Here’s Why Your Makeup Gets Cakey (and How to Fix It)

We’ve all experienced the dread that comes with realising your makeup looks cakey, right? Whether things just aren’t working together that day, or your skin is suffering a little, cakey makeup is an unwelcome yet begrudgingly accepted part of putting cosmetics on your face everyday.

Here’s Why Your Makeup Gets Cakey (and How to Fix It)

Well, what if we said you’d never have to experience cakey makeup again? It’s actually entirely preventable, and there are a few tricks you can keep up your sleeve to keep it from happening, or to nip it in the bud when it does.

Keep on reading to discover our how-to guide on cakey makeup (or, how-not-to guide, to be exact), including the essential products you should have in your beauty bag.


Why Makeup Gets Cakey

There are a few factors that can contribute to that cakey, over-layered foundation look we’ve all encountered at least a few times. The first is dead skin cells clinging to the surface of your face, essentially creating a roughly-textured layer that makeup can’t smooth over well enough, resulting in cakiness.

Other possible culprits include excessive dryness or dehydration, not using the right skincare or makeup, and simply overdoing it with the foundation and concealer. Finally, one extremely common factor is layering your makeup incorrectly, using powder before or in between foundation, or not waiting long enough between steps.



Completely eradicating cakiness starts with a quality skincare routine that includes both a good exfoliator and a nourishing moisturiser, serum or facial oil. By focusing on your complexion first, you’re ensuring you have the perfect canvas for makeup, meaning it doesn’t have to work as hard to smooth things over and create that airbrushed look.

When it comes to exfoliators, we love chemical exfoliators as they don’t demand any harsh scrubbing or irritating microbeads. Instead, they use various ingredients such as AHAs and BHAs (more on these here!) to buff away dead skin cells while you go about your day-to-day. Simply swipe a little of one of these miracle products over the face with a cotton bud, and wait for glowing results — literally!


Another important step in your skincare routine that will help eliminate cakey makeup is hydration. We all know the importance of staying moisturised, no matter our skin types, but did you know the skin’s moisture levels are paramount to how your makeup applies? After all, hydrated skin means fewer wrinkles and fine lines, less flaking and a smoother surface.

There are a few ways you can boost your complexion’s hydration, including moisturisers, hydrating serums and nourishing facial oils. All three are easy to incorporate into a routine, and in fact, at least one morning and night should be compulsory! If you opt for a serum, make sure you seek out one that uses Hyaluronic Acid (HA) to bind water molecules to the skin. If oils are more your thing, harness the benefits of something moisturising like rosehip, flaxseed or argan.

Pre-Foundation Prep

With these new essentials in your skincare routine, you’ve quickly ensured a great base for your foundation, concealer and other base products. But, that’s not all you can do to avoid cakey makeup! Primer is a necessary step in everyone’s makeup routine, as it helps perfect your ‘canvas’, eliminating visible flaws like rough texture, pores, rosacea and breakouts.

Firstly, make sure you’re applying your skincare (in particular, serums, gels and moisturisers) at least 10 minutes before you go in with your primer — wait a whole half an hour if you can. Then, smoothly apply your primer by switching your fingers for a sponge or brush. These steps will guarantee no ‘balling’ occurs — AKA, pesky product build-up caused by excess friction.

When you’re selecting a primer, opt for something that smooths out your skin — generally, these contain silicon, making them easy to identify. Make sure you’re applying as evenly as possible, and are getting into harder-to-reach areas like around the nose.

Foundation Application

Now, it’s time to apply your foundation. There are a few handy hints that’ll separate cakey makeup from a flawless, even-looking application. Firstly, it will pay off to select a foundation that has solid coverage from the get-go (if that’s what you’re looking for, of course) so that it doesn’t require too many layers. After all, the more layers, the cakier things can get, right?!

Grab a beauty sponge and get to stippling your foundation, really letting it blend in with the skin. Using a sponge and bouncing motions avoids not only avoids a streaky look, but once again, eliminates the friction that can easily cause cakey makeup. Apply one layer and then see how things are looking, going in with a second only if you really need it.

Next up is concealer, which will become your new BFF if you’re trying to avoid a cakey look. Instead of doubling down on your heavy foundation, pick up a light yet full coverage concealer (yep, they do exist) and spot conceal any problem areas. Concentrating the formula solely on these areas of concern will ensure product doesn’t build too heavily.

Finally, the cardinal rule of flawless makeup — don’t ever layer foundation and powder! Although it can be a great trick for super oily skins that cause makeup to drip, it’s definitely a surefire way to create cakiness. When you’re finished with your liquid products, go in with a light, translucent powder that won’t alter the shade of your foundation and gently dust over the skin. Once you’re done, that’s it — hands off all liquids and creams.

There you have it — our easy guide to fresh, flawless looks without cakiness. You’ve got all the tools to avoid cake face from now on — use them wisely!

Love Haircare? discover our edit of our comparison of how to wax your own eyebrows.



Beauty Editor

A coffee addicted, YouTube obsessed Libran, I absolutely live and breathe all things beauty! I love to try new products and find myself switching things up regularly, as I continue on my ultimate quest to find the perfect flawless base and skin-care regime.

Amanda is currently loving...