5 Reasons Why Your Makeup Looks Cakey & How to Fix It

Foundation is the backbone of every makeup look, and is rightfully named. Your base products lay the foundation for the rest of your products, and can make or break the finished results. Regardless of the cost of your foundation or a clear complexion, none of it matters if your makeup looks cakey.

If you struggle with cakey makeup, here are some potential reasons why it’s happening, and how to fix it.

5 Reasons Why Your Makeup Looks Cakey & How to Fix It | How to Make Makeup Not Cakey | Makeup Tips | Slashed Beauty

Reason 1: You’re Being too Rough When Applying

Application technique can make a big difference when it comes to the appearance of your foundation. Many people who struggle with cakey makeup are often using a rubbing or swiping motion while applying— whether that be with their fingers, a brush, or a sponge. The rubbing and pulling can pick up dry skin and cause patchiness, and catches the texture of your face instead of smoothing over it.
How to Fix It: Use a damp, soft blending sponge to apply your foundation, using dabbing motions to spread and blend. It may take a bit longer, but it will give you a more even and smooth finish.

Reason 2: You’re Setting with Powder Too Quickly

When you set your foundation when it’s still wet, the powder will often clump and become un-blendable. This will also make your foundation thicker as the powder dissolves into the wet foundation and creates a pasty texture.
How to Fix It: Wait an adequate amount of time (at least 5 minutes) before setting your foundation with powder. This is often why I do my foundation first, doing my eyeshadow as it dries then coming back to finish my face.

Reason 3: You’re Applying Too Much Product

Too many layers of product will create a thick appearance that is less flexible than a thinner application, and you’ll start to see a cakey effect in expression lines.
How to Fix It: If you feel like you’ve applied too much foundation, use the clean end your sponge to pick up excess product. You can also use a tissue and press it onto the skin to absorb extra foundation. Another way to remedy this is to avoid unnecessary layering of products. Wait to apply concealer until after your foundation, as you may find that you don’t need any extra coverage.

Reason 4: You’re Touching Up Over Oily Skin

If your foundation starts out looking flawless but becomes cakey as you touch up throughout the day, it’s probably your powder mixing with the natural oils on your face. Similarly to Reason 2, the powder is thickening and sticking to oily areas instead of evenly dusting over a set face.
How to Fix It: Instead of using powder to keep shine away throughout the day, use blotting papers to pick up oil without disturbing your makeup. They absorb oil without adding more product which can contribute to why your makeup looks cakey.

Reason 5: Your Foundation Is Too Matte or Thick

A dry and thick foundation formula can dry down to be inflexible and break up around lines while accentuating skin texture. Unless you have particularly oily skin, you should stray away from matte finishes.
How to Fix It: Try using demi-matte foundations that look fresh and natural on the skin. One of my favorites right now is the L’Oreal Infallible Fresh Wear Foundation. It offers full coverage, oil control, is sweat and waterproof while havvig a thin consistency that’s breathable.

What do you when your makeup looks cakey? Share your own tips in the comments!

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  1. This was so helpful thank you. I’m going to try all these cool tips because my make up is always caking up and I have oily skin. I’m buying really good quality products but using them wrong xx

  2. Miranda, I read your blog everyday.
    This post is very helpful. Can using a setting spray cause cakey makeup? How soon after applying foundation should one apply setting spray? By the way, the. Mary Kay blotting papers work well to absorb oil.

    1. It shouldn’t cause cakey makeup– in fact setting spray can help cakey makeup melt a little better into your foundation. I apply setting spray once the foundation is completely dry!

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