Beauty Basics: 8 Tips to Avoid Cakey Foundation for a Flawless Base

8-tips-avoid-cakey-foundationIf you were to ask me five years ago about anything make up related, I would have looked at you like a deer in headlights. All I owned was a bottle of mascara and Bare Minerals tinted loose powder. I didn’t understand the difference between make up brands, what products were good for my skin type and walking into Sephora was an overwhelming task.

After graduating college, I went on a mission to understand make up basics and techniques to apply each. A combination of Sephora reviews and YouTube are both how I taught myself! I had a certain look I was after – a sleek base that highlighted my unique features I enjoyed – lashes, eyebrows, lips and cheekbones.

While I’m no professional by any means, I feel like I have a good understanding under my belt and am definitely the make up guru in my group of girlfriends! I’ve moved past the basic essentials needed to get started and may or may not have an overflowing make up stand 😛 . My dad was shocked when he went into my bedroom the last time he visited – oops haha!

If you too want to learn more about make up – well you’ve come to the right spot! To learn anything beauty related like skin care, hair or make up, I suggest finding a couple of YouTubers or bloggers that have the same “look” you’re going for and/or similar skin types, skin problems, hair types, skin tones, etc. You’ll be able to find products that really work for you if you have similar beauty “problems”, types and features.

Just like anything, learning something new is about trial and error. I have made a lot of beauty mistakess that I can help you avoid.

Today we are going to chat through 8 tips to avoid cakey foundation for a flawless base!

When we’re in a hurry, skipping primer may be tempting, but missing this step can result in cakey, blotchy and melty make up. In my mind, there is no sense in applying a base if I skip out on primer because my foundation or CC cream is not being allowed to be the best it can be! It’s like wearing running shoes without socks. Can you? Yes. Does it produce the best result for your body or performance? Nope.

Primer is one of the most crucial steps for getting a smooth, long-lasting, sleek base. Not only does primer allow your make up to stay put all day, it acts as a clean slate for your foundation or CC cream to lay upon.
smashbox minimizing pores primer There are primers for all different skin problems and skin types like oily, dry, pore minimizing, etc. so read Sephora reviews to find the best one for your skin.

This one is my all time favorite because it masks pores and foundation sits on top of it absolutely beautifully. The full primer line of this brand is very vast and has options for all different skin types. I also love this primer because it nourishes dry skin, gives it a glow and feels like silk.

When using any make up brush, holding from the mid to back end and having a very light hand is the best way to apply as it allows the brush to do what it was designed to do. This is extra important for your foundation brush!

I often see people apply their foundation or CC cream by holding their brush handle up close to the bristles with a really stiff grip and then smooshing brush bristles onto their skin.

Without a light hand, the brush isn’t allowed to perform as it was designed. Smooshing the bristles onto your skin also causes exfoliation. While we want our skin exfoliated, we don’t want to do this with a make up brush as it will just stir up skin cells, swishing them into our foundation and leaving a cakey and anything, but smooth finish.

This foundation brush and this are my two favorite brushes to apply foundation. This brand makes really high quality make up brushes at a reasonable price. Just like anything, you get what you pay for with make up brushes. I’d day you can skimp on eye or highlighter brush sets, but for base brushes I’d pay a bit more. I’ve skimped here before and the brushes fall a part and don’t leave a beautiful finish. I’ve had the two I love for two years and with a weekly cleaning, still have all their bristles and apply beautifully!
Another technique I see [and have done!!] that results in cakey make up is when the foundation brush is moved in circles and all directions to apply foundation or CC cream. This is another way your foundation brush will exfoliate the skin and cause dry skin cells to get your base flaky and blotchy. It will also stir up your baby hairs, resulting in a cakey finish.

I have found the best base comes from applying the foundation in a straight down motion. I’ll dab my foundation brush into the product on the back of my hand. I’ll apply onto my forehead in straight motions. I complete little sections with this straight motion. After my forward, I’ll complete the sides of my face, nose, cheeks and chin.

This application technique makes such a huge difference if you are seeing “cakey” looking foundation.

Turning over old, dry skin cells is one key step to achieve healthy, glowing skin that in turn allows your foundation to apply nicely. If your skin isn’t exfoliated, you’ll see product separation from your skin, blotchiness and smudging. The foundation will simply sit on top of these dry, dead flaky skin cells rather than lay onto your primer. Depending on your skin type, you’ll want to exfoliate anywhere between once a week to once a day so consult your dermotologist.

I use this silicone cleansing device daily as my second step of double cleansing. I have a few exfoliating masks I rotate through twice a week. My favorite are:

This product for a major overhaul with immediate results. When my skin is lookin dull and blah, this exfoliator immediately gives me a refresh. You skin will feel so soft, dry skin will be removed and in turn- your make up will apply beautifully. I have to have this on my beauty counter at all times. My bottle is blue, but the one linked it black. It’s the same product, just updated branding!
This product for general maintenance to exfoliate, gut my pores and sooth my skin. I also use this as a spot treatment to rid a breakout over night. Use ‘MINDY’ for 20% off.
This product makes you really glow, feel refreshed and of course exfoliate. One side exfoliates with a ribbed applicator and natural exfoliants like papaya extract and willow bark. Then the other side is smooth has amazing ingredients like witch hazel to remove oil, papya fruit extract to bring brightness to the skin and willow bark extract to gut pores. It’s such a great pick me up and has the results of going to the spa. Use code ‘MINDY’ for 20% off.
Another very crucial step for creating a sleek canvas of your skin is ensuring your hydrated. A great moisturizer will reduce fine lines, clean up dry spots and hydrate your skin, giving you the best post-make up application results. There is no foundation that will perform well on dry, parched skin.

I use both this moisturizer and this eye cream day and night. I love that they not only perform, but also soak up into my skin quickly so I don’t need to wait all that long before applying my primer.

If you’re looking for more coverage, many types of foundations are buildable. To avoid a cakey mess, apply one layer and let it dry. Once dry, apply the next.

If you apply without drying each layer, a whole lot of product is just sliding all around rather than building on top of one another as true layers.

Certain areas can attract product, like the crevices near our noses, eyebrow area and fine lines. After applying your foundation or CC cream, gently blot away at these trouble areas with a damp beauty sponge. This is my favorite affordable beauty sponge. It works just as great, if not better, than the brand name sponge – Beauty Blender.
tips-avoid-cakey-foundation8. AVOID APPLYING WITH FINGERS
Applying foundation without a brush or beauty sponge results in blotches and streaks. Plus, touching your skin with your fingers all the time can do more harm than good.

Brushes are great, but the application takes more technique so if you’re new to the make up world I’d suggest a beauty sponge. Beauty sponges allow fo fool-free application and it allows you to use less foundation for each application, as a little goes a longer way when water is added.

I hope these eight tips to avoid cakey foundation to achieve a flawless base were helpful! I’d love to know which was most helpful in the comments. Xo Mindy


  1. Annaliese says:

    Such good tips Mindy!! I love that Makeup Forever foundation- it’s what I use for blog photos!

    xoxo A

  2. Katie says:

    Love these tips! My beauty blender is my favorite- makes things so much easier!


  3. Meg says:

    This is so helpful. I am NOT makeup savvy, so it’s interesting to learn all these things! I’ve always just considered my moisturizer to be my primer, but perhaps I need to ACTUALLY get the real deal. It sounds like it really makes a difference.

  4. Even though I don’t wear foundation, i could use these other tips. I don’t have a regular skin care routine — I need to work on that! Good post!

  5. Tabitha says:

    Such great tips and so much I didn’t know!! Off to check out the brushes you love 🙂

  6. Alina Orozco says:

    I use that primer too, it’s the best!!

  7. Keating says:

    SO many great tips! Most times for me, whenever i end up with cakey or messy looking foundation it’s either 1. my skin is too dry or 2. the primer and foundation don’t work well together. Most times it’s the latter. i have some primers that just don’t work well with certain foundations so it’s a lot of trial and error sometimes.

  8. Hannah says:

    What great makeup tips, Mindy! Thanks so much for sharing!!!!

  9. adriana says:

    Exfoliating is key! It’s so important and really does help! Love your tips!

  10. rachel says:

    These are great tips! i usually only moisturize in the morning – i need to start adding it to my nighttime routine too!

  11. Bella says:

    These are really great tips! I don’t really wear makeup but I will have to share this with my FRIENDS that do!

  12. Jordyn says:

    I definitely dont know much about makeup do i love reading tips like these. Cakey makeup is definitely the worst…i try to avoid it at all costs!

  13. Molly says:

    Whew, I need these tips right now. I’ve been having so much trouble with my foundation caking up lately!

    Molly // Miss Molly Moon

  14. Kristin says:

    These are all such great tips! I love that make up for ever foundation!

    The Blush Blonde

  15. Jessica Carter says:

    Nice information. I was also doing same mistakes over and over again. I am 68 now and due to age, people don’t understand that with skin elasticity, skin also loses moisture, like Matte is out and Dewry in in kind of.

    I was suggested to keep skin moist and basically Foundation primer is the key to anything by MakeUp Guide Blogger and it really worked well

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Servello & Co. Interiors

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I'm a Maine native residing in the Boston 'burbs sharing my love of interiors through decorating my husband and I's first home.

Through this experience, I discovered I have a knack for curating spaces that feel warm, cohesive and inviting. That passion turned into friends and family asking for interiors help and now we are here! 

Home should be a place you love to be. I'm here to help you achieve that!