due to less product being used

  • it reduces cakiness by ensuring concealer is only used in areas where foundation doesn’t provide enough coverage (concealer is thicker & more likely to appear heavy on the skin)

concealer before foundation

Just because most beauty professionals often quote the rule above doesn’t mean it’s the only way. There are some circumstances where taking a concealer-first approach makes sense. So when does concealer go on before foundation?

Let’s say it’s summer & you’ve got a bit of a tan going. If your old concealer is way lighter than your skin tone, adding your foundation on top & blending will allow you to balance out the whiteness of your concealer & achieve a less washed-out complexion.

Going concealer first is also advised for beauties with moderate-to-severe undereye bags, since you can then apply foundation & an additional layer of concealer on top for maximum coverage.

how to apply concealer & foundation together

Our beloved tartelettes are always asking us: Do you put on foundation or concealer first? While it’s ultimately up to you to decide whether to put on concealer before or after foundation, you’re probably wondering what application process we recommend — & we’re here to share it with you!

However, before you make the steps below a part of your daily makeup routine, it’s important to remember that everybody is different. One person’s skin may not respond the same as another’s to a particular technique, so we always encourage our tartelettes to experiment & find the best method for their unique beauty needs.

Ready to hear how we do it? Generally speaking, we side with the foundation before concealer crowd & this is our process:

  1. prepare your skin

    Make sure your skin is clean, dry & prepped with a skincare-infused primer, like our timeless™ smoothing primer. This step is a must, regardless of whether you do concealer or foundation first. Trust us, your skin will thank you for it!

  2. choose the right tool

    Do you know which application tool is best for the type of foundation you’re using? This tidbit of information is equally as important, no matter which order you choose.

    For powder foundations, a thick, soft conical-shaped brush provides an ideal finish. These brushes are designed to pick up as much product as possible & distribute it lightly & evenly over large areas.

    If you gravitate towards full-coverage foundations, a brush with flatter, more dense bristles is best. These brushes have no problem buffering out thick, concentrated formulas for gorgeously even coverage that doesn’t appear caked-on or dry.

    And lastly, if you tend to choose lightweight foundation options like tinted moisturizer, a gentle multi-tasking sponge is always a smart choice. It will lightly press your BB cream into your pores & provide the highest level of skin absorption. Plus, they’re great for getting into all the contours of your face for a flawless, fully-covered complexion.

  3. apply foundation

    Start with a pea-sized amount of foundation & dab onto both cheeks, your forehead & your nose. Gently blend using small strokes or patting (avoid using long wiping motions or rubbing too hard, as this will cause irritation & leave you with a streaky finish). We also recommend dabbing around the edges of your face with a beauty blender to ensure your makeup seamlessly transitions into the neck, hairline & other areas.

  4. apply concealer

    After you’ve finished with foundation, place a tiny dab of concealer on your makeup sponge or concealer brush & dab it into your under eye area & on any blemishes, age spots, or imperfections you want to cover. Pat the product in gently. If you have dark circles or stubborn blemishes, we recommend going a shade lighter than usual in your concealer for a more powerful, bright & full-coverage look.

  5. finish with setting powder

    Delicately dust your face with a translucent setting powderto achieve a magnificently matte finish that lasts all day. For this step, try an ultra-feathery brush. It’ll give you an airbrushed sheen unlike anything you’ve seen before!

create a camera-ready complexion with tarte™ foundation & concealer

Makeup is constantly evolving. New trends, techniques & tips emerge every day, so there’s no need to be shy about asking questions. Whether it’s “Do you apply concealer before or after foundation?”, “How do I contour my face?”, or “What’s the best eyeshadow for blue eyes?”— the tarte™ talk blog is here to help you find the answers & beauty products you need to be your best, most confident self.

Need help finding a foundation that matches your skin tone? Try our foundation finder.

Looking for a miracle concealer that feels like it was made just for you? Our concealer finder will provide you with a personalized recommendation.

Shop our collection of concealer & foundation makeup today!