There may be affiliate links in this post. If you purchase through these links we may make a small commission at no cost to you. Please see our disclaimer, terms and privacy for more information.

Sharing is caring!

Nobody starts using makeup without having some issues along the way. There are many common foundation mistakes that so many of us make.

Luckily, you can learn from my mistakes.

Here’s a list of thirteen common foundation mistakes you may be making. These mistakes focus on the usage of liquid foundation, not powder foundation, though some of the mistakes could apply to powders!

Each has a brief explanation of the issue that the mistake causes, with recommendations on how to fix it!

Pin this for later:13 Foundation Mistakes You're Making

1 – Using the Wrong Shade

I think this was definitely the first foundation mistake that I personally made.

It can be difficult to find a shade of foundation that perfectly matches you. If you’re using a shade that is too light, you can look washed out, and a shade too dark can look fake and silly.

What’s even more difficult is that you need to match the undertones of your skin to a foundation – yellow, pink, or neutral.

If you don’t know what your undertones are or can’t get the right color, go to a makeup store (like Sephora, Ulta, MAC, etc) and let the experts help shade match you! It can be much easier to get matched by a cosmetics employee than it is to figure it out on your own.

P.S. this includes changing your shade if needed during the year when you become more or less tan! If you’re paler in the winter, use a lighter shade – don’t try to make your summer shade work.

2 – Using the wrong formula

There are different finishes of liquid foundations – they can be matte, dewy, or somewhere in between.

If you have oily skin, you would probably prefer to use a matte foundation. If you have dry skin, try out a dewy formula.

Using the wrong type of foundation formula is an easy foundation mistake that can cause your skin to appear super slick and oily or very dehydrated.

3 – Choosing the wrong coverage level

Foundations can be found ranging from sheer coverage to full coverage.

Sheer coverage is great for people who want a lightweight foundation, have minor to no skin imperfections they want to cover, and for mature skin.

Full coverage is prefered by many, and completely covers any discoloration or other blemishes you may have. They tend to be higher weight formulas, and it may settle into fine lines.

If you aren’t sure, try a medium coverage foundation to see if you like that level, want less coverage, or want more coverage!

4 – Applying too much foundation 

Putting too much foundation on your face – especially multiple thick layers of foundation – will almost certainly make your foundation look “cakey” and fake.

It’s often better to use several thinner layers of foundation than one or two very thick and sticky layers.

However, if you are adding more layers of foundation (or using one really thick layer) and finding that you want more coverage without making it look cakey, I recommend trying out a new foundation with a higher level of coverage than you are currently using.

Using a full coverage foundation will often give you the finish you want with less product, helping you spread a smaller amount over your entire face and helping you not look cakey.

5 – Not exfoliating

We all shed skin cells, and sometimes our skin needs help from an exfoliator.

If you have a lot of dead and dried skin on your face, you likely need to exfoliate a couple times a week in order to remove the dead skin cells and provide a smooth canvas for your makeup application.

There are many types of exfoliators on the market, ranging from scrubs to chemical peeling exfoliators. You can also get a skincare brush to exfoliate!

Do your research to find the best one for your skin type and needs, because there are so many out there! I hear great thing about The Ordinary brand of skincare 🙂

6 – Not moisturizing daily

Moisturizing is essential to keep skin hydrated and prevent peeling and wrinkles. It’s especially important in the cooler and less humid weather to make sure you are hydrating your skin with a moisturizer, daily!

There is a big misconception that you can’t use a moisturizer if you have oily skin, because your skin is already wet enough. This is not true!

Many times, your skin will produce more oil because you are constantly stripping your skin of oil when you use cleansers, masks, and acne products. If you hydrate your skin, it is likely that (after time!) it will produce less oil than before.

Look for a moisturizer that treats your skin’s specific needs. If you want an oil free moisturizer, there are many available! There are also moisturizers with sunscreen in them, specifically for mature skin, for sensitive skin, and more.

13 Foundation Mistakes You're Making - and how to fix them! Read more at #makeup #foundation

7 – Not using primer

Primer helps your makeup last longer and go on smoother.

If you’re finding that your makeup “slides around” your face a lot, it could be that you aren’t using a face primer!

There are many high end primers you could try, but you don’t have to break the bank to get a nice primer – the drugstore makeup brands have many quality primers to try.

The solution for this one is simple – grab a primer and see if there is a difference!

8 – Using the wrong primer

Just like there are different foundations for different skin types, there are different primers too.

Using a matte or dewy primer can completely change how your foundation will lay on top. When picking out a primer, you’ll also have to choose if you want a primer spray, a silicone based primer that fills pores, a water based primer… there are a lot of options.

You can see some info here about primers, including which one you should choose for different skin types.

Additionally, some primer and foundation combinations react poorly with each other. Try out a different kind of primer with your foundation and see if there is any improvement!

9 – Using the wrong tools

An easy foundation mistake to make is using a flat “foundation brush” to apply the product all over your face.

Though the name says it’s a foundation brush, you can achieve a much better finish to your makeup by using a dense buffing brush, stippling brush, or a makeup sponge! I personally prefer makeup sponges.

10 – Setting liquid and cream products wrong

Many people use powder – pressed or loose – to set their foundation. Baking is a very popular option for setting liquid products.

However, baking can be too drying for people with dry skin! If your skin looks bad or dry after baking, skip the step and try setting your face with only a light dusting of powder instead.

11 – Not using setting spray

Just like powder, setting spray works to keep your makeup in place longer.

Pro tip, setting spray also helps to get rid of that “powdery” and dry look of makeup! Since setting spray wets your face, it helps your makeup look much more natural and seamless with your skin. This can also help with the “cakey” makeup problem.

There are some great drugstore setting sprays (Milani Make it Last is a fan fav) and high end (Urban Decay All Nighter is popular!) that will help your makeup stay through anything!

12 – Using the wrong setting spray

And similar to so many other products I’ve mentioned, there are matte and dewy types of setting sprays.

If you have oily skin (and use other matte products!) you likely want to use a matte setting spray. Conversely, if you have dry skin (and usually use dewy products) you might want a dewy setting spray.

Keep in mind that setting sprays vary greatly, and two matte sprays may not work the same way on the same person. They might also work very differently on different foundations.

Try out a few setting sprays, and ask employees at cosmetics stores which one they would recommend to use with your particular foundation. There are too many combinations for me to recommend them here, but you could ask me too if you want!

13 Foundation Mistakes You're Making - and how to fix them! Read more at #makeup #foundation #tips


13 – Not blending enough

Let’s be real here – your foundation and your neck might not be the same shade.

BUT it is very important to blend around the perimeter of your face so that it all looks cohesive. If not, you might look like you are wearing a mask of makeup.

Blend your foundation into your skin, around your hairline, down your neck, and even onto your ears! It’ll help it look like your real skin shade, especially if your foundation shade is a bit off. Take your time on this – there isn’t anything wrong with spending 5 whole minutes making sure your face makeup is perfect!

If you want flawless foundation, try to avoid these common foundation mistakes!

I hope these tips help you have a picture perfect makeup base,


Sharing is caring!