‘It’s the season of cozy soups, hot drinks and relaxation at home, but for many of us it also means dry spots and dehydrated skin begging for hydration. The cold air outside combined with the dry heat indoors can really take its toll on our skin, especially for those with already dry or sensitive skin. So when it’s time to put makeup on said dry skin, things get a little, well, difficult. To help, we picked the best foundations for dry skin, also called the perfect remedy for a thirsty dermis.
As a makeup artist, there is nothing that messes with a seamless foundation application more than dry and scaly skin with a great need for exfoliation. It does not matter what foundation you use or how skilled you are, you will not achieve the desired finish if your base is not moisturized. The product settles, fine lines and pores become more pronounced and you are left with a look that highlights any dryness instead of disappearing into your skin for a flawless finish. Fortunately, you can still 100% achieve a beautiful finish from your foundation with the right preparation and products.
If you are looking for coverage, radiance and longevity in your formula, we have the foundation choices for you. Read on for the 15 best foundations for dry skin that does not crack, set or slip, plus application tips and tricks for your glowing and most radiant skin ever.
But first, we talked to a board-certified dermatologist, Dr. Elizabeth Geddes-Bruce, to get an insight into everything that has to do with dry skin and how we ensure that we create a good base for our makeup.
What causes dry skin?
“Dry skin is caused by dehydration of the outer layer of the skin,” explains Dr. Bruce-Geddes. “Usually in this layer there are lipids between the cells that help create a barrier against water loss.” It is not only the winter wind that we have to thank for our cracked skin, increasing age, genetics, as well as changes in the weather, can all affect these lipids and cause dry skin.
How can we treat dry skin and what should we avoid?
Dr. Pike-Bruce says the most important way to treat dry skin is to moisturize, moisturize, moisturize.
- Moisturize several times a day and definitely every time you wash your face, hands or body.
- Aim to avoid long, hot showers or baths (choose instead a quick, warm rinse).
- Switch to an unscented, gentle cream cleanser. Other detergents may over-dry or irritate.
What ingredients are good to avoid if we have dry skin?
A good rule of thumb is to treat your skin as you can treat sensitive skin. Dr. Pike-Bruce suggests that you avoid everything with ingredients to aggressively exfoliate, treat active acne or improve wrinkles / signs of aging. “This includes things like retinoids and acids like glycolic acid, benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acids,” she explains. “It’s also a good idea to avoid unnecessary ingredients like fragrance and surfactants like sodium lauryl sulfate (surfactants act as cleaners and help create foam, they remove natural oils!)”
What ingredients should we be aware of if we have dry skin?
- Natural moisturizing factors
- Glycerin dimethicone
- Lactic acid
- Hyaluronic acid
- Aloe vera
- Jojoba oil
When should we see a professional to treat dry skin?
Fortunately, it is quite easy to spot when your skin needs the help of professionals. Dr. Geddes-Bruce says: “Anytime your skin does not appear to recover as expected while using gentle care and over-the-counter products.”
In addition to doubling our face masks and ceramide-filled moisturizers, it is important to choose the right foundation. Scroll on to see our makeup artist-approved tips and tricks as well as our list of 15 proven best foundations for dry skin.
How can you prime / prepare dry skin for applying makeup?
Skin care is the key before any makeup application, but it is especially important if your skin tends to the dry side. Famous makeup artist Kelly Anne explains: “It does not matter if you have the best makeup … if your skin is not prepared with good high quality skin preparation, you are wasting your money.” Having a proper routine and finishing it all with a moisturizing foundation is the key to a portable and luminous finish.
- Make sure the skin is exfoliated.
Start by exfoliating once or twice a week. Do not overdo it, but makeup will not sit well on clogged and flaky skin. Try a gentle exfoliating cleanser like iSClinical Cleansing Complex, an exfoliator that combines manual and chemical like Goop Microderm Instant Glow Exfoliator, or even just try a gentle polish with a washcloth during cleansing.
- Cleanse your skin.
Dr. Pike-Bruce recommends a cream cleanser that will not remove your skin from its already limited moisture.
- Spray on a toner. Most moisturizers need hydration to work properly, and a spray of an alcohol-free or moisturizing toner will do wonders. A very light splash of water even works!
- Apply moisturizer!
Spend a little extra time really working your product into your skin to give it a little extra love. A small facial massage before applying makeup helps your moisturizer to sink in while increasing blood flow and draining swellings for a glowing natural flush.
- Dab on eye cream.
An often skipped step, this is actually super important when you have dry skin. What people often think is a concealer problem (curling, mixing problems, etc.) is actually a moisture problem. Check out our favorite eye creams if you are missing a good one!
Any tips for applying foundation on dry skin?
Fortunately, foundation is usually quite forgiving as long as you mix. Flat foundation brushes or your fingers work okay, but I have found that dense brushes work best for application and polishing. “I love using a kind of dense, kabuki brush … you can even use it for everything in terms of foundation, concealer, contour, powder and cream blush,” says Anne. “They are round, dense and so soft.” Her favorite budget option is the Real Techniques Expert Face Brush, and her favorite dividend is It Cosmetics Heavenly Skin 702.
To take your application to the next level, follow it up with a moisturized beauty blender. This allows the makeup to really polish and blend, giving the most smooth hydrated finish.
What should you look for in foundation when you have dry skin?
While there are some great options for full coverage of foundations out there for dry skin (we share some below!), Pure to medium coverage options tend to be best. Look especially for liquid and light formulas. These tend to prevent cake finishing and keep your skin looking hydrated throughout the day, while powder formulas can soak up any moisture you may have and settle into fine lines and pores.
You should generally plan on having a summer shade and winter shade that matches your level of skin tone, so just choose one of the more moisturizing formulas below for your winter shade.
The best foundations for dry skin
This foundation is not cheap, but is a favorite among makeup artists for good reason (it’s my go-to makeup in my kit for everything from shoots to bridal makeup). With an incredibly smooth texture, this light foundation blends seamlessly into the skin, leaving a medium opaque finish that does not look like you have makeup on. In addition, we love that it comes in 40 shades.
This foundation consistently tops the charts for mature, dry and sensitive skin. The dispenser perfectly dispenses the right amount of product every time. With a brilliant natural finish, it is also a two-to-one with its miscible coverage that meets solid SPF.
Yet another one of my makeup kit favorites, this foundation continues seamlessly while also providing beautiful coverage. I love using it on brides for light and glowing coverage that lasts all day long, through sweat, tears and dance parties without fading or calming down. The formula is packed with hyaluronic acid to hydrate, while their impressive 50 shades will help you find your perfect match.
Although a pin foundation is not usually something to think about when thinking of foundations for dry skin, this pure formula is seriously creamy and nourishing for use all day long.
Truly one of the best pure foundations out there! Packed with skin-loving ingredients like marula oil, jojoba oil, aloe vera and squalane to moisturize and soothe dry and sensitive skin, it offers the perfect medium coverage.
With built-in polymers that embrace the skin, this foundation keeps the skin glowing and moisturizing all day long. Thanks to the polymers, it will not penetrate the skin and will give a soft diffused appearance to the skin.
Offering great glow and easily breathable coverage, this tinted moisturizer need to find the way into your online basket. It is easy to apply and easy to carry around thanks to its functional pipe design. With a large shade range and mineral UV protection, this formula disappears smoothly into the skin for a hydrated dewy fresh finish.
If you’re looking for a great budget option, this foundation is it. It is creamy and luminous and competes with its luxury counterparts thanks to the light and ultra-miscible formula. It is also great for the most sensitive skin as it is a completely fragrance free and non-comedogenic product.
This foundation comes in 50 shades to make it easy to find the perfect match. It offers medium coverage that keeps the skin hydrated and rebuilt thanks to grape seed oil and hyaluronate. With an easy-to-use tube that perfectly dispenses the right amount every time, you can throw this foundation in your bag for touchups on the go.
Clinically proven to increase firmness and elasticity over time, this clear, toned moisturizer uses a blend of blackcurrant seed oil, peony root extract and vitamin C to help brighten and leave the skin fresh and glowing. It is quite dew-free on first application, but fits perfectly on drier skin, so it radiates all day.
With coverage that really lasts all day long, this foundation’s satin-like natural finish gives you a glow that doesn’t look too greasy or shiny.
This bestseller offers buildable, medium-full coverage while still delivering a dewy, natural finish. Formulated with hyaluronic acid, coconut water and alpine rose, to rebuild skin moisture and hydrate while erasing imperfections without settling in pores.
I was first introduced to these foundations that helped Lauren Andersen on the set. They looked really beautiful on all skin types and are beautifully emollient, while still having a more matte finish that leaves the skin moist, plump and dewy.
Another winner from ILIA, I’m obsessed with this clean, toned serum for everyday use. With a large shadow area, it provides light, dew-free coverage plus mineral SPF and active levels of skin care ingredients in a serum-like formula.
With built-in UVA and UVB protection, this seriously luxurious beauty balm cream gives your complexion a serious glow. Not only is it easy to use and blends with the skin, but it also moisturizes and hydrates with medical-grade ingredients that keep the skin glowing all day.