The Most Common Foundation Mistakes & How To Avoid and Fix Them

Common Foundation Mistakes and How to Avoid and Fix Them

A makeup foundation is the most important base product that can make or break your whole look. Foundation gives you an even skin tone and a smooth skin texture. But sometimes, no matter what you do or how hard you try, your makeup foundation still looks bad. Well, it might not be the foundation. In fact, you might be making some common foundation mistakes without even knowing. As it turns out, there are quite a few of them! Whether it’s about choosing a foundation or the way you apply it, these foundation mistakes may be ruining your makeup.

Personally, I’m guilty of making at least 3 of them! For starters, in my 20 years of wearing makeup, I spent the first 7-8 wearing a foundation shade that I can only describe as orange and making sure everyone else sees the shade difference by blending my foundation down to my jawline and not an inch below. So no judgment here!

But it takes time to find the right foundation, the right shade, learn to use it the right way, and just master the art. And if something requires this much time and effort on your part, the least we can do is make sure we use it properly to achieve our desired base, no?

So if you’re currently unhappy with the way your foundation looks, and you’re not sure why, keep reading for the most common foundation mistakes you might be making and learn how to fix and avoid them.

Mistake #1: Skipping Skincare

Not prepping your skin for makeup is one of the most common makeup foundation mistakes. It causes a patchy, flaky look and prevents the foundation from blending into the skin.

A lack of proper skin care, such as exfoliation, usually causes your foundation to look dry and scaly on the tip of your nose too.


Your skin needs hydration and moisture. Before getting started with makeup and foundation, make sure your skin is clean. Apply your serums and moisturizers and give it at least 5 minutes to absorb and dry.

A proper skincare routine before applying foundation will give you a smoother look and prevent your makeup from sitting on top of your skin. Take a look at our round-up of the best moisturizers to wear under makeup.

Mistake #2: Choosing the Wrong Foundation Shade

We’re all guilty of doing this at some point. Just like your skin, your foundation has a tone such as fair, medium, and dark.

Using a foundation shade that’s visibly lighter/darker than your skin tone gives you an unnatural look and makes your makeup look like a mask.

If your foundation is too dark, it’ll look cakey and it can even make your makeup look dirty. If it’s too light, it’ll make your face look ashy.

Wrong Foundation Shades


Don’t shop online if you haven’t tested your foundation in-store first. When shopping for foundation, apply it on different areas of your face and neck to see how it looks.

Don’t use it all over your face because it’s going to make it difficult to see the color difference. Apply a swipe on your cheek, your neck, and your chest.

If the shade looks a lot like your own skin tone, it means you’re on the right track. If the edges of the swipes look out of place and different, it’s not your shade. We’re looking for a color that seamlessly blends with your skin tone.

Even if you’ve found it, don’t buy it right away. Go home and see the foundation under different lights. When in doubt, go for the shade that’s a tiny bit lighter than your skin tone.

If you go darker, it’s not easy to make it light. But you can always darken and warm up a light foundation with a bronzer.

Mistake #3: Not Considering Your Foundation Undertone

Aside from your tone, your skin also has an undertone such as warm, neutral, and cool. Choosing the wrong foundation undertone can make your complexion look yellow, or grey.


Determine your undertone first. This is easier said than done. So I referred to one of my all-time favorite makeup artists, Wayne Goss, and attached a video below to help you find your undertone. Take a look to find yours.

In general, if you have cool undertones, a foundation with pink undertones will look better on you. If you have warm undertones, a warm foundation with yellow undertones will look better on you. And if your undertone is neutral, go for neutral foundations.

Mistake #4: Not Considering Your Skin Type and Texture When Choosing a Foundation

Your foundation needs to be suitable for your skin type and texture. Choosing the wrong type or not considering your skin texture can result in your foundation looking heavy, cakey, chalky, or lacking proper coverage.


Choose your foundation depending on your skin type and texture. Liquid foundations fall right in the middle of the spectrum.

If you have dry skin, avoid powder foundations. Go for liquid foundations that are a bit creamy, which is due to replenishing ingredients.

If you have oily/combination skin, try oil-free liquid foundations or powder foundations. If you have mature, aging skin, go for foundations that are lightweight and feel runny.

They won’t magnify wrinkles or lines and it’s going to be much easier to blend on mature skin. In fact, using a foundation that isn’t suitable for your skin texture is a makeup mistake that makes you look older.

The foundation shown below is the Estee Lauder Double Wear Sheer Long-Wear Foundation. It’s very light and liquidy, which is a great choice for mature skin.

Mistake #5: Using Too Much or Too Little Foundation

Using too much foundation can cause cakey makeup that looks unnatural and creases. It can even make your foundation feel sticky.

Using too little foundation, on the other hand, will result in uneven skin tone and texture or no difference in complexion at all.


The amount of foundation you need depends on your product, your skin texture, and the desired coverage. So there’s no right or wrong answer here.

But a fail-safe method is applying the foundation in dots across the face and blending. If you start with too much product, it’s going to be difficult to remove. If you use a moderate amount, you can always layer.

Also, if you want to make your foundation look natural, avoid using too much product on your nose, especially the tip. That area is really thin and too much foundation separates on your nose.

Additionally, if you don’t have a lot of skin concerns or you don’t need much coverage, you don’t need to apply foundation all over the face.

As long as it’s the right shade, you can get away with applying a very thin layer on the center of the face and blending it very well until your skin looks even.

Mistake #6: Using the Wrong Tools to Apply Foundation

You can apply foundation with a brush, or a sponge, or you can use your hands. Not using tools when needed or using the wrong tools can have an effect on your final look.

If you have visible pores or visible brush marks, or your foundation looks blotchy, you might be using the wrong tools to apply your foundation.

Foundation Mistakes - Using The Wrong Tools
Image by Ejollify


The tool of choice depends on you and your product. A certain foundation can look amazing when applied with a damp beauty blender and it can look patchy or streaky when applied with a brush.

Some foundations look better when you buff them in with a kabuki brush and others look better when you spread them with a flat brush.

So if you don’t like how your foundation looks, experiment. If it looks bad with a sponge, try it with a brush. If it still looks bad, try it with another type of brush. You can always use your fingers to apply your foundation as long as you properly blend it.

On a side note, make sure your applicators are clean. Learn how to properly clean makeup brushes because even a dirty brush can make it difficult to apply foundation and give you an uneven base.

Mistake #7: Choosing the Wrong Finish

Foundations can come in matte, natural, dewy, radiant, and satin finishes. Not paying attention to the finish can cause a flat-looking base or an oily-looking complexion.


When choosing a foundation, don’t underestimate the value of the finish. If you have oily skin, go for matte or natural finish foundations. Otherwise, you’ll be dealing with greasy-looking skin later in the day.

Similarly, if you have dry skin, go for radiant, dewy finish foundations. Otherwise, you may end up with a flakey, dry-looking foundation. And it’s going to be really difficult to blend it.

Mistake #8: Not Using Primer

Primer literally primes your face for foundation, extends its wear, and beautifies your finished look. Not everyone likes to wear primer before foundation.

But if you’re unhappy with how your foundation looks, if your foundation doesn’t stick to your face, or if it settles into your pores, not using a makeup primer could be the culprit.


There are different types of primers and you should choose a primer depending on your skin type. Go for hydrating primers if you have dry skin. This will make sure your skin isn’t dehydrated under foundation. It’ll also prevent your foundation from separating.

Similarly, go for silicone-based, mattifying primers if you have oily skin. This will keep your base matte and shine-free. Try blurring primers if you have mature skin. This will make sure your foundation doesn’t settle into wrinkles and fine lines.

Rather than smearing your primer all over the face like a cream, gently press it into the skin and give it a few minutes to settle.

Mistake #9: Using the Wrong Primer

If the base of your primer and the base of your foundation doesn’t match, your makeup will probably look bad. So if your foundation looks worse after you apply your primer, this mismatch may be the cause.


Use a water-based primer with a water-based foundation. And use a silicone-based primer with a silicone-based foundation. Otherwise, your foundation can feel clumpy, look patchy, and even rub off.

Mistake #10: Not Color-Correcting

Sometimes, the foundation fails to even out your skin tone. In fact, it can even make certain discolorations more visible!

So if you have greyness, especially around the mouth after you apply your foundation, you may need to color-correct hyperpigmentation.


After you do your skincare routine and before you apply your foundation, color-correct skin discolorations in advance.

You can use a color-correcting primer too. Or you can use a color-correcting palette to neutralize any unwanted color on your face.

Mistake #11: Not Setting Your Foundation

Again, setting your makeup is not essential. Not everyone likes to do it. But if you complain about your foundation not being long-lasting enough, then you probably need to set it.


Use a setting powder, preferably a loose setting powder, after you’re done with the foundation application. You can dust a loose setting powder onto the skin or just use a beauty sponge to buff it in.

You can choose to set it all over or just set problem areas. These are usually around the nose, the smile lines, and the areas that need to get shiny such as the T zone. This will make your foundation last longer and look flawless.

Don’t use too much product because it can give you a powdery look. If your foundation doesn’t last long even with a primer and setting powder, try using a setting spray.

Mistake #12: Not Blending Your Foundation Down To the Neck

When you apply your foundation only on your face and do not blend it down to the neck, you’re creating a visible difference in color and texture between your face and your neck. Imagine making this mistake with an orange foundation! Guilty!


Most of us assume that the foundation will look unnatural and weird if we bring it down to the neck. However, as long as you’re using the right foundation, blending it from your jawline toward your neck and a little bit toward the chest will give you an even better look.

Because your face will look more put-together and in tune with the rest of your body. So after applying your foundation to your face, blend the remaining product on your brush/sponge toward your neck. Less is more with the chest area!

Mistake #13: Using the Same Foundation All Year

Our skin is affected by the weather and the seasons. It can become dry or oily. When you fail to adjust your makeup depending on your skin, it might cause your foundation to look dry or oily or just overall worse.

So if your foundation has started to look bad, especially during seasonal changes, it might be time to change it.


Summer heat and humidity usually cause oily, sweaty-looking skin. And when your current foundation is a heavy, cream-based one, it can be too much for summer.

Swap it with a matte, waterproof foundation or a light foundation with a natural finish. Similarly, if your foundation looks dry and separates in colder months, try more hydrating foundations with a dewy finish.

So these are the most common foundation mistakes that are, unfortunately, easy to do. Phew! Who would have thought that there could be so many things that can go wrong with makeup foundation? But before you go, know that there is no such thing as a perfect face or perfect face makeup. We all have texture. And if you’re comparing your makeup with what you see online and you’re assuming that you’re doing it wrong based on what you see there, don’t. Foundation, even if you ace it, doesn’t look as smooth and flawless up close. So don’t base your ‘foundation goals’ on what you see there.

Read Next: How To Stop Foundation From Creasing in Smile Lines

Scroll to Top