Can You Wear Concealer without Foundation?

Can You Wear Concealer without Foundation?

Ever feel like you don’t need to put on a full face of makeup? Perhaps you’re having a great skin day, or week, or you’re just blessed. Or perhaps the weather is warm and you’re not feeling up to the whole foundation thing. Maybe you’re running late for work and you’ve got little time to spare.

There are so many reasons that you might be wondering, “Can I just wear concealer without foundation?” Well, my friend, before you run off to the drugstore to pick up a tube of makeup, let’s chat.

Concealer is really a jack of all trades. It’s an essential in every woman’s makeup stash for good reason. It’s there for you when you stayed up too late and have to be up early and don’t want to turn up looking like a raccoon.

It’s your shoulder to lean on when your crush says he’s right downstairs and can he come up with wine and you’re sitting there sans makeup with a mega zit. While we could likely make do without foundation, we could never get by without concealer.

A concealer has that potential to boost your skin fast for an instantly improved appearance even in nanoseconds. Even when you’re not in a hurry though, it can be all you need to create a fresh-faced and natural look while lightening up your makeup routine.

If you want a more minimal look, have to get ready in a flash, or just want to know how to maximize your concealer’s potential, keep it right here and keep reading to find out how to love this makeup essential even more!

Can You Wear Concealer without Foundation?

You can absolutely wear concealer without foundation. In fact, lots of women sport the concealer-only look when they just want to smooth things over. It creates a more natural look, allowing you to pinpoint problem areas and harmonize skin tone without going all out for that full-on full face of makeup.

If you decide you don’t want or need to wear any foundation and only want to put on concealer (perhaps because your skin is behaving itself), make sure to find a concealer that matches your skin tone as closely as possible.

This is key, as you don’t want the concealer to be too light or too dark for your complexion – this will just draw attention to the area you’re trying to cover up.

Once you have your perfect shade of concealer, start by applying it to any areas of your face that need a bit more coverage. This might be around your nose and mouth, or on any areas that are red, blotchy, or have dark circles under them.

Then, using your fingers or a brush, blend the concealer in until it’s fully absorbed into your skin.

For areas that are particularly red, you might want to grab your trusty Green Concealer first… It’s especially helpful for covering up the occasional blemish.

However, if you notice any dry skin around your nose or other facial features, apply a bit of moisturizer before applying the concealer. If you don’t, the concealer might just end up accentuating those dry patches.

Once you’ve applied your concealer, take a step back and have a look in the mirror. Are there any areas that still need a bit more coverage? If so, go ahead and repeat the process until you’re happy with the results.

The benefits of applying concealer and skipping foundation

Concealer is one of the most popular makeup items of all because it has so many benefits for you. You don’t always need to smooth on foundation for perfection. In fact, there will be times you either don’t have time or would rather go lighter.

And believe us, there are benefits for you in doing so!

Concealer will cover your skin insecurities without the heavy feeling of a full-face makeup

Ok, here’s the situation…you have to run to the supermarket to get a few things. So you dash out the door without a stitch of makeup on.

After all, it’s just the supermarket and you really don’t feel up to applying foundation and the whole nine yards. As soon as you walk in, you run smack into that hot guy you’ve been eyeing for weeks in your office building.

You may very well look just fine, but without your usual look, your confidence falters and THAT is what this hot guy will notice. You’re not wearing your confidence. You’ve left it behind.

Foundation is great for covering up your skin imperfections, like if you went out last night and your skin looks a little blotchy from the experience. It evens out your skin tone and helps keep the texture looking smooth.

But even if you just dabbed on some concealer where it counts to cover up any blemishes, dark circles, or spots of any kind, you’ll feel more confident.

It’s extremely unlikely the hot guy noticed anything amiss on your face (unless you have a gigantic blemish front and center on your nose for example), but your own insecurities will be all over your face when you go completely without any makeup.

That’s the thing though. So many women use foundation to cover up everything, but it really should be used sparingly. Less is more with foundation and that concealer of yours really is supposed to cover those perceived imperfections while the foundation balances it out.

Essentially, you really don’t need foundation if you’re going for a more minimal look. You need a concealer. In fact, wearing it alone can help you get that born-this-way look better than foundation.

Concealer gives you a more highlighted appearance, effortlessly erasing those dark circles from last night’s Netflix binge and bringing light in to brighten your look. It also saves you lots of time and leaves you feeling a bit lighter.

This is great when you are in a rush or the weather’s hot and icky. It’s also easy to throw on the next time you make a mad dash for the supermarket to nab a few essentials.

Concealer won’t clog your pores and cause more blemishes

If you have blemish-prone skin, concealer is absolutely your BFF. And you wouldn’t go anywhere without your bestie, would you? Of course not! Zits always happen at the most illogically random and inopportune times of all. This is why having your concealer at the ready is critical.

One of the worst things for blemishes though is continuing to clog pores. Foundations will feel heavy on breakouts but concealers are lighter, and the right formulations that are non-comedogenic will keep from clogging up pores.

Blemish concealers are the kind you should be choosing if your concealer usage is to cover up pimples. Once upon a time, these were thick and heavy but now, thanks to makeup breakthroughs, they’re really light and easy to use.

They also contain nourishing ingredients that can treat your breakouts and make them go away. Ah, we love makeup science!

Look for formulations that have things like salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide which will kill off acne bacteria, calm irritation and redness, and provide gentle exfoliation to keep debris from getting into your pores and perpetuating the breakout vicious cycle.

Even if you have little time to get ready or are “just running to the store to get a few things,” applying blemish concealer will make you feel more confident, especially if you run into someone you know.

Of course, knowing how to use concealer in the right way when you’re not using foundation too is super-important for getting the look you want. After all, you don’t want it to look like you dabbed concealer on certain spots on your face.

Not to worry…you’re in the right place! Keep reading and you’ll soon know all there is to know about how to wear concealer without using foundation!

How to wear concealer without foundation

Because all of us have different skin types and different needs, there are many types of concealers to help meet those needs. To get the right look, you’ll need to figure out what you’re going to use it for and your skin type.

You may even need a few different types for your needs. Keep reading and you’ll know how to choose for the look you want and for your skin type too!

Invest in the right formula

Your bestie might swear by her concealer, but if she has dry skin and you have oily skin, don’t even try it. The brand might be good but you need to use a formulation crafted for your skin’s specific needs. Think about your skin type and then choose a concealer that fits the needs of that type.

And then, there are different types of concealers. There are liquids, creams, sticks, and color correctors! So once you’ve pinpointed your skin type, you need to think about what you’re going to be using that concealer for.

If you get random large pimples on the regular, you’re going to want something that can help you cover those up that won’t clog your pores. If you have a new baby at home and need to go to work in the morning, you’re going to want something that makes you look well-rested.

And if you have a combination of problems, you may need a few different formulas for your specific skin type to get the look you’re going for. Keep reading to learn more about the types of concealer that you may need!

NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer
  • Long-Wearing Concealer
  • Crease-Proof
  • Paraben, Alcohol, and Fragrance-Free
  • Non-Commedogenic
View on Amazon

Liquid concealer

Liquid concealer is usually the most versatile as it can work for most skin types and most skin concerns. You’ll generally find it in tubes or bottles. But that’s not where it ends. See, liquid concealers come in a wide array of finishes.

There are satin finishes that are ideal for aging skin or those of you with blemish-prone skin. Matte finishes are truly best if you have oily skin, and if your skin is aging it’s one you must avoid. Dewy finishes are perfect if you have dry skin.

With liquid concealers, the coverage is typically buildable which adds to that versatility. It’s easy to love, really, because you can dab a little on for lighter coverage and build up in layers if necessary. Liquid concealers are much less likely to settle into any lines you may have or appear cakey.

Matte finish concealers will last longer but again, if you have dry or aging skin, it’s one to avoid. It will only make you look dry and flaky.

If you have any scars, particularly of the raised variety, a creamy and lightweight concealer is always going to serve you best. Nars Creamy Concealer is one the professionals always use.

Becca Ultimate Coverage Concealing Creme
  • High Coverage & Crease-Proof Concealer
  • Gives a Seamless Coverage Without the Sticky Sensation
  • Perfect for Hiding Dark Spots, Enlarged Pores, and Lines on Face
View on Amazon

Cream concealer

With cream concealers, it gives you more of a medium to full coverage. The difference between creams and liquids is that these are creamier. You’ll find them in pots or palettes, making them much easier to blend in using either your own fingers or a brush. Liquids dry a bit faster and with creams, you’ve got a little more time to do your blending.

Oily skin won’t be happy with cream concealers though. It can move around more and settles into any creases you have. Due to its flexibility, it’s always best to set it with a bit of translucent powder after you apply it to lock it into place.

Flat scars can be concealed easily with cream concealers, though a thicker formulation with a matte finish will be the best choice. Becca Ultimate Coverage Concealing Crème has that balance. Just remember to set it in place with that powder afterward!

Stick concealer

Stick concealers are more solid in texture. They give you medium to full coverage and have more pigment. The thick and creamy texture needs to be warmed up with your fingers first. You can also scrape a bit off and use a makeup brush to work it in for an easier and less messy application.

Acne-prone and sensitive skin types don’t bond well with stick concealers. Because of their heavier texture, they’re more prone to pore-clogging. With other skin types though, you may want to try stick concealers out, though not everyone is a fan due to their heavier composition.

Stila Correct And Perfect All In One Color Correcting Palette
  • Neutralizes any Skin Tone Imperfection or Discoloration
  • Includes a User-Friendly Booklet Filled with Makeup Artist Tips
View on Amazon

Color correct if needed

On top of the texture of your concealer, the texture is equally as important. As mentioned, it may require a couple of different types of concealers to help you achieve the flawlessness you’re going for.

When you want to cover up darkness under your eyes, you want something different from what you’d use to cover up blemishes. It’s all about knowing what colors cancel each other out best to achieve a beautiful professional makeup look without hiring a makeup artist to come do your makeup every day (though wouldn’t that be nice?!?).

Instead, you’ll want to find a concealer for under your eyes that has orange or peach tones. Yellow undertones need neutral while pink undertones need a neutral pink.

Stila makes a great one, Correct and Perfect All-In-One Color Correcting Palette (Amazon link), just for this purpose. The concealer you apply under your eyes should never be more than a shade or two lighter than your natural skin tone or else you’ll come out looking like you’ve got white circles under your eyes.

While less terrifying than dark circles, the effect would not be something we’d recommend.

When it comes to blemishes or dark spots, a denser formula in your foundation’s same shade is required. Should you have red blemishes, a green color corrector can neutralize it. Dab that on first and then proceed.

What happens when you buy the wrong color? If you can’t return it, mix it up with another color. Makeup isn’t just necessary but it’s also fun too. Experimenting with colors is the key to creating your ultimate look.

A shade that’s too light can be mixed with some foundation in your normal color to lighten things up in winter months when your tan fades.

Still not sure what to do when you have to correct colors but don’t want to wear foundation? Newsflash: sometimes foundation can’t even save you from some of the problem areas you may encounter. Here’s our quick color correction guide to help smooth things over:

  • Dark circles/pigmentation: Peach or orangish-pink will neutralize any blue or purple shadows as well as dark spots.
  • Redness: Green is your friend, especially for irritations and acne.
  • Sallow/yellow skin: Lavender cancels out yellowish tones.

Spot treat your problematic areas with concealer

Now, let’s put it all together for your flawless foundation-free face!

You’ll always, always, ALWAYS start with your skincare regimen. Cleanse, tone, hydrate, and prime. Then, apply your color corrective base if you need it. So, let’s say you have one bright red pimple on your chin. Use the green color corrector to fix that up, and then apply your concealer.

You can use your fingers to apply concealer which many makeup artists recommend because it warms the product. This warmth helps it blend into the skin to keep from having a heavy look. The ring finger is the ideal finger for applying makeup with as it has the lightest touch.

A tiny drop is all it takes to pat it in until it blends. Repeat this step as necessary until you get the coverage you need to hide blemishes, spots, or dark circles.

Some will tell you to use brushes or sponges, citing that fingers can add oils that get trapped in your pores. Use what makes you feel most comfortable though fingers won’t be a problem if they’re freshly-cleaned.

When you’re going with just concealer and no foundation, only apply your concealer to your problem areas. If you’re applying it to your entire face, you’re missing the entire point of going without foundation.

Major pro tip: while you want to use concealer slightly lighter than your skin tone to lighten up your under-eye area, this is not advised if you’re going sans foundation. It will only make you look a bit ghostly.

This is where that more fleshy-toned concealer of yours needs to come out to play. It should be the same tone of your skin for a flawless finish. Ideally, this is what you have on hand to tackle those random blemishes and dark spots.

There are no concealers that do it all, despite the wide selection of them. While there certainly are wonderful ones that can handle each of your needs, in order to get that flawless finish without foundation, you’ll need to have at least 2 of them in your stash.

What works for under-eye dark circles isn’t going to work for your blemishes and dark spots.

Plus, under-eye concealers should never be dry and thick. The under-eye area is really thin and delicate. Applying anything dry there will make any minuscule lines you may have stand out and give you an aged appearance. Yikes!

Professional makeup artists recommend that you use a concealer that will stay in place for any blemishes and something smoother and more nourishing for under the eyes to keep a fresh-faced look. Rich formulations are great for those spots and lighter, more fluid and buildable concealers are ideal for under the eyes.

Ultimately, the key is in how you blend each of your concealers on your face. It takes some practice to do it right. You might want to try playing around with your concealers on your freshly-primed face on a Saturday morning when you’re not in a huge rush to get out the door.

For under the eyes, fingers tend to be great because the warmth really helps move your product. But be careful! Don’t rub or use a heavy touch.

That skin might be relatively bouncy and elastic now but later on in life, all the wear and tear you put it through will show in wrinkles and saggy skin. Dab lightly with that ring finger to get it just right.

With all makeup products, how you apply it is where the magic occurs. You can get all the products that makeup artists use and not get your look right. So practice and perfect those techniques and you’ll soon be on your way to flawlessness!


If you don’t feel like wearing foundation every day, you don’t have to. But if you don’t want to go without makeup completely, concealer can help you fill in those gaps to cover imperfections and keep you feeling confident in your own skin.

No one ever wants to turn up without makeup and get bombarded with questions like, “Wow, are you sick?” or “You didn’t sleep well, did you?”

Sure, maybe others should mind their own business but when you know how to master concealer application, you can get away with a barely-there, fully flawless face without layers of makeup.

Word to the wise though…keep that eye makeup natural too if you’re going for just concealer without foundation. The colors should be more natural and not heavy in nature. This is not the time to throw on a dramatic smoky eye look.

Keep it simple with your concealer and use the right one for your skin type and tone. Choose the right consistency for under the eyes and for your spot cover-up too.

A color corrector palette like NYX’s PROFESSIONAL MAKEUP Concealer (Amazon link) can also be a girl’s best friend when it comes to balancing out skin tone prior to concealer application for a truly fabulous face.

Now you don’t have to worry about who you run into at the store or having to spend long on your face before trotting out the door for work!


My name is Hajer and welcome to my site. This is my little haven, my outlet, where I can express myself, and show you everything I've learned about makeup, skincare, hair tips, and so much more, as well as the different beauty mistakes I've made so that you can avoid them.

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