Why Is My Foundation Separating In the Bottle? Answered!

LuxeLuminous is reader supported. When you buy through our links, we may get a commission.

Foundation, like all cosmetics, has a shelf life. Unopened, foundation can last for a couple of years, but once the seal is broken, it will last 6 to 12 months.

It’s normal for the pigments in foundation that you’ve had for a while to settle and get a bit thicker at the bottom with a lighter, oily liquid on top. However, Foundation separating in the bottle is one of the warning signs that your foundation may be expired.

But this is not something you would expect to see in a newer bottle that shouldn’t be anywhere near expiring, is it?

Whether it’s an older bottle of foundation that’s getting close to its expiry date, or one you just got a couple of weeks ago, foundation separating in the bottle does not necessarily mean it’s gone bad.

So hold up – don’t throw it out just yet!

In this article, we are going to look at why foundation separates, how you can prevent it from separating and how to tell if your foundation has just separated or has actually gone bad.


Foundation Separating In The Bottle

Foundation is an emulsion. That’s to say it’s two liquids that are combined with a stabilizer. A stabilizer is needed if the liquids aren’t miscible, or don’t mix together well, like the oil and water in foundation for example.

The stabilizer is what slows down the separation, but it doesn’t stop it forever. The non-miscible liquids will eventually separate at some point, especially if the foundation has been left sitting for a period of time.

This is normal and it happens, even in newer bottles.

So if your foundation has separated – don’t panic it doesn’t mean it’s gone bad.

However, in some cases, factors like heat and oxygen, both of which can also lead to changes in the chemical balance of the foundation, can cause the stabilizer to actually speed up the separation process and cause your foundation to go bad much more quickly.

So, how do you tell if it’s just separated or if it’s gone bad?

How To Tell If Your Foundation Has Gone Bad

Chances are, if it’s separated and it’s still a relatively new bottle, it hasn’t gone off – it has just separated. But if you’ve had your foundation for more than six months, it could be an indicator that it’s time to ditch it and get a new bottle.

Here are the warning signs you should look out for:


foundation goes through a chemical reaction known as oxidation when exposed to air. If you use foundation often and are opening and closing the lid frequently or leaving it out with the lid off, this can cause oxidation which will result in a color change.


this is probably one of the best tell-tale signs that your foundation has gone bad. If it smells rancid, then get rid of it.


A gloopy, thick, or slimy texture can also mean your product has gone off. Foundation separating can also be an indicator. But like we mentioned earlier, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s gone bad.

If it’s just the texture that’s off, then give it a shake! If your foundation is still good, it should return to normal and problem solved!

If the foundation does not mix back together, or it has a gloopy or slimy texture or bubbles, it might be time for a new one.

How Do I Stop My Foundation From Separating?

Here are a few tips to stop your foundation from separating.

  1. SHAKE! Giving your foundation a good shake every now and then will keep the emulsion from separating.
  2. Store your foundation in a cool, dry place, away from heat and direct sunlight.
  3. Avoid drastic temperature changes. Heat is one of those things that can cause your foundation to not only separate more quickly but also go bad more quickly.
  4. Keep the lid on! Oxidation over time will change the color and consistency of your foundation. At some point, essentially all foundations will oxidize if you keep it for too long. This is why cosmetics have an expiry date.

How Do I Keep Foundation From Separating On My Skin?

If you find your foundation is separating on your skin, there could be different reasons for this:

Foundation Separating In the Bottle

If you are not shaking your foundation before you apply it and the ingredients in your bottle are not mixed together properly, it’s not going to apply properly and will most likely separate on your skin. This can lead to clogged pores and other issues.

Give your foundation a good shake before you use it.

Cosmetic Products

Foundation separating on your skin could be a result of other cosmetic products you are using on your face, like your moisturizer you’ve applied underneath your foundation. 

Try different moisturizers to see if it’s a reaction between the ingredients in your moisturizer and the foundation that’s the problem. 

Natural Oils

Your foundation may also be mixing with and reacting to the natural oils in your skin. Be sure that the foundation you are using is formulated for your skin type, and you may want to switch to a powder foundation.

A foundation primer puts a barrier between the skin and your foundation, making it less likely for reactions between the oils in your skin and the foundation.

Your Facial Care Regime

This might also play a part in your foundation woes. Whether you are not properly prepping your face by making sure it’s clean and free of excess oil and dirt, or you find yourself on the other end of the spectrum using too many products, this too can play a role in how your foundation wears throughout the day.

This is why it’s super important to know your skin type and understand what it needs to make sure the products you are using are beneficial for your skin type.

Overcleaning and stripping away all of your skin’s natural oils will cause your skin to react by producing more oil, which can change the appearance of your foundation.

Using too many heavy creams and serums can block pores and cause the skin to become congested. This too can affect how foundation looks after you’ve put it on.

Take Away

Foundation separating in the bottle could be an indicator that it’s gone bad. But if it’s gone off, there will also be other signs, like the color and smell.

If you are unsure, give it a shake. If it mixes back together, then you’re golden. If not, time to go shopping for new foundation!

Written by Kayla Young

Kayla is the founder of LuxeLuminous. She has worked professionally in the tanning industry for years. She has been interested in esthetics since childhood, and has tried every hair, skin, and makeup product ever produced (more or less).