How to Avoid Makeup Cake Face

Plus, what exactly is "cake face"

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You know those women who wear so much foundation it looks like they have to remove it every night with a trawl?

That, dear readers, is a fine example of "cake face," wherein one slathers on too much foundation and concealer, the result being a pancake, mask-like makeup. If you have makeup covering every millimeter of your face, it is simply too much and the first thing people are going to think when they see you is, "She wears a lot of makeup." Why not play up, rather than cover up, your natural beauty?

Here's how best to avoid cake face.

The Right Way to Wear Foundation & Concealer

The biggest cause of cake face is thick foundation applied to the entire face. Foundation is meant to even out skin tone, but it should be almost invisible. No one should actually see the foundation on your face.

Unless you're wearing a sheer foundation or tinted moisturizer with SPF, don't apply a face full of foundation. Foundation is meant to cover up only your uneven spots like the cheeks, around the nose and maybe the chin. Once the foundation is in place, you can then dot concealer on any ruddy or pimply spots the foundation doesn't cover.

Remember, with foundation, apply only on the spots that need it.

Matte Is Out, Dewy Is In

As we age, our skin loses not only its elasticity, but it also tends to lose moisture. This can lead to "cake face." A matte face is not a youthful, dewy face. Our goal is to make our skin appear dewy and as youthful as possible, even if we are 70.

This means keeping skin as moisturized as possible. So how to get dewy skin? 

Foundation Primer is Key

The key to perfect skin tone is to create a barrier between your skin and the foundation by applying first a foundation primer. A foundation primer works in the same way as paint primer does, it settles in your pores, fine lines and wrinkles and evens over pimples so that your foundation glides on smoothly.

If you don't have a primer, moisturizer works, too.

Choose the Correct Foundation and Concealer

Cake face is worst when someone's wearing the wrong foundation shade. It's really important to find the right shade of foundation or tinted moisturizer. You want the foundation to blend in seamlessly with your skin color. I recommend using two different shades: one for summer when your skin is darker and then a lighter shade in winter. You can mix the two in spring and fall. I recommend trying out foundation at a place like Sephora so an expert can say "yay or nay."

Drugstores like Rite Aid these days also have liberal return policies so if you try something and it's not right, return it. A good tip is to choose a sheer liquid rather than a powder foundation if you have dry skin. If you have oily skin, opt for an oil-free tinted moisturizer or foundation and keep blotting papers on hand to blot your skin as the day wears on.

What to Do About Those Freckles?

Some women and girls with freckles try to cover them up with thick foundation. Don't! Try to embrace your freckles and grow to love them. Freckles make you unique and accepting them will make you more beautiful. After all, it's almost impossible to cover up freckles without achieving "cake face."

What to Do If You End up With "Foundation Face"

It happens to the best of us, sometimes we get a little heavy-handed with the foundation and we end up looking as if we're wearing a thick mask of goop.

To tone down a foundation, try these tricks from makeup artist Victoria Jackson in Sephora's Beauty Book (buy it from Amazon):

  • Wet your fingers just a wee bit and run them over your face. Follow up with a clean makeup sponge to blend, blend, blend.
  • Put a dime-sized amount of moisturizer in your palm, dab a foundation brush into it and work the brush over the heavy spots. The moisturizer should break up the heaviness.
  • Take a tissue and place it on your face, gently moving it around to remove any excess.

Keep Skin Hydrated as the Day Wears On

If you have dry skin, it is important to keep skin hydrated and moisturized all day long.

To do this, spritz mineral water on your face. A good choice is Evian mineral spray (buy it from Amazon). Keep a purse-sized can in your bag. You can also dot on a bit of moisturizer on any "cakey spots."