Why does your foundation look grey and how to fix it? (2023)

Why Does Your Makeup Look Ashy?

Does your foundation look grey no matter what you do ?Achieving a flawless base is the most important part in any makeup routine. Foundation swatches can look perfect in the store but choosing the right shade can be tricky. If your foundation looks grey on your skin, there are many easy steps you can follow to make your skin look better. Here are some tips and tricks to keep your foundation from looking ashy.

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Preparing your face for the makeup application will help your makeup last longer. Each skin type is different so it depends on either you have normal, oily or dry skin. If you’ve been wondering why your foundation looks grey, start by exfoliating the skin which is the first and most important step. It helps unclogging the pores which allows your skincare products to penetrate deeper into the skin. I like this gentle exfoliant which smooths wrinkles and evens out the skin tone.

AHAs make your skin more sensitive to sunlight, so sunscreen is necessary during the day. In addition, you can use AHA products only at night.

The second step is to apply a nice moisturizer that will make the foundation look much more flawless. This oil-free face cream replenishes moisture and helps to restore the skin’s natural protective barrier. 
If you have dry skin, check this rich moisturizer with with hyaluronic acid.

If you have oily skin, lightweight moisturizers work the best. The neutrogena Hydro boost water gel is a nice option.


See Today’s best moisturizers List


Foundations might turn grey because they can react with our skin’s natural oils. A good primer acts as a barrier between the skin and the foundation. If you have very oily skin, choose a primer that absorbs excess oil. This will help your makeup stay longer while reducing the appearance of the pores.

Silicone based primers like the Smashbox photo finish Oil and Shine Control Primer and the Benefit the POREfessional primer work well to smooth the skin.

If you have dry skin, choose a hydrating primer. The Too faced hangover Replenishing face primer and the NYX Hydra Touch Primer are good options.

You can also combine multiple face primers depending on your skin type.

If you struggle from dry skin, check these nice tips on dry face remedies and causes.


The main reason why your foundation looks grey on your skin is because of the foundation shade you are using. If you pick a shade that is much lighter than your skin tone without having the same undertone, this will make your skin look dull and grey after application.
For example; if you have a warm undertone, choosing a pink foundation can make your skin look grey and ashy. Also, using a cool undertone foundation if you have warm undertones can make your foundation look pink.

What is the difference between Skin tone and Undertone?

Skin tone and undertone are two different things. Skin tone is the surface tone and it’s usually the color you read on foundations such as light, ivory or beige…

Undertone is the muted color that is beneath your skin’s surface.

Knowing your undertone is very important when it comes to choosing your shade. People of all skin types and colors can have warm, cool or neutral undertones.

the base tone of your skin is yellow or goldthe base tone of your skin is pink, blue or reda mixture of both warm and cool.

To know your undertone, you can check your veins. If they tend to be blue or purple, then you have a cool undertone.

If they are green, you have a warm undertone.

If they are a mixture of both green and blue, then you have neutral undertone.


The best way to test a foundation shade is in natural daylight. To find your perfect match, swatch the foundation on the jawline, cheeks and neck.

I like to go get a sample from the store, test it on my face for several days and then decide whether it looks good on me or not.

If your neck is lighter than your face, don’t choose a very light foundation because it will make your skin look grey. You can pick a color that is only one shade lighter than your face so it matches your neck without making you look sick. You can also pick a shade that is in between your neck and your face shade.

If your neck is still looking lighter than your face, you can use a matte or shimmer bronzer to warm up your neck. The main purpose of a bronzer is to add some warmth and definition to the skin.

If your foundation is still looking ashy, that means you might have skin discoloration that is showing through your foundation. To fix this issue, you might need to go for a high coverage foundation or color correct the pigmentation you have on your skin.

Read More: Bronzer Vs Highlighter


If you have dark spots or pigmentation that can’t be covered with concealer or foundation, color correcting is the best solution. For grey pigmentation, use an orange or salmon corrector. For red spots, use a green corrector. Try to pat the corrector into the skin instead of dragging it. This will help the product melt into the skin in order to get a natural finish.

Some of my favorite color correctors are the Bobbi brown corrector and the NYX color correcting palette.


Read More: Concealer Vs Corrector


Choosing a good color for your concealer and powder has a big effect on your final look. If you want to brighten the under eye area, choose a concealer that is one shade lighter than your foundation. Picking the right concealer shade can prevent your concealer from looking ashy. Pick a loose or pressed setting powder with the same shade of your foundation.

If you have a dark skin tone, picking a light banana powder will make your skin looks grey in pictures!

To complete the look, blot the excess of makeup with a tissue and set everything into place with a good setting spray if you want your makeup to last longer.

For selfies or pictures, avoid foundations that contain mineral sunscreens because they tend to cause an ashy effect on the face.


If you have oily skin, pick an oil-free foundation or go for a matte finish. You can also try powder foundations that have oil absorption properties.

If you have dry skin, choose a lightweight liquid foundation that has a hydrating formula.

If you have combination skin type, you can use powder foundations or liquid ones with a semi matte finish.

Blending the foundation with the right tools is an important step for getting a nice finish. Choose a good quality foundation brush or a sponge. Some people like to apply foundation with their fingers which works well too!
For more tips and tricks on foundation application, check how to stop foundation creasing in fine lines.

Related: How to prevent your highlighter from looking grey?

Why does your foundation look grey around your mouth?

Many people find that their foundation is always looking grey around their mouth, no matter what primer or foundation they use. The main reason why the area around the chin and mouth looks grey after wearing foundation is skin discoloration.

Using an orange or salmon corrector like this smooth warm peach corrector is the best solution for darkness around the mouth.  It can help to fix the ashy makeup look around all the chin area as well. The color corrector will counteract the grey tones in the skin which allows for a better foundation application.

How to make foundation lighter?

If you bought the wrong shade of foundation, you can mix it with a shade adjuster to correct the foundation color. You can also mix your foundation with some drops of a lighter shade of foundation to get a better shade match.  It all depends on how much time you want to spend experimenting with colors!

You can also mix your foundation with a face moisturizer, serum or primer. This helps in diluting the formula which makes it look lighter on the skin. This trick can also make the foundation look more sheer and natural on the skin.


Why does your foundation look grey? Final Thoughts:

These were all the tips and tricks to prevent the foundation from looking grey on the skin. The first step of any makeup look is skin preparation. Cleanse your skin with a gentle cleanser, exfoliate to eliminate dead skin cells and moisturize with a gentle cream.

Color matching the foundation is a very important step so make sure to pick the right shade. If you pick a shade that is much lighter than your skin tone without having the same undertone, it will make your skin look grey after application.

If nothing seems to work, color correct the dark spots with an orange color corrector to counteract the grey tones on your skin.

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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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