Home Complete Foundation, Primer and Concealer Application Guide

Complete Foundation, Primer and Concealer Application Guide

girl with makeup foundation


Applying makeup can be a daunting task. If you are just starting out, you might be asking yourself  “What is the difference between foundations, primers and concealers?” and “How do I use each one?”. It turns out that these three products are used at different times during your makeup routine and they have different functions. In order to help you with the application of these products, I have created application guides for each product below. Click on the arrow beside each guide title to reveal the steps for each guide.


How To Apply Face Primer

A lot of people ask me what is the difference between a Primer and Concealer and whether or not they are the same thing. The short answer is “NO” they are not. Primers are used to prepare the face for makeup while concealers are used to hide and cover trouble areas on your face. I will cover more on this topic in another post.

Here are the steps that you need to follow in order to apply face primer:

Before we start, I would like to point out that face primers are not suitable for eyelids. There are primers for eyelids but those will not be discussed here. This tutorial is strictly for the application of face primer.

Step 1 : Prepare the Face – Wash your face with your regular face cleanser. After you have cleaned and dried your face, use a light moisturizer and ensure that you cover the areas on your face that you intend to add the primer. Let the moisturizer sit for a couple of minutes to allow it to be absorbed into the skin. A light moisturizer helps with the application of the primer later on in the process.

Step 2 : Apply the Primer- Using a foundation sponge or your fingers, apply a dap of primer under your eyes. Spread the primer out gently and evenly around this area. Make sure that you use thin layers. After you have finished with the under-eye area, apply and blend primer around your nose, forehead, chin, nose and cheeks. Pay attention to where you have added moisturizer in Step 1 and cover the same areas with your primer. If you are using a sponge here, be sure to damp it in water to allow easier application of the primer. It is important to note that “damp” here means the sponge has the water squeezed out. It is incorrect if the sponge is dripping with water.

Step 3 : Check and Re-Apply if needed – After you have applied and blended the primer around your face, double check to make sure that you have all areas covered. Pay special attention to the T-zone areas (forehead and nose). Makeup usually wear off faster in these areas as these areas tend to create more oil and sweat. You can use a bit more primer in the T-zone area if you like.

Step 4 : Wait and Prep – Give your primer a few minutes to dry and settle in. In the mean time, take out your foundation and concealer as this is what will be applied next.

That is all for applying primer. Its actually a really simple process that only require a few times of practice to reach perfection.

Pro Tip: If you’re tight on budget, you may considering using vaseline as primer.

How to Apply Concealer

Just like the name implies, concealers are designed to “conceal” or hide difficult imperfections on the skin. They are usually thicker than foundations and are used on problem areas on the face that require extra coverage. A common question that I get a lot is whether someone should apply concealer or foundation first. There is no right or wrong answer to this but I always recommend that people use concealers first. The reason is because obvious blemishes, dark circles and other imperfections on the face can be spotted before foundation is applied. Covering these imperfections with concealer first can help to ensure that they are covered. Assuming that you have already selected your concealer, here are the steps that you need to take to apply concealer:

Step 1: Clean and prime your face – You must first properly clean and prime your face. Use your regular facial cleaner to ensure that your skin is free from oil or dirt. As for priming your face, I have written a tutorial on how to do this in the “How to apply Face Primer” tutorial above. Applying primer first is quite important and should not be skipped.

Step 2: Locate Problem Areas – Study your face and locate areas on it that you would like to cover with your concealer. These areas may include the area under your eyes, above your lashes, around corners of the eyes, under your chin, around the sides of your noise and around your lips.

Step3: Tap and Blend – Using your fingers, a pad or brush, gently tap and apply the concealer on the problem areas that you have identified in the step above. I find that using a brush is the easiest way to do this as it gives you a good blend.

Step 4: Double Check – Repeat Step 3 until all areas have been covered. Its ok to add more layers for areas that show through the first layer. However, keep in mind that you want to limit the amount of layers that you are applying. If you add too many layers, your face will become uneven and will look unnatural.

That is all you needed to do in order to apply your concealer. If you have followed all the steps correctly, you are now ready to finish the look with foundation.

How To Apply Makeup Foundation

Assuming that you have chosen a foundation that you like and that matches your skin color, follow the easy steps that I have outlined below to apply your foundation. Remember that foundations come in different forms including cream, powder and liquid. This tutorial will work with all forms of foundation. If you have read my tutorials above on how to apply primer and concealer, then you can skip to Step 4 of this tutorial. 

The best way to put on foundation is to apply a small amount of foundation to troubled areas that are on your forehead, nose, cheek and chin and then blend it with a foundation sponge. The goal is not to cover your entire face with foundation but only on the troubled areas. 

For More details, Follow These Steps:

Step 1: Clean your face – Start By cleaning your face with your regular facial cleanser. Apply a moisturizer afterwards to ensure that your skin stays moisturized during the application process. Remember: A clean and moisturized face helps the foundation guide on smoothly and easily. This step is the most important as it sets the basis for the rest of the application process.

Step 2: Apply a Foundation Primer – Apply foundation primer to your face. Primers are a clear gel that helps to hide imperfections and fills lines on your skin. It also helps with the foundation application process as it allows the foundation to be applied to your face easily. I have written a tutorial on how apply primer above.

Step 3: Apply Concealer (Optional) – Whether or not you do this step is completely up to you. You decision will be based on the amount of imperfections on your face and if they are worth covering. Concealers can be added before or after the foundation. This will depend on whether or not your foundation does a good job at covering up skin flaws. You may need to play around with your makeup a little bit to see if applying the concealer before or afterwards work best. I suggest that adding concealers before foundations because concealers are usually thicker and are designed specifically to hide under eye circles, blemishes and other imperfections. I have written a tutorial on how to apply concealers above. 

Although, this step is optional, I highly recommend it as imperfections are easier to spot before you apply the foundation.

Step 4: Wash Your Hands – I am surprised that many people miss this step before they apply foundation. This step removes any makeup products that are on your hands from the previous steps. It also cleans your hands from bacteria and germs.

Step 5: Apply the Foundation – The easiest way that I have found to do this is to first apply a small amount of foundation on your forehead, nose, cheek and chin. If you did not apply any concealer (step 3), tap and dot the foundation on any visible blemishes, red spots , dark -circles and other skin imperfections. The goal of this step is not to cover your entire face in foundation. It is simply adding foundation to areas of your face that will help with the spread later. (Next Step)

Step 6: Blend the Foundation – There are a couple of ways to do this. I have outlined them below:

Use your fingers – Using your fingers allow you to blend the foundation with maximum flexibility. Your fingers will also help to warm up the foundation and make the application easier. Ensure that your hands are clean. Bacteria that gets sealed in-between your foundation and your skin can cause allergic reactions and breakouts.

Use a Foundation brush – Foundation brushes are designed to help you spread and blend the foundation quickly and easily. Ensure that you clean the brushes properly after each use. Some people prefer to use brushes instead of their fingers because brushes provide a much smoother blend.

Use an Application Sponge – Foundation sponges are usually larger in size. These are designed to help you cover and spread foundation on your face. They work great with powder foundation and won’t leave streaks. However, I would not recommend using a sponge if you are low on product. This is because the sponge will absorb a lot of foundation into it. You end up wasting a lot of makeup on the sponge rather then using it on your face. You can use a sponge dry or wet. A wet application will allow you to get more coverage. Wet sponges also absorb less product. A dry application will be more sheer. Note that a sponge is considered “wet” when you have squeezed out all of the water so that it is damp. Do not use of the sponge if it is dripping wet with water.

No matter which of the methods that I have outlined above you choose to blend the foundation, the general idea is the same: You want to spread and blend the foundation for your entire face. Focus on any obvious blemishes first and then move from the inside of your face towards the outside. Don’t forget to blend the hairline and jawlines. If you have selected your tone correctly. You would notice that the foundation hides your skin imperfections but you look like you are wearing no makeup at all.

Step 7: Finishing Up: If you are satisfied with your blend. You can stop here and apply other makeup like blush and bronzer. If you are not satisfied, dap a little bit more foundation on problem areas and blend it again. If notice that a particular area is hard to hide with the foundation, add a bit of concealer to that area and reapply the foundation. Keep in mind you should be mindful of the amount of product that you are using on your face. Adding layer after layers of foundation or concealer on your face can make it look cakey. Also, it’s unhealthy of your skin as each layer makes it harder to breathe. Limit to a maximum of 2 layers of product in any area of your face. This takes practice but its not difficult after you have tired it a few times.

NOTE: Throughout the day, your skin will begin to produce oil. I recommend that you use blotting papers instead of packing on more powder or makeup to hide the oil. Blotting papers are more sanitary and cheaper. More makeup will “choke” the skin, making them more prone for breakouts. Keep this in mind before you head out with your beautiful makeup look.