Why your Foundation looks Dry and flaky (& how to fix it)

cakey, flaky and dry patchy foundation

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Last updated on January 11th, 2023 at 03:22 am

Have you ever looked in the mirror and asked why my foundation looks dry and flaky?

Maybe you have even tried different makeup brands to fix the problem, and your foundation still looked cracked or separated.

Well, you are not alone. I’ve been there!

and a lot of women struggle with dry and flaky foundation, but many are making skincare sins without even realizing it.

If you are ready to say goodbye to dry and flaky foundation, find out exactly why it happens in the first place, and most importantly, what you can do to fix it; keep on reading.

We will be diving into all of these topics and more below. 

why your foundation looks dry and flaky and how to fix it

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Why is my foundation flaky?

Your makeup foundation looks flaky because your skincare routine is not pairing with your skin type, you are not exfoliating your skin often, you are not preparing your skin properly before your foundation, you are applying too much foundation, and/or you are wearing the wrong foundation for you or even the wrong concealer.

But don’t worry! In this post, we will finally find out why your foundation looks flaky and how to fix flaky makeup.

Let’s start to find why is it getting flaky?

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#1: Your skincare routine is not helping your skin

One reason that your foundation looks dry and flaky is that you are not taking care of your skin probably.

Many women do not even know their skin type, or they use products that are for a different skin type.

If this is the case, you might actually be making your skin worse.

Before we dive into a few great products for your skin type, you first have to figure out what your skin type is!

and it is even simpler than you may think.

How to quickly identify your skin type?

why my foundation looks dry and flaky

All you need to do is grab a blotting sheet and dab it on different areas of your face.

When you hold the sheet up to the light, if there is little to no oil visible on the sheet, you probably have dry skin.

If there is a lot of oil on the sheet, then you probably have oily skin.

Finally, if oil only showed up on the part of the sheet, then you probably have combination skin.

Now that you know your skin type let’s look at a couple of must-have products designed specifically for you.

Skincare products for dry skin

dry skin skincare products

Eucerin Dry Skin Replenishing Cream:

The most important thing for dry skin is to have a great moisturizer, and the Eucerin one is a solid option because it is a dermatologist recommended, and it is super affordable! (check it here)

Neutrogena Hydroboost Hydrating Gel cream: This product is awesome because it hydrates the skin without making it feel too oily.

Whether you choose Neutrogena or not, having a hydro-boosting product in your skincare routine will do wonders for your face! (check it here)

CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser: This face wash has been rated the best overall face wash for dry skin by several beauty experts,

and the best part is that it is super cheap on Amazon (check price here). Talk about a great deal!

For Dry skin, I would also add a Face Oil like this one by Ordinary as an essential to create a barrier on your skin that locks all the moisture you apply and helps rehydrates the skin over time.

This step is a must-do!

Skincare products for oily skin

how to fix cakey foundation

Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Fighting Face Wash: This product is awesome for oily skin because it is an oil-free face wash.

No matter what product you choose, make sure you are picking one that is oil-free so that you aren’t adding more oil to your skin! (check it here)

Bioderma Sebium Foaming Gel Pump for combination to oily skin: This face wash is so great! Because it is light, doesn’t dry your skin, and limits the sebum secretion!

It removes the oil from your face without over-stripping it.

Me and the other 5,000 reviewers here can tell you how good it is!

Remember that sometimes oily skin can be super dehydrated skin, and that’s why your skin is producing an excess of oil.

Make sure to always moisturize your skin, no matter how oily it is!

#2 You are not exfoliating your skin

how to stop foundation from creasing

Another reason that your foundation may be flaky and dry is that you are not exfoliating your skin.

There are so many reasons why exfoliating your skin is so important, but it also helps your foundation (and the rest of your makeup) blend into your skin properly.

Exfoliators unclog your pores and smooth out your skin.

The smoother that your skin is, the nicer that your makeup is going to look because it can adhere better to your skin!

How to exfoliate your skin properly


Even if you are exfoliating your skin, you may not be doing it properly.

For your makeup to blend into your skin, you have to exfoliate daily, not a couple of times a week, like some of us are in the habit of doing.

When you are exfoliating, be sure to use a liquid exfoliator instead of a physical exfoliator that can harsh your skin.

For combination to oily skin the salicylic Acid by Paula’s Choice is the best option!

For Normal to dry skin the amazing The Ordinary Lactic Acid 5% is the best option!

Check this amazing guide from two dermatologists!

#3 You didn’t prep your skin

If you have been doing all of these things and your foundation still doesn’t look flawless, you might be missing a step in your makeup routine.

Using a primer is the best way to prep your skin for a perfect-looking foundation.

It creates a smooth barrier between your skin and the makeup products that will blend all the products perfectly.

But, there are different primers for different skin types.

For dry skin, using a hydrating primer like this one will ensure that your face is hydrated and healthy before applying that foundation.

For oily skin, using a mattifying primer or a translucent powder like this one is the best way to go.

Finally, for combination skin, or if you have big pores, this primer here is perfect for beautiful skin!

 PRO TIP: Apply setting spray before your foundation: If you are looking for another quick tip for a flawless foundation, setting spray is a great way to lock in your primer before you put on your foundation!

Related post: Exactly what to apply on your face before Makeup for flawless Makeup Application!

#4 You are using the wrong foundation formula for your skin

While we have looked at so many great changes to make to your skincare and makeup routine in order to fix your dry and flaky foundation,

we haven’t actually talked about the foundation itself.

Maybe you have tried several different foundations, but none of them seem to leave you with the glowing finish that you want.

Well, there are actually a couple of different types of foundations, and each one goes best with a certain skin type. 

Dewy Foundation

A dewy foundation is the best option for someone with normal to dry skin.

Just like we have seen with other skincare products,

the best thing that you can do for dry skin is to hydrate it in every step of your skincare and makeup routine, and your foundation is no different.

A dewy foundation is hydrating without looking flaky or unnatural.

I love the L’Oreal Paris True Match Lumi Healthy luminous foundation that blends into your skin, stays in place all day, and has a beautiful dewy/luminous skin-like finish that you will love!

NOTE: If you have oily skin + using a dewy foundation, you are getting the perfect combination to get a patchy, cakey-looking foundation!

Even worse if you are using the foundation alone without primer or powder.

Matte Foundation

Using a matte foundation is definitely the best option for someone with combo to oily skin.

A matte foundation won’t add more oil to your skin (as some foundations do) but instead will make your skin look smoother without looking dry. 

My all-time favorite matte full coverage foundation is the Milani Conceal Perfect 2-in-1 Foundation

it really gives you the coverage of a high-end foundation without breaking your bank account. And stays all day in place!

NOTE: If you have dry skin and do not hydrate your skin properly + are using a matte foundation, you probably are getting the perfect combination for a flaky, patchy, and dry-looking foundation!

Satin Foundation

A satin finish foundation works great for all skin types, but it is especially great for combination skin.

Satin finish foundations are the perfect balance of a matte and dewy foundation, so combination skin won’t feel too oily or too dry with this type of foundation.

An amazing satin foundation is this one by Maybelline!

Hey! Having a hard time finding the best Foundation for you? Take the Quiz! And find the PERFECT FOUNDATION based on YOUR SPECIFIC SKIN NEEDS! Click HERE or the button below.

#5 You are using the wrong tools to apply your foundation

how to prevent dry, flaky foundation

Another makeup sin you might be committing is using the wrong tool to apply your foundation!

Different tools work best on certain types of foundations.

Full coverage foundation

If you are using a full-coverage foundation, you definitely want to stick with a foundation brush to apply that foundation because a brush absorbs less than a sponge does.

So it allows you to apply a little bit at a time without caking foundation on your face.

Matte Foundation

If you are using a matte foundation, you would do better with a makeup sponge.

Using a sponge creates a smooth and even finish, two essential qualities for a matte foundation.

Sheer Coverage Foundation

Finally, if you are using a sheer coverage foundation, your best tools would be a foundation brush, or even your fingers.

#6 You are applying too much makeup

While we all want to look fabulous before we leave the house, one of the reasons why your makeup may still be looking dry and flaky is because you are applying too much.

While some makeup brands are designed to be buildable,

we have often found that using less makeup is actually better for your face, and creates a cleaner finished look.

If you use too much makeup, it can become too heavy on your face, and actually cause severe reactions to your skin.

As we mentioned earlier, the healthier that your skin is, the better your makeup will look, and wearing a little less makeup is a lot healthier for your skin. 

Related post: How to apply makeup in the correct Order (10 pro tips!)

#7 You are not using the right concealer

Another makeup product you might not be using correctly is your concealer.

Just like with foundation, you need the proper concealer depending on what your skin type is.

If you have oily skin, you would do best using a matte concealer, whereas dry skin would need a hydrating concealer. 

I have a full guide on how to pick the right concealer for your skin type, skin tone, and type of under eyes! in case you want to know more.

#8 You are not setting your foundation with powder

Setting powder to prevent cakey foundation

As a professional Makeup artist, I truly recommend always setting your foundation with powder even if you have dry skin.

Setting your foundation is important, regardless of your skin type.

Luckily, there are a lot of great options out there for setting powders like this one by Dermablend.

We just want to add the right amount of powder depending on the skin type.

We don´t want to do the baking technique for dry skin or a dry area!

Just take a little amount of setting powder to set your foundation and add more to your problem areas, depending on where you tend to be oily.

Related Post: 10 Incredible Non-comedogenic Foundations from the Drugstore!

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#9 You are using too much powder

setting powder to stop patchy, flaky foundation

If you use too much setting powder, it can make your face look cakey and less natural.

Try only using one layer of setting powder to ensure a dewier and natural look for your face!

NOTE: If you have/use a powder foundation, we are not using it to set our liquid foundation!

This type of thick powder foundation is to use it by itself (without a liquid foundation) OR to retouch your foundation after hours.

Real beauty school beauty planner and journal

If you use a liquid or cream foundation,
It is essential to always set your foundation with a translucent not-heavy powder like this one and use a powder foundation only to retouch your makeup.

Using a liquid foundation + powder foundation can lead to a cakey-looking foundation.

Related post: How to Apply Powder Foundation (Step by step with pictures)

#10 You are not using the correct setting spray (or setting spray at all) 

Setting spray to prevent makeup from creasing

If you haven’t incorporated setting spray into your makeup routine, we recommend adding it to create a smoother and less patchy foundation.

However, even if you are using setting spray, you might be using the wrong one for your skin type.

If you have oily skin, you need to use a matte setting spray like my all-time favorite Urban Decay all-nighter Setting spray to prevent an oil build-up on your skin.

For dry skin, you should be using an effective setting spray that also hydrates your skin while setting your makeup to give your face one more hydrating boost before you start your day.

The perfect one is this one by It cosmetics!

Final tips to stop your foundation from looking dry and patchy

Even though having a dry and flaky foundation can be frustrating and confusing,

I hope that this list was able to provide you with some better options to not just improve your foundation,

but also to improve your skincare routine overall.

Real beauty school planner and journal 2023

One of the most important things we can do for our face is to understand our skin type and buy products specifically designed for that skin type.

With that in mind, we will be able to face the day free of dry and flaky foundation!

I just shared my best tips and tricks with you to prevent patchy, dry foundation, and I hope you found it helpful!

if so don’t forget to share with others and pin it for later.

Also comment below what hacks you haven’t tried before or maybe a tip that I’m missing!

I’d love to hear from you!


Related Makeup posts:

why your foundation looks dry and flaky

Why your Foundation looks Dry and flaky (& how to fix it)

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