10 Makeup Mistakes That Make Your Skin Look Dry and Flaky

Updated: Apr. 29, 2021

Create a flawless-looking complexion with these makeup tips for ladies with dry skin.

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woman squeezing lotion from a tube onto her fingers

You don’t use the right cleansing products

If you have dry skin, make sure that all of your cleansing products are formulated for your skin type. Choose a cleanser with ceramides, natural lipids that help skin restore and maintain its natural protective barrier, according to research published in the journal Geriatric Nursing. Ceramides essentially hold the outer layer of skin together by helping it retain moisture. It’s also a good idea to add a toner into your morning and nighttime routine with hyaluronic acid, a natural structural component of skin that again helps you retain moisture and strengthens your skin’s barrier. Here’s the right and wrong way to wash your face.

smiling woman applying face cream

You don’t moisturize enough

It’s also important to use a moisturizer that’s formulated for dry skin to help your skin retain moisture throughout the day. Try a moisturizing cream rather than a lotion (creams are thicker and more hydrating). Depending on your level of dryness, beauty vlogger Alexendrea Garza recommends using face oil packed with hydrating nutrients like vitamin E under your moisturizer to keep your makeup from looking cracked or flaky. Here are 10 of the best face oils for dry skin you can try.

bowl of red exfoliator

You never exfoliate

When you have dry patches, it’s best to exfoliate them away with a gentle exfoliator. Exfoliate one to three times a week depending on your personal need. Focus on problem areas that typically look flaky. These are beauty secrets aestheticians won’t tell you for free.

jar of white moisturizer on a white shelf

You don’t use a hydrating primer

Marlena Stell, beauty vlogger and CEO of Makeup Geek, recommends looking for a primer with the ingredient dimethicone, which is “a polymer used as a lubricant and conditioning agent that gives your skin that silky feeling.” Plus, primer will help your makeup stay on all day.


You apply foundation with a brush

To avoid flakiness, most makeup artists recommend using a beauty blender, an egg-shaped applicator sponge that you can get from your local Sephora. Professional makeup artist Wayne Goss says you should first dot the foundation all over your face with your fingers, but don’t blend it out. Then get the beauty blender wet, and squeeze out the excess water so it feels damp. Finally, bounce the beauty blender on your skin to blend in the dots of foundation. Goss says, “the bouncing motion that you do with a Beauty Blender pushes the product into the skin so that it sits nicely.”

makeup brush over smeared makeup

You use a silicone or matte foundation

Silicone-based foundations can cling to dry patches, making your skin look uneven and patchy. Water-based foundations are more moisturizing and have a dewy finish. Stell recommends staying away from foundations that are matte or full coverage. Here’s how to apply makeup to look less tired.

chunks of makeup on a white background

You powder your whole face

“The last thing you want to do is buff powder in with a brush. This can actually exfoliate the skin and make accentuate dry patches,” says Goss. If you feel like you get oily around your T-zone (your forehead, nose, and chin), or you want to set your under-eye concealer in place, he recommends just lightly tapping powder on the necessary areas. Leave the rest of your skin powder-free. By the way, if you’re battling stretch marks, these home remedies may help.

close up of a makeup brush
iStock/Thomas Francois

You only use powder blush

On days when your skin is particularly dry and flaky due to eczema or extreme weather, it’s best to stay away from any powder products at all. Try applying a cream blush with your fingers to the apples of your cheeks for a natural-looking flush that won’t flake off throughout the day. And check out these home remedies for eczema relief.

two dark-haired women with lots of eye makeup

You skip highlighter

Even if your skin is dry, you can give the appearance of dewy, glowing skin by applying a cream or powder highlighter to the high points of your cheeks, down the bridge of your nose, and on your brow bone. This is how to apply makeup to make your face look thinner.

woman spraying beauty product on her face

You don’t use a hydrating mist

If you apply your makeup and your skin still looks dry, Stell suggests spraying on a plumping hydration mist. “Anything that has hyaluronic acid or vitamin E oil is best. It melts any powder products into your skin and gives your face that soft, glowing appearance.” Here’s how to get glowing skin naturally.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest