Why Doesn’t Foundation Stick To My Skin? Causes & Solutions

Foundations can be the saving grace your makeup needs, but they can also ruin your look.

A patchy, flaky foundation that seemingly comes off at the slightest movement of a facial muscle can be an annoyance to deal with.

If you have been wondering lately, why isn’t my foundation sticking to my face?

Well, we are here to tell you why and what you can do about it.

Why Isn’t My Foundation Sticking To My Face? Let’s Discuss In A Nutshell

Cause Fixes
Dry Skin Moisturize your skin with a high-quality moisturizer
Dehydrated Skin Use a moisturizer and make lifestyle changes. You must drink more water and eat more hydrating fruits and vegetables.
Overwashed Skin Limit your bath time and stop cleansing your face more than twice a day.
Incompatible Primer And Foundation Avoid using silicone-based primers with water-based foundations and vice versa.
Using Primer On Nose Use setting spray on your nose instead of primer. 

Why Doesn’t Foundation Stick To My Skin? Causes & Solutions

Dry Skin

Dry skin indicates a lack of natural oil, aka sebum, on your skin. When the sebum level drops below a sufficient level, your skin texture will appear rough and scaly.

So, when you put foundation on your skin, it does not sit even and appears flaky. As a result, the foundation keeps slipping off your face.

To stop this, you have to prep your skin beforehand.

You need enough moisture to secure the foundation, and you can do so by using a moisturizer.

It will relax your skin and help the foundation to wear longer.

Australian celebrity makeup artist Stephanie Lange recommends leaving the moisturizer for at least 10 minutes before putting a coat of foundation over it. 

If you prefer using a primer, you can choose to wear a hydrating one. Or, you can use a regular primer and then use the moisturizer.

Also, you can go for a hydrating foundation that will provide extra moisture to your facial skin without clogging up the pores.

Look for ingredients like glycerin and hyaluronic acid for better moisture retention on your skin.

Dehydrated Skin

No, dry skin and dehydrated skin are not the same, even though they sound alike.

Dry skin results from natural oil deficiency, whereas dehydrated skin happens because of insufficient water presence in your skin.

The symptoms are quite similar in both cases, but it’s possible to tell them apart.

There should be 64% water in our skin, but in reality, the amount of water could be higher or lower depending on several factors.

But when the water concentration dips below 30%, it’s considered to be dehydrated.

Even oily skin can be dehydrated. It’s also possible for a person to have both dry and dehydrated skin at the same time.

To get a 100% confirmed diagnosis of your skin condition, you should go to a dermatologist.

But if you suspect that you have dehydrated skin, you can try the pinch test. Pinch a patch of skin on your face and hold it for a few seconds before letting it go.

If it doesn’t return to normal immediately, your skin is probably dehydrated. Your mouth and lips will be dry as well. 

People with both dry and dehydrated skin can follow the same skincare regimen.

However, if you have dehydrated skin, you need to make lifestyle changes to maintain a healthy level of skin moisture.

Take more water and add hydrating fruits and vegetables like peaches, watermelon, and grapefruit into your diet. Electrolyte drinks should also help.

Overwashed Skin

If you have an obsession with cleansing your face whenever you get a chance, you are damaging your skin rather than helping it.

If you wash more than two times a day, you will get rid of the lipids that are essential for retaining ideal skin moisture and radiance.

When you are repeatedly washing your face, you are compromising its much essential lipid barrier. 

The first thing you can do to fix this is to stop washing your face so much.

Twice a day is enough. Stop using any products on the face for a couple of days. Your skin needs some time to regain the proteins and moisture.

However, gentle cleansing oils might help, which are light to your facial skin and aids in boosting sebum production.

Incompatible Primer-Foundation Combination

Once you have ruled out all potential skin complications, you need to look at the product you are using.

If you have healthy skin and excellent cleansing habits, there is no reason for you to go through the irksome experience of foundation running down your skin other than a bad product combination.

Primers and foundations are either water or silicone-based. Put on a water-based primer and follow up with a silicone foundation.

The end result will be patchy makeup that easily separates from your skin. You must use the same type of products for a seamless finish.

But how can you tell what are your primer and foundation based on?

Check the list of ingredients. You are likely to see ‘’aqua’’ in both silicone and water-based products.

Some amount of water is required to make silicone cosmetics, so you need to look at other ingredients. Polymers, dimethicone, and methicone are only available in silicone products.

Glycerin and capric triglyceride are staples in water-based cosmetics.

Using Primer On Nose

US-Indian beauty influencer Smitha Deepak says the primer could make the nose skin more slippery and make it more difficult to contain foundation.

So, she recommends using hair spray instead to make the foundation stay longer on the nose.

Don’t apply the spray directly on your nose. Spray some on a makeup sponge and bounce the sponge over your nose.

Prioritizing Exfoliation:

Regular exfoliation is a crucial step in maintaining a smooth and even complexion, particularly for those prone to dryness or flakiness.

By removing dead skin cells and surface impurities, exfoliation helps create a smoother canvas for foundation application, reducing the risk of patchiness and separation.

Incorporating gentle exfoliating treatments into your skincare routine, such as chemical exfoliants or facial scrubs, can help promote cell turnover and ensure a more even and long-lasting makeup application.

Avoiding Product Overload:

In the quest for flawless coverage, it’s tempting to layer on foundation generously.

However, applying too much product can have the opposite effect, leading to caking and separation.

To prevent this common pitfall, use a light hand and build coverage gradually.

Start with a small amount of foundation and blend it evenly across the skin, focusing on areas that require additional coverage.

By avoiding product overload, you can achieve a natural-looking finish that adheres seamlessly to the skin without compromising on longevity or wearability.

Final Words

It is not uncommon for beauty conscious young people to ask, why isn’t my foundation sticking to my face? Well, now you know why.

It could be your skin type or the product you have been using.

Make sure to prep your skin the right way, use compatible products, and maintain a healthy cleansing routine.

You should not have to worry about runaway foundations again. 


My name is Maria and I am a beauty blogger and writer. I am passionate about all things beauty, from skincare to makeup. On my blog, I share product reviews, tips, and tricks to help others feel confident and beautiful in their own skin. I strive to create a positive and inclusive space for everyone. Join me on my journey as I discover my unique beauty brand and share it with you.