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Best Foundations for Dry Skin for 2023

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Applying makeup can be a game of chance when you have naturally dry skin. You might need foundation to help even out your skin tone. But depending on your makeup prep steps and application method, you could wind up with a face full of flakes.

A good foundation for dry skin should be hydrating. But those of us with this skin type know that shine and occasional oiliness can also plague dry skin, and finding a comprehensive foundation formula to work around these unexpected skin conditions isn’t always easy. To help, we’re highlighting a few tried and true options that are easy to find, incredibly hydrating, and offer a variety of coverage and finish levels. 

Best foundations for dry skin overview:

How we chose the best foundations for dry skin

To compile this list, we researched manufacturer specifications, including shade ranges, formulas, coverage, standout ingredients, and SPF content, to create a short list of the top foundations for dry skin. Then, we combed through detailed product descriptions, ratings, and reviews to find the best foundations for dry skin for each category.

Our picks for the best foundations for dry skin

Best overall
NYX Cosmetics Total Control Pro Drop Foundation

What we love

  • 30-color shade range
  • Buildable sheer to full coverage
  • Vegan and clean liquid formula

What we don’t love

  • Dropper applicator has a learning curve
  • No standout ingredients to point to hydration or clean claims

Dry skin is thirsty. So, you’ll always need to find hydrating foundations that won’t leave your already-parched skin in a desert wasteland. But another factor you need to consider is your coverage needs, which may range from sheer to full. 

NYX Cosmetics’ Total Control Pro Drop Foundation is a lightweight liquid formula you can adjust your coverage level depending on your needs. Along with being fairly affordable, we like that this pick has a wide shade range, including ample options for deeper skin tones. Plus, it’s a vegan liquid formula that easily blends into the skin, offering up to 12 hours of wear. 

However, the dropper applicator can take some time to master. Additionally, although the brand promotes a clean and “good-for-your-skin” formula, this isn’t clearly specified with definitive ingredients.

Shades: 30 | SPF: No | Formula: Liquid | Coverage: Sheer to full

Best budget
Wet n Wild Photo Focus Stick Foundation

What we love

  • Creamy stick formula
  • 21 shades
  • Medium to full coverage

What we don’t love

  • Deeper shades not always available in-store

Wet n Wild is one of our consistent favorites, as it offers professional quality products at a budget-friendly price. 

The Photo Focus Stick Foundation is a lightweight option, especially for those flake-heavy days in the winter. While your pre-makeup prep routine will have the biggest impact on staying flake-free, this creamy formula here gives your skin an added boost of moisture. Thanks to its semi-matte finish with buildable coverage, you won’t look dry or oily. The only drawback with this foundation is that sometimes, the deeper shades are tougher to find in-store.

Shades: 21 | SPF: No | Formula: Stick | Coverage: Medium to full

Best full coverage
IT Cosmetics CC+ Cream Full-Coverage Foundation with SPF 50

What we love

  • SPF 50
  • Improves the look of skin over time
  • 22 shades

What we don’t love

  • A little pricey for some
  • Full coverage may not appeal to all

Dry skin and full coverage can be challenging, as heavy coverage can intensify the look of dryness or showcase flakiness. But IT Cosmetics changed the game with the CC+ Cream Full-Coverage Foundation with SPF 50. More importantly, this full-coverage foundation comes in 22 shades, complete with SPF 50.

This pick incorporates a hydrating, anti-aging formula to improve the look of your skin with consistent use. It works to camouflage redness, acne scarring, dark circles, uneven skin tone, the look of pores, and even dark spots, thanks to the inclusion of hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, and vitamin E. While this option is full coverage, you can sheer it out by using a small amount and applying it with a damp applicator or brush.

Shades: 2 | SPF: 50 | Formula: CC/cream | Coverage: Full

Best hydrating
Milani Glow Hydrating Skin Tint

What we love

  • Ultra-hydrating formula
  • Infused with squalane and vitamin E
  • Sheer coverage that blurs imperfections

What we don’t love

  • Limited shade range

Dry skin and makeup applications can sometimes feel like a guaranteed recipe for flakes. But, if you pick foundations with hydrating ingredients, you can reduce the chances of this happening. Milani’s Glow Hydrating Skin Tint is a sheer finish liquid formula that’s loaded with squalane, electrolytes, and coconut water to lock in moisture and give your skin a glow. 

This vegan and cruelty-free formula blends seamlessly with your skin while also blurring imperfections. The end effect is a naturally dewy glow that’ll have everyone asking for your skincare secrets. The only drawback of this product is its limited shade range.

Shades: 8 | SPF: No | Formula: Liquid | Coverage: Sheer

Best skin-enhancing
Ilia True Skin Serum Foundation

What we love

  • Contains active ingredients niacinamide and allantoin
  • Radiant finish
  • 30-color shade range

What we don’t love

  • May be expensive for some

Gone are the days when makeup just sat on your face and did nothing to help the skin underneath it. These days, brands continue to roll out foundations infused with active ingredients that can improve the look and feel of your skin. 

Ilia is one such brand, as its True Skin Serum Foundation straddles the line between makeup and cosmeceuticals. This cruelty-free, vegan foundation comes in 30 shades and incorporates niacinamide to smooth your skin and allantoin to soothe it. 

The lightweight, breathable, and buildable formula helps improve the look of pores, fine lines, uneven tone, and redness. The end result is a radiant finish and better skin underneath.

Shades: 30 | SPF: No | Formula: Liquid | Coverage: Sheer to medium

Best vegan
CoverGirl Clean Fresh Skin Milk Foundation

What we love

  • Clean, vegan formula
  • Hydrating aloe extract and coconut milk
  • Buildable coverage to blur imperfections

What we don’t love

  • Limited shade range

Most of the foundations we’re highlighting in this guide are vegan. But if you’re looking for a standout vegan formula with a fairly comprehensive shade range that won’t break the bank, this CoverGirl option is a solid choice. The Clean Fresh Skin Milk Foundation is a lightweight, liquid option that offers buildable coverage. The smoothing formula can even out your skin tone without settling into fine lines or caking. 

Ingredients like aloe extract and coconut milk can help combat dry skin, and this pick is ideal for people with sensitive skin as it’s free of parabens, formaldehyde, mineral oil, fragrances, or sulfates.

Shades: 14 | SPF: No | Formula: Liquid | Coverage: Sheer to medium

Best drugstore
L.A. Girl HD Pro BB Cream

  • Hydrates with vitamins B3, C, and E
  • Blurs imperfections and evens skin tone
  • Free of fragrance and parabens

What we love

  • Only offers 8 shades

What we don’t love

L.A. Girl’s HD Pro BB Cream is an affordable, cream-liquid formula that provides light coverage while multitasking as a primer, moisturizer, and foundation all in one. Plus, it’s free of both parabens and fragrances.

Note that this BB cream is a hybrid, as a true BB cream will usually be thicker than the slightly looser texture of L.A. Girl’s entry into the category. This formula incorporates vitamins B3, C, and E for hydration and has the option for buildability if you want more coverage. However, there are only eight shades available.

Shades: 8 | SPF: No | Formula: Liquid-cream | Coverage: Sheer to medium

Best shade range
Fenty Beauty Pro Filt’r Soft Matte Longwear Foundation

What we love

  • Inclusive shade range
  • Soft matte that won’t dry out skin
  • Sweatproof

What we don’t love

  • May be a little pricey for some

No foundation roundup is complete without including Fenty Beauty. No, it’s not the only brand with a massive shade range. But Miss RiRi set the standard for debuting a collection with a complete range rather than waiting until later to release deeper hues. To date, the Pro Filt’r Soft Matte Longwear foundation has 59 shades — with more to come. 

Historically, people with dry skin have been encouraged to avoid matte finishes. But this is a soft matte liquid foundation, not a true matte. So, beauties with dry skin can still reasonably use this pick without getting flaky. Because this is a soft matte finish, it means your face won’t look flat. However, it still won’t have the same shine or sheen as a radiant or dewy-finish foundation. 

You’ll also get a lightweight texture that’s not only breathable but sweatproof and humidity-resistant, plus a diffused effect for less visible pores.

Shades: 59 | SPF: No | Formula: Liquid | Coverage: Medium to full

Best splurge
Kevyn Aucoin Stripped Nude Skin Tint

What we love

  • Ideal for a no-makeup look
  • Botanical extracts to hydrate skin
  • Lightweight, buildable formula

What we don’t love

  • Limited 10-color shade range
  • Expensive

If you’re ready to venture into the world of pro makeup artist brands, you can’t go wrong with Kevyn Aucoin. Known as the true inventor of contouring, Kevyn Aucoin is a name that’s synonymous with the height of supermodel makeup effects in the 90s. 

The Kevyn Aucoin Stripped Nude Skin Tint is a lightweight, hydrating, sheer-to-medium finish foundation meant to look like you’re wearing nothing at all. It’s infused with botanical extracts to aid in hydration. However, it only comes in 10 shades and is genuinely meant to be used in conjunction with many of the other skin-highlighting products within the Kevyn Aucoin portfolio, like the Neo-Bronzer or Sensual Skin Enhancer.

Shades: 10 | SPF: No | Formula: Liquid | Coverage: Sheer to medium

Best skin tint
Tarte Maracuja Tinted Moisturizer

What we love

  • Vegan formula
  • 12-hour longwear and hydration
  • Radiant finish ideal for a no-makeup look

What we don’t love

  • Not everyone will appreciate the scented formula

Skin tints aren’t exactly a new invention, but not all skin tints are created equal. Tarte’s Maracuja Tinted Moisturizer is a buildable foundation that offers a natural, radiant finish and comes available in 20 shades. 

Tarte promises that you’ll get 12 hours of hydrating wear with a sheer finish that works to minimize the appearance of imperfections. The vegan formula also features hyaluronic acid for moisture and a vegan collagen complex to boost firmness. Finally, turmeric aids in controlling redness, while aloe soothes and heals irritated skin.

Shades: 20 | SPF: No | Formula: Liquid | Coverage: Sheer to medium

Best pro
Pat McGrath Labs Skin Fetish: Sublime Perfection Foundation

What we love

  • 36-color shade range
  • Self-setting formula
  • 12-hour wear with satin finish

What we don’t love

  • Very expensive

There’s no one like Pat McGrath. With collaborations with OG supermodel Naomi Campbell, it’s no wonder why people are literally obsessed with a self-made billionaire beauty maven and her take on color cosmetics. Although the brand is a certified splurge, there’s something for everyone to love. 

If you’ve got a few extra coins that you don’t mind spending, the Skin Fetish: Sublime Perfection Foundation is an interesting and somewhat unexpected entry into the foundation world. It’s a lightweight, thin-textured liquid foundation with a large shade range. Still, it offers medium to full buildable coverage.

You’ll get a satin finish, 12 hours of wear, and a self-setting formula — meaning you can skip the powder that encourages flakes. The end result is a soft-focus blur effect that’ll look perfect in any lighting.

Shades: 36 | SPF: No | Formula: Liquid | Coverage: Medium to full

Best for no-makeup looks
Erborian CC Cream Buildable Tinted Color Corrector with SPF 25

What we love

  • Radiant finish
  • Hydrating ingredients
  • Tiger grass to soothe irritated skin

What we don’t love

  • Only 3 shades
  • Pricey

Not everyone wants to look like they’re wearing a full face of makeup when they leave their house. Erborian is a Korean beauty brand that pairs the benefits of K-beauty skincare trends with makeup. However, the CC Cream Buildable Tinted Corrector with SPF 25 only comes in three shades.

The  CC cream is an SPF-infused product that improves the look and feel of your skin with consistent use. The brand promises that it might apply white at first, but will ultimately adapt to your unique skin tone. The jury is out on that claim for very deep skin tones or anyone who doesn’t neatly fit within the three available shades offered. 

Some reviews we found seem to support our concerns that if you’re too far outside of the three available shades, this might be a hard sell for shade matching. But there are ample reasons to love this CC cream: It uses ingredients like honey and vitamin E provide vital moisture, while Centella Asiatica (tiger grass) works to soothe irritated skin and hydrate fine lines for a plumper appearance

Shades: 30 | SPF: 25 | Formula: Cream | Coverage: Sheer to medium

Best no-waste
Maybelline Fit Me! Matte + Poreless Liquid Foundation Pouch

What we love

  • Low-waste packaging
  • 40-color shade range
  • Ideal for dry and combination skin

What we don’t love

  • May not be ideal for people with just dry skin

Maybe you’re striving to cut down on packaging waste or simply hate how traditional foundation containers make it impossible to use the last few drops. We hear you, which is why we’ve included this alternative version of Maybelline’s Fit Me! Matte + Poreless Liquid Foundation. Yes, you can find this foundation in a traditional glass bottle design. But the squeeze pouch is a better bang for your buck. 

Along with being travel-friendly, the squeeze pouch lets you get every last bit of foundation out of the package and uses one-third less plastic than the standard glass bottle design. Available in 40 shades, this is a matte and poreless foundation. However, it’s not a drying matte but a natural finish. 

This pick is formally designed for normal to oily skin. But we think it’s ideal for people with dry combination skin — the type that may fight flakes regularly but also gets a bit shiny as the day progresses. It incorporates clay to absorb oil but also uses micro-powders to stop shine.

Shades: 40 | SPF: No | Formula: Liquid | Coverage: Medium to full

Don’t let dry skin stop your makeup routine

Dry skin can be frustrating. Just remember that skin prep is just as important as whichever foundation you select. Even the most hydrating foundation can only do so much if you fail to properly exfoliate and moisturize beforehand.

NYX Cosmetics Total Control Pro Drop Foundation is an ideal starting place if you want a foundation that’s buildable with a fairly large shade range. Meanwhile, Wet n Wild’s Photo Focus Stick Foundation is an excellent option if you’re working on a budget and don’t like liquids. 

How to pick the right foundations for dry skin

For the most part, liquid foundations are your best bet if you have dry skin, as they’re less likely to encourage flaking. But you also need to consider the type of coverage, finish, ingredients, formula, and even your skin-prep routine. 


At a minimum, you’ll want to prioritize foundations with hydrating ingredients such as squalane, vitamin E, aloe, and hyaluronic acid. These options all infuse moisture, minimizing the chances of flaking. Also, some foundations come with SPF. If you spend most of your time indoors, get at least an SPF 15. Meanwhile, you’ll want an SPF of 30 or better if you frequently spend time outside.

Many foundations now incorporate more intensive active ingredients such as niacinamide and vitamin C. Niacinamide is ideal if you’re trying to naturally boost your skin’s glow because it aids cellular turnover. Vitamin C is a natural brightener that can make your skin look more radiant and improve collagen production. 

However, these are active ingredients — so be mindful of your overall skincare routine as you don’t want to apply too many competing actives. They could cancel each other out or interact negatively with each other. 


Coverage for foundations can range from sheer to medium to full. Sheer foundations tend to be tinted moisturizers that offer a hint of color to simply even out your skin tone. These are ideal for “no-makeup” style looks where you want to control minor hyperpigmentation. 

Medium or medium-to-full foundations offer more coverage that can sometimes be dubbed “your skin but better” since it creates a flawless finish but doesn’t look like you’re wearing a full face. Usually, if you want a buildable foundation that allows you to shift from light to full, you want a medium coverage pick. 

Finally, full coverage is exactly as it sounds. This is ideal if you need longer wear for an event such as a wedding or have more serious hyperpigmentation or blemishes that need camouflaging. But you’ll still want to look for a formula that won’t settle into fine lines. 


Finish refers to how a foundation makes your skin look. The main options tend to be natural (sometimes listed as satin), radiant (also listed as glow or dewy), and matte. A natural finish will usually create a subtle light reflection once applied to your skin. So, it looks as if you were bare-faced and light naturally hit your face. Meanwhile, radiant will offer more glow or sheen. If you have very dry skin, radiant or dewy finish foundations are best since they’ll offer the most hydration.

Of the three, avoid matte if you have dry skin — unless it’s a soft matte. Ultra matte foundations can be incredibly drying, which can encourage excessive flaking. A soft matte can sometimes work since it’s still hydrating, and while doesn’t offer as high a shine as a radiant finish, it still allows for some light reflection. 


Formula refers to the texture of the foundation. The most common options for any foundation are liquids, creams, powders, and sometimes a hybrid of the standard textures. Liquids and creams are the best options for most people with dry skin as they’re the most hydrating. As noted in our guide, almost all of our picks are liquids, with a few liquid-cream hybrids and one true cream stick. 

Those with dry skin should skip powder foundations. Depending on your skin’s current hydration level, applying a powder to your face could encourage flaking. For this reason, be mindful of using setting powders after applying foundation, as the application process could cause flakes to appear.  

Skin prep

The secret to a flawless foundation application is skin prep. 

This is true for any skin type, especially if you have dry skin. Taking the time to properly care for your skin before applying makeup will be the difference between constantly battling flakes versus having a “your skin but better” kind of day every time you wear makeup. 

You need to exfoliate regularly when you have dry skin because flaking is a real concern. Likewise, you need to hydrate your skin properly. This includes giving that moisturizer, primer, or serum plenty of time to deeply penetrate your skin before you start applying products. 


What’s the best type of foundation for dry skin? 

The specific foundation you pick depends on your preference for coverage, finish, and texture. We recommend liquid formulas as they’re typically more hydrating. Consider our best overall from NYX Cosmetics, the Total Control Pro Drop Foundation.

How do you get flawless foundation with dry skin?

Practice proper skin prep to achieve a flawless foundation look. Make sure to exfoliate and moisturize dry, thirsty skin before applying foundation. More importantly, give your skin some time to absorb moisturizers, primers, or serums to penetrate the layers before starting your foundation routine. 

What foundation do dermatologists recommend for those with dry skin?

Dermatologists usually recommend a liquid or cream formula with hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid or squalane for dry skin.