Dry skin is bothersome for multiple reasons. First, there are the uncomfortable sensations of tightness, itchiness, and irritation. Second, there are the visible signs. Your skin might look dull, red—or worse—flaky (we've all been there). As if that's not enough, it affects the way makeup looks. Instead of a smooth and seamless foundation, dry skin can make the complexion look patchy and textured.
While the right skincare routine is everything (I repeat: everything) when it comes to managing dry skin, it's also helpful to take a look at the makeup products you're using. The right ones won't sink and settle into fine lines and texture; on the contrary, they will smooth, blur, and even hydrate the skin. Yup, that's right, the best foundations for dry skin include moisturizing ingredients. Keep scrolling to shop 14 foundations approved for dry skin by makeup artists and editors.
According to celebrity makeup artist J. Guerra, the most important rule of thumb to follow when choosing a foundation for dry skin is to look for formulas that include hydrating ingredients. Think hyaluronic acid or glycerin, although moisturizing ingredients like plant oils are also beneficial. "Many makeup brands offer serum-infused foundations and concealers that incorporate extra skincare into your makeup routine," he says. So, it's a good idea to start with hydrating formulas and then narrow down the options from there, taking other things like coverage, shade range, and texture into consideration.
What to Look for in a Foundation for Dry Skin
The importance of proper skin prep can't be overstated. Luckily, Guerra has all the tips and tricks you need to ensure a flawless-looking foundation. He recommends starting with a gentle cleanser. "Opt for a rich, milky texture that effectively removes impurities and excess oils without stripping your skin of its natural moisture," he says.
From there, move on to exfoliation. "Exfoliating is essential to remove dead skin cells from the surface and leave a smoother, refined texture. However, for dry skin, it's crucial to choose a gentle exfoliant that won't cause irritation or make dryness worse. Opt for chemical exfoliants like AHAs (alpha hydroxy acids) or BHAs (beta hydroxy acids), as they effectively exfoliate without the abrasive texture of physical scrubs. Incorporate this into your skincare routine one to two times per week to maintain a fresh and smooth complexion without over-exfoliating."
Whether or not you're exfoliating that day, Guerra always recommends reaching for a hydrating toner. "Look for toners with hydrating ingredients like rosewater, aloe vera, or chamomile, which help soothe and prepare your skin for better product absorption," he says. "Gently pat the toner onto your skin using your hands or a soft cotton pad. Hydrated, prepped skin will better receive skincare products."
Then, it's time to moisturize. Guerra recommends choosing a serum and moisturizer specifically formulated for dry skin and applying it generously to your face, neck, and even your ears. "Look for products containing ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, ceramides, or natural oils like argan oil or jojoba oil," he says. "Massage the serum into your skin using upward circular motions, allowing it to fully absorb before applying moisturizer on top."
How to Prep Dry Skin Before Foundation
Last but not least, use sunscreen (that's a given). "Don't forget to protect your skin from harmful UV rays even if it's not a sunny day," Guerra says. "Choose a lightweight, broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. Sunscreen not only shields your skin from UV damage but can also act as an additional layer of moisture."
From there, Guerra recommends applying a hydrating primer as the final step in your prep routine. He says doing so will create a smooth base, seal in moisture, and improve the longevity of your foundation. "Look for primers that contain moisturizing ingredients like glycerin," he says. "Dimethicone helps to lock in moisture and create a barrier between your skin and makeup. Apply a small amount of primer all over your face, focusing on areas prone to dryness or patchiness, such as the cheeks and forehead."
As an optional step, you can always invest in a face mist. Guerra says they can offer an extra burst of hydration and give the skin a fresh and dewy look (um, yes, please). "Choose a mist that contains hydrating ingredients like rosewater or cucumber extract and mist it onto your face throughout the day to revitalize your skin and keep it hydrated. During warmer months, keep the spray in a beauty refrigerator for a cooling mist that preps your skin before applying skincare."
The Best Overall: Dior Forever Skin Glow Hydrating Foundation SPF 15
Guerra says this is his "personal favorite for dry skin clients," which is major praise when it comes from an expert-level makeup artist. He says it has medium-to-full coverage, a rich texture, and a radiant finish.
Promising review: "THIS IS THE BEST FOUNDATION EVER! I never write reviews, but I'm so happy with this foundation. It's perfect in every way." — Sephora customer
Yves Saint Laurent Nu Bare Look Tint Foundation With Hyaluronic Acid
Guerra also recommends this skin tint-foundation hybrid that contains hyaluronic acid for instant hydration. He says it's best for sheer coverage, has a water-cream texture, and offers 24-hour hydration. It makes sense that it's one of the top-rated hydrating foundations at Sephora.
Promising review: "I love this product! It gives me a nice glow while adding light coverage that I like for day-to-day life, including work. It's light on the skin, easy to apply, and take off at the end of your day." — Sephora customer
Maybelline Fit Me Dewy + Smooth Foundation
When it comes to drugstore foundations, this is a solid option. With SPF 18, vitamin E, and a fragrance-free formula, this is well-suited for dry, irritated skin. The medium coverage it offers is buildable, and it looks luminous all day long.
Promising review: The dewy and smooth foundation keeps my skin feeling hydrated all day long. It doesn't flake off like other foundations with dry skin." — Ulta customer
La Mer The Soft Fluid Long Wear Foundation SPF 20
Yes, this foundation is expensive, but makeup artists and editors agree it's seriously good. Guerra says it's long-wearing and sweat and humidity-resistant, lightweight, offers good coverage, and plays well with layered skincare products. Need we say more?
Promising review: "My favorite product. It makes my skin glow like nothing else. Lasts all day. Photos come out so well." — Sephora customer
Colourpop Pretty Fresh Hyaluronic Hydrating Foundation
Don't sleep on ColourPop products. They're affordable and effective, and this foundation is proof. With fruit extracts, hyaluronic acid, and coconut water, it's like a glass of water for thirsty skin. Plus, it offers seamless-looking medium coverage with a lightweight feel.
Promising review: "Definitely will buy again! It's so hydrating! I needed this." — Ulta customer
Clé de Peau Radiant Cream Foundation
If you prefer cream foundations, Guerra says this is the best one. The long-wearing formula offers medium coverage with a pretty, light-reflecting finish that makes the skin look radiant.
Promising review: "I have tried many, many foundations. Trying to find the perfect foundation for my maturing dry skin, which seems to be getting drier with each passing year. It did not sink into my lines. It left my skin hydrated and radiant. Worth the money." — Nordstrom customer
Dior Capture Totale Super Potent Serum Foundation SPF 20
Guerra likes this foundation because it's infused with anti-aging skincare ingredients, so it literally does double duty as a skincare-makeup hybrid. It smooths the complexion, disguises imperfections, and promises brighter, firmer skin over time thanks to hyaluronic acid and longoza flower.
Promising review: "While expensive, I found it to be absolutely worth it! The texture feels more like serum than foundation and blends in amazingly well to the point you cannot see it on the skin whatsoever. I apply it with a damp beauty blender on moisturized skin, no primer necessary." — Nordstrom customer
Haus Labs Triclone Skin Tech Medium Coverage Foundation with Fermented Arnica
Guerra says this is the best option if you're looking for the most comprehensive shade range (especially when it comes to undertones). It offers medium coverage, and the formula's fermented arnica keeps redness or irritation from badgering dry skin types.
Promising review: "This is one of the only foundations that I have used that does not accentuate any lines or dry skin on my face. It blends beautifully and easier than most foundations." — Sephora customer
Makeup By Mario SurrealSkin Liquid Foundation
Guerra says this foundation from celebrity makeup artist, Mario Dedivanovic, is best for dull skin since it has an ultra-luminous and dewy finish.
"Love this foundation!! Very lightweight, natural, and I love how it feels and looks." — Sephora customer
Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hydrating Tint Foundation with Hyaluronic Acid
This weightless liquid foundation has a unique water-gel formula that feels super hydrating on dry skin. It also helps plump up fine lines and wrinkles thanks to a hyaluronic acid-rich formula.
Promising review: "This product works very well on me. I have dry and sensitive skin. When I apply it on my face, it stays on the skin all day and evening without collecting in the fine lines." —Target customer
Danessa Myricks Beauty Yummy Skin Soothing Serum Skin Tint Foundation with Peptides + Ceramides
This serum-foundation hybrid is packed with good-for-skin ingredients like collagen peptides, ceramides, and squalene. Guerra says it's the best option if you want sheer coverage and a dewy finish.
Promising review: "I’d never used a skin tint, because I figured it would not have staying power on my dry skin. Boy, was I wrong. Worn over my SPF, it gives my skin the most airbrushed look that lasts all day and keeps my skin looking hydrated." — Sephora customer
Chanel Les Beiges Healthy Glow Foundation
This editor-favorite foundation is perfect for people who want a natural-looking result with medium coverage. It stays put all day and covers redness like a dream.
Promising review: "I truly put this to test my very first day wearing it. I had it on for about eight hours and used no setting spray, primer, or setting powder. I even did an hour-long exercise class, during which I sweat quite a bit. By the end of the night, my makeup looked pretty flawless. I wasn't oily or dry, and it still felt weightless on the skin. I'm truly impressed with this foundation, and it is absolutely my new go-to!" — Ulta customer
Saie Glowy Super Skin Lightweight Hydrobounce Serum Foundation
This is a fairly new formula, but one that already has a lot of promising reviews. Thanks to a lightweight serum-like texture, it brightens the skin and covers imperfections without sinking or settling into dry patches.
Promising review: "This will be my new go-to foundation! I love how light it feels on the face, and color six matched my light, rosy skin tone perfectly. I have rosacea, so very sensitive skin, and this did not irritate me at all. Also, as a Nurse Practitioner that deals with skin issues in practice, I approve of the ingredients it contains, such as squalane and gooseberry. Overall, I love this buildable foundation, just be sure to shake it up before use to get a smooth application." — Sephora customer
Estée Lauder Futurist Hydra Rescue Moisturizing Foundation SPF 45
This antioxidant-rich formula includes chia seed extract, probiotics, and ion-charged water to nourish, soothe, and hydrate the skin. As for the finish, it provides medium coverage with a radiant finish.
Promising review: "I've just started using this product, but it has beautiful coverage and a supernatural, dewy glow. It wears great and doesn't separate!" — Sephora customer