Concealers Vs. Foundations: The Best Brands For Each

We're becoming more obsessed with makeup tricks everyday, and now we're wondering if it's just us or a wider phenomenon. TikTok has taken over our day-to-day with unbelievable hacks we can't get enough of, like a video on applying mascara on the tips of lashes to create a falsies-esque look, or a tip for filling out your hairline with eyeshadow (via The Every Girl). We've found ourselves using soap bars for fluffy eyebrows, creating a cute "sunburnt" look by applying blush on our nose and upper cheeks, and overlining our lips for fullness with serious geometry skills. While pre-TikTok we barely knew how to properly use eyeliner for a simple cat-eye, we're now finding ourselves making our own lipstick by mixing eyeshadow and Vaseline — call us makeup chemists.

The stars might be aligning to give us an extra dose of creativity when it comes to our makeup, but what's a great beauty look without a perfect base? Sure, there are some great TikTok hacks for all things concealer and foundation: case in point, the "facelift concealer" video by user Megha Singh that garnered more than 100,000 likes by mind-blown viewers (via Vogue), or applying primer and setting spray before foundation like @jarida.bby (via Allure). Still, you need some knowledge before going rogue, and the best products with it. What is truly the difference between concealer and foundation, and do we need both? And even then, what are the absolute best products on the market for flawless, poreless, gorgeous, look-at-me skin?

All the differences between foundation and concealer

First up, let's discuss all the differences between concealer and foundation. Concealer is used for correcting smaller areas of skin — covering spots, under-eye circles, scars, marks, and pimples (via Fine Featherheads). The consistency of concealer is usually much thicker than foundation, creating a seamless effect over blemishes. Plus, says the website, many makeup artists recommend grabbing a concealer shade that's just a tad lighter than your natural skin tone for brightness. Moreover, concealer can be used for contouring: as makeup expert SJ Froom explained to Cosmopolitan, "pick a concealer two to three shades darker than your natural skin tone as a contour color, plus a concealer two to three shades lighter to use as a highlighter." Versatile to a tee.

On the other side of the equation, makeup guru Fiona Stiles told Allure, "foundation is meant to be the base, or foundation, of your look," suggesting applying it before concealer. Makeup artist Robin Black added, "foundation is meant to even out your skin tone and reduce the appearance of blemishes, discoloration, and excess redness." Stiles compares the process to building a house, needing a proper foundation before strategizing the needed touch-ups. Foundation should be your focus, and it's up to you to decide if you prefer light, medium, or full coverage, and if you choose to apply it with a sponge or brush. Concealer is more touch-and-go, applied over your chosen base for a flawless finish.

These luxe concealer brands are on every MUA's radar

Now it's time to discuss the absolute best concealers on the market, part of virtually every makeup artist's arsenal. These concealers are pricey, but they will blur out your tiny imperfections instantly and leave zero traces. Creating a "your skin but better" look, these three concealers are recommended by beauty editors around the world. Creamy, medium to light coverage, and perfect for everything from pimples to dark circles.

The do-it-all concealer on everyone's list, NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer ($30) is magic in a bottle. With a seamless texture that goes on as smooth as butter, this award-winning formula is all about moisture, combining grape seed extract, vitamin E and magnolia bark for zero dry patches. A "light-diffusing mineral powder" brightens skin to sunlit levels, too. It's no wonder Byrdie named it the "best overall" concealer on the market, with makeup artist Latisha Rankin telling the website it gives "skin a natural and soft finish."

Next up, Pat McGrath can do no wrong, and that includes her Sublime Perfection Concealer ($32). This full-coverage formula is naturally radiant, with a "soft-focus" effect through light-diffusing pigments, and a silky vita-serum complex. Allure calls it a "miracle worker" that never sets into fine lines.

You can always go for Tarte Cosmetics Shape Tape Concealer ($29), a holy grail for makeup lovers everywhere. Vogue editors suggest this one for "full glam" looks, saying Bebe Rexha loves it, and lauding it for its hydrating shea butter formula.

Or, try these amazing drugstore concealers

Let's say you want an incredible concealer to camouflage your acne or freckles but don't want to hurt your wallet — we've got you covered. You don't have to spend a fortune to achieve a perfect concealer look, with countless drugstore formulas on the market that are impressively moisturizing and luxuriously creamy. We love these tried-and-tested inexpensive faves, and some MUAs pick these over expensive brands.

Try NYX's HD Studio Photogenic Concealer ($4.97) if you want an otherworldly formula for the price of an almond milk latte. Byrdie named this concealer the "best budget" option available, with a thick wand that's perfect for under-eye circles and larger discolored areas. A cruelty-free formula, this concealer can go medium-to-full coverage and is made for contouring, too.

When in doubt, Maybelline never disappoints, and the brand's Instant Age Rewind Eraser Dark Circles Treatment Multi-Use Concealer ($4.33) is gaining major traction for a reason. As per the brand, this is America's best-selling concealer, going from light to full coverage seamlessly with an easy built-in sponge applicator. The haloxyl formula actually makes skin look more refreshed, with celeb makeup artist Andrea Tiller telling Vogue she loves it for the "soft," handy applicator and because it "blends beautifully."

E.l.f.'s 16hr Camo Concealer ($6) is vetted to last an entire day with zero touch-ups, with a supersized applicator and avocado oil for hydration. Kaolin clay keeps the formula perfectly matte, which MUA Lennie Billie told Allure provides "great coverage for acne and dark spots."

The top luxury foundations on the market

Now that we've gone through all our concealer favorites for every budget, it's time to talk foundation — arguably the most important part of any makeup look. As several makeup artists explained to Allure, foundation is the "building" block of beauty, so naturally you need the best formulas on the market. If you don't mind investing in luxe products, these are for you.

Rihanna does no wrong in our eyes, and Fenty Beauty's Pro Filt'r Soft Matte Longwear Liquid Foundation ($36) has garnered thousands of five-star reviews for a reason. Notably available in a whopping 50 different shades, this foundation is medium-to-full coverage, matte with a "soft" glow, and is chemically resistant to sweat. Perfect for oilier skin types, beauty contributor Keeks Reid told Cosmopolitan this is her "go-to" with "impressive" all-day lasting power and zero shine.

We also love Armani Beauty's Luminous Silk Perfect Glow Flawless Oil-Free Foundation ($64) that's a makeup artist staple for its sheer perfection. A great shade range is a major plus, with buildable, glowy coverage that's inspired by charmeuse silk. Beauty editor Nerisha Penrose told Elle this is the best money she's "ever spent" in her life, and "gets along well with every product."

Craving Hollywood glam? Try Charlotte Tilbury's Airbrush Flawless Longwear Foundation ($44) for a "poreless," almost-Photoshopped look. This super-moisturizing formula never sets into fine lines, and features AirCool™ technology that feels refreshing on the skin. As per The Cut, it's surprisingly "weightless" while offering full coverage.

We're obsessed with these wallet-friendly foundations

And last, the perfect drugstore foundations that offer the best bang for your buck and at a fraction of the price of luxury formulas. These foundations offer a flawless base for day or nighttime glam, are vetted by makeup experts, and make your skin look gorgeous in no time.

Not feeling a totally matte look? Try NYX's Born to Glow! Naturally Radiant Foundation ($10) for a similar alternative to Armani's formula, but for much cheaper. This light-to-medium foundation lets your skin breathe, and makes it look like it has a natural filter. Its 45 shades round it out, with beauty editor Laura Capon telling Cosmopolitan it's her end-all foundation, "with an unparalleled glow" and coverage that lasts "a whole working day."

We're obsessed with Maybelline's Fit Me Matte + Poreless Liquid Foundation ($3.15), with an unbeatable price that begs you to give it a try. Slightly sheer but buildable, this medium-coverage foundation is meant to look supremely natural (but better!). The Cut named it the best drugstore foundation out there, especially if you want a matte, poreless look.

If you need a foundation that will last you from dusk 'til dawn and also give you sun protection, may we suggest L'Oreal Paris Makeup Infallible 24hr Fresh Wear Foundation ($8.99)? This formula features SPF 25, is water-resistant, and proven to last an entire day. Beauty director Victoria Jowett told Cosmopolitan she is "so impressed" with it, giving "a serious dose of coverage," a "satin finish" and zero heaviness.