Basics Baby: How to Prevent Cakey Complexion

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Cakes may be one of life’s greatest delights, but a cake face is by no means any more desirable than rotten eggs. What is cake face, some may ask. Simply put, it is a situation where one has applied too much makeup, specifically makeup meant for coverage and concealing that then result in an extremely unflattering textured looking skin with visible layers of product sitting on top. Doesn’t sound appealing, does it?

For someone with textured skin and imperfections here and there, I have definitely had my fair share of cake face moments. So it is legit when I say that I have found ways to kinda go around this cakey situation. So, if you’re interested to find out my tips and tricks for minimizing the occurrence of a cakey complexion, continue reading this post!

1. Do not use a large amount of product

My first pointer might be the most underrated tip for preventing a cake face. Especially with social media makeup tutorials that tend to apply thick layer upon thick layer of foundation and concealer, one may think that using a lot of product is the key to a flawless complexion. If you happen to think that, you cannot be more wrong. Applying a large amount or thick layers of foundation and concealer are the main culprits of cakey face.

I understand how those with a great deal of texture or blemishes on the face are very inclined to apply more product in the hopes of covering up the imperfections. But this actually is a vicious cycle. Layering on piles of foundation and concealer might initially appear to hide your problem areas, but the products will soon turn on you and reveal the most unnatural complexion you’ll ever have. Not to mention the possibility of pore clogging when excessive makeup is applied on the skin. When more imperfections develop as a result of this, you will then resort to using much more product and the vicious cycle continues.

Trust me when I say that a minimum amount of foundation and concealer is the most flattering, even for problematic skin. The instruction that comes along with the packaging which usually recommends using a pump or two for the entire face is accurate. I’ve never found myself going for more than that. In fact, most of the time one pump is sufficient. Think about it this way. Applying a small amount of foundation enables the product to mesh with your skin, providing coverage yet at the same time appearing as one with your skin to give you a natural look. Piling on the product will cause excess product to sit on top of your skin, due to its inability to blend with your skin. This is when cake face begins. So, stay cool on how much you pump.

2. Sheer out the formula

This is a trick that I’ve actually talked about in a previous post ( Since I’ve discovered this method and practiced it, I’ve never looked back, especially when it comes to avoiding any sort of unnatural texture or consistency on your skin after makeup.

A cake face tends to be more common for medium to high coverage foundation. I personally prefer to use foundations with light coverage and rarely experience any cake face situation with those. However, if I have to apply a higher coverage product, I will always sheer it out slightly using a facial oil so that it won’t be a thick layer on top of my skin. A drop or two of facial oil is enough to sheer out any medium to full coverage foundation. For oils that I recommend, do check out the link to my previous post above. Be sure to mix the oil and foundation well to prevent any unevenness.

3. Choose a damp sponge over a brush

If you think the foundation you use is all that matters, I’ll tell you that the tool you use to apply the foundation matters more. I can say this with great certainty as I have tried using all my foundation with a damp beauty blender and a foundation brush. And in ALL instances, the beauty sponge gave a significantly better finish. Using a damp sponge to apply foundation helps to absorb excess product and does a superior job than a brush in blending the product with your skin. The result is always a smoother complexion that honestly appears like skin (if you follow the first two tricks above). A brush on the other hand doesn’t just leave streak marks, but also doesn’t do as good a job in meshing the foundation with your skin. My foundation always looks more visible when I apply it with a brush. So if you’ve been using a brush all this while to apply your foundation and concealer, you might want to immediately consider switching to a damp sponge.

4. Allow product to set prior to powdering

Another common cake face culprit has to do with timing. It is not unusual at all to see people immediately setting their face with powder after they’ve applied foundation and concealer. I find that to be one of the reasons for my previous cake face situations. Especially when your foundation and concealer do not dry matte or do not dry fast for that matter, applying powder over a cream or liquid product that hasn’t properly set will result in a cakey complexion. The powder will grab on to the foundation and leave you with an uneven, possibly patchy and grainy appearance. What you want to do instead is to allow enough time for your creams and liquids to set on your face before powdering. I would usually go ahead and do my brows and eye makeup after applying my foundation/concealer. That gives me about ten minutes or so of set time before I go in with powder. So, take your time and don’t rush into powdering.

5. Dab off excess product

A trick I learned from makeup artist, Wayne Goss which I found to be extremely helpful in preventing cake face is to dab off any excess foundation/concealer. Though the damp sponge was supposed to absorb excess product, it doesn’t always absorb all the excess. There will still be some residue on your skin. To get rid of these, Wayne recommends wrapping a dry facial tissue around a wedge-like sponge and gently dabbing your entire face. You will see that the tissue does collect the excess product. Be careful to not go too hard and never swipe or drag the tissue as these will remove your foundation instead of just the excess.

6. Do not pile on the powder

As with the foundation and concealer, the same rule goes for powder. Do not use it excessively. I’ve noticed how some popular YouTubers actually recommend slapping on tons of powder on the face to ensure a flawless complexion. While that might work for just a simple photo-shoot session, this technique is clearly not realistic for real-life makeup. Doing this only creates another thick layer of product that again, will just be sitting on top of your skin. Anything that just stays above the skin and not meshed into the skin will cause a cake face.

I would recommend applying powder only where you need it i.e. oily-prone or shine-prone areas. If that’s your T-zone, only apply it on your T-zone. If only your cheeks and chin tend to get oily, only powder those areas. How you apply the powder matters too. I’ve  been loving applying my loose setting powder using a damp sponge. I notice that the finish is more skin-like and less powdery using this method. Otherwise, I also go in with a small setting brush and picking up the tiniest bit of product and dusting off the excess before patting the powder on my skin. If you accidentally applied too much loose powder, simply dust off the excess using a large powder brush.

7. Use a setting spray

To finish off your makeup and as a final insurance against cake face, using a facial mist or spray on your skin will help to lock in whatever product that is on top of your skin into your skin, leaving you a base with seamless and imperceptible finish. After spraying your entire face, you can either fan your skin to dry or use a sponge and dab the spray deposit into your skin. Be sure to only opt for setting sprays with safe and non-irritating ingredients. I would of course recommend my trustee MAC Fix Plus.

So those are my tips and tricks for avoiding a cakey complexion. I hope some of these methods will work for you. Till the next one.