Can You Really Use Your Foundation as Concealer (and How)?
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Time’s precious, and most of us don’t have time to do a 15-step makeup routine every morning. Plus, with the cost of living rising on the regular, we’re all looking for ways to simplify our routines and save money with multipurpose beauty products.
Getting ready to go out after work or just arrived on holiday and realising you’ve forgotten to bring your concealer with you? Eyeing up your foundation and wondering if you can actually use it as concealer? We’ve got you.
We asked celebrity makeup artist Elaina Badro, who has worked on famous faces like Kris Jenner and Olivia Wilde, for her take on whether you can use your fave foundation instead of concealer.
Can I use foundation as concealer: The short answer
The good news is that you can absolutely use your foundation as concealer! Yes, even though these two products have different purposes, using foundation can be a great option if you’re stuck for concealer.
That catch though? It’s going to need to be a medium to full coverage foundation. And it needs to be the same colour as your skin tone to hide any imperfections, acne scars, dark spots or blemishes.
Need more detail? Let’s dig a little deeper and get some expert tips on the best way to use your foundation as concealer for a flawless finish.
Oh, and if you want to find out how to stop the dreaded under eye creasing check out our guide right here.
What actually is foundation?
Just in case you’re not familiar with it, foundation is a type of makeup that’s usually applied to your entire face and neck area to create an even base and even out the skin tone. There are a ton of different types, like liquid foundation, powder foundation, cream foundation and BB creams.
They all have different finishes and different levels of coverage. They also come in a range of shades to suit every skin tone – and matching your foundation is essential for the most natural look. You can get foundations that are blended with SPF or moisturiser too, to double up on skincare benefits.
Then what’s concealer?
Concealer, on the other hand, is a makeup product specifically designed to target and spot conceal imperfections like dark circles, blemishes and spots.
Concealers usually have a thicker consistency than foundation and come in different shades to match various skin tones.
They provide more concentrated coverage in specific areas, allowing for a flawless finish. You can get different types of concealer for different types of cover up too, including colour-correcting concealers to deal with any redness, purple or yellow tones you might have.
Using your foundation as concealer
As we’ve said, you can totally use foundation as concealer.
Foundation’s meant for all-over coverage and creating a smooth canvas, while concealer is designed for spot-treating specific areas. But using foundation as a concealer can work if you’re looking for a natural, lighter coverage or if you’ve run out of concealer and need a quick fix.
It’s better to use a medium or full coverage foundation for more coverage. Cream foundations or stick foundations often offer more buildable coverage and can be used as spot concealers in a pinch.
We asked celebrity makeup artist Elaina Badro- the woman behind some of the world’s most famous faces, including Olivia Wilde and Kris Jenner- for her take on the best way to do it.
“Inflation is at an all time high and for us beauty lovers, that isn’t great for spending on our favourite makeup products.
“Fortunately, I have some great tips for multi-purpose products and techniques. This way we can all save a little money as we wait for these challenging times to pass,” Elaina explains.
“Foundation can be used as concealer if you’re not interested in colour correction. I would go for a shade that’s a bit lighter and warmer for under the eyes.
“You can also mix foundation with a bright orange lipstick such as MAC Cosmetics in “Morange” to help colour correct in a pinch,” she tells us.
Our top tips
If you’re planning on using your foundation as concealer then, follow our top tips below.
1. Foundation can stick to dry skin or settle into fine lines so moisturise your skin before applying (particularly your under- eye area since this area is thinner and prone to dryness)
2. Find the right shade for your concealer by either mixing two foundation shades together on the back of your hand or mixing your foundation with a little orange or peach lipstick to add a little colour correction
3. Apply a light layer of foundation (preferably liquid or stick foundation) to any problem areas
4. Take a concealer brush or damp sponge and blend out for a natural finish
5. Don’t forget to clean your makeup tools to help prevent breakouts when you use them next time
Is it OK to use foundation under my eyes?
Applying foundation under the eyes is pretty common, and while it can help to even out the skin tone it might not have enough coverage for stubborn dark circles. It depends on the type of foundation and the formulation. Plus, something that’s too heavy or matte can sit in eye creases, looking cakey.
It’s a delicate area that will usually look better with a specialist under eye concealer, but if you’re really stuck then you can probably get away with using foundation.
But will foundation actually cover dark circles?
It does depend on how dark the circles under your eyes are, your skin tone and the type of foundation you use.
Dark circles can be a challenge, as they sometimes need colour correcting or a special formulation that works for the delicate under eye area without sitting in creases. Your best bet is to try a lighter shade of foundation to cover any under eye circles, or or use your foundation along with a colour corrector.
Can I use anything else as concealer instead?
If you find yourself without a concealer, then you can try foundation or colour corrector to try and neutralise darker tones or imperfections.
This probably won’t give as good a result as using concealer, as this has been specially created to hide imperfections and work with the rest of your makeup.
And as we’ve mentioned, cream and stick foundations can work better than other types of sheerer formulations.
Do I need both concealer and foundation?
It depends on the look you’re going for and what you prefer. Some people never wear foundation or concealer, preferring one or the other. Whereas others prefer to wear both. Sometimes it depends on the level of coverage you want and where you’re headed.
If you prefer a more natural look, and you generally don’t have many imperfections (or you don’t mind showing them) then using foundation alone is probably enough. It also depends on the type of foundation you prefer. Sheerer coverage foundations usually give a more natural “skin finish” where a heavy concealer might not work as well.
However, if you have specific concerns, such as blemishes or dark circles, using a concealer with foundation can help achieve a more flawless look. Ultimately, it’s about finding the balance that suits your needs and makes you feel more confident.
Should I apply concealer before or after foundation?
The order of application, whether concealer should be applied before or after foundation, is a matter of debate among makeup fans. The general rule of thumb is to apply concealer after foundation, as the foundation creates a base and helps even out the skin tone. Applying concealer afterwards is a more targeted approach, ensuring that you’re using concealer only where it’s needed.
However, some makeup artists prefer to apply concealer before foundation, particularly when using colour correctors or when dealing with specific concerns like dark circles. This technique can give more control over the coverage and helps prevent cakey makeup. A setting spray can be used to help blend the two together and finish off your look if you feel like it needs a little final blend.
Other time and money saving makeup tips
There are other ways to save time and money when it comes to your makeup too though.
Investing in multipurpose makeup – products that have been specially created to be used in different ways – can help cut down on how long it takes to do your makeup and it can save you money too.
Trying out samples, especially for products you don’t use that often, can save you time and money. It also stops you from spending on a product that you might not like, and might not use up before it expires. Keeping organised with your makeup, buying only what you need and taking advantage of sales and offers are also great for keeping on top of your collection and your budget.
Asking for your faves as gifts is also a great idea, and helps people to get you presents that you actually like and you’ll use. This is even better if there are some products that you love but they’re on the more expensive side and feel more like a treat.
Elaina also had tips for adapting your foundation for the day to day, showing that while you can use your foundation as concealer, you can make your makeup bag and routine even more versatile. Here’s what she had to say:
“On “regular” days, opt out of heavy foundation. Instead, mix a little moisturiser with foundation for a sheer effect. This way your foundation can last much longer as well. You can even skip foundation overall and just spot-treat your blemishes with concealer.”
She had even more tips for getting the most out of your makeup, and making it even more multipurpose. This can help you to save money, streamline your makeup bag and make your routine even easier.”
Elaina added: “One of my favourite red-carpet tricks is to use a pressed powder highlighter as eyeshadow – great for lids and especially the inner corner of the eyes. This helps bring out the eyes and also adds a little extra sparkle.
You can also skip bronzer and use a warm brown eyeshadow instead. This can also be used to softly contour your face. One of my favourites for this is MAC Cosmetics in “Saddle,” especially because it’s matte too.”
The Elaina Badro® Duo Fiber Brush is a great multi-purpose brush that can be used for concealer, foundation and even blush! Use this luxury beauty tool in a circular motion for an “airbrushed” appearance. Use your lipstick as blush with this brush. Dab a little of your favourite pink/coral lipstick onto the bristles and blend that lipstick onto the apples of your cheeks – your wallet can thank me later!”
While you definitely can use foundation as concealer, it might not always provide the level of coverage or colour correction that you need. This can be especially true if you have specific blemishes or skin concerns like dark circles, acne or signs of ageing.
Using a dedicated concealer designed for targeted spot-treatment is often the best approach for achieving a flawless finish. However, if you’re in a pinch or prefer lighter coverage, using foundation as a makeshift concealer can be an option.
After all, some people don’t even use concealer and prefer not to wear it.
There are no official rules when it comes to makeup. There are countless techniques, products and preferences to achieve different results.
Take the time to experiment and try new things out to find out what you like and what works for you. This can be the route to saving time and money, streamlining your routine or discovering new products that become part of your everyday routine.
In the end, whether you choose to use foundation as concealer or opt for dedicated concealer products, it’s about feeling confident and comfortable in your own skin. Makeup should enhance your natural beauty and reflect your personal style, so don’t be afraid to explore and find the techniques that work best for you.
Meet the expert
Celebrity makeup artist Elaina Badro has worked on some of the world’s most recognizable faces, including Olivia Wilde and Kris Jenner, as well as some of the biggest brands like MAC and Gucci. Her coveted Elaina Badro® brushes are said to grace the dressing tables of the likes of Billie Eilish, Halsey and Gigi Hadid.