13 Foundations That Play Nice With Dry Skin

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Picking the perfect foundation for your skin can often feel like searching for a needle in a haystack. This feels especially true for those with dry skin, as texture plays a major role in finding the right product. While skincare prep is the first step in keeping your face moisturized and hydrated throughout the day, makeup comes in second. So it’s no surprise that as a base, a foundation should not only create a seamless, even finish, but also help to keep your skin as comfortable as possible.

“While you should be aware of ingredients, especially with dry skin, you also want to understand exactly what you are looking for,” says Latisha Rankin, a celebrity makeup artist based in NYC. According to Rankin, moisture is essentially a seal that ensures water doesn’t escape, making the skin look and feel smoother. Hydration, on the other hand, helps to absorb water from the atmosphere to your skin and keep it there. While both are ideal benefits for dry skin, it’s up to you to choose which one suits your skin best.

With those tips in mind, explore the best foundations for dry skin below.

Best Overall: Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation

Luminous Silk Foundation

Reviewers describe this liquid foundation as lightweight, pillowy soft, and totally worth the cost. Its silky texture allows it to melt into the skin seamlessly and feels light enough to build coverage without weighing down your face or looking cakey. “It’s also amazing at masking areas of concerns, especially acne scars,” says Rankin.

Celebrity makeup artist Carola Gonzalez is also a fan. "It brings life to your face, transforms it, and makes the skin glow in the most natural, flawless way," she says. "For me, skin is what defines age, and radiant skin will always make one look youthful—and this is exactly what this foundation does."

What Our Testers Say

"This foundation is nothing short of amazing. As soon as I started blending it in, its smooth texture and luminescent finish made my skin look flawless and airbrushed immediately." —Khera Alexander, Product Tester

Best for Dull Skin: Make Up For Ever Reboot Active Care Revitalizing Foundation

Make Up For Ever Reboot Active Care Revitalizing Foundation

Dry skin can sometimes look like tired skin. I know—not the double whammy we need. This liquid foundation, aptly named Reboot, can help combat that tiredness with a ton of hydration that softens and brightens throughout the day. Plus, the texture is right in between creamy and watery, so it’s not too light and not too heavy.

Best for Sensitive Skin: ILIA True Skin Serum Foundation

ILIA True Skin Serum Foundation

Infused with aloe leaf and jojoba oil, sensitive and dry skin types will often find relief in this soothing and hydrating formula. Reviewers describe it as the perfect lightweight foundation, thanks to its blurring effects that result in a natural-looking glow.

Best for Mature Skin: Pat McGrath Skin Fetish Sublime Foundation

Pat McGrath Skin Fetish Sublime Foundation

At first, you’ll reach for this foundation solely for its gorgeous bottle. But it’s the innovative formula inside that’ll have you running to the register. The creamy texture applies smoothly, while the anti-aging ingredients help reduce the appearance of wrinkles, blurs fine lines, and improves the look of enlarged pores. The result: a soft focus and airbrushed finish.

Best for Dark Spots: NARS All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation

NARS All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation

“This formula gives the skin a silky, satin finish and a healthy glow,” raves Rankin. It does that with the help of ingredients that help to reduce discoloration and neutralize dark spots, such as scarlet spiderling root extract and vitamin C. One reviewer calls it her summer foundation because it can withstand extreme heat without budging.

Best CC Cream: IT Cosmetics CC+ Cream with SPF 50+

IT Cosmetics CC+ Cream with SPF 50+

This CC cream is a best seller for many reasons. It combines everything you love from a skincare product, like anti-aging properties and hydrating ingredients, with the best features of an all-in-one coverup. It’s color-correcting, smoothening, priming, and concealing, making this cream the star in your makeup bag.

"I use It Cosmetics CC Cream in Medium most days because it's super easy to apply, gives me great coverage, and it has an SPF of 50," says celebrity makeup artist Monika Blunder.

Best Tinted Moisturizer: Glossier Perfecting Skin Tint

Perfecting Skin Tint

Users love this super sheer formula because it doesn’t mask your imperfections, but rather, enhances their uniqueness. The 12 shades are adaptable and breathable, so your skin always comes through. The best part is that it’s totally foolproof—you can massage it in without a mirror and still end up looking fresh-faced and ready to take on the day.

Best Medium Coverage: Bite Beauty Changemaker Supercharged Micellar Foundation

Bite Beauty Changemaker Supercharged Micellar Foundation

Byrdie Editorial Director Faith Xue loves this antioxidant-packed foundation, and we can see why. The formula features innovative micellar technology which essentially copies your skin’s texture, making your finished result as natural-looking as it gets.

Best Full Coverage: Fenty Beauty Pro Filt'r Hydrating Longwear Foundation

Fenty Beauty Pro Filt'r Hydrating Longwear Foundation

If you’re looking for a flawless, natural finish, this cult-favorite foundation is exactly what you need. Like an Instagram filter in a bottle, it helps evens out your skin using skin-boosting ingredients like grape seed oil. Use a few pumps for major coverage, or use 1-2 pumps to spot treat.

Pro Pick: The Lip Bar Skin Serum Foundation

The Lip Bar Skin Serum Foundation

One of Rankin’s personal favorites, this creamy foundation combines both skincare and makeup. “It’s super easy to apply and has the ingredient Irish Sea Moss, which provides nourishing vitamins to the skin,” says Rankin. Plus, with the dense built-in brush, you can buff it on the go without any issues.

Best Drugstore: Iman Cosmetics Luxury Radiance Liquid Makeup

IMAN Luxury Radiance Liquid Makeup

With ingredients like vitamin E, magnolia, and cottonseed plant extract, this liquid formula delivers nourishment to your skin. And since it’s oil-free, you won’t experience any greasiness or slickness from the product itself. Reviewers report that it matches their skin tone perfectly.

Best Stick: Mented Cosmetics Skin by Mented

Mented

With this stick foundation, all it takes is a few swipes, a bit of blending, and you’ve got the near-perfect base. What I love most about this foundation is how you can really target specific areas if full coverage isn’t your thing. Simply swipe onto areas of concern—like any dark circles, discoloration, or uneven texture—and buff it with the foundation brush to give yourself that lit-from-within glow.

Best Matte Finish: Uoma Beauty Say What?! Foundation

UOMA Beauty Say What?! Foundation

If you’re looking for more of a matte finish and personalized formula, this foundation will definitely impress you. While most foundations have a one-size-fits-all formula, this one boasts six unique formulas tailored to your specific skin tone. For example, if you have dark brown skin, your formulation features tomato extract to improve radiance and brighten dull skin. Olive skin? You’ve got rose hybrid extract, which reduces sebum production and inflammation.

Found your favorite foundation? Don't forget to prep your skin before applying it.

“Prepping your skin is a very important step,” says Rankin. Use a serum, moisturizer, and primer for the best result. “A serum that’s oil-based would work well here,” she adds. Once you’ve prepped your skin, you can apply your foundation with a makeup sponge or with your fingers.

What to Look For in a Dry-Skin Foundation

Hydrating and Moisturizing Ingredients

When choosing the right foundation for dry skin, look for key ingredients that will keep the skin hydrated and moisturized. Ceramides, aloe vera, and jojoba oil are just a few examples of ingredients that are common in foundations formulated specifically for dry skin. You'll want to choose products with these types of ingredients for longer-lasting and more comfortable wear.

A Healthy Glow

Look for product descriptions with keywords such as "glow," "radiance," or "luminous" when searching for a dry skin foundation. While those with oily skin have the complete opposite issue, dry skin often looks dull and lacks the natural sheen after makeup application. Rankin recommends products that offer a silky, satin finish and natural glow to combat those issues.

Less Is More

While some would argue that a heavier foundation looks good on a few, most are in agreeance that less is more for those with dry skin. Look for products that are lightweight or opt for a skin tint as an alternative to a full coverage foundation. Often, these products will cover blemishes, tiredness, and uneven skin without revealing that you're actually wearing a full face of makeup.

FAQ
  • What type of foundation is best for dry skin?

    Generally, a liquid foundation is considered the better choice for dry skin because it hydrates, whereas a powder foundation can exaggerate dry patches. 

  • How do you apply foundation on dry skin?

    When it comes to the physical application of foundation on dry skin, the technical practices are no different than any other skin type. Take your preferred tool, whether it be a beauty sponge or brush, and bounce the foundation onto the skin until evenly applied. That being said, skin prep before foundation impacts how the foundation wears and sits on the face. 

  • How do you prep dry skin for makeup wear?

    To prepare your skin for foundation wear, first, start with a clean base. Wash and exfoliate the face (if necessary). Follow with a hydrating moisturizing gel to help smooth skin and allow for an even application. Finally, an SPF to protect your skin. Primer is optional depending on preference, and with that, your skin is ready for makeup application. 

Article Sources
Byrdie takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
  1. Telang, P. Vitamin C in dermatology. Indian Dermatology Online Journal. April-June 2013. 4(2): 143-146. doi:10.4103/2229-5178.110593

  2. Lee M, Nam TG, Lee I, et al. Skin anti‐inflammatory activity of rose petal extract (Rosa gallica) through reduction of MAPK signaling pathway. Food Sci Nutr. 2018;6(8):2560-2567. doi: 10.1002/fsn3.870.

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