Foundation or Concealer: Which One Comes First?

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Some beauty things just aren’t up for debate. Like, we can all agree that sleeping in your makeup is a bad idea; wearing daily sunscreen is a non-negotiable step in any good skincare routine; and using a heat protectant before you blow dry is a must if you don’t want to fry your hair. But other beauty things, like whether you should apply your foundation before or after concealer, aren’t so black and white, which is I’m debating my fellow beauty editor Chloe Metzger on the topic.

While I’m a firm believer that foundation always comes first, Chloe is on team foundation last. Keep reading to hear our reasonings (spoiler alert, there isn’t a clear winner)—plus the best foundations and concealer to try right now.

“Think of putting on makeup like painting a wall. You wouldn’t do any fine-tuning details before applying the base layer, right? Right. Also: Think of how annoyed you’d be to spend time meticulously blending in concealer exactly where you need it—only to have it smeared right off seconds later as you smooth on foundation. (Actually, pls save yourself the headache because this will happen.) And to be perfectly honest, doing it my way means you may not even *need* concealer. When I apply foundation first, half the time, it does all the heavy lifting in terms of evening out my skin tone, covering dark circles, and hiding breakouts—in one quick (and cheaper) step. Let’s hear it for efficiency, people!”

“Okay, yes, rubbing foundation on top of concealer will smear it around a bit, but I like that effect. It helps my concealer blend into my skin naturally without looking obvious. And whenever I’ve tried to cover up my rosacea with foundation before concealer (hi, this beautiful red face needs ~both~), it always looks so…cakey. Like, my dry skin doesn’t have enough oils to melt the two together, and the foundation sucks up all my moisture, leaving the concealer to cling to my lines and pores. That’s why, for me, starting with concealer = smooth, even skin. And now let me leave you with a lil pro tip: When following this order, use a damp makeup sponge—not your fingers—to smudge it all together in the best possible way.”

Honestly, the right method when it comes to applying foundation and concealer is…there is no right method. You really just want to do whatever looks best on your own skin. If your face is naturally on the oilier side, or you’re using an ultra-hydrating tinted moisturizer, try concealing after. But working with matte formulas or super-dry skin? Reverse it, and see which looks most natural.

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