Foundation Feels Powdery! What’s Powdery Skin? | Makeup Touch-ups and Techniques

Dry skin

When applying foundation, the goal is usually to achieve a smooth, poreless complexion. However, some individuals encounter a problem where their skin becomes dry and powdery, resembling the texture of powdered makeup. Surprisingly, many people struggle with this issue, attempting to conceal it but only making their skin imperfections more noticeable.

In this article, we will discuss skincare and makeup techniques aimed at avoiding powdery skin. Additionally, we’ll provide insights into selecting the right skincare products.

Leaving powdery skin unaddressed can lead to problems such as skin cracking and itching, which is why dealing with powdery skin is not just about appearance; it’s also crucial for maintaining healthy skin.

We’ve also included advice on how to manage powdery skin, so if you’re looking to learn the proper way to correct and prevent powdery skin and achieve a beautiful, radiant complexion, this article is a must-read.

As explained in the latter part of the article, the primary cause of “powdery skin” is typically “dryness.” Therefore, prioritizing “moisturizing” skincare becomes incredibly important.

Causes of Powdery Makeup and Dry Skin

To begin, let’s investigate the reasons behind makeup flaking and discuss strategies to address them. There are two main factors contributing to powdery makeup.

Skin Dryness

Makeup flaking is frequently a result of dry skin. Let’s start by examining the state of dry skin and understanding the structure of the skin.

The outermost layer of the skin, known as the stratum corneum, consists of multiple layers of corneocytes. The stratum corneum stores moisture within the skin and serves as a protective barrier against external irritants.

The condition known as “makeup flaking” occurs when the skin’s protective barrier weakens, causing the outermost layer, the stratum corneum, to start peeling and resulting in a rough texture.

This peeling happens primarily because the “intercellular lipids” that fill the gaps between skin cells in the stratum corneum decrease.

To prevent moisture loss from the skin, there is a protective layer on the skin’s surface composed of a mixture of sebum and sweat, known as the sebum film. However, factors like dry air and friction can strip away this sebum film, leading to a reduction in moisture and hydration from within the skin. As a result, the skin cells become more prone to peeling.

Thin areas of the skin, such as around the eyes or the mouth, where sebum and sweat production is naturally lower, have less robust barrier function and are more susceptible to dryness and the associated issues.

Moreover, these layers of stacked corneocytes should not be thought of as something negative when they naturally peel off. In fact, regular shedding is a normal process. The mechanism behind this shedding is what we commonly refer to as “skin turnover.”

Disruptions in skin turnover can lead to a weakening of the skin’s protective barrier, especially when turnover occurs too rapidly. The problem with an excessively fast turnover is that it leads to the creation of “immature cells” – skin cells that haven’t fully matured.

These immature skin cells do not shed properly during turnover and remain on the skin in a partially detached state. These partially retained corneocytes are one contributing factor to the appearance of flaky skin.

Causes of Dryness

1. Incorrect Skincare Practices

Even skincare routines designed with the best intentions for your skin can lead to a weakened protective barrier and potential dryness if done incorrectly. Here are some common examples of what not to do:

  • Scrubbing your skin during cleansing.
  • Applying excessive force while patting your skin and forcefully trying to apply toner.
  • Squeezing blackheads or pimples with your fingers.
  • Using cleansing products with excessive cleansing power.
  • Engaging in frequent peeling.

The common factor in these improper skincare practices is that they all involve friction that can potentially accelerate skin turnover. This friction is akin to forcibly removing healthy corneocytes.

For instance, when you apply toner with excessive force, you might inadvertently apply too much pressure. Also, using peeling cleansers or scrubs daily without carefully reading instructions and warnings can have negative effects on your skin’s condition.

It’s essential to be cautious because skincare routines intended to enhance your skin’s beauty can sometimes inadvertently strain your skin.

Dryness Caused by Air Conditioning and Heating

In addition to skincare mistakes, indoor air conditioning and heating systems can also contribute to skin dryness. The reasons for indoor air dryness vary depending on whether you are using air conditioning or heating.

  • Air conditioning lowers room temperature, leading to decreased humidity levels in the air. Air conditioning systems use a heat exchanger to remove heat, reducing the room’s temperature while also removing moisture from the air.
  • Heating, on the other hand, can lower humidity levels further by raising the temperature in already dry indoor environments. Higher temperatures allow the air to hold more moisture, but if the room was initially dry, there might not be much moisture available, leading to decreased humidity.

In either case, changes in indoor temperature can contribute to skin dryness. Additionally, circulating air from these systems can potentially strip moisture from the skin.

While air conditioning and heating are essential for creating comfortable living spaces, they may not always be skin-friendly.

Damage Caused By UV Radiation

Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun can cause dryness and increase the likelihood of developing wrinkles. There are three types of UV radiation: UV-A, UV-B, and UV-C. UV-C radiation is absorbed by the ozone layer and does not reach the Earth’s surface.

  • UV-A radiation makes up the majority of the sun’s UV radiation that reaches the skin. It accumulates in the skin over time, gradually causing damage, especially in the deeper layers (dermis), leading to wrinkles and sagging.
  • UV-B radiation, while less prevalent than UV-A, has a significant impact on the skin. It can cause sunburn, where the skin turns red quickly, primarily affecting the outermost layer (epidermis).
  • UV radiation can also increase melanin production, leading to the formation of dark spots and freckles, as well as reducing the skin’s ability to retain moisture, which can result in dryness.

Research conducted by Fujifilm Corporation suggests that one of the reasons skin becomes dry is the increase in enzymes that break down moisture-retaining components in the skin due to exposure to UV radiation.

So, it’s crucial to protect your skin from UV exposure to maintain its moisture and health.

Poor Compatibility Between Foundation and Primer

When skin dryness isn’t the issue, the cause of makeup flaking could be the lack of harmony between your foundation and primer.

Foundations come in different types, like “cream foundation” or “water-based liquid foundation” with high moisture content, and “loose powder foundation” primarily composed of powder and oils, containing minimal moisture.

For instance, if you use a high-moisture foundation over an oily primer, your makeup may not adhere well, and using a high-moisture foundation over a silicone-based UV primer can lead to repelling, making your makeup less long-lasting.

To ensure a good match between your foundation and primer, you can opt for products from the same manufacturer, as they are often designed to work together seamlessly. If you prefer using products from different brands, you can check the ingredient list for the presence of silicone and the water-based nature of the product. Silicone is commonly used in “waterproof” or “long-lasting” makeup products.

To prevent makeup flaking, it’s advisable to layer a liquid or cream foundation over a hydrating primer and finish with loose powder for a polished look.

Emergency Solutions for Makeup Flaking and Makeup Touch-Up Techniques

If you experience makeup flaking right after applying foundation, it could be due to poor compatibility between your foundation and primer or insufficient primer adherence to your skin.

Alternatively, if makeup flaking occurs after some time, it might be a result of skin dryness.

Here are the appropriate steps for emergency measures and makeup touch-ups:

Utilize Concealer

Concealers offer excellent coverage compared to foundation and are ideal for fixing areas where makeup has worn off due to dryness. For this type of makeup flaking, opt for a soft cream-based concealer.


  • Gently press the areas where makeup is flaking with a sponge to remove any excess foundation.
  • Apply the cream concealer to the areas where makeup flaking is noticeable.
  • Blend it using a sponge and lightly apply powder.

Apply Gel or Mist Before Makeup Touch-Up

You can effectively address makeup flaking by using moisturizing products like all-in-one gel, moisturizing mist, or makeup touch-up sheets. Below, we’ll explain the process using an all-in-one gel.


  • Apply a small amount of gel to the areas where you’re concerned about makeup flaking.
  • Gently pat with a tissue to remove excess foundation from the flaking areas.
  • Reapply a small amount of gel and gently press with your hands to ensure it blends into the skin.
  • Finish with a light application of powder or foundation.

While makeup touch-up mists can also be used, they may not be sufficient to address makeup flaking alone. Make sure to blend the mist thoroughly into the skin after application.

Alternatively, you can opt for an oil-infused mist or, after using a moisturizing mist to address makeup flaking, finish with a cream or liquid foundation.

Incorporate Emulsion

Emulsions are a staple product even used by makeup professionals. In comparison to toners, emulsions contain a well-balanced combination of ingredients that provide moisture and lock it into the skin. Therefore, emulsions are recommended for emergency measures.


  • Apply emulsion to the areas with makeup flaking, then gently wipe with cotton or tissue.
  • Reapply emulsion sparingly and use hand pressing to ensure it blends into the skin.
  • Apply a thin layer of foundation to even out your makeup.

Consider Creams

Creams contains moisturizing ingredients such as mineral oil, squalane, vaseline, jojoba oil, among others. It’s particularly suitable for quick touch-ups in areas prone to dryness, such as around the mouth and eyes.

You can use any cream suitable for your face, not limited to Nivea.


  • Apply a small amount of Nivea cream or your chosen cream to areas with makeup flaking.
  • Gently wipe with cotton or tissue.
  • Reapply a small amount of cream, perform a hand press (lightly pressing with your palm), ensuring it blends into the skin.
  • If it feels too greasy, adjust the cream’s oil content by pressing with tissue.
  • Finish by applying powdered foundation.

These techniques should help you address makeup flaking and achieve a smooth finish.

2 Skincare Methods to Prevent Powdery Makeup

To prevent makeup flaking when applying makeup, it’s essential to prepare your skin and prevent dryness. Let’s focus on proper skincare.

We’ve summarized the basics of skincare, including the first steps like cleansing, toner, and moisturizer.

Gentle Cleansing and Face Washing

When performing cleansing and face washing, be sure to do it gently without causing any friction to your skin. Here are some key points to keep in mind:

Choosing a Cleansing Product:

  • When selecting a cleansing product, opt for ones that have mild cleansing properties and contain moisturizing ingredients, such as cream, gel, or milk-type cleansers.
  • However, if you use items like waterproof mascara or tinted lipsticks that are hard to remove, you may need to use a stronger oil-based remover specifically designed for them to quickly and effectively remove the makeup.
  • Using a cleansing product with weak cleansing properties and trying to remove makeup forcefully can be time-consuming and can put a strain on your skin.

Here are some pointers for choosing the right cleansing product:

  • For natural makeup: Cream cleanser, gel cleanser.
  • For heavy or hard-to-remove makeup: Combine with a makeup remover designed for specific areas, like eye and lip makeup, or use an oil-based cleanser.
  • Avoid sheet or lotion-type cleansers as they are gentle but require rubbing to remove, which is not recommended. When using them, try not to apply too much pressure.

Choosing a Face Wash:

  • Select a face wash that effectively removes dirt from your skin while retaining essential moisture, and opt for high-hydration products.
  • To avoid unnecessary skin irritation, choose a face wash that does not contain abrasive elements like scrubs.
  • When using a foaming face wash, make sure to create fine, rich foam and apply it generously to your skin to prevent friction while effectively removing dirt.
  • Hot water can dry out your skin, so it’s best to use lukewarm water (around 34-36 degrees Celsius) for washing.
  • Rinse thoroughly after both cleansing and face washing to ensure that no residue from cleansing or face wash products remains on your skin.

Prioritize Thorough Moisturization

After washing your face or taking a bath, your skin’s natural sebum film and intercellular lipids, which help retain moisture, are washed away, leaving your skin’s barrier weakened. Therefore, it’s essential to moisturize diligently shortly after bathing or washing your face.

Here are the correct steps for proper moisturization:

Key Points for Proper Moisturization (For Regular Toner and Emulsion):

  1. After washing your face, start by applying toner to hydrate your skin. The recommended amount is about the size of a 500-yen coin, but the appropriate amount may vary depending on the toner. Check the package for usage instructions.
  2. Dispense the toner onto your palm and gently pat it onto your face, ensuring even distribution. You can do this in two applications to avoid uneven coverage.
  3. Besides your palm, you can also use a cotton pad. Soak the cotton pad generously with toner and gently glide it across your face without rubbing. Using cotton pads ensures even application as long as you are mindful of avoiding friction.
  4. Once the toner has absorbed into your skin, immediately apply emulsion. Some people skip emulsion in the summer due to concerns about feeling greasy, but emulsion is essential year-round. This is because toner simply adds moisture, which can evaporate over time.
  5. Emulsion plays a role in sealing in the moisture applied to your skin. It also supports your skin’s barrier function, so be sure to use it.
  6. Like toner, the recommended amount of emulsion can be found on the packaging. If it’s not specified, a general guideline is about the size of a 10-yen coin. Apply it evenly across your forehead, chin, both cheeks, and nose to ensure uniform coverage. For areas prone to dryness, such as those where makeup tends to flake, apply an extra layer for thorough hydration.

Preventing Flaky Skin Requries Adequate Moisturization

As mentioned before, flaky skin is often caused by dryness. Dryness can lead to a weakened skin barrier, causing the outermost layer of skin cells to become rough and flaky, resulting in what we call “flaky skin.”

Therefore, the most crucial step is to prioritize moisturization. By replenishing both moisture and oil to your skin, you can maintain internal skin moisture, making it less likely for skin cells to flake off.

In this section, we will introduce recommended skincare products for moisturization. Our recommendation is all-in-one skincare products.

The reason for this is to minimize the number of times your skin experiences friction. Using numerous different skincare products can increase friction on your skin. Friction can lead to skin damage and potentially accelerate the turnover of skin cells.

While pursuing skincare to enhance your skin’s beauty, you certainly want to avoid inadvertently harming your skin.

Furthermore, when trying out new skincare products, compatibility with your skin is essential. It’s frustrating to invest in a product only to find that it doesn’t agree with your skin. Opting for products that come with trial sets or samples can be a wise choice to avoid wasting money and ensure compatibility.

Recommended High-Moisture, All-in-One Product: Aquatect Gel

For those who find themselves pondering which skincare product to choose or are unsure about what suits them best, we recommend Earthcare Asia’s Aquatect Gel.

Earthcare Asia’s Aquatect Gel is an all-in-one gel specialized in moisturization, making it beneficial for improving flaky skin.

With just this one product, you can achieve all the necessary moisturization for your skin, eliminating the need for multiple foundational skincare products like toner, lotion, and cream.

Not only does it save you time and effort, but it also reduces friction on your skin by a third compared to regular skincare routines, ensuring that your dry skin receives the hydration and suppleness it deserves.

Results have shown that consistent use of Aquatect Gel led to “increased skin moisture after 4 weeks.”

By prioritizing thorough moisturization with Aquatect Gel, your flaky skin is likely to find the right balance in hydration.

Interested in Aquatect Gel? Click here!

Makeup Techniques to Prevent Flaky Skin

Lastly, let’s discuss makeup techniques to prevent flaky skin. It may take a bit of time, but by using primer, foundation, loose powder, and misting facial water in that order and applying makeup meticulously, you can achieve radiant skin.

Here are four key makeup techniques to prevent flakiness:

Use a Moisturizing Primer

To prevent flakiness when applying foundation, it’s crucial to use a moisturizing primer to create a hydrated base. There are various types of makeup primers available, some with tone-correcting effects and others designed to control oil. However, since we need to address dryness, prioritize one with strong moisturizing properties.

Look for a primer with a texture that is not overly dry but rather slightly moist. To test its moisturizing effect, apply a small amount to the back of your hand and wait to see how well it hydrates.

Common moisturizing ingredients found in primers include hyaluronic acid, plant oils like olive oil and jojoba oil, and collagen. These ingredients can be found in both high-end and budget-friendly cosmetics. Be sure to check the ingredient list.

Once you’ve chosen a high-moisture primer, apply it evenly to your skin with the following steps:

  • Apply it to your forehead, nose, both cheeks, and chin (use a smaller amount for areas prone to creasing, like the sides of your nose and chin).
  • Gently blend it outwards from the center of your face.

Choose a Liquid Foundation

For skin prone to flakiness, it’s best to use a liquid foundation that contains both oil and water. Powder foundations can often accentuate dryness and flakiness as time goes on.

Opt for a liquid foundation that provides a lightweight feel and a natural, radiant finish. Since the effectiveness of a foundation can vary from person to person, it’s recommended to get samples and test them out for a full day.

Now, let’s discuss how to apply foundation to prevent flakiness:

  • Apply foundation to your forehead, both cheeks, nose, and chin.
  • Use a sponge dampened with water to spread the foundation evenly over your entire face.
  • For areas like the center of your face and smaller details, gently pat with the sponge, blending from the inside out.

Apply Loose Powder Gently

After applying liquid foundation, it’s time to use loose powder. You can apply it with either a puff or a brush, but a brush tends to create a more natural, radiant finish.

Here’s how to apply loose powder with a brush:

  • Take a small amount of loose powder on the lid and transfer it onto your brush.
  • Tap off any excess powder from the brush onto your hand.
  • Apply the powder gently to your nose, cheeks, forehead, and any areas where you want to reduce shine.
  • Be gentle to avoid rubbing the skin. Apply a bit more powder to areas prone to shine, like the nose.

Finish with Mist-Type Facial Water

Once your makeup is complete, finish by misting your face with a mist-type facial water. Mist-type facial water helps prevent flakiness by providing moisture to the skin.

Additionally, it enhances the adherence of makeup and leaves the skin feeling hydrated. It’s recommended to choose mist-type facial water that contains long-lasting moisturizing ingredients in a mist form or opt for oil-in type mist.

Here’s how to use mist-type facial water:

  • Hold it about 30 cm (approximately 12 inches) away from your face.
  • Spray it in a gentle, circular motion.
  • Lightly press your face with your palms to help it absorb.

By following these makeup techniques, you can achieve a radiant complexion while preventing flakiness.


Flaky skin can be caused by a combination of skin dryness and incompatibility between primers and foundations. When dealing with makeup flakiness, consider the following points:

  1. Proper skincare to maintain well-hydrated skin.
  2. Choose primers and foundations with high moisturizing properties.
  3. Use makeup touch-up products, moisturizers, or creams when flakiness becomes noticeable.

Keep these tips in mind, and strive for flawless, flake-free skin!