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How to Apply Primer, Foundation, and Concealer: Makeup Guide

How to Apply Primer Foundation and Concealer

Applying makeup can be seriously stressful sometimes – and if you’re new to makeup – it’s not exactly beginner-friendly.

Walking down the makeup aisle with shelves overflowing with product…where do you even start?!

Tip: Base products are a great choice and should be staples in your beauty kit!

So, primers, concealers, and foundations – what are they, why do you need them, and how to use them!

Table of Contents

First Things First: Where Do We Start?

Before we go into the specifics of each product, here’s a breakdown of their application order.

Yes, this is SUPER important, you wouldn’t shampoo your hair without first wetting it first, right?

Primer or Concealer First?

Before ANY other makeup products, PRIMER GOES FIRST.

We specify makeup products because skincare or moisturizer should be applied before primer.

But after that, primer should be the very first step of your makeup routine before concealer and foundation.

That’s why it’s called a primer. It’s meant to prime and prep your face for the rest of your products.

Foundation or Concealer First?

This actually depends on how you prefer to wear your makeup, whether you like fuller coverage or you just prefer to apply concealer instead of foundation.

However, we’ll say it’s always the safest bet to start with foundation before you apply concealer.

Again, as the name suggests, foundation is the product you use to lay the groundwork for the rest of your makeup look.

Concealer is used to cover up whatever your foundation can’t.

We don’t use foundation to cover bigger or more pigmented blemishes so just remember, foundation application is there to lay down the base of your look.

Now that we’re clear on that, it’s time to get on to the why and how to apply!

Makeup Primer

Makeup Primer

As we said before, makeup primer primes the face and is your first step to a flawless and smooth base.

Allow us to tell you about the different kinds of face primers and how to apply them!

Primers! Oily Skin, Dry, or Combination: Where to Start?

Primer comes in many different forms and depending on your needs, you’ll be able to find one that suits you and your skin type.

So, we can’t claim the best makeup primer for all.

Face primer is meant to help your makeup stick to your face better and longer.

Makeup primer can address skin issues before you start using your foundation to cover anything up.

Know What Your Skin Needs

The best makeup primer is one that meets your needs:

For an Oily Type, Go for a Mattifying Primer

For Dry Skin, Use a Moisturizer-Primer

  • Apply this primer on your entire face with your hands. Make sure the product is well absorbed into the skin before moving on.
  • It instantly hydrates your skin so that you’re prepped and ready for foundation that may accentuate any flaking.

For Acne or Blemish-Prone Skin, Use Oil-Free Primer

  • Apply a non-comedogenic makeup primer onto your whole face so your makeup has something to stick to.
  • This type of primer is made with sensitive skin in mind, so no need to worry about any breakouts!

For Large Pores, Go for a Smoothing Primer

  • Apply it where your pores are the largest and most noticeable. For some people, this may be the cheeks or the nose, for others it’s the chin or maybe even the entire t-zone.
  • Pat into your skin, don’t rub. Think about the product filling in the pores.
  • It’s made to shrink the appearance of large pores, fine lines, and creases for smoother skin.

Is Primer Essential?

Although it’s incredibly useful, we wouldn’t say primer is absolutely necessary to your beauty routine.

It’s for people who want their makeup to last longer and for their skin tone to look ultra-smooth. That’s what primer is.



Moving on to foundation and BB cream!

The proper use and understanding of this product is by far the trickiest to master of the three.

Fear not! Once we break it down for you you’ll see how simple it is and with some practice. You’ll easily find the perfect foundation for yourself!

A Good Foundation is Key

Foundation is the main base of your makeup look.

The point of applying foundation is to provide a first layer of coverage and to even out your skin tone.

It’s up to you whether you want to use more or less foundation, depending on if you want more coverage or a more natural and fresh appearance.

More foundation can tend to look cakey and is, at the moment, not the trendiest look. This isn’t 2009, people!

Note the main difference between foundation and BB cream is that BB cream is much more natural and has much less coverage than foundations.

Foundation Tips for Your Skin Type

Just like primer, foundations also have different finishes for different skin types.

  • Oily skin types can try mattifying foundations for large pores.
  • Drier types can look for dewier finish foundations. Try BB cream!
  • Combination types should try satin finish foundation for that in-between look of natural and fresh but not greasy.

Remember that the finish of the foundation is important but these rules aren’t hard and fast.

If you are a combination type but like using dewy foundation, go ahead and use it! There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that!

Finding the Right Shade for Your Skin Tone

The most complicated part of foundation and BB cream is finding the right shade for your skin color.

With so many colors on the market, it can be a little bit difficult to find the one that suits you best.

Although this is a welcome problem (yay for inclusivity!), here’s how to easily get past it.

  • Choose the type of foundation or BB cream you want to try and look for colors close to your skin tone. Choose at least 2 or 3.
  • Swipe a bit of it onto your neck, jawline, or chest.
  • See which will blend into your skin most naturally.
  • Once you find the color that has the most seamless blend (we’re talking invisible) you’ve found your shade!

We want to emphasize testing out the foundation or BB cream on your neck or chest because you want it to blend into the rest of your body not just your face.

Most people’s faces tend to be a couple shades lighter than their bodies.

If you match foundation or BB cream to your face, there will be a stark difference between the color of your face and your body.

How to Apply Foundation

Now that we know how to choose the right finish and shade, how do you actually apply foundation and BB cream? 

How do you avoid getting foundation to settle into your pores?

Let’s go over a few ways and see which you prefer!

Using a Sponge

The sponge, more specifically the Beauty Blender, is most often used when you want a lighter coverage on foundation.

It’s also the more popular option with BB cream!

We recommend this for beginners because it’s more forgiving of errors:

  • Start with a light layer. Just a little bit starting from the center of your face moving outward.
  • Make sure you cover the area from your chin all the way up to your forehead and blend as you go. The nose can be a little tricky so be sure to get around all the creases.
  • Continue to dab the sponge into your face so that the foundation looks smooth.
  • Cover enough so there is no more redness and your tone is even.
  • You can add another layer and repeat the process. You can continue to build up the layers for that full impact look.
  • You can apply foundation over your eyelids and lips if you want a completely blanked-out base. Also, it helps to apply eyeshadow and lipstick.

Using a Brush

For those of you who want fuller coverage, use a foundation brush. (Note: It’s not the best way for BB cream but it could work)

It sucks up less product and applies the product on a little more liberally than compared to a sponge.

  • Start again with a light layer. Dip your brush into the product and swipe it off a little on the back of your hand.
  • Then apply onto your entire face from the center going outward.
  • Make sure you layer on enough product to cover any redness or blemishes just enough to get an even base.
  • Don’t forget the edges of the chin and forehead and blend into the hairline!
  • Apply onto your whole face and once the face is evenly colored you can move on.

After some practice, you’ll get the hang of applying your foundation or BB cream and figure out which method you prefer.



Finally, apply concealer! It’s A MUST in your beauty routine.

The main difference between concealer and foundation is that concealer offers more coverage for heavy-duty blemishes.

Fake a Good Night's Rest

We apply concealer mostly around the eye area on dark eye circles or dark spots.

Eye circles are nothing to be ashamed of, sometimes you just couldn’t get to sleep and what can you do if it’s genetic?

Here’s how to use concealer to take away under-eye circles!

  • Apply concealer in a peach or orange tone first to cancel out any dark circles. The orange tone is directly opposite to the purple and blue hues under the eyes or even on the eyelids.
  • Apply concealer in your natural color to the problem areas you used the peach color corrector. Blend!
  • Lightly powder to set.

You can use a sponge to get into the smaller problem areas around the eyes.

A Smooth Complexion

If you’ve got red spots or more intense redness that the foundation couldn’t get, no worries! You can use a non-comedogenic concealer formula to tame those issues.

Here’s how to apply concealer for this issue:

  • Use a green concealer to cancel out any redness still visible on your face. BLEND. (We love Elphaba but green skin is not the look)
  • Use a concealer that matches your natural color on top of the green and watch as the redness magically disappears!
  • You can use powder foundation on the areas to set.

We find that small detail brushes are best for this kind of precision.

Or Even Your Bone Structure!

That’s right, we can (slightly) modify the shape of our faces with a light concealer!

A concealer that’s one or two shades lighter will highlight certain parts of the face and bring them forward.

If you want a more lifted look here’s what to do:

  • Apply concealer around the eye. Swipe a line from the edge of the eye upward into your temple. Then dab some concealer into the inner corner and just underneath.
  • Now, apply the concealer right underneath your cheekbones. Just a line upward into the hairline.
  • Then apply concealer in another line underneath the corners of your mouth upward.
  • Leave the concealer on for a few minutes to allow it to set. THEN BLEND.

Pro tip: Sponges and smaller brushes work well for this technique.



Hopefully, we’ve given you a little more insight on what these beauty staples are and how to use them.

Remember there is no wrong or right way to apply your makeup. You know best what looks good on you.

We hope that you try out these tips and figure out which one works for you!

Paola Diaz
Paola Diaz

Hi, I'm Paola! A skin care enthusiast and nature lover. Creating content that promotes proper skin treatment and keeping a healthy glow is my way of sharing with the world how healthy skin can go a long way. I’m a firm believer of natural beauty that radiates inside all of us. All we need is the right kind of nourishment that inspires our wellness from inside out. So it’s really not about physical beauty alone – it’s the beautiful life we can create for ourselves when we connect with our own nature and see there is beauty that shines from every one of us.