Home Makeup Tips 4 Reasons Your Foundation is Separating On Your Face (Easy Fixes)
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4 Reasons Your Foundation is Separating On Your Face (Easy Fixes)

by Sandy Taylor

The most common reason why your foundation is separating on your face is that you may be using products that are not compatible with each other. Other reasons may be due to a poor skincare routine or your skin type not working with the products that you are using.

In the post, I will go over all the reasons why your foundation may be separating from your face and provide ways for you to try and fix it. In most cases, foundation separating has nothing to do with the way you apply your makeup, peach fuss on your face, or the tools you are using. 

Reason 1: Using a Foundation Type That Doesn’t Work with Your Other Makeup

If your makeup is not made of the same base ingredients, there is a chance that they won’t work with each other and therefore will separate.

Your foundation is separating because you may be using a water-based foundation with a silicone based primer.

Water Based Foundations are mainly made up of water. To recognize these, look at the product label and see if you see water or “aqua” as one of the first ingredients. If you do, it’s a good indication that the foundation is water based.

Water based foundations are generally recommended for people with oily skin. This is because they have enough water content to hydrate the skin. This in turn signals the body to limit sebum production.

Silicone based primers are formulated with silicones as the main ingredients. To recognize these, look for ingredients such as Dimethicone and Cyclomethicone on the ingredients list. Silicones are commonly used in makeup to provide the skin with a smooth appearance. They also have waterproof properties.

Water based foundations should not be used in combination with silicone based primers. Water based foundations contain a lot of water content when they are fresh from the bottle. If applied to silicone based primers, the waterproof properties of the primer make it harder for the foundation to stick.

The #1 rule to remember when using different products is to match the base if possible. It’s a good idea to look for products from the same brand or line of makeup because these are usually tested together and do not separate when used together.

However, if you have different base products that you want to wear, choose and apply a water based primer first, let it dry before applying your silicone base foundation.

Here’s What Will Work Together:

  • Water based primer with water based foundation
  • Water base primer with silicone based foundation
  • Silicone based primer with silicone based foundation

Here’s What Will Not Work Together:

  • Silicone based primer with a water based foundation.

I have written in-depth guides on water based foundations and silicone based foundations. These posts provide you with everything you need to know about these 2 different types of makeup and how to use them. I’ve also provided some product recommendations for different skin types. Check it out when if you have time.     

Reason 2: Poor Skincare

Your foundation may appear to be separating because of a poor skincare routine. Dead skin and other skin impurities may affect the ability of your makeup to adhere to your face.

Makeup sticks best to a clean face and a good skincare routine should include proper skin exfoliation.

Here’s a good skincare routine that you can try:

Step 1 – Use a Cleanser: Use a gentle face wash to wash away dirt, dead skin, and oil while protecting your skin’s external barrier.

Step 2 – Apply a Toner:  Use a toner to help balance your skin’s PH. If you have dry skin, look for a toner containing hyaluronic acid which can help hydrate and soothe your skin. If you have acne-prone skin, use a toner that is formulated for acne. These toners usually contain salicylic acid, a common acne-fighting ingredient.

Step 3 – Use a Vitamin C Serum: Vitamin C helps to promote collagen production, reduce redness, provide hydration and brightening effects. Vitamin C can inhibit melanin synthesis and is used in dermatology for reducing hyperpigmented spots on the skin.

Step 4 – Apply an Eye Cream: Eye creams help to smooth the skin under your eyes. As you age, the skin around your eyes will lose elasticity. Fine lines and wrinkles may also appear due to sun damage and your skin making less collagen. Choose eye creams that contain vitamin C, peptides, and retinol for helping your skin boost collagen production. Eye creams containing hyaluronic acid helps to keep your skin hydrated.

Step 5 – Apply a Moisturizer: Apply a lighter moisturizer that can soak into your skin quickly. If you have dry skin, try a thicker formula. Choose a moisturizer containing ceramides or hyaluronic acid for intense hydration of your skin.

Step 6 – Use a Sunscreen: It’s important to protect your skin from the sun and wearing sunscreen is the most important step of your skincare routine. Sunscreen is the last part of your skincare routine and it should be used before applying your primer.

Note: Ensure your moisturizer, sunscreen, primer and foundation use the same base ingredients for them to stick together well. If it’s inconvenient to use products with the same base ingredients, I recommend using water based products on the bottom layers and using a silicone based product at the topmost layer.

Reason 3: Your Skin Type

Your skin type may not be compatible with the type of foundation that you are using. In most cases, it’s the oil on your skin that’s breaking up the foundation and causing it to separate.

This problem is especially troublesome for people with oily skin where it’s challenging to control sebum production.

Here are some tips you can use to prevent your foundation from separating if you suspect it’s your skin type that’s causing the problem:

Oily Skin: The best way to keep foundation from separating on oily skin is to use a matte foundation and set it with powder. Matte foundations are designed to stay matte by soaking up oil and minimizing shine and the powder can help to soak up extra oil that may bleed through during the day. Some people with really oily skin may need to pad additional powder throughout the day to keep shine away.

Combination Skin: The best way to keep foundation from separating on combination skin is to use an oil-free concealer on your oil patches, apply a hydrating foundation over it and then set your look with a powder.

The oil-free concealer won’t add extra oil to your oil patches and will help to control sebum production on those areas of your skin. a hydrating foundation, such as one formulated with hyaluronic acid, keeps your dry patches moisturized which in turn also helps to control sebum protection. Your setting powder will help to soak up any extra oil that may have bleed through during the day.

Note that as we have discussed in Reason 1 above, your concealer and foundation should be made of the same base so they have a higher chance of not separating.

Dry Skin: The best way to keep foundation from separating on dry skin is to apply a hydrating foundation and then set it with a hydrating setting spray.

Dry skin can flake easily and oftentimes, the flaking of skin may cause your foundation to fall off with it. A hydrating foundation helps keep your skin moisturized during the day and minimizes the chances of flaking and the hydrating setting spray keeps helps to keep the foundation lasting longer.  Choose a foundation and setting spray with hyaluronic acid for best results.

Don’t forget to use samples to test each product on your skin. Sometimes, makeup is less science and more trial and error. If your local beauty store offers makeup samples, try more of them to see which brand, type, or combination works best on your skin.

Reason 4: Not Using Primer

Not using Primer is another reason why your foundation is separating from your face. Primers help your foundation stick better. You just need to make sure your foundation and primer are of the same base and formulated with similar ingredients (As we have discussed in reason 1 above).

Try a Powder Primer

If you have oily skin, you can try to use a powder primer instead of your regular liquid primer. Powder primers are lightweight primers that provide excellent oil control and balancing functions. Better oil control means less sebum that might potentially break your foundation and make it separate.

Powder primers don’t work well with most moisturizers because moisturizers are generally oil-based. When used together, the powder primer will soak up the oil in the moisturizer instead of your sebum, which will weaken the ability for it to protect your foundation from separating.

To use a powder primer, apply it to a clean fix with moisturizer, and then apply your foundation over it. This trick works well on occasion but I wouldn’t recommend it as a long-term solution. Moisturizers are an important part of your skincare routine and it’s not a good idea to skip them.

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