How To Fix Cakey Makeup - Celeb MUAs Spill Their Secrets


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Caking is never cute, and who wants to spend hours working on their glam only to have it crease (or grease) up later? Not us. Don’t get us wrong, we love to cake, but we never want to actually look cakey. Which is why we turned to the pros to answer one of the most Googled beauty questions of the year: How to fix cakey makeup. Turns out, there are more ways than you think. Between their before and after makeup hacks, you won’t have to totally start from scratch once the cake comes on, just as long as you take note of these essential tips.

1. Keep Your Moisturizer a Little Damp Before Applying Makeup

A big no-no in celebrity makeup artist Sir John‘s beauty book is letting your moisturizer dry before applying foundation. Beyonce’s glam guru’s signature move is “making foundation look like second skin,” so when you apply yours, make sure it’s on skin that’s a little damp from moisturizer still. “This helps with the blending process, and if you don’t do this then the foundation just sits on top of the skin,” he explains. Sir John swears by the L’Oréal Paris Hydra Genius Daily Liquid Care Moisturizers, $18 (for dry or oily skin), to plump, then L’Oréal Paris Infallible Fresh Wear foundation, $15. “This combo gives you a flawless look with no cakiness,” he adds.

2. Use Loose Not Pressed Powder to Set Concealer

If your under-eye concealer is caking and won’t quit, keep MUA and beauty author Joanna Schlip’s #1 tip in mind: “Pat a small amount of moisturizer under the eye and remove excess product, then apply another thin layer of moisturizer and let absorb.” Once that dries, you’ll be able to blend creamy concealer more easily if you need to touch up. Another thing she swears by when perfecting stars like Denise Richards and Ellen Pompeo? Only dusting loose (not pressed) powder to set or soften concealer. “Too much powder under the eyes can accentuate crow’s feet,” she warns. We love to use the Huda Beauty Easy Bake Loose Powder, which is super fine and perfect for locking makeup in place.

3. Soften Spider Lashes With a Clean Mascara Wand

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Schlip’s corrective hack for botched or clumpy mascara is also two-fold. “Simply mist a small amount of Evian water on a clean mascara wand – or for waterproof mascara, use liquid eye makeup remover – then wiggle the brush across the base of the lashes to soften the dried product and roll up to separate the clumps,” she advises. Just be sure to work quickly; “You don’t want to comb your lashes while mascara is dry or you risk breaking them or smudging the mascara.”

Top Tip for Fixing Cakey-Looking Foundation and Patchiness:

If your perfectly-set-foundation has already caked, gone patchy or perhaps your sunglasses took off half your nose makeup, then we have the fix! Our secret weapon is a little concealer and a damp beauty blender. First, use a tissue or blotting paper to blot away excess oil. Next, apply a couple of dots of concealer to the offending area (we find a full coverage cream formula works best), then using a damp beauty blender (dry works if you’re on the go), gently blend the concealer using dabbing emotions. This method works because it fills in any areas of missing makeup, while also seamlessly blending it with anything left on your face.

4. Always Prep and Prime the Face

According to Spencer Barnes, makeup artist and co-founder of Spencer Barnes LA, if your skin hasn’t been properly prepped and primed, your makeup may separate, gather in creases or cake-up. If it’s a hot day, you’re also more likely to sweat, and that never does wonders for makeup. Barnes recommends investing in skincare products that work best for your skin type (which may change with the seasons) and using a primer for a smooth makeup canvas. “One of my favorite products to prep areas of the face where makeup tends to settle most – in expression lines – is the Spencer Barnes LA Facial Instant Sculpting Wand, $84,” he says. “The super-serum targets deep expression lines by smoothing, lifting, and firming and it’s incredible at preventative maintenance, as well as anti-aging.”

We love the new Tarte Base Tape Hydrating Primer, $30, which keeps makeup in place all day! If you have oily skin, try a mattifying primer like the Huda Beauty Matte Perfection Pre-Makeup Base, $32, to help control oil and keep your makeup on lockdown.

5. Do Your Eye Makeup First and Your Face Last

Another one of Henney’s tried-and-tested tricks is to start with your eye makeup and then create the skin base last. “I find this way you can gauge how heavy to go, and it definitely will help you to use less product as the strength of the eyes will guide the balance of products you are applying to the skin.”

6. Blot, Then Retouch

When all else fails and you’re running late, Barnes also relies on blotting papers to perfect a less-than-ideal face. “Just don’t press down firmly, as this can push oils back into your skin and potentially cause blocked pores and other issues,” he says. If you’re in a pinch and don’t have blotting sheets handy, he notes that toilet seat covers double as a “blotting sheet alternative.” If you’ve not got toilet sheets to hand, we make do with tissue – Starbucks tissue is our fave! Check out how to make DIY blotting paper here.

7. De-Cake With a Water Mist

Cakey makeup can sometimes appear as the day goes on, especially if you’ve reapplied more. So celebrity makeup artist Tobi Henney (who works with Barbara Palvin and Ashley Graham) suggests using MAC Cosmetics Prep + Prime Fix+, $27, to break it down. “Spritz on a few light sprays, then lightly buff the skin product with any type of duo fiber or buffing brush to instantly de-cake,” she says. This gives the appearance of a fresher base.

Top Tips:

  • Make sure you use a foundation that matches your skin tone! Check out our guide for figuring out your undertone here.
  • Don’t forget your neck. Nothing gives you away like a line at your jawline! If you don’t want to continue your foundation all the way down your neck, continue it underneath your chin and dust bronzer on your neck instead.
  • If you want lots of coverage, it can be tempting to empty half the bottle of foundation and smother it on your face, but please don’t! Instead, find a good full coverage foundation and concealer. One layer of a true full coverage foundation should be enough, and then use concealer to target any areas that still need coverage. For foundation, we recommend Huda Beauty #FauxFilter Foundation, $40, Morphe Fluidity Foundation, $18, and Estee Lauder Double Wear, $42. For concealer, we love the Cover FX Power Play Concealer, $30, and the Huda Beauty Overachiever Concealer, $30.

Let us know if you have any other great tips for how to fix cakey makeup in the comments below.