Even the best foundations can look off if the texture isn’t compatible with your skin. When your complexion is dry, the wrong base can settle into fine lines, accentuate peach fuzz, and latch onto skin flakes. That’s where hydrating formulas come in.
What ingredients should I look for?
Amber Dreadon — makeup artist to the likes of Lorde, Karen O, Rita Ora, and more — says to look for foundations that contain moisturizing properties and ingredients with humectants to draw moisture to the skin, like natural oils, glycerin, and hyaluronic acid. “Rosehip oil is one of my personal favorites, and squalene is always in my makeup kit!” says makeup artist Lisa Aharon, who has worked with such names as Florence Welch, Rachel Brosnahan, and Jasmine Sanders.
How should I apply foundation on dry skin?
“It’s important to find a formula that will glide onto the skin and not grab onto any dryness,” Dreadon says. She suggests using a brush to apply foundation so that it goes on smoothly, before blending it fully into your skin with a damp sponge. Aharon agrees and says a wet beauty blender can help give you a dewier complexion, but if you prefer using zero tools, the warmth of your fingertips works—and can help push moisturizing ingredients deeper into your skin.
Dreadon emphasizes that a moisturized base is just as vital as the foundation itself, so she recommends using a hydrating face spray (she prefers Iris & Romeo Reset Spray), before applying moisturizer on your face to lock in the hydration even further.
We tested many options, with both matte and dewy finishes, to see which could hide imperfections on parched skin without looking like a heavy layer of spackle. These picks promise to moisturize without making you look oily and, thus, also photograph well. Read on for the 20 best foundations for dry skin that will result in the most radiant, natural-looking finish.
The One if You’re in a Rush
For a lightweight foundation to throw, or rather hurriedly smear, on before you run out the door, this Tower 28 formula with reef-safe SPF 30 will do the trick. It’s lightweight enough for a natural finish while still giving you the coverage you need. Dreadon recommends it if you want your skin to look hydrated — thanks to its mix of glycerin and acids — but not too made up.
A serum, moisturizer, sunscreen, and blue light–and–pollution protector in one sheer-coverage foundation — this formula does it all. Both Aharon and Dreadon agree that it’s one of the best out there for dry skin, leaving you with a glowing complexion in no time with ingredients like rose oil and hydrating sodium hyaluronate.
The Best Foundation Stick
“A lot of sticks can leave the skin looking dry,” says Aharon, “but this buildable one is loaded with fatty acids, giving you a sheer creamy finish. It’s also fragrance-free for those sensitive-skin types.” This fan-favorite formula (nearly 80,000 likes on Sephora) glides on smooth and evens your skin tone without creasing.
The Hydrating Foundation
This liquid formula leaves you with a dewy (but not wet-looking) complexion, and Aharon loves it because the first ingredient listed is squalane. For those who like their makeup and skin care to go hand in hand, it also improves firmness, texture, and radiance over time. Finish it off with setting powder if you like less shine, or skip it to embrace the glistening Twilight look.
The Amazon Favorite
The name doesn’t lie: This formula goes on smooth and makes you look dewy. With buildable coverage, SPF 18, and a sleek pump applicator, this is a steal with serious staying power and hydrating effects. On Amazon, it’s also the best-rated foundation for dry skin with close to 20,000 five-star ratings.
The Long-standing Favorite
Despite being on the pricier side, Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk is a cult favorite, and rightfully so. The fluid texture is lightweight and melts into skin without settling into any lines or clinging to dry patches. It blends seamlessly, making it the perfect base for the rest of your makeup routine. Dreadon also notes that it’s a great medium-coverage option that never looks cakey.
The Best Value Foundation for Dry Skin
Creamy and easy to apply, this foundation blurs pores for an overall smoother and glowier complexion. Expect medium coverage — enough to hide imperfections without looking like you’re wearing an opaque mask. The stick application also makes it easy to touch up on the go.
The Luxurious-But-Worth-It Pick
An expensive option that’s worth the money is Chanel’s liquid foundation. The formula is extremely lightweight with a watery consistency. It yields medium coverage that looks like a second skin — but better and luminous instead of tired, dry, and pasty.
The One That Has Everything
Imagine if your favorite moisturizer also had full coverage that lasted all day. With its creamy texture, this is the foundation that feels most like a straight-up moisturizer. In addition to effortlessly covering up redness and eczema, it also contains SPF 50+.
The Fullest Coverage Foundation
Despite being the fullest coverage foundation, this won’t feel dry or look cakey on the skin. Instead, it gives a Saran-wrapped, almost doll-like quality to pores, gliding effortlessly over pimples and dark eye circles to make your whole face look airbrushed. It even comes in 44 shades. Just make sure you double cleanse after wearing.
The Longest Lasting Foundation
NARS claims this foundation lasts for 16 hours, and we can attest that, 14 hours later, ours still looked fresh. Of the foundations tested here, this one offers among the fullest coverage— but it doesn’t dry down flat or masklike. A little goes a long way — and it may even eliminate your need for a follow-up concealer.
The Glowiest Foundation
This newer option from Dior blends so easily, erasing blemishes around the nose, cheeks, and chin without clinging to dryness or sinking into lines. The result is glow-y and healthy-looking skin; the ideal outcome with medium coverage.
The One That’s Great for Monday Mornings
This foundation hydrates skin while delivering a more even texture. The light formula provides medium-level coverage that doesn’t feel like “too much” for a Monday morning — kind of like a daytime tinted sunscreen but with longer-lasting coverage.
The One With the Most Extensive Shade Range
This foundation comes in a range of 50 shades. Sephora reviewers with dry and oily skin alike praise it for its ability to give pretty, natural-looking skin with a matte finish. It’s also oil-free and has SPF 15.
The Best Natural Foundation
It seems like a lot to ask for: dewy coverage that feels like nothing, natural ingredients, moisture, and SPF. But this product has them all, and it comes in 18 shades.
The Photo-Ready One
This foundation is on the heavier side and offers full coverage with a matte finish. And while it doesn’t streak or cake up on dry areas, it’s not the most blendable of the bunch (in other words, proceed with a light touch).
The One That Feels Like a Tint
What we love most about YSL’s Touche Éclat foundation is that it looks and feels like there’s barely anything there. It gives a hint of coverage that’s perfect for everyday wear. The moisturizing formula isn’t too watery, and leaves you with a light-reflecting glow that lasts all day.
The One That Feels Like a Face Oil
When the weather starts to get blustery, you’ll be extra grateful for this tinted face oil. It works just like a regular oil, sealing in the moisture, but also has a very slight, flattering tint.
The Best for Darker Skin Tones
One of the first beauty brands intended specifically for people of color, Fashion Fair is back and at Sephora. This stick foundation comes in 16 shades, and reviewers praise it for being lightweight, creamy, and easy to blend without enlarging the appearance of pores.
The Most Luxurious
Yes, $250 for a single makeup item is steep. But, if you think of Clé de Peau’s foundation as the luxury skin-care product that it is (the ingredient list is loaded with skin-plumping extracts and antioxidants), the price tag makes more sense. The formula goes on so smoothly there’s almost no need to use a sponge or brush (but I still did). In fact, the box directs you to apply it with your hands, like you would a skin cream. Any brown spots or redness around my nose and chin vanished instantly with only minimal blending. It left my skin radiant in all the right places, almost as if I had used a highlighter. Also, a few tiny dots of the liquid-gel formula goes a very long way, so consider it a skin-care investment. Word to the wise: Dreadon says Clé de Peau’s radiant fluid foundation gives you flawless, hydrated-looking skin for half the price.