Say Goodbye to Patchy, Separated Makeup – Easy Tips to Fix It

Why Does My Foundation Look Patchy, and Why Does It Break up on My Face?

There are many reasons why your makeup can separate on your face. We’ve all experienced a foundation that looks patchy, which can be frustrating.

Applying foundation on dry or dehydrated skin, choosing the wrong foundation type, or using the wrong makeup primer can all cause the makeup to break up on the skin.

When it comes to complexion makeup, achieving a flawless base is tricky to master. Here are some tips and tricks to prevent your foundation from separating.

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Skin Preparation

Dehydrated or dry skin can cause makeup to clump and cling into dry patches. Your face can look like it’s peeling when you put on foundation.

Oily skin can also cause makeup to split on the face.  Following an appropriate skincare routine and preparing your skin before makeup application is an essential step.

Start by cleansing your face with a non-abrasive cleanser.
This gentle skin cleanser is one of the best at the drugstore. It’s fragrance-free and cleans the face without drying out the skin or leaving any greasy residue.

Follow by skin exfoliation. Avoid using thick exfoliators or scrubs, as they can be harsh on your face. Pick a gentle exfoliator that works properly to remove dead skin cells.

People with oily skin can use a product with BHA (beta hydroxy/salicylic acid) that cleans the pores. 

This genlte exfoliator is one of the best to exfoliate dead skin cells and unclog enlarged pores. It works great to improve skin texture and gives the face a healthier look.

Products containing AHAs (alpha hydroxy acids like glycolic acid) are better for dry skin. They help smooth the skin by improving its texture.

This Exfoliator is one of the best that I’ve ever tried. It’s formulated with (AHA) and (BHA) to help brighten and smooth the skin.

These products remove way more dead cells than a regular toner, so you can’t use them as often.

If you have never used AHA before, choose a product with a low AHA percentage and see how it works for you.

During the day, you should wear sunscreen to protect your skin since AHAs make your skin more sensitive to the sun. AHA products can also be used at night only.

This Exfoliation Mini Kit is a great choice if you are unsure what exfoliant is right for you. It has two gentle BHA and AHA exfoliators and is great value for the money.

For a quick exfoliation, you can use glycolic acid pad products like the PIXI Glow Peel pads , the Nip+Fab Glycolic fix pads, or the First Aid Beauty Facial radiance pads.

pixi glow pads
nip+fab glycolic pads
first aid beauty  pads

The third step is to hydrate the skin. For dry skin, I like the Cerave moisturizing cream.

It has a light formula that contains ceramides and hyaluronic acid to hydrate the skin. It wears beautifully under makeup, too, which is so important.

cerave moisturizing cream

For oily skin, the Neutrogena hydro boost face moisturizer is a nice option. It’s oil-free, and it doesn’t make the skin look greasy.

neutrogena hydro boost cream

PRO TIP: Let your moisturizer soak into your skin for a few minutes before applying a primer. Separation of makeup can occur when you layer too many products quickly.

Best Skin Preparation Value Sets

This Bestsellers Set includes a cleanser, mask, lotion, serum, and moisturizer. All these prepare the skin for the makeup and help the foundation go on smoothly.

Burt’s Bees Holiday Gift

burt's bees value set

Apply a Good Primer to Avoid Patchy Foundation

As mentioned in the previous step, you probably don’t need a primer if you have no problem with your foundation after prepping your skin.

Use a primer that has the same base ingredients as your foundation.

Using the wrong primer can make your foundation look worse. It can make your makeup look dry and patchy.

If your makeup looks patchy, even with primer, it might be because the foundation and primer aren’t matched properly.

If you are using a silicone-based primer, use a silicone-based foundation. For water-based primers, use water based foundations.

To know if a foundation is silicone-based, look at the first ingredients. Usually, water is the first ingredient as it gives the foundation of this liquid formula.

If you have CYCLOPENTASILOXANE or DIMETHICONE among the first ingredients, then your foundation is silicone based.

Here is an example of the L’Oreal Infallible 24H fresh wear foundation. Dimethicone is the second ingredient which means that this foundation is silicone based.

If you are looking for a good foundation, check out these guides:

For oily skin, silicone based primers can stop the foundation from settling in the pores.

They can also keep the skin matte throughout the day. 

The elf Matte Oil-Control Primer Lightweight Mattifying Formula and the Tarte Poreless Mattifying Primer are some of the best primers to keep the foundation from separating and not sticking to the face.

For dry skin, hydrating and smoothing primers can help blur the skin. The elf hydrating face primer and the laura geller primer are nice options.

Choose a primer with a lightweight formula that blends easily into the skin. Avoid thick primers that don’t sit well under makeup. If you have skin texture, choose a silicone-based primer to get smooth-looking skin before foundation.

Allow the primer to set on the skin for a few minutes before moving to the next step.

elf primer
laura geller primer

If traditional primers are not working for you, you can try using a face oil as a primer. It can help hydrate the skin while providing a smooth base for your makeup.

You can also layer face primers to target different skin needs.

Related: Primer Vs Concealer

Apply Less Foundation

apply less foundation

To make your foundation look more natural, apply less foundation. Start by applying a thin layer of foundation and build it up on the areas where you need more coverage.

Use a dense buffing brush or a damp makeup sponge to blend your foundation. Press gently and buff the foundation into the skin to avoid a patchy makeup look.

The foundation tends to separate around the mouth and nose, so apply less product on these areas.

Applying too much foundation can also make you look older, so it’s better to use it sparingly.

Check these tips and tricks on how to stop foundation separating on your nose and how to prevent foundation from creasing in fines lines.

If you have an even skin tone but need to cover some blemishes, you can skip foundation.

Using concealer instead of foundation can still help you achieve a flawless look.

Is your concealer separating? Check these tricks to avoid patchy concealer under your eyes.

PRO TIP: Invest in a good quality, long-wearing foundation that suits your skin type. Make sure to read reviews to see how it performs on other people before you buy.

Choose the Right Foundation Type for Your Skin

There are many formulas and textures for foundations, and choosing the right one depends on your skin type.

For oily skin, try a matte or semi-matte foundation like the L’Oréal infallible pro matte foundation or the maybelline fit me matte and poreless foundation.

There are a lot of drugstore foundations that work well for big pores. You can also check this list of foundations for large pores.

l'oreal infallible pro matte foundation
maybelline fit me foundation

For dry skin, try the L’Oréal True Match Lumi Healthy Luminous Makeup or the Maybelline New York Fit Me Dewy + Smooth Foundation.

You can also check this list of foundations for large pores and dry skin.

l'oreal Lumi Healthy Luminous foundation
maybelline fit me dewy

For aging skin, avoid heavy foundations, as they can settle into fine lines.

Pick a light foundation like the L‘Oreal Paris Makeup Infallible Up to 24HR Pro-Glow Foundation or a tinted moisturizer like the bareMinerals Complexion Rescue Tinted Hydrating Gel Cream.

Use a powder foundation if liquid formulas are not working well for your skin type.

Check out these powder foundations for mature skin if you have older skin.

Related: Powder vs Liquid foundations

Mix Your Moisturizer With Foundation

Mixing your foundation with a moisturizer gives it a natural and minimal look. You can also use face oil drops to add some glow to the skin.

Mixing your foundation with a face oil can help the foundation to blend easier on the skin. When you apply it to the face, it can also add a beautiful, flawless finish.

Try a Sample Before You Buy

revlon foundations

Sometimes foundations don’t work on our skin no matter what we do. Try testing the foundation by getting a sample from the store before buying it.

It’s hard to tell how a foundation will sit on your skin, so sampling is a nice option! If a foundation always breaks up on your face, it might be a good idea to change it and try another one.

Use the Right Tools and Clean Them Often

makeup brushes

How to put foundation on and choosing the right tools can have a big impact on the way your makeup looks.

Sponges can help give the skin a natural finish as they soak up any excess product. However, they are not the most hygienic tool because they need to be washed after each makeup application.

Brushes can work well too, but I like to go over and press the foundation with a damp sponge even after using a brush. This helps the makeup to melt into the skin.

No matter what tools you use, cleaning them often is so important. Makeup brushes can collect oil and dirt, so they must be cleaned at least once a week to avoid makeup clumping on the skin. 

Read More: Sponge Vs Brush For Foundation

Set the Foundation

Apply a tiny amount of loose or compact setting powder to set the foundation into place. You can use a powder puff to press the powder into the skin.

Avoid heavy powders that can look cakey on the skin. I like the Maybelline fit me matte and poreless and the rimmel stay matte powder.

maybelline fit me powder

rimmel stay matte powder

For loose powders, the Maybelline fit me loose powder and the Coty Airspun Loose Face Powder are good options.

People with oily skin might need a mattifying powder that absorbs shine.

Setting the foundation has many benefits and can prevent the makeup from looking patchy during the day.

Choose a setting powder color that matches your skin tone or has a slightly lighter shade.

Finish With a Setting Spray

catrice setting spray

I usually try to avoid using setting sprays daily. They contain alcohol which can cause skin dryness, so I like to use them only on special occasions.

They help setting everything into place, and they prolong the wear of makeup. I like the L’Oreal aris Makeup Infallible Pro-Spray & Set Makeup Extender Setting Spray.

There are also many great setting sprays available on the market. You don’t need to spend much money to get a good one, as some of the best setting sprays are available at the drugstore. For more suggestions, check out this guide on the best and most affordable setting sprays.

Read More: The Difference Between Setting Spray And Finishing Spray

Foundation Is Separating in the Bottle

In foundations, liquids like water and oil, for example, are mixed together and stabilized by an ingredient. If a foundation starts to separate in its bottle, the process of separating the two mixed liquids has started.

If you have an old foundation that is separating, that probably means it has EXPIRED.

Using expired makeup on your face can cause irritation, so get rid of it.

 Liquid foundations generally last 12 months, so replace them if you notice any change in their smell or texture.

Why Does Your Makeup Come Off Even with Setting Spray?

Makeup could come off for many reasons, even after using a setting spray.

First, you might be using the wrong setting spray for your skin type.

If you have oily skin, choose an oil-free formula like the All Nighter Long-Lasting Makeup Setting Spray. Avoid using an illuminating mist, as it could make your makeup look greasy. 

You can also use a kaolin clay-infused setting spray which helps absorb oil and control shine during the day.

Apply the setting spray at least 8 to 10 inches away from your face. Spraying too close might cause your makeup to look wet and separate during the day.

You will want to spray in an “X” and “T” shapes until you cover your entire face.

Remember that the setting spray will only work if you prepare your skin for makeup or use the proper foundation.

So, follow all the steps mentioned above for a flawless application.

How to Fix Separated Foundation on Face?

If your foundation has already separated on your face, here are a few tips to help you fix it quickly.

  1. Use blotting paper to absorb excess oil that might have caused the foundation to separate. These sheets are soft and absorbent, which helps mattify the skin without disturbing the makeup. Press gently on the skin a couple of times until the oil is absorbed. 
  2. If you have dry skin, use a clean tissue to remove excess makeup without rubbing the skin too hard. Apply a hydrating mist for extra moisture.
  3. Apply a bit of powder foundation or setting powder with a powder puff. Use patting motions instead of rubbing the product onto your skin.
  4. If you have a travel-size setting spray in your makeup bag, spritz it lightly on your face to help set the makeup.

Final Thoughts on Why Does Foundation Look Patchy and Dry

These were all my tips and tricks to stop your foundation from separating and looking bad on your face.

If following all these steps doesn’t prevent your foundation from breaking up, try to apply powder under your foundation.

I learned this amazing trick from Wayne Goss, and it works for me!

After applying the primer, put on a light layer of powder. Pick a good-quality powder that’s finely milled. After completing this step, you can apply your foundation and set it again with that powder.

Is Your Foundation Separating? Do you have any foundation tips or tricks? Share them in the comments below…

Why Does Your Foundation Always Look Bad? How to Stop Makeup Separating on Face?

Claire is a beauty enthusiast and lover of all things makeup. Her blog is a resource for makeup tips and tricks, product reviews and beauty tutorials.

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