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Of all the makeup products out there, foundation is definitely the hardest to nail down. The right formula can make or break a beauty look—the pigment, finish, and coverage has to be just right. This is even more complicated when considering a foundation for dry skin types. You want coverage, moisture, radiance, and longevity all in one formula—the equivalent of finding Atlantis.
But the good news is that such a thing exists—in fact, there’s a stack of innovative foundation products that work like a treat on dry skin without sacrificing finish or texture. We’ve tapped an expert, celebrity makeup artist Michael Brown, plus tested a few favorites, to bring you an edit of the top options.
Keep scrolling to shop for the best foundations for dry skin.
Best Overall: Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation
Beautiful natural finish
When it comes to foundation, it really doesn’t get more iconic than Giorgio Armani’s Luminous Silk. The glowy formula seems to nail both medium coverage and a natural finish, blurring the look of pores, lines, and uneven texture. Available in 40 shades and great for balanced to dry skin, it’s definitely our number one luxury buy. Brown also recommends this one, touting its creamy consistency and healthy-looking finish.
Key Ingredients: Micro-Fil Technology | Size: 1 fluid ounce | Shades: 40 | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes
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
Very light coverage
We love the fact this foundation provides both coverage and skincare-like benefits, thanks to the inclusion of camellia, mondo grass, and hyaluronic acid. The formula is plumping and hydrating, so works as a treatment for dry or dehydrated skin, while the satin finish banishes dullness and discoloration.
Key Ingredients: Ginseng, camellia, mondo grass | Size: 1 fluid ounce | Shades: 24 | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best Drugstore: Maybelline Fit Me Dewy + Smooth Foundation
Not very long-wearing
Creamy and illuminating, this drugstore gem has a finish that rivals its luxury counterparts. The lightweight fluid is buildable and smoothing, allowing you to customize your base and level of coverage. The formula hydrates dry, tight skin, bonus points for it being fragrance-free and non-comedogenic, too.
Key Ingredients: Vitamin E | Size: 1 fluid ounces | Shades: 24 | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best for Sensitive Skin: ILIA True Skin Serum Foundation
Contains great skincare ingredients
Formula can feel a bit runny
If you want a glowy base and nourishing skincare benefits, this serum-infused foundation from ILIA is for you. The formula contains marula oil, jojoba oil, aloe vera, and squalane to moisturize and soothe dry and sensitive skin, while the foundation component covers and corrects.
Key Ingredients: Aloe, jojoba, marula oil | Size: 1 fluid ounce | Shades: 18 | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best for Mature Skin: Pat McGrath Labs Skin Fetish Sublime Foundation
Contains great skincare ingredients
Smooths the skin
Leave it to legendary makeup artist Pat McGrath to create a formula that smooths and evens out the skin without settling into fine lines and wrinkles. The secret lies in polymers that are used to hug the skin, giving it a soft-focused look. There are also vitamins to nourish and firm as well as ‘diamond core’ powder to increase radiance.
Key Ingredients: Amino acids, diamond core powder | Size: 1.18 fluid ounces | Shades: 36 | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best Full Coverage: IT Cosmetics Your Skin But Better Foundation + Skincare
Great shade range
This is another one of Brown's favorites for dry skin since it's packed with water-loving hyaluronic acid, as well as aloe vera and vitamin B5 (also known as panthenol), to moisturize and care for the skin. He suggests spot covering areas of concern—as opposed to concealing your entire face—for a natural, radiant finish.
Key Ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, vitamin B5, aloe vera | Size: 1 fluid ounce | Shades: 40 | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best Cream Formula: rms beauty "Un" Cover-Up Natural Finish Cream Foundation
Contains a trio of natural plant oils
Rich, nourishing formula
Another favorite from Brown, this cream pick from RMS Beauty is a take on the brand’s iconic Un Cover-Up Concealer. Infused with a trifecta of nourishing plant oils (see: coconut, buriti, and jojoba), it’s an excellent pick for extremely dry skin—the occlusive properties will nourish and prevent water loss. The cream itself is quite rich, so try buffing it in with a fluffy brush or spot-applying with a beauty blender.
Key Ingredients: Jojoba, buriti, and coconut oils | Size: 1 fluid ounces | Shades: 17 | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best Stick: Bobbi Brown Skin Foundation Stick
Harder to apply than liquid formulas
Stick formulas are notoriously thick and heavy, but Brown recommends Bobbi Brown’s iteration for dry skin because it’s creamy and blendable. Try spotting it around your face and working it into the skin with either your fingers (the warmth will help) or a densely-packed brush. Also nice: It can also double as a concealer.
Key Ingredients: Olive extract, shea butter | Size: 0.31 ounces | Shades: 30 | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best Long-Wear: Estée Lauder Double Wear Sheer Long-Wear Makeup SPF 19
Not ideal for really dry skin
If you love the original Double Wear Foundation but find it settles into fine lines or dries out your skin, this newly-launched sheer version is a great alternative. It still has amazing longevity and a seamless matte finish, but the consistency is thinner and less pigmented, so you get coverage without heaviness. Also nice: The formula contains SPF for added sun protection.
Key Ingredients: Octinoxate, titanium dioxide | Size: 1 fluid ounce | Shades: 26 | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best Shade Range: Fenty Beauty Pro Filt'r Hydrating Longwear Foundation
Great shade range
With 50 shades in the lineup, you’re sure to find your best match in the Fenty Beauty Pro Filt’r Hydrating Longwear Foundation. Like the rest of the Fenty complexion lineup, it’s got amazing staying power and resistance to humidity, but the smooth, emollient formula is well-suited to dry skin types.
Key Ingredients: Grapeseed oil | Size: 1 fluid ounce | Shades: 50 | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best Budget: L'Oréal Paris True Match Super-Blendable Liquid Foundation
Great shade range
Bottle can get messy
This foundation was recently reformulated, which is sometimes very dangerous territory when it comes to iconic products such as True Match. However, we’re pleased to report that the new version contains panthenol, glycerin, and vitamin E to maintain a hydrated complexion. As for the coverage, it’s medium but buildable, with a lovely fresh finish.
Key Ingredients: Irish sea moss | Size: 1 fluid ounce | Shades: 37 | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Found your favorite foundation? Don't forget to prep your skin before applying it.
"Prepping your skin is a very important step," says celebrity makeup artist Latisha 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.
Both Brown and team Byrdie agree that Giorgio Armani’s Luminous Silk is hands down one of the best foundations for dry skin available. It’s light but provides amazing coverage and melts seamlessly into the skin. The L’Oreal Paris True Match Foundation (view at Ulta) also comes highly recommended, thanks to its moisturizing formula, inclusive shade range, and drugstore price point. Finally, we also love the ILIA True Skin Serum Foundation (view at Sephora)—it’s light, nourishing, and improves the look of skin over time.
What to Look for in a Foundation for Dry Skin
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.
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.
Why Trust Byrdie?
To arrive at this roundup, we asked a leading makeup artist for his best recommendations, plus scoured internet reviews and tested some best-sellers, so you don’t have to.
Meet the Expert
- Michael Brown is a makeup artist and expert based in Australia who has worked on countless photo shoots, campaigns, red carpet looks, and magazine covers throughout his 20-year career.
- Latisha Rankin is a makeup artist based in New York City who has worked with celebrities such as Jordin Sparks throughout her 12-year career.