When you have dry skin getting makeup to look good can be pretty difficult. Foundations and concealers are tougher to blend, and even thinking about powder can make flakey patches suddenly appear on your skin. However, by finding the right foundation for dry skin and by applying it with the best technique you can end up with makeup that looks flawless and even dewy!
I’ve put together a list of the best foundations for dry skin, as well as other great products that’ll help your complexion look fresh. I explain how to choose the right makeup products for dry skin, focusing on the categories that really matter.
I then give a guide on how to apply makeup for dry skin in a way that will load it up with hydrating layers at every step, to keep dryness at bay and avoid those dreaded dry patches. To finish things off, I have a few more tips and tricks to keep you feeling gorgeously glowy all day long.
Dry Skin Makeup Guide: Contents
- 19 Best Foundations for Dry Skin That Won’t Flake
- 10 Other Makeup Products for Dry Skin
- How to Choose Makeup for Dry Skin
- How to Apply Makeup If You Have Dry Skin
- Other Moisturizing Makeup Tips for Dry Skin
Looking for the best foundation for dry skin that won’t flake? Look no further! Here you can find 19 amazing options that really work!
1. Giorgio Armani Beauty Luminous Silk Foundation
This sheer to medium foundation for dry skin will help even out your skin tone while giving it incredible luminosity. It will make your skin look youthful and dewy, without ever feeling heavy or cakey. You won’t have to worry about dry patches or a tight, comfortable feeling from it. The color range is commendable, with options for all skin tones. Find it at Sephora!
2. NARS Natural Radiant Longwear Foundation
When you have dry skin it’s hard to find a high-coverage foundation that won’t emphasize skin dryness. Well, NARS made it easy with this long-lasting, skin-luminizing formula. A tiny amount goes a long way to cover the skin, whereas overapplying can lead to cakiness – something to keep in mind if you tend to be generous with your foundation application. It is available at Nordstrom.
3. Tarte Water Foundation Broad Spectrum SPF 15 – Sea Collection
This water-based foundation for dry skin from Tarte has a very hydrating formula that is rich in skin-quenching glycerin. Despite the moisturizer-like formulation, it actually offers buildable coverage that is long-lasting even without face powder. It looks fairly natural on the skin – neither overly glowy nor dry. Note that it’s best used with a none-silicone primer. You can buy it from Sephora.
4. Lancôme Absolue Replenishing Cream Makeup SPF 20
The Internet is obsessed with this foundation for dry skin, and for a good reason. It is rich and creamy, with high coverage that somehow never settles into fine lines. It offers respectable sun protection while also helping to moisturize the skin with a variety of hydrators. It also has a skin-brightening effect, thanks to licorice extract. Because it’s on the thicker side of things a small amount goes a long way. Jar packaging does mean you gotta take it out with a small spatula. Get it at Nordstrom!
5. Josie Maran Argan Matchmaker Serum Foundation
Despite the name, it’s better to think of this as a tinted moisturizer or maybe even tinted serum. It hydrates the skin beautifully while imparting just a bit of color to even out the skin without covering too much. It is made with silky coconut alkanes and hydrating butylene glycol to make the skin soft and nourished. While the color range might seem small, because of the sheerness of the product one shade can suit multiple skin tones. Order it online from Dermstore!
6. Too Faced Born This Way Foundation
Though their branding leaves some people cold, it is undeniable that Too Faced complexion products are some of the best on the market. This is the best foundation for dry skin types that also require full coverage because it can hide all kinds of marks and blemishes without ever catching on dry patches. It makes the skin look moisturized and feel moisturized. Pick it up at Sephora!
7. La Mer Soft Fluid Long Wear Foundation SPF 20
La Mer is a brand that knows how to justify their high price tags with very high-quality products. Do you need a foundation that costs more than $100? Maybe you don’t, but if money is no object then we gotta admit this might be the best foundation for dry skin. The ultra-soft formula covers all kinds of imperfections and gives a dewy glow without looking like makeup. In addition to sun protection, it is loaded with various botanical oils, vitamins, and peptides to give the skin hydration and to prevent premature aging. Buy it at Nordstrom!
8. Cover FX Natural Finish Foundation
This is another fabulous low-silicone formula from one of my favorite complexion brands. If your skin is both dry and sensitive then this is definitely the best foundation to try. It is totally free of any irritants and is instead made with soothing and nourishing ingredients like vitamin E and squalane. The shade range and classification are excellent, and the coverage itself is medium but buildable. You can get it from Sephora.
9. Yves Saint Laurent Touche Eclat Le Teint Radiance Awakening Foundation
This illuminating foundation gives dry skin a beautiful glow. It offers a fair bit of coverage, but nothing extreme, and it’s a perfect choice if you like a very strobed makeup look. Unlike other luminizing foundations, it doesn’t emphasize texture issues. It is sold at Sephora.
10. Charlotte Tilbury Magic Foundation
Following the hype of the wonderful Magic Cream comes this unique full-coverage foundation for dry skin that is technically recommended for all skin types. It has a natural finish that is neither matte nor dewy, though you won’t have to powder it with dry skin. It does help to hydrate the skin with a dose of hyaluronic acid and glycerin. Despite being full coverage, it doesn’t feel heavy on dry skin. Purchase it from Nordstrom!
11. bareMinerals COMPLEXION RESCUE Tinted Hydrating Gel Cream
This super hydrating tinted gel-cream has an amazing texture. It moisturizes dry skin while also helping to provide light coverage. Once applied, the skin looks glowy and healthy. Note that since it’s a water-based foundation for dry skin, it should be used with a silicone-free primer. If you are acne-prone, do a patch test, as it contains coconut alkanes. Get your match out of the 16 shades sold at Sephora!
12. MAC Cosmetics Pro Longwear Nourishing Waterproof Foundation
This is another full-coverage foundation for dry skin. The combination of dewiness and pigmentation in this formula gives what we can best describe as Barbie doll perfect skin. It looks good for hours, even through rain and sweat, and yet it keeps the skin luminous. Buy it at Nordstrom!
13. ILIA True Skin Serum Foundation
This is one of the best natural foundations around, especially for those with dry skin. Instead of the typical silicones, it is made with creamy coconut alkanes as well as some natural oils that soften and nourish the skin. It really is a makeup product that also functions as skin care. Be careful with it if you’re acne-prone, and don’t expect it to act exactly like a mainstream product. You can get it from Sephora.
14. bareMinerals BarePro Performance Wear Liquid Foundation
This is the second product on this list from bareMinerals – clearly this brand knows how to make the best foundations for dry skin. This one offers a bit more coverage while also helping to improve skin texture and moisturization over time. It is made with papain to lightly renew the skin. Unlike the tinted gel-cream, this product offers full coverage. It is available at Nordstrom.
15. Chantecaille Future Skin Gel Foundation
This super soothing foundation is great for sensitive dry skin. It is made with chamomile and arnica to keep skin calm, but it also offers medium coverage to hide sensitivity. It is lightweight, however, it has a hydrating texture that glides over dry patches instead of catching on them. Keep in mind that it comes in a jar and will require scooping out with a spatula. Pick it up from Nordstrom!
16. Milk Makeup Sunshine Skin Tint SPF 30
Lots of respect goes to Milk for making such a cute product with such high SPF, although it’s always worth remembering that the amount of product required for full protection is higher than the amount of foundation you’d normally want to put on. This foundation for dry skin has a hydrating effect on the skin but little coverage, so it’s a lot like a tinted moisturizer. The formula comes in a unique cooling rollerball applicator that some people adore and others dislike. You can find it at Sephora.
17. Jane Iredale Glow Time Full Coverage Mineral BB Cream Broad Spectrum SPF 25
This is another great foundation for all of you natural beauty aficionados with dry skin. Marketed as a BB cream, this product contains skin-nourishing ingredients like aloe and sunflower oil. It has a natural finish that is not overly dewy and fairly high coverage for a natural BB cream. It is sold at Nordstrom.
18. Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Perfector Skin Tint Foundation SPF 25
This is the best foundation for dry skin for those low-maintenance days when you just need a light touch of makeup. This lightweight formula evens out the skin tone lightly and looks extremely natural. It contains a touch of glycerin to keep your skin hydrated all day long. Buy it from Sephora!
19. Chanel Vitalumière Aqua Ultra-Light Skin Perfecting Sunscreen Makeup Broad Spectrum SPF 15
This lightweight foundation from Chanel will refresh your complexion with just a drop of product. It is made to stay in place for hours once applied, keeping the skin even-toned and glowing with nourishment. It tends to work especially well with mature skin because it doesn’t settle into creases or fine lines. Pick it up at Nordstrom!
To keep your dry skin healthy and glowy, make sure you also include the following makeup products in your routine.
1. Hourglass No. 28 Primer Serum
Lots of silicone-based makeup primers seem to catch on dry patches, but not this one. This primer helps moisturize dry skin while blurring out all sorts of texture issues. It’ll help foundation glide over your skin without caking up or emphasizing dryness. In addition to silicones, it also contains a collection of light plant oils that help to soften the skin. Note that it contains quite a few essential oils, so avoid it if you have sensitive skin. It is sold at Sephora.
2. Laura Mercier Foundation Primer – Radiance
This beautiful primer is silicone-free and it gives the skin some serious glow. It helps foundation go on more smoothly and last longer, but it also keeps your foundation from looking too matte. It gives the skin a hydrated, lit-from-within glow that is just great for dry skin. It is made with skin-nourishing oils like jojoba and castor. You can buy it from Sephora.
3. By Terry Hyaluronic Hydra-Powder
Finding a good setting powder when you have dry skin can be extremely difficult. Even the most lightweight powders still have a mattifying effect on the skin. This powder, however, is practically magic. It’s made primarily of hyaluronic acid, so once applied to the skin it can actually pull moisture from the air to hydrate your makeup. It also contains silica, which helps blur pores and partially mattifies. It is available at Nordstrom.
4. Morphe Continuous Setting Mist
This setting mist works double duty. It’ll extend the life of your makeup for dry skin while also making sure that it looks hydrating and dewy! The spray nozzle dispenses an ultra-fine mist that won’t disrupt your makeup at all, and the formula itself is loaded with glycerin that will pull moisture into your skin throughout the day and will keep your foundation looking fresh. Get it at Ulta!
5. NARS Pro-Prime Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base
The right eyeshadow primer makes all the difference between flakey, creepy eye makeup and smooth, vibrant eye look. This eyeshadow base is the best makeup for dry skin because it enhances eyeshadow adherence and longevity without drying out the eyes or dragging on the skin uncomfortably. It is available at Sephora in 3 colors to suit all skin tones.
6. BECCA Shimmering Skin Perfector Liquid Highlighter
What’s the only thing lovelier than an intense highlight? A totally customizable highlight! These liquid highlighters come in a variety of flattering metallic shades, to suit both dark and light skin tones, and they have a moisturizing, blendable formula. You can wear them alone over your foundation for a dewy strobe, or mix them in with a dab of a foundation for a more muted glow. They are sold at Ulta.
7. Charlotte Tilbury Hollywood Contour Wand
Cream contour is the best way to give definition to dry skin, but it’s important to find a truly emollient formula or risk your contour not blending. This contour wand fits the bill, offering a nourishing formula that blends flawlessly. The colors themselves will look like natural shadows once applied, as they are slightly cool without leaning towards orange or pink. Find it at Nordstrom!
8. Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Eraser Dark Circle Treatment Concealer
Though the applicator is controversial, the formula itself is anything but. It’s a medium coverage concealer that hides imperfections, especially around the eyes, but doesn’t overdo it or give a heavy finish. It’s great for the under-eye area because it has a brightening effect. Despite its hydrating finish, this makeup for dry skin actually stays in place all day. Get it at Ulta!
9. It Cosmetics Bye Bye Under Eye Full Coverage Anti-Aging Waterproof Concealer
In the age of Shape Tape, it’s hard to find a full-coverage concealer that won’t make dry skin look even drier. This creamy formula is IT (silly joke, I know), covering all forms of discoloration completely without emphasizing dryness or fine lines. You will definitely find your color match since there are 48 shades available, so buy it from Sephora!
10. NARS Audacious Lipstick
Those with dry skin often find that their lips will also get quite dry, which is why a moisturizing lipstick is a must. These lipsticks from NARS go on opaque and smooth, but they make the lips feel soft and healthy. The shade range is more traditional, with tons of reds, pinks, plums, and berry tones that will flatter all skin tones. Pick one up at Sephora!
When it comes to buying makeup for dry skin, there are certain aspects you should pay attention to, whether it’s the best foundation for dry skin, primer or any other product.
Makeup Primer for Dry Skin
A makeup primer is actually not super important when one has dry skin. A lot of people with dry skin find that a great moisturizer or multiple hydration steps do a much better job of ensuring that foundation will go on smoothly and last a long time. Facial oils, for example, do a wonderful job as a makeup base for dry skin.
With that in mind, you want to look for a primer that will have real skin-moisturizing effects and won’t have a mattifying effect on the skin. Lastly, make sure to match your primer to your foundation. Oils or silicone-based primers will be fine with silicone-based foundations, which happen to be the most common. Use a silicone-free primer if your foundation is water-based, however.
Foundation for Dry Skin
The best foundation for dry skin is either a hydrating liquid foundation or an emollient cream formulation. Historically, many liquid foundations were too mattifying for those with dry skin, but newer formulations have been simultaneously light and moisturizing.
The foundation you choose should be advertised as having a natural or dewy finish, while matte foundations should be avoided. Avoid foundations with a thick, velvety texture, as they will be hard to blend and there is also an increased risk that they’ll drag on your skin and emphasize dry patches. Thick foundations that feel a little oily, on the other hand, will work just fine.
Product descriptions that include the words “radiant”, “hydrated”, “moisturized” and such will be the best foundation for dry skin, as will formulas that contain some oil or lots of humectants. When you test out your foundation, it should feel slippery and easy to move around.
Concealer for Dry Skin
Like with foundation, you definitely want to avoid concealers that will dry down to a matte finish. Stick to more emollient formulas that contain oils or lots of humectants like glycerin, as they’ll keep your skin moist while covering imperfections. This is particularly important for under-eye concealers, as overly matte formulas will emphasize texture and fine lines.
Powder for Dry Skin
Powder is an optional makeup step for those with dry skin, as many foundations will set naturally when the skin doesn’t produce a lot of oil. While powder will definitely increase the longevity of your foundation and prevent smudging, it can also very easily make your skin overly dry and lead to a heavy, cakey makeup look.
We are only beginning to see powders that are formulated with non-mattifying ingredients like silica and hyaluronic acid powder instead of traditional ingredients like talcum and starch. If you have a more traditional setting powder, however, read on to learn how to apply it without your skin losing its radiance.
Blush, Highlight, and Contour for Dry Skin
Every layer of moisture applied to your skin will work to fight against dryness, and that can also include highlight, contour, and blush. Cream and liquid complexion products can do just as good of a job of adding definition and life to the face as powder products, but they have the added benefit of looking dewier and being less likely to emphasize texture and dryness.
This is especially true when it comes to strobing, as the reflective minerals in powder highlighters tend to really bring out any imperfection including dry patches.
Additionally, powder products can be particularly difficult to blend if they’re applied straight over foundation, without a layer of translucent powder to acts as a barrier. If you don’t set your foundation with powder, then definitely stick to cream complexion products, as they will blend more easily into your makeup.
Lip Products for Dry Skin
Those with dry skin often also have very dry lips, so treat your lipstick as another moisturizing step. Choose oil-based lipstick formulas that will help lock moisture into your parched pout.
Most tube lipsticks offer some nourishment, but it’s always best to read the ingredients list and look for botanical oils like castor oil, coconut oil, or shea butter. These lipsticks will usually have a glossier or satin-like finish, but you can mattify them with a dusting of powder. Try to avoid mattifying liquid lipsticks, as they will only make your lips feel drier.
• Start with clean and very well moisturized skin. Make sure to also pack on the sunscreen if you’ll be going out in the daytime.
• Allow the sunscreen at least 15 minutes to fully sink into your skin, or you risk diluting its efficacy once you apply foundation.
• If you’d like, smooth a tiny amount of primer over your skin either with fingers or a damp makeup sponge. Start at the center of your face, and smooth it outwards. Give it a few minutes to set before moving on to your foundation for dry skin.
• Dot your foundation over your skin (the amount you’ll need depends on the foundation, but start off with a small amount), and then blend it in using a damp sponge. Use a tapping motion rather than a dragging one, in order to achieve a more seamless finish. The damp sponge is key, as it will infuse some water into your foundation, to make it look dewier and more hydrated.
• Apply your concealer in a similar method. First, dot it over the areas where you need a little bit more coverage, and then follow it up with dabbing with your makeup sponge. Build up coverage with very thin layers.
• With your fingers, a makeup brush, or applicator, apply your cream contour, highlighter, and blush. Cream products are better than powder ones for those with dry skin because they have a creamier finish.
Contour should be used along with a perimeter of the face and below the cheekbones. Highlighter goes on the top part of the cheekbones, down the center of the nose, center of the forehead and above the Cupid’s bow. Apply your cream blush to the apples of the cheeks and blend it a little bit into the temple.
• Now it’s time to powder your skin! The key to setting makeup without overloading the skin is to use a small complexion brush that is on the fluffy side of things. This brush will apply a more diffused amount of powder.
• When you load the brush with your powder of choice, make sure to tap it against the rim so that an excess powder falls off.
• Use a tapping motion to apply the powder to your skin. You may not have to apply it all over your face, but only on areas where you want to reduce shine or prevent the foundation from wearing away.
• To do your eye makeup, apply a thin layer of a moisturizing eyeshadow primer to your lid, and then follow it up with your eyeshadow, mascara, and any other eye makeup products you would normally wear.
• Apply a moisturizing lipstick to your lips, and touch up your complexion with any powder products like blush or highlighter that you might want to use.
• Finish your dry skin makeup off by misting on a hydrating spray that will help keep your makeup look fresh and long-lasting.
• Making sure your skin is well hydrated and moisturized before starting your makeup is going to make the biggest difference! Your foundation for dry skin will go on more smoothly, and your makeup will be less likely to cake up or catch on dry patches. Make sure you’ve got your morning skin care routine on point.
• A damp sponge is going to ensure that your foundation glides on effortlessly but it will also add additional moisture to your skin and makeup. Brushes, on the other hand, will apply the product more heavily and with a more matte finish.
• Hydrating your skin again after you’ve applied your makeup can make all the difference! You can just mist on a bit of water, or use a dedicated makeup mist.
• If your skin is being particularly finicky, use your hydrating mist all throughout the makeup application. Mist once after you’ve applied foundation, and a second time immediately after powdering. Mist your skin one last time at the very end of the application, and again throughout the day.
• You will find that facial oil can have a ton of uses in your makeup routine! Give it a try instead of primer, or dot it over the high points of your face instead of cream highlight. Sweet almond oil, rosehip seed oil, and squalane can all work well.
• Be gentle when it’s time to take your makeup off! Avoid harsh gel cleansers, and instead opt for nourishing oil or balm cleansers. They’ll remove your makeup very thoroughly without stripping your dry skin of moisture.
Photos via @marianna_hewitt