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10 Reasons Your Foundation Looks Cakey—and How to Fix It



10 Reasons Your Foundation Looks Cakey—and How to Fix It

They’ve all been there: you take a new foundation (or sometimes even a foundation you’ve been wearing for years) and apply it without thinking (or looking), then you look in the mirror and realize that your face is covered in makeup. .

This is the reality of the cake-based foundation. But the question is: is it really your foundation’s fault? Not always, according to board-certified dermatologist Marisa Gearstick, MD. “The foundation can feel crunchy and dry, both for the foundation itself and for the skin,” she says.

With that in mind, we spoke to Grassick and makeup artists Lori Taylor Davis and Nick Lujan to find out why your foundation looks like cake. Find out which ones are below.

You forgot to prepare your skin

There’s a reason makeup artists recommend following a good skincare routine before applying makeup.

That’s why skin prep is the key to making your foundation look like yours. skin and never look cakey. ”


With that in mind, Davis says proper skin prep should at least include a moisturizer and primer. “Both products can help resurface the skin and create the most perfect surface for foundation,” she says, noting that this applies to all skin types.

You didn’t let the primer dry

Just as dermatologists recommend drying serums and moisturizers before applying sunscreen, makeup artists recommend the same for primers.

You haven’t used the moisturizer properly

If you think applying the old moisturizer will magically transform your skin and help you avoid foundation, think again. Since dry skin tends to peel off products, Lujan says it’s important not only to use moisturizer, but to use it correctly as well.

“Applying a good moisturizer (a water-based lotion) before a thicker, more nourishing cream helps plump the skin, while the cream gives the skin a brighter, more nourished appearance,” explains Lujan.

But if you find your foundation looking crunchy even after following Lujan’s lead, they say it’s an easy fix. “Try adding a few drops of skin conditioner to your cream or liquid foundation before applying,” says Lujan.


You need to exfoliate

While hydration and priming play an important role in the appearance of your foundation, Garshick says exfoliation also makes a difference. “Those who have a buildup of dead skin cells and don’t exfoliate regularly may find their foundations look twisted,” he says. So, if you’ve hydrated and prepped, but are still not satisfied with your foundation, you should add exfoliation to your make-up prep.

There isn’t even a right way to do it. You can add exfoliating acids (which help gently remove dead skin cells by dissolving them) to your skincare routine or opt for a physical exfoliant.

You’re using the wrong tone

Sometimes it’s not so much about preparing the skin, but what foundation you use. According to Grassick, lump formation can occur if you use the wrong foundation shade because it looks unnatural and therefore sticks.

To avoid this potentially messy experience, it’s important to think about your undertone when choosing a foundation. Knowing if you are cold, warm or neutral will help you choose the best foundation for your skin tone. Fortunately, many makeup brands have come to realize that skin tones vary greatly, so there are plenty of shades to choose from.

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You are using the wrong formula for your skin type

This naturally leads us to the idea that a high-quality skincare routine is a must if you want to wear foundation. However, Carsick says it can also help to research specific ingredients in your foundation. “Those with dry skin may benefit from a foundation that contains moisturizing ingredients, such as hyaluronic acid or liquid formulations,” she says. Likewise, Gearstick’s says those with severely irritated skin (think acne, redness, and general texture issues) can benefit from color-correcting foundations, as well as those with a matte finish.

“Wanderlust Powder Foundation ($40) is especially helpful for those with sensitive skin because it gives a natural matte finish without drying the skin because it starts out as a liquid and turns into a powder,” Garshick shares, noting that people with spots. and dark spots can also benefit. “It helps absorb excess oil and improves the redness, discoloration and melasma that often occur with sensitive skin. It’s lightweight and contains hyaluronic acid and aloe, so it’s both moisturizing and soothing.

Meanwhile, she says those with particularly dry skin will do well with It Cosmetics’ Your Skin But Better Foundation + Skincare. “This foundation contains a blend of hyaluronic acid, aloe vera extract, vitamin E, and vitamin B5, so it’s suitable for all skin types, but especially dry skin,” she explains. “Helps provide long-lasting hydration while providing buildable coverage and improving overall skin tone.”

The formula you are using is too thick

There is a time and a place for full coverage foundation. It usually doesn’t happen every day. “As a makeup artist, I like foundations that mimic the skin and look hydrated and a little shiny,” Davis says. For everyday wear, she claims tinted moisturizers like Smash box’s Halo Healthy Glow Tinted Moisturizer ($39) provide ample coverage. The natural glow feels like perfectly hydrated skin. Pairing a product like this with a primer, especially one of Smash box’s screen-printing primers ($39 each), is a two-hit combo for flawless skin that never looks cakey. , dry, or textured.”

You are using too much product

Another possibility is that you are simply using too much foundation. “This seems to be the most common cause of cakey foundation,” says Lujan. “Applying too much product can result in an uneven application, especially if you’re using a powder finish. Too many layers of powder finish will make the skin rough/dry. In addition, the layers repel each other, causing a blotchy look and camera backlash.”


You are not using the right formula for your lifestyle

If you like to use foundation but also like to run a million miles a minute, Gearstick says it’s important to find a foundation that will last. “L’Oréal Paris Infallible 24 Hour Fresh wear Liquid Foundation provides long-lasting, buildable coverage and is sweat-resistant,” she says, adding that finding a lifestyle foundation is important. “It’s easy to apply and leaves a natural finish.”

You didn’t make your base

What you do after applying your foundation is just as important as what you do before it. That’s why Lujan always recommends a setting product to ensure that the foundation maintains its best appearance. “When it comes time for the curing powder, be selective about the placement and amount you use,” they say. Fill the brush with loose powder by dipping the brush into the loose powder, dab well and first press the texture or greasy spots with the brush and roll.

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