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Live by These 3 Rules for Smooth Foundation Coverage If You’ve Got Flaky Skin

Rachel Lapidos

Rachel LapidosJanuary 6, 2020

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Photo: Stocksy/Lauren Naeffe

Trying to apply foundation to dry, flaky skin is kind of like slathering butter onto a croissant: the flakes can go e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e. And nowadays, a lot of people are dealing with these pesky flakes on their faces (thanks a lot, winter), which doesn’t exactly make for a makeup-friendly skin situation. So we’ve asked a makeup artist just how to apply foundation to dry, flaky skin—without a bump or a flake in sight.

“It’s hard because in winter months, especially if you live in a harsher climate, it can be tricky to keep flakes away without compromising the skin’s natural barrier function,” says Merrady Wickes, makeup artist and beauty director at The Detox Market. “The right skin care and makeup can make a world of difference.”

To get a smooth foundation application on dry, flaky skin, the process starts before you even open your makeup bag. Keep scrolling for Wickes’ tips for applying foundation on even the croissant-iest of complexions.

1. Exfoliate—nicely: Before applying foundation, Wickes says that it’s important to gently exfoliate your skin so that you have a smooth canvas (“Major focus on the gentle,” she says). “I love an exfoliating toner, or an exfoliating mask,” says Wickes. Look for a gentle exfoliating toner—her pick is The Beauty Chef Probiotic Skin Refiner ($75), which has a probiotic blend of fermented superfoods and lactic acid. Wickes recommends using something like this daily, or at least two to three times a week to “watch flakes melt away and texture improve.” If you’re using a mask, she prefers one with enzymes that also has hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid (her favorite is the Maya Chia The Refresh Mint, $68), which you can use a couple of times a week for “baby-soft skin that makeup will glide right over,” she says.

2. Slather on a thick moisturizer: Even if you’re diligent about your skin-care routine, Wickes points out that flakes can still show up. Her advice? “Choose a moisturizer with a buttery, lasting finish to create a buffer between your parched skin and makeup,” she says. “You want something that lingers on the skin, creating a sort of barrier.” She likes the Josh Rosebrook Vital Balm Cream ($45) or MV Skincare Rose Soothing and Protective Moisturizer ($120) for this. We also love the First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream Intense Hydration ($34) for the moisturizing job.

3. Choose the right foundation: “Steer clear of any foundation that promises to mattify or offers a liquid-to-powder finish,” says Wickes, noting that these will “cling to dry patches you didn’t even know you had.” Instead, look for formulas with a more emollient feel that will be forgiving of flakes—AKA with hydrating, occlusive ingredients that lock moisture into your skin. “Vapour Soft Focus Foundation has a glowy, slightly skin-blurring effect, and I also love Rituel De Fille The Ethereal Veil Conceal and Cover,” she says. The Rituel option, for instance, has lanolin and beeswax for a “gorgeous, almost mannequin-like finish on the skin regardless of the texture,” says Wickes. Flakes who?

Finish the look with a hydrating lip oil-gloss for moisturized lips with a wash of color, and these eyebrow hacks for fuller brows. 

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