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Makeup

Primer Vs Concealer

Primer and concealer are two very different products with two very different purposes. Once you’re aware of those differences, you may actually transform your makeup routine.

If you don’t know what the difference is between primer and concealer, or you’re not sure which one best suits your needs, perhaps I can help you decide. Most importantly, I’m going to show you whether you really need both primer and concealer.

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What Is a Primer?

A primer is a product that is specifically designed to create a blank, working canvas for you. In the case of makeup, obviously, I’m referring to priming your skin’s surface for makeup. Makeup primers can be categorized into further sections such as face primers, eye primers, lash primers, lip primers, and so on.

Face Primer

Face primer is used to prepare the skin for foundation, concealer, and powders. It should be applied before any makeup to help it stay on longer and improve its overall aesthetic.

Using a primer can minimize visible pores, improve skin texture, and create a nice smooth base for applying your foundation and other makeup. It can even make fine lines and wrinkles look less noticeable. Essentially, primer is what helps your makeup look better and last longer.

Bear in mind, that using a primer is also essentially adding product to your skin as well. (Can you tell I’m not a fan?)

Well, I guess I should follow that by saying that for me at work, I tend to use face primers very rarely. Sure, they have their place, but more often than not, I’m making up people to be filmed in front of cameras that take in more information than our eyes do. So for me, it’s about good skincare, good skin prep, and keeping looks and products on the skin to a minimum most of the time.

Particularly men. More often than not, we make up men to look like they are not wearing makeup, so less is more. Does that make sense? I hope so, I know I can tend to ramble some times!

Having said that, every single day is different and you may have to create a heavily made-up look or have to make up someone with skin that does require some textural help. But in general terms, I don’t really use primers.

If you do, please tell me in the comments below – I’m always up for hearing products that you love or can’t do without!

Eyelid Primer

Eyelid primer is practically the same thing, only it’s designed specifically to help the makeup on your eye area look smoother and last longer.

If you want your mascara, eyeliner, and eye makeup to look great all day long without fallout, applying a thin layer of primer on your eyelids can get the job done. Because who doesn’t want day-long doll eyes without needing to keep reapplying on your bathroom breaks?

And yes, I LOVE eye primers!

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How to Apply Your Primer

The purpose of your makeup primer is to set the base for foundation and other makeup to come. It should be applied after your final skincare step and prior to all of your makeup products.

  • Using your fingers, apply a dime size amount to your skin, spreading it lightly and sparingly. You may think more means improved longevity, but it doesn’t. In fact, overapplying it can cause product to gather – the quickest way to ruin your look. If you have extremely dry skin, you can increase the amount
  • You can also apply primer with a makeup brush, but it can tend to drag the primer around rather than blend it in, so find your groove with what works for you
  • Give it a full minute to dry before going in with your foundation

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Best Primers in Town!

Here are a few primers I recommend (a little indulgent, but I have to start with my favorite eye primer!)

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Anastasia Eye Primer

Anastasia Beverly Hills Eye Primer

I love, love LOVE this eye primer. In fact, I used it today as I finish this article! It’s so easy to use and has such a fine consistency, and provides a nice light base to help eye shadow and your eye makeup really pop afterward.

Anastasia Beverly Hills Eye Primer is also Vegan, Cruelty-free, and Paraben-free.

You can find Anastasia Beverly Hills Eye Primer here.

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Tatcha The Silk Canvas Protective Primer

Tatcha The Silk Canvas

It always feels like Christmas when you unwrap a Tatcha Product. They really go above and beyond to make you feel special, and important when unraveling your latest Tatcha treat!

Well, The Silk Canvas is an interesting primer indeed.

It almost feels like a filler when applying and really goes the distance to blur skin texture and fill pores. The Silk Canvas is aptly named, as it works to give your skin an even primed surface of your face as a canvas for makeup that will look bright and light.

Tatcha The Silk Canvas is formulated without parabens, synthetic fragrances, mineral oils, sulfate detergents, phthalates, urea, DEA, or TEA.

Find Tatcha The Silk Canvas here.

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Cleau De Peau Brightening Enhancer Base

Cléau De Peau Brightening Enhancer Base

This gorgeous luxury brightening base will have your face floating on air!

It works to lighten and brighten your complexion and conceal sunspots, and any other things you are looking to wave the wand over.

One of my favorite things about the lightweight formula of this primer is that it also contains SPF 21 which is the cherry on top of such a divine product.

If you’re going to prime, you must go Cléau De Peau.

Find Cléau De Peau Brightening Enhancing Base here.

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Laura Mercier Eye Basics Primer

Laura Mercier Eye Basics Primer

This is quite an interesting eye primer makeup product. You can use it as a stand alone base on your eyelids, and also as a traditional eyeprimer to set the tone for your eye makeup.

Two colors (Peach and Eyebright) are recommended for correcting work on your lids – if you are looking to cover a lot of purple or redness, go for Eyebright. For sallow lids or dull skin that you want to brighten, go for Peach.

Laura Mercier’s Eye Basics Primer is non-comedogenic and dermatologist and opthalmologist-tested.

Find Laura Mercier Eye Basics Primer here.

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Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion

Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion

This is one of Urban Decay’s Award-Winning wonders! The Original Eyeshadow Primer Potion smoothes and primes the lids for flawless and bright eye makeup with staying power for the whole day.

You can also mix eyeshadows into this base which I haven’t tried yet but would love to have a play with.

Find Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion here.

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What Is Concealer?

Well, that’s kind of a stupid question, really. I think we all know what a concealer IS. But let’s just walk through it anyway.

Concealer is a product that conceals imperfections on the skin, such as dark under-eye circles, blemishes, and red spots. Unlike primer, concealer should be applied after your foundation. Although some people do apply them before foundation. Still, they should be applied after primer, not before.

There are many different types of concealers to choose from, each with its own set of benefits. These include liquid concealer, stick concealer, cream concealer, and balm concealer.

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What Concealer is Best for Your Skin Type?

Dry Skin

If you have dry, flaky skin, you’re best off with a liquid concealer as it glides on smoothly and blends well without leaving flakes behind. Some people think cream concealers work best because they have the word “cream” in them. However, because you have to rub them in, they can often bring out dry, flaky skin and make it appear more evident. If you are particularly dry in the under-eye area, be sure to use an eye cream prior to applying your under-eye concealer.

Oily Skin

Balm concealers work best for oily skin types as they don’t contain oil, so they won’t clog your pores or make you look extra shiny. Oily skin should avoid cream and stick concealers as these tend to clog the pores and trigger breakouts. They also magnify the appearance of pores and shine.

Uneven Skin

If your aim is to cover up discoloration, opt for a medium to full coverage concealer. Discoloration can be tough to cover up, so it’s important to choose one with a decent coverage that will actually mask it.

Choose a balm concealer that easily blends and layers for a smooth finish. And make sure you choose the right hue for color correction. Green neutralizes redness while lavender hides yellow tones.

Stick concealers are another excellent choice for color correction and blend in well for a natural finish.

Dark Circles

Cream concealer is perfect for hiding dark circles or hyperpigmentation. However, the best choice for diminishing dark circles under the eyes has got to be balm concealer.

If dark circles are your issue, choose peach, yellow, or orange hues as these all neutralize blue and purple shadows on the skin. Build the coverage by reapplying the concealer. You can also follow up with another layer of concealer that’s one shade lighter than your skin to avoid any white circles appearing around the eyes.

Aging Skin

With aging skin, you want to avoid concealers prone to creasing as they’ll make your fine lines look more noticeable. Your best choice would be liquid concealer as this offers the most hydration and won’t crease in your creases.

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My Concealer Picks

Some of the best concealers around are:

NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer

NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer

Perfectly named, this really is a radiant and creamy concealer. I’m using it on myself as we speak.

It features impressive coverage and despite having a matte finish, it still leaves your skin with a natural finish. I’m quite a way into my 40’s now and it still gives me a crease-free finish under my eyes while providing the coverage I’m looking for.

Find NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer here.

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Maybelline Instant Rewind Eraser Dark Circle Treatment Concealer

Maybelline Instant Rewind Age Concealer

This drugstore staple is available in 16 different shades. And you can’t deny over an epic 128,000 reviews on Amazon, that this is an incredibly popular concealer.

Find Maybelline Instant Rewind Eraser Dark Circle Treatment Concealer here.

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Neutrogena Hydroboost Hydrating Concealer Stick

Neutrogena Hydroboost Hydrating Concealer Stick

Find Neutrogena Hydroboost Concealer Stick here.

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How To Apply Concealer

Now that you know what types of concealers are available on the market, it’s worth getting to know how to use them properly. Once you know how to use it right, the end result will look fantastic. It doesn’t matter which concealer you are using, the application stays the same.

  • Start by prepping the skin with a moisturizer and primer. You can choose from one of the ones I’ve mentioned above if you wish. If you have oily skin, stick to a non-greasy, lightweight moisturizer that won’t elevate your shine. Use something more hydrating if you have dry or aging skin.
  • Continue by applying your foundation, blending it in well for a nice, natural finish. Make sure you choose a foundation suitable for your skin type for the best possible result. If you are using a powder foundation, apply the concealer beforehand to avoid looking patchy.
  • Now, it’s time to apply the concealer. Using a small amount, dab it on your problem areas using your fingers, brush, or sponge. Blend it in until you can no longer see the blemish.
  • If the blemish or discoloration is still visible, follow up with a second round of application. Always use thin layers of concealer to prevent it from looking cakey.
  • Are you using your finger? Use your ring finger to dab and blend it in. Applying too much pressure can cause fine lines and wrinkles.
  • Set your concealer with a dusting of translucent powder.
  • If you are using concealer under the eye, use a highlighter or radiant finish concealer to disguise shadowed areas.

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Do I Need Both a Primer and A Concealer?

My honest answer is twofold. I think this ultimately depends on these two things:

  • the condition of your skin
  • the makeup look you are trying to achieve

Primer can help set the base for makeup to come, smoothing out imperfections, improving texture, and increasing makeup longevity.

However, and for me, that’s a BIG however……I do feel that if your skincare and skin prep are both on point, I really feel that primer has no place. But this is just me.

Concealer masks imperfections like breakouts, dark circles, and discoloration for an overall flawless look for your makeup. And honestly, concealer is a much more used and needed makeup product for me.


If you want beautiful, long-lasting makeup, sure, go ahead and use a little primer on your face.
Of course, if you’re lucky enough to have zero blemishes on your skin, you can just get away with using a little foundation, or even a tinted moisturizer. And if you’re in a rush, dabbing a little concealer beneath your eyes should save you for at least an hour or two.

Some people only use primer and nothing else if their only goal is to minimize their pores – which some primers are specifically designed to do.

It’s not absolutely vital to use both a primer and a concealer in your makeup routine, but if you want to hide imperfections and avoid watching your makeup disappear throughout the day, you’re best off using them both.

When it comes to the primer vs concealer debate, I’d have to say that they are both worth keeping in your purse. The right primer just like the right concealer can be your secret beauty weapon for flawless, radiant skin if that’s your thing. For me, an eye primer is a way more used product in my kit.

While primer sets your skin for long-lasting makeup that looks natural and even, concealer helps you look wide awake on just five hours of sleep and can quickly obscure that red, angry zit that just arrived on your chin.
For flawless makeup application or a particularly makeuppy look, use primer and concealer every time!

Featured Image by Karly Jones

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