Concealer vs Highlighter: How to Choose, Best Way to Apply

If you're wondering whether concealer vs highlighter is the right choice to help with your makeup goals, let's look at these two products and see how they can help. These two products stand out for their transformative abilities, but knowing how and when to use them is the key to getting the most from these amazing makeup products.

Concealer vs Highlighter

The Role of Concealer vs Highlighter

Let's start by taking a look at concealer. Its uses, benefits, and the best way to apply it. Concealer is one of those products that can single-handedly change your look. It can be used to help lighten and brighten your skin. While also evening out skin tone to bring out your natural beauty and give you a flawless finish.

Concealer Benefits

As the name implies, concealer is typically used to conceal dark circles, blemishes, age spots, scars, or other discolorations you wish to hide. It can also be used as a color corrector whether you use concealer alone or combine it with other products like foundation. Concealer is an easy but powerful way to transform your appearance. Or even out your natural skin tone.

Concealer Uses

Have you ever woken up and been faced with under-eye circles? Or have you looked in the mirror and saw some dark spots that were never there before? These are common problems and ones that can be tackled by using concealer to help even out your skin tone and give you a brighter and more youthful appearance.

But concealer can also be used for other things. It doesn't have to be used strictly to mask your skin or give you a natural-looking finish. It can also be used to help contour and highlight. And that's why the concealer vs highlighter debate can be confusing. Some of the benefits of these products overlap.

Concealer can be used to define specific facial features. It can also be used to help other makeup products work better. For example, using concealer along the cupid's bow on your lip can help define this area and prevent lipstick from bleeding. You could use a lip liner to help with this, too, but concealer can help if you want to minimize or accentuate the cupid's bow.

​Types of Concealers

Concealers come in many formats. A concealer stick is popular because it's an easy way to apply concealer. However, a concealer stick is usually firmer than other concealers, so I don't find it as suitable for applying under your eyes. The skin is too delicate in this area for a hard concealer stick. But you can use a brush to pick up color from the stick and then apply it to the undereye area. Another problem with a stick concealer is that it doesn't always work well for all skin types. If you have oily skin, I don't recommend covering blemishes with a stick concealer.

Liquid concealer is another option. The benefit of liquid concealer is that it's easy to work with and apply in the delicate area of your eyes. However, liquid concealers aren't as good for building coverage. And other concealers could be better for specific contouring techniques. Liquid concealer may also bother acne-prone skin.

A cream-based concealer is the best of both worlds. The concealer is thick enough to give good coverage and buildable coverage. It's easy to apply with your finger and dab the color where you need it. Or, use a concealer brush to apply. You want a nice matte finish for whatever type of concealer you choose.

About LimeLife Concealer

LimeLife Perfect Concealer is a water-resistant camouflage cream concealer. It is a world-renowned, highly-pigmented professional formula that corrects and covers blemishes, tattoos, and skin discolorations. It has a lightweight texture that feels so light on your skin. It's not heavy or greasy and it won't crease. It delivers natural-looking coverage that will last all day.

As a wax-based concealer, it is long-wearing and is excellent to use as a primer for powders and shadows. One of my favorite ways to use LimeLife concealer is as an eyelid primer. It can also be used along the brow bone to highlight or conceal. 

To apply a wax-based, cream concealer like LimeLife's, use a concealer brush or your finger to warm up the concealer. Swirl the concealer brush in the concealer shade and then gently blend on your skin. Concealer can be used before foundation, on top of foundation, or all alone. It's a personal preference and depends on your makeup goal for using the concealer. For instance, when trying to cover up a dark spot, I prefer to apply my foundation and then touch up with concealer in the areas that need more coverage. This way, I don't have to use as much makeup, and I get a more natural look. 

How to Pick Concealer Shade 

Knowing how to pick the right concealer shade comes down to how you want to use the concealer. For instance, the concealer shade used under your eyes may be different from what you would use to contour your face shape. 

You can read my article about how to color-match foundation and concealer. This article goes into much detail about understanding skin tone, skin undertones, and choosing the right shade to complement your skin tone. It also has TONS of pictures to help you see which foundation and concealer are best for light skin tones, medium skin tones, and dark skin tones. Here are a couple of graphics that show the different shades that LimeLife offers, and which skin tone works best for each one. You can also take the quiz to see which foundation shade and concealer is right for you.

Concealer vs Highlighter

When picking a concealer shade, you must consider your skin tone. And how you intend to apply the concealer. For instance, if you're trying to even out your skin tone, then you want to choose a concealer color that matches your foundation because you want the concealer to blend with your skin naturally. However, if you plan to use concealer as a contouring tool, you should pick a color darker than your natural skin tone. For instance, apply a darker concealer shade along the bridge of the nose to minimize and sculpt the shape of your nose. 

For highlighting, a lighter concealer shade is usually best. Use a light shade in the inner corners of your eyes to open them up and look more awake. Or, use a light concealer shade as a brow highlighter along your eyebrow line to lift and lighten. As the LimeLife concealer chart above shows, there are different concealer shades recommended for each makeup technique. That's why LimeLife offers custom concealer palettes so you can choose the shades that are best for:

  • Matching with your skin tone
  • Covering dark circles
  • Covering redness
  • Highlighting

How to Apply Concealer

I've said it a couple of times already, but a concealer brush is usually the best way to apply concealer. You can also use your finger to help dab it on and blend it. However, for a really professional application like makeup artists would get, a brush is the right way. A brush is also a gentle way to apply concealer to the delicate area around your eyes. A concealer brush also lets you apply concealer with more precision, so it is a great way to apply concealer to the inner corners of the eyes, around the nose, or along your upper lip.

If you're using concealer more like a foundation and you're trying to cover a large area, a makeup sponge is also a good choice. Just be sure to bounce the sponge on your skin so that you don't pull the skin. Sometimes a damp beauty sponge helps too. Just make sure that the sponge is not wet. It should be just slightly damp.

If you have dry skin, be sure to moisturize before applying concealer and foundation. This way your skin will be smooth, well hydrated, and the makeup will give you a flawless complexion. 

Concealer vs Highlighter

Understanding Highlighter and Its Role in Makeup Routine

​We've looked at the first part of the concealer vs highlighter debate, so let's focus on highlighter. You may wonder what highlighter is and how it can help your makeup routine. Just like with concealer, the name gives it away. Highlighter is used to accentuate or “highlight” certain parts of your face. For instance, brush a little highlighter along the tops of the cheekbones to get a natural glow like you'd get from the sun. 

Highlighter Benefits and Uses

Highlighter is a great way to show-off different features. Depending upon the type of highlighter you use, there are different uses and benefits. The original goal of highlighter was to give your skin a natural sun-kissed look. There's usually a bit of shimmer in highlighter, so the makeup helps your face capture light and accentuate your beauty. That's why many people tend to apply highlighter on the high points of your face, which are the areas of the face that would naturally capture the light. 

The uses for highlighter have really expanded in recent years and I think that has to do with the number of make up products available. It also has to do with the different techniques for using highlighter. Choosing the right products, for the right use is where concealer vs highlighter products can overlap.

Concealer vs Highlighter
Types of Concealer vs Highlighter

Types of Highlighter

Like concealer, there are different types of highlighters available. A powder highlighter is probably the most popular. You can use a bronzer, or highlighter, on top of your foundation and brighten your skin. Think of it this way. Where foundation and concealer are used to make your skin a flawless canvas, highlighter is used to add color to the canvas. It doesn't have to be a lot of color, highlighter just adds a flush of natural color and glow to your skin. It's an easy way to show-off the high points of your face.

There are also cream highlighters and liquid highlighters. Both of these are great to use with a brush to apply in some of the same areas and ways that I outlined above for brightening concealers. You can put a light highlighter along your brow bones or dotted in the inner eye corners for a brightening effect. This technique helps open-up your eyes.

A liquid formula highlighter, like LimeLife's Perfect Glow Drops, offers different ways to use highlighter. For example, you can add a few drops of a liquid highlighter to your cream foundation and blend the two together. This is an easy way to add a little glow to your skin.

In addition to different types of highlighters, you also have to choose the type of finish you want. That will determine if you want a matte highlighter, or a shimmer highlighter. Because highlighters are designed to add a glow to your skin, and to help light bounce off your skin to show-off your features, most highlighters tend to have a little shimmer to them. 

Concealer vs Highlighter

How to Apply Highlighter

I've already mentioned a couple of ways to apply highlighter, but let me just run through it again.

  • Use highlighter along the high points of the face to give you a natural, sun-kissed look. Brush highlighter along the tops of your cheeks, the edges of the hairline, down the bridge of your nose, and across your forehead.
  • Apply highlighter to your inner eyes and brows to act as eye brighteners.
  • Add highlighter to your foundation to get a radiant finish on your whole face.
  • Choose a highlighter shade that complements your skin tone. If you have fair skin, you want to stick with a light highlighter so that it doesn't overpower your pale skin. 

Choosing Concealer vs Highlighter

​Understanding the difference between concealer vs highlighter is important to mastering the perfect makeup look, or routine. These two products are the dynamic duo of cosmetics. They work together to enhance your natural beauty and create a flawless finish. 

Hopefully, you've learned that there can be some overlap between concealer vs highlighter. Sure, they each have very different roles, but sometimes they overlap. If you don't want to splurge on adding a highlighter to your makeup bag, you can rely on concealer to help highlight and brighten. Like all makeup routines, I recommend playing around and experimenting to find the perfect balance between these two products. Together, they really can help you create stunning makeup looks that are tailored to your personal style.

Shop LimeLife Concealer and Highlighter

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