Say Goodbye To Cakey Makeup With These 10 Tips and Tricks
When you’re going out with a full face of glam, the number one thing you’re most likely hoping to avoid is noticeably cakey makeup. Fine lines, patchy and textured skin, and noticeable pores all are tell-tale signs of cakey makeup and are completely normal and common. Contrary to popular belief, cakey makeup isn’t a result of a full-coverage foundation or applying too much makeup – it’s actually a result of factors such as how often you’re applying products, the different product formulas you’re using on top of each other, and the makeup techniques you’re using to apply your look. Luckily, cakey makeup isn’t forever and is totally preventable when using the right tips and tricks.
- The term ‘cakey makeup’ refers to foundation that is typically full coverage and gives the appearance of looking heavy, thick, and cracked due to dryness or textured skin.
- Typically, cakey makeup has more to do with the products (including skincare products) you’re using, the techniques you’re using to apply makeup, and what skin mood you have rather than your foundation.
- Tips to help prevent cakey makeup include avoiding too much powdery residue on the skin, hydrating, exfoliating, using the right product formulas in the right order, and more.
What causes cakey makeup?
The term ‘cakey makeup’ is usually used when people are referring to foundation that is typically full coverage and gives the appearance of looking heavy, thick, and cracked due to dryness or textured scaly skin. Cakey makeup can also apply to makeup that appears to be splotchy, creasing, sliding around, or flaking (1). Basically, it’s a catch-all term for all the signs of uneven makeup that can occur – especially after a long day.
When it comes to cakey makeup, it turns out the culprit isn’t actually always the foundation you’re wearing. Rather, cakey makeup has more to do with the products (including skincare products) you’re using, the techniques you’re using to apply makeup, and what skin mood you have. For instance, if you have an oily skin mood, it can make it easier for your makeup to slide around and look uneven.
On the other hand, a dry skin mood can cause noticeably flaky makeup. No matter what foundation is used, skin that hasn’t been prepped for makeup properly or skin moods that are too dry or too oily will likely result in cakey makeup. To really prevent cakey makeup, the first step is understanding that there are other culprits that need to be addressed besides foundation or powder.
Tips and tricks to avoid cakey makeup
1. Avoid baking
Back in the mid-2010s, celebrity makeup artists and beauty influencers popularized the technique of baking and made it the hottest new trend online. To bake your face, the technique involves packing on a thick layer of translucent powder on certain areas of the face to set the foundation and leave the area looking brighter when contouring (2). While baking is great for contouring, the technique, unfortunately, calls for leaving powdery residue on the face for long periods of time, which can set in to make the skin dry and makeup in the area look flaky. Baking can also cause the powder to settle into fine lines and areas of the face that crease (around the eyes, forehead, and mouth) to give off the appearance of wrinkles.
2. The right application technique
When applying foundation, it’s advised to use a designated foundation brush or makeup sponge/blender to create a smooth, even finish. When using the wrong tools to apply foundation, or even using your fingers, the foundation tends to clump up in certain spots rather than evenly blending out (3).
3. Use a setting spray
Using powder to set your face? You should make sure to set your powder and remove powdery residue by melting it into your skin with a setting spray. This way, all that powder isn’t sitting on the top of your skin to dry you out and give you the appearance of textured skin.
4. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!
If your makeup is starting to look chalky, it’s key to add hydration back into the skin. Using a face spray, serum, or toner that contains moisturizing ingredients like squalane or hyaluronic acid will help hydrate the face while dissolving powder to eliminate dry spots, creasing, and fine lines (4). You should also be sure you’re moisturizing after cleansing when doing your skincare ritual. Cleansing the face can strip the skin of natural oils, so applying a moisturizer will help prepare your skin barrier for makeup. This way, your makeup will sit more evenly on the skin and look smooth (5).
5. Skincare is key
Skincare is everything when it comes to preventing cakey makeup. One of the most important things to remember about avoiding cakey makeup is that the skin care products you’re using and the order in which you use them are typically two of the main reasons why makeup can come out looking splotchy. Using your skincare products in the right order will help you create the smoothest canvas on your face for your makeup and keep it locked in all day instead of sliding around (1).
Think about it – you wouldn’t use your SPF before a toner, would you? Product order is crucial to make sure the products you use are actually doing their job and being absorbed into the skin. If not, the products can sit on top of one another or cancel each other out to neutralize the benefits.
Exfoliation goes hand-in-hand with skincare, but it’s so important to exfoliate to avoid cakey makeup, it deserves its own place on the list. If you’re experiencing cakey makeup, especially flaky foundation, exfoliation is a vital step you don’t want to skip in your skincare ritual. Exfoliating on a regular basis (about once to twice a week) will remove dead skin cells and debris that sit on the outermost layer of the skin to create a smooth surface for makeup.
7. Beauty hacks from beauty influencers
Over the years, there have been plenty of beauty influencers that have taken to the internet to share their hacks for avoiding cakey makeup. For example, YouTube beauty guru Jackie Aina says to press the skin with a damp sponge and tinted translucent powder after priming the skin. Doing this step before using foundation and finishing powder will help create an even base and also prevent the product from sliding around and breaking up around the nose and other oily areas (1).
During the height of the pandemic, a similar hack took over TikTok that involved a viral five-step foundation process. To avoid cakey makeup and keep their makeup looks lasting longer, beauty influencers on TikTok advised that those with oily skin moods use this specific order to apply products: moisturizer, setting powder, setting spray, primer, and foundation. While this wouldn’t work for those with dry skin moods, thousands of TikTok users with oily skin moods praised this hack as the reason their makeup was now crease-free.
8. Picking the right foundation
When you’re choosing a foundation, some factors you should be aware of are:
- Oil-free foundations for oily skin moods
- Creamy, sheer, liquid foundation for dry skin moods to help stay moisturized
- Choosing the right shade (foundation that is too light or too dark can leave cakey makeup looking more noticeable) (6).
9. Pairing foundations with primer
In the beauty world, a fact that’s not as well-known as it should be is that not all foundation formulas are compatible with all primers. Silicone-based primers work best with foundations that contain silicones, while water-based primers are a little more versatile and can work with either water- or silicone-based foundations (1). Pairing the right products and formulas will help you avoid creasing and makeup that moves around all day.
10. Avoid drying ingredients in products
Some products, like acne spot treatments, can cause dry, flaky skin if they’re overused or not used with moisturizer. Ingredients like salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide can lead to increased dryness that will ultimately cause textured skin and cakey makeup (4).
Written by Selena Ponton