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Concealer vs. Foundation: What's the Difference?

Concealer vs. Foundation: What's the Difference?

Both foundation and concealer help perfect our skin tone, cover blemishes, and create a flawless finish for the rest of our makeup. Because their jobs are similar, it’s sometimes hard to know whether you actually need both products. 

While you may rely on one product more than the other, the team at RMS Beauty can explain the differences between both, and why you might consider stashing both in your makeup bag. 

We’ll cover what concealer and foundation are, when you should use them, and give you some professional tips on how to apply them both. 

Face Makeup

Concealer and foundation fall under the cosmetic category of face makeup. Face makeup usually refers to the makeup used to:

  • Even out skin tone
  • Tone down redness
  • Lighten up darkness
  • Cover blemishes

Face makeup is usually found in flesh tones, but some products (like specialty concealers) may be found in colors like olive green or yellow. 

Why You Need It

Face makeup does more than correct unevenness on your skin. It also helps prepare your face for your color cosmetics, giving your makeup something to “stick” to and ensuring the color of your products remains true when applied. 

Do You Need Both Concealer and Foundation?

That depends. If you’re going for a fresh-faced look, less is more. A dab of concealer on specific areas of your face will do the trick. 

If you need more coverage or simply feel more comfortable with a little extra, using both a foundation and a concealer is a good choice. 

Both products have similar ingredients, but the slight variation in the formulas make them better suited for their individual tasks (i.e. concealing dark circles or evening skin tone). 

All About Concealer

Concealer is a product that is made for correcting small areas of imperfections. Dark circles under the eyes, blemishes, or small areas of redness are all targets for concealer use. 

Concealer is usually thicker in consistency than foundation, making it a better solution for hiding bumps or hard to cover imperfections. 

How To Apply Concealer

You usually use concealer for three main purposes: under-eye darkness, blemishes, and redness. Here’s how to perfectly apply it depending on the need.

Under the Eyes

The darkness we experience under our eyes is usually due to aging. As we get older, the skin under the eyes thins, allowing the circulating blood underneath to be seen more clearly. This gives a bluish/gray tint to the area under the eyes that can cause our eye area to look hollow.

To apply concealer under your eyes, gently dab a small amount of concealer (using your finger or a makeup sponge) to the inside corner under your eye, blending downward toward your nose. This is the area that is usually the darkest. 

Avoid applying concealer directly under your eye. This can cause it to fill in creases and fine lines and also cause “raccoon eye” if you use the wrong shade.

For Blemishes

Applying concealer to blemishes might require the use of a precision brush. Using the brush, dab a small amount of concealer around the edges of the bump, blending inward toward the center of the bump. This will prevent you from applying concealer in a large circle around the bump and will keep it more concentrated on the center of the blemish.

For Redness

Small areas of redness (sometimes around the edges of the nostrils or on the chin) can be corrected with a little concealer and your fingertip. Using your fingertip, dab a small amount of concealer on the area of redness, bouncing the product into your skin to make sure it covers and concealers the entire area. 

One To Try

RMS Beauty “Un” Cover-Up Concealer is the perfect product for concealing without covering and caking. Available in 16 shades, you can use this as both a concealer and a foundation (which we’ll cover later).

Auto-adjusting minerals work to cover imperfections and create radiant skin without caking, cracking, or settling into pores or fine lines. 

What Is Foundation?

Foundation is a product meant to be used in larger amounts than a concealer. If concealer is for small areas of imperfection, foundation is creating even skin tone all over. Foundation helps create the canvas for the rest of your makeup, so it’s important it’s never cakey, too dark, or too light for your skin tone. 

Foundation is usually used with a concealer, although it doesn’t have to be. You might find it easier to work with foundation, because it is generally a bit more pliable than concealer. 

How To Apply Foundation

Foundation application can be tricky. We’ve all spent a day with those dreaded foundation lines on the sides of our faces without realizing they were there. To avoid foundation lines and marks, blending is your best friend. 

With Your Fingers

Applying foundation with your fingers is easy. Start by taking a small amount of foundation between your fingers and rubbing them together to warm your foundation and make it more pliable. This way, you’ll be able to blend it better. 

Using sweeping, upward strokes, press the foundation into your skin blending upward and outward. Start in the t-zone, and work outward only as needed. Remember, you don’t need to cover your entire face. 

With a Brush

The RMS Skin2Skin Foundation Brush makes foundation application a breeze. Start with a pea-sized amount of foundation on the skin and use the brush to blend upward and outward. Foundation is buildable, so you can start out with a small amount and apply a bit more in certain areas if needed.

With a Sponge

Using a beauty sponge to apply foundation helps you press the product into your skin so it isn’t just laying on top. It’s also the best way to blur lines and blend the product perfectly. To use a beauty sponge, place a small amount of product on the back of your hand and lift it with the sponge. Bounce the sponge onto your skin to press the product in, and work in an outward motion to blend. 

One To Try

RMS Beauty “Un” Cover-Up Cream Foundation. The popularity of our “Un” Cover-Up concealer prompted us to create this lightweight, buildable foundation. Available in 16 shades (like our concealer), “Un” Cover-Up Cream Foundation is the easy way to create a radiant, luminous finish that looks completely natural.  

Wild-crafted buriti oil helps this foundation hydrate while it highlights, nourishing skin the entire time you’re wearing it. 

Can You Substitute Concealer For Foundation?

We get this question a lot, and there’s a good reason why. Because both foundation and concealer have similar jobs and formulas, it makes sense to feel like they’re somewhat interchangeable. The short answer is yes, you can use them interchangeably sometimes. There are a few caveats.

  1. Make sure the formula works for your skin. For instance, if your concealer is incredibly thick and heavy, it might not work for covering larger areas. 
  2. Check the color. Some concealers are available in special color-correcting hues like green and yellow. It goes without saying you don’t want to use a green concealer all over your face like a foundation. 
  3. Foundation can double as concealer if it’s buildable. Because foundation is a bit thinner, you might need to build it a bit more to conceal dark under eye circles or cover a blemish. 

Interchanging concealer and foundation can be helpful in a pinch or if you just want a little more or less coverage than you normally use. 


What’s inside your concealers and foundations matter. Steer clear of any formula that contains sulfates, parabens, and synthetic fragrance. These ingredients are skin irritants and toxins, and have no place in your cosmetics. 

Instead, opt for skin-nourishing ingredients that hydrate and help your skin while concealing and correcting. 

  • Jojoba oil. Organic jojoba oil, like the kind we use in our concealer and foundation, is the closest in chemical structure to your skin’s own sebum. This makes it a great ingredient for keeping skin hydrated and balanced. 

Rich in antioxidants, jojoba oil nourishes skin and works as an emollient and humectant, creating a barrier on the skin to protect it from external stressors. 

  • Cocoa seed butter. Cocoa butter has been used for centuries as a natural, skin-soothing moisturizer. Packed with antioxidants and skin-loving fatty acids, it makes the perfect ingredient in face makeup. When you wear foundation and concealer with this ingredient, you’ll be dosing your skin with free radical protection and giving it supreme hydration.  
  • Coconut oil. Coconut oil is renowned for its antimicrobial, antibacterial, and antiseptic properties. The fatty acid content is highly skin nourishing and helps balance skin’s natural moisture levels. 

The coconut oil used in our products is cold-centrifuged, allowing all the skin-loving benefits to remain intact. 

By including living, nourishing ingredients in our foundations and concealers, our products do double duty, benefitting your skin when you use them. 

Foundation and Concealer You Can Trust

Foundation and concealer are both important makeup bag essentials. Use them both separately or together to create the flawless finishes you need. Trust RMS Beauty to give you the coverage you want with the best and most beneficial skin ingredients


Nutrients | Free Full-Text | Cocoa Bioactive Compounds: Significance and Potential for the Maintenance of Skin Health | MDPI 

Human synthetic sebum formulation and stability under conditions of use and storage|NCBI 

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