How To Avoid Cakey Foundation

Posted by in Makeup

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Picture this; you spent a ridiculous amount of time applying your foundation, concealer and powder in the morning, making sure everything was set and locked in for the day. You go to work feeling pleased with yourself but by the time you look in the mirror at lunch you discover your foundation has separated and gathered around your nose and chin, and just looks like a hot mess. Sound familiar?

Having ‘cakey’ foundation is something that women worry about on a daily basis, myself included. So I’ve put together a list of tips and products to help you beat the cake and keep your foundation looking smooth all day long.


It’s so so important to moisturise before applying your makeup, I cannot stress this enough! Moisturiser helps the primer, foundation and other products to glide on effortlessly without catching and emphasising dry patches. Even if you have oily skin it’s still imperative that you use a moisturiser. My current favourite is Origins Skin Matte Moisture Perfector. The formula is a refreshing, water-cream that mattifies the skin while hydrating and perfecting. Formulated with Pink Rock Rose and Willowherb, the hydrating face cream melts effortlessly into skin, softening and smoothing to prime skin for receiving makeup. It also helps to minimise the appearance of pores. Win win if you ask me!

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Origins, Skin Matte Moisture Perfector, £15.00


The next step to achieve a flawless foundation base is to use a primer. Some people debate whether primers actually do anything to help the longevity of makeup, but I stick by them 100%. A primer that I believe everyone should own, regardless of their skin type, is Benefit’s Porefessional Primer. The lightweight texture glides effortlessly onto the skin and helps to reduce the signs of pores and fine lines that foundation may sink in to throughout the day. There’s a reason why it’s the UK’s most purchased primer!

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Benefit, Porefessional Primer, £27.50


Now onto the reason you’re all here. And sorry to disappoint you, but I’m not going to be recommending a particular foundation as it’s extremely personal and what works for me might not work for you. Instead I’m going to be dishing out foundation application tips.

My 1st tip is to use a beauty sponge to apply your foundation. Yes it does soak up some of the product compared to using a brush or your hands, but it’s by far superior when it comes to evenly distributing the foundation around the face and ensuring it’s properly worked into the skin.

Tip number 2 is to start sheer and build up the coverage. 99% of cakey foundation is the result of too much foundation being applied at once and it not being able to be absorbed into the skin. If you do a few thin layers, letting them dry in between, you’ll notice a big difference in how long your foundation lasts throughout the day.

The 3rd tip is to use as little concealer as possible. It took me ages to figure this one out but once I had it changed the way I applied my makeup forever. I have a lot of redness on and around my nose, so naturally I would use a lot of concealer to try and cover this. However as the hours went on the foundation around my nose would separate and ‘clump’ together, no matter how well I set it. One day I decided to skip the concealer and use a little more foundation to cover the redness instead. It didn’t do as good a job, however the lack of separation and cakeness definitely makes it worthwhile!


Similar to my point above about the concealer, I discovered that the less powder I used the better my foundation lasted. This came as a complete shock to me as I have an oily skin type so thought it was have the opposite effect. My holy grail setting powder is Laura Mercier’s Translucent Setting Powder and I use it everyday without fail. If you haven’t tried it yet you need to, it lives up to the hype! I pick up a small amount of the loose powder on my beauty sponge and use it to set my under eye concealer, around my nose and along my smile lines. I then use the remaining powder that’s in the lid to dust across my face with a fluffy brush and I’m done. When it comes to base makeup it seems that the less products you layer on your face the better results you get.

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Laura Mercier, Translucent Setting Powder, £29.00

Setting Spray

Last but certainly not least we have setting spray. I always like to give my foundation base a good spritz and then again once I’ve finished my entire makeup look. My favourite is Urban Decay’s All Nighter Setting Spray, another cult classic that deserves all the hype it receives. It helps you achieve that ‘just applied’ look all day by stopping foundation from melting, fading or settling into fine lines.

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Urban Decay, All Nighter Setting Spray, £24.00

Blotting Paper

If you do get oily throughout the day, which most of us do, you might be tempted to touch up your foundation with more powder. Don’t do this! It’s a sure fire way of making your foundation separate and cake up. Instead buy some blotting paper, like Shiseido’s Oil Control Blotting Paper, to soak up the excess oil and give you a refreshed look. Again this is a technique that I wish I’d discovered sooner.

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Shiseido, Oil Control Blotting Paper, £20.00

Need help finding the perfect foundation for your skin types and concerns? Fear not! Take the My Beauty Matches quiz and find your foundation matches in seconds!