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When it comes to applying makeup, it can be an extremely skillful job. Many of us, including myself, struggle to get makeup to look right. We can watch tutorial after tutorial but for some reason, we never look like the model that has inspired us.

One of the most tricky parts of the makeup process is foundation. Finding the correct foundation to match not only your skin color correctly, but also your skin type, can sometimes feel like Mission Impossible. Maybe your skin is oily? Maybe your skin is dry? And even once you get these things correct, foundation can still look patchy!

Having a flawless and smooth finish to your face is what every girl dreams of, and what every girl deserves! If your base isn’t flawless, this is going to impact the rest of your makeup and you will probably end up looking slightly cakey and dull. This is not what we want.

Well, stress no more! Today I am going to talk you through some of the main reasons as to why your foundation may look patchy, and by the end of this article you will have the answer for how to fix this!

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Why Does My Foundation Look Patchy?

There are many reasons as to why your foundation may be looking patchy once it has been applied, but there are also many solutions to this.

Some of they key reasons your foundation may look patchy are:

  • Dry or uneven base for application
  • You are using the incorrect tools for application
  • You are using too much
  • It’s the wrong color or tone for your skin color
  • You are using the wrong product for your skin type

Any of the above can lead to a very patchy finish. If you are still asking yourself, “why does my foundation look patchy and dry?” then it may be the case that you aren’t aware that any of the above are the problem. If so, I am going to tell you some simple steps you can follow for a smooth, flawless application.

Whatever the issue is with your makeup, if you follow each of the following steps correctly you will be glowing!

Step 1: Prepare Your Base

Foundation works as a base to the rest of your makeover. However this is not the real base – your skin is! The most important step to an even application of makeup is to prep your skin first.

This is going to take some patience, and if you haven’t had a regular skincare routine in place, it may take a few days, maybe even a couple of weeks, before you notice any real changes to your complexion.

clear face


Exfoliating your face with a facial exfoliator will help to remove any dead skin skills. This will also get right into your pores and clear out any dirt that could cause potential blackheads. Everyone has different skin and so finding the correct products is an extremely personal experience and it will take some trial and error.


Second to having a good exfoliant, you need to make sure you keep your skin hydrated and moisturized using a face moisturizer. Dried skin is one of the key causes for patchy foundation. A moisturized face will create a smooth surface, meaning any makeup application will be a lot smoother too. 


Not only do you need to look after your skin, but before any makeup application it is important that you have clean skin. Have you removed any previous makeup, washed and cleansed your face? If so, it is ready for new application. A fresh face is the only way to start off any successful makeover. 

It is important to let any skincare products rest into your skin before applying makeup. This will prevent the oils from the products combining with your foundation, as sometimes this can cause an uneven finish. 


Finally, if you are simply looking to touch up your foundation, you can use a hydrating skin spray to perk up the skin again. Once this has settled in it will create a fresher base for you to apply the foundation. Applying new foundation to old foundation may create a very cakey texture.  

Use a Primer

Our skin will vary in texture across our face. Certain areas will be more oily than others, and certain areas will be dryer. This means that even if you have perfected your skincare routine, your skin will not be completely the same all over. So, this can result in patchy foundation.

Once you have a good skincare routine and your skin is hydrated, the next thing you can do is purchase a primer. Primers form a layer between the skin and the base, helping to create a more even texture across the entire face. 

But why does my foundation look patchy even with primer? Well, like anything, there are many different types of primer and it is important to find the correct match for you.

Foundation rests neatly on top of the primer and gives much more even finish. Primer will sit the same across your face which is why it creates this smooth layer, however you can alter your primer depending on the area of the face. If you have a noticeably oily area, you can use an oil-based primer. In the dryer parts you can use a primer aimed at targeting dry skin

cucumber eyes

Step 2: Application

Once you have nailed the face and the base, it is time to apply the foundation. This can end up looking patchy for multiple reasons. There are a few things to be certain of before you begin applying.

Use the Correct Tools

If you apply your foundation using a foundation brush, ensure you are cleaning this brush regularly. A dirty brush will begin to pick up dirt and dust. These will then mix into your makeup creating small clumps and an uneven application.

makeup brush

Not only will a dirty brush impact the application, but it will also impact your skin. The dirt in an unwashed makeup brush will affect your face and may lead to dirty skin, spots, and blocked pores. This takes us back to step one – you must have a healthy and clean base!

Instead of a brush, I would recommend using a damp beauty blender to apply your foundation. I changed from a brush to a beauty blender recently and it was a game-changer!

The dabbing motion needed when using a beauty blender helps to merge the foundation and, as the name suggests, it gives you a flawless blend. Granted this process takes longer than a brush, however you are not left with brush strokes, and absolutely no patches.

If you do notice any patches, just continue to blend them out until you reach the desired finish! The dampness of the beauty blender also helps to add moisture and it spreads your foundation a lot further than a brush. This not only gives a thin and even finish, but also stops you from wasting so much makeup!

Use the Correct Amount

As mentioned, a beauty blender helps to evenly spread the foundation instead of applying thick layers for full coverage.

Using the correct amount of foundation can make all the difference. 

Using too little will mean that you do not need the coverage you need, and this will result in areas with foundation, and areas left bare, which will overall look very patchy.

On the opposite end to this, applying too much foundation can create a very patchy finish. Layering up too much makeup can cause it to clump together and give a cakey appearance. As it dries on the face it will also form an uneven surface and will look very unappealing.

The purpose of foundation is to give a flawless, natural base. This means that you need just the right amount to cover your skin, but not so much that it is starting to create layers. So, how do I make my foundation look smooth?

Using a brush can sometimes cause uneven application which results in adding more and more foundation until it looks even. A beauty blender will help to spread the foundation and so often you won’t find yourself adding anymore foundation at all. 

Hand holding an eyeshadow brush with shadow on it

Step 3: Using the Right Foundation

So, you have followed steps 1 and 2 but you still find yourself wondering, “why does my foundation look cakey and patchy?” If this is you, then the final thing you can do is ensure you are using the correct foundation.

A foundation can be wrong or right for you depending on a number of reasons.

Correct Color Match

Using a foundation that is the correct color match for you is the key to a foundation that not only looks natural, but looks smooth. If your foundation is a lot lighter or darker than your natural skin tone, this is going to make blending a lot more difficult.

It is important to remember that if you have been on holiday, on tanning beds, or fake tanned, your skin is no longer going to match your foundation. This is going to cause it to look patchy. Similarly, if you purchased a foundation when you got back from holiday and you haven’t been in the sun for a while, your foundation is going to be far too dark.

You can go into any makeup store or some drugstore counters and they will be able to color match you to the correct foundation.

Correct Properties

Not only does the color matter, but the ingredients and purpose of your foundation needs to suit your skin type as well. If you have particularly oily skin, you should use a foundation for oily skin types. If not, the oils in your skin will begin to separate the foundation and your foundation will become clumpy on your face after a while.

In contrast to that, if you have very dry skin, you should use a foundation with moisturizing ingredients in it. This will help the foundation spread nicely. Dry skin will absorb any moisture it can get and so if your foundation is not moist enough, your skin will begin to absorb it in certain areas which will leave you with a patchy result. 


Finally, when it comes to putting on foundation, taking it off is just as important. Wearing foundation for a long period of time will begin to clog your pores and collect dirt and dust.

When you get in from a busy day or a big night out, makeup removal should be a priority. This will allow your skin to breathe and take a break from products.

Your skin will absorb some of its own natural oils, whilst rehydrating and revitalizing. This is key to keeping your skin happy and healthy, and therefore having the ideal base for when you do decide to reapply some more makeup.

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Why Does My Foundation Look Patchy – Final Thoughts

Hopefully by now you have found a step that can really help you to improve your makeup application process.

Before anything, check if your foundation is correct for not only your skin color, but also your skin type. 

Once you have the correct foundation, create the perfect base for it. Have a regular skin care routine, exfoliate, moisturize, and be sure to remove old makeup.

Use a primer to really smooth out that base, and then use the correct tools to apply the foundation. Using a beauty blender will really help to not only smooth out the foundation and create a more even surface, but will also spread the foundation and help make a little bit go a long way.

With these steps not only will your foundation application improve, but your skin will start to glow more than it ever has before!


Why does my concealer look patchy?

Your concealer may look patchy if it is applied on dry skin, is the incorrect color for your skin tone, or if it is being applied on top of old makeup.

Why does my bb cream look patchy?

Your BB cream may look patchy if it is not the correct consistency for your skin. If you have oily skin you should use a cream suitable for this, and the same for dryer skin.

Why does my skin look patchy with foundation?

Your skin can look patchy with foundation for a number of reasons. It is likely to do with the application, your skin as a base, or using the incorrect foundation.

How do I make my foundation look smooth?

Start by creating a smooth base by exfoliating, moisturizing and using a primer. then use a beauty blender to apply the foundation.