Asked on Reddit: Why Is My Foundation Separating?

October 26, 2023
Ariel Wodarcyk
By: Ariel Wodarcyk | by L'Oréal
Picture of a model applying a foundation with a beauty sponge; picture of foundation swatches, both on a pink and purple graphic background

Asked on Reddit is a column where editors answer queries from various beauty communities on Reddit with the help of makeup artists, stylists and other industry professionals. In this series, we’re exploring the nuances of beauty that make Redditors stop and ask themselves, “How does this beauty product work? Is this beauty concept a myth?” Find the answers to these and many other real concerns for beauty beginners and the beauty-obsessed alike.

Asked on Reddit: How do I stop my foundation from separating almost as soon as I put it on?

Dear Redditor: Foundation application can be tough, even for the most seasoned of beauty enthusiasts. “It's intimidating not only to choose the right color and texture but also to make it stay put throughout the day,” says makeup artist Andrea DiSabatino. “The three primary reasons foundation may not last throughout the day are skin type, primer and application technique.” Below, find out her recommendations for ensuring a smooth, flawless foundation application that won’t separate or appear patchy.

Start With Skin Prep

Skin prep is a number one factor to any makeup application,” says DiSabatino. “It's important that your skin is well-moisturized and properly primed to enhance the adherence of your foundation.” If your skin is excessively oily or dry, your foundation is more likely to separate throughout the day. To combat this, the makeup artist recommends incorporating “gentle exfoliation” into your skincare routine before you apply makeup. You can do so with a toner, such as the Kiehl’s Milk-Peel Gentle Exfoliating Toner, or you can manually exfoliate by lightly massaging your face with a warm, wet washcloth.

Regardless of how you choose to exfoliate, it’s essential to follow up with a moisturizer that’s suited to your skin type. For dry skin types, we’re fans of the Thayers Barrier Bestie Ultra Whip Face Cream; for oily to combination skin, we like the Thayers Let’s Be Clear Water Face Cream.

Thayers Barrier Bestie Ultra Whip Face Cream and Thayers Let’s Be Clear Water Face Cream

Prime Your Skin

Once your skincare has soaked in, it’s time to prime. DiSabatino swears by the Milk Makeup Hydro Grip Primer for “a guaranteed perfect application.” Looking for a primer you can pick up at the drugstore instead? We also love the NYX Professional Makeup Plump Right Back Primer + Serum.

NYX Professional Makeup Plump Right Back Primer + Serum

Apply Your Foundation

“Next, you can use a long-wear or matte foundation formula, which is designed to stay in place for extended periods and is less prone to patchiness,” says DiSabatino.  “Another technique I find useful, especially on set, is experimenting with various foundation formulas. Not every formula suits everyone, so it's essential to discover what works best for you and your skin.” 

One foundation our editors love is the YSL Beauty All Hours Foundation, a full-coverage formula that offers up to 24 hours of wear. It left those of us with oily and combination skin feeling shine-free and confident, but it also didn’t emphasize dryness or appear patchy on the dry-skinned members of our team. The L'Oréal Paris Infallible Fresh Wear 24HR Foundation is another reliable, long-lasting pick we love — this one resists transfer and provides medium-buildable coverage. 

YSL Beauty All Hours Foundation, L'Oréal Paris Infallible Fresh Wear 24HR Foundation

Set Your Face

“Once your foundation and concealer are dry, you can use a professional technique called baking,” says DiSabatino. “You want to apply a thick layer of loose powder over the concealer and let it sit for a few minutes. Then, gently brush away the excess powder.” For added lasting power and to ensure your makeup doesn’t appear overly powdery, you can finish with a mist of setting spray, such as the Urban Decay All Nighter Waterproof Setting Spray.

“My final tip is keeping blotting papers handy,” says DiSabatino. “This can help aid in touch-ups throughout the day to remove excess oil without ruining the foundation.” 

Urban Decay All Nighter Waterproof Setting Spray


  • Always start by exfoliating your skin and following with a moisturizer

  • Pick a primer that hydrates your skin and grips your makeup

  • Choose a long-wearing or soft matte foundation

  • Set your base with a powder and reduce shine with blotting papers

Photographer: Chaunte Vaughn Visual Designer: Juliana Campisi

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