The best way to look after dry skin is to treat it from lots of different angles—including with a diet rich in omegas, keeping central heating low, and applying as many hydrating products as possible. That means using a nourishing cleanser, a hyaluronic acid serum, a tip-top moisturiser and the best foundation for dry skin. Armed with the right formula, the best foundation can deliver a hit of moisture to your skin while simultaneously bathing it in a veil of pigment.
While the best foundation for oily skin has totally different requirements, according to Kay Montano, Chanel Make-up Artist, the best foundation for dry skin "isn't drying, won’t accentuate fine lines, dry skin, or any rough patches. Instead, it will allow the skin to look natural while providing coverage, and a smooth glowing complexion."
How to apply foundation when you have dry skin
How you apply is as crucial as what you apply—and preparation is key too. Foundation is much less likely to gather on dry patches if they aren't there to begin with.
Montano agrees that it's all in the prep. "The best way to fix or help dry skin is to make sure you’re hydrated and exfoliate regularly (often dry areas of skin are just dead skin). If your skin feels dry all over, you’re either dehydrated or not using the right moisturiser for your skin type. Remember to layer your skincare with a serum underneath a rich moisturiser to help rehydrate the skin."
In fact, make-up artist and beauty journalist, Madeleine Spencer suggests using these application tips:
- "Tap rather than rub foundation onto dry skin, the idea being that you stipple it onto areas which need coverage."
- "Remember you don't need to apply a blanket of foundation but rather ensure it's where it needs to be."
- "If it starts to gather slightly, press those areas to help redistribute the foundation."
How I tested all the best foundations for dry skin
As someone with extremely dry skin, I'm always on the lookout for a foundation that makes my skin look and feel dewy throughout the day. The trouble with my dry skin is that it's so often crying out for moisture-rich creams that certain foundations just can't handle my needs. I often use one of the best tinted moisturisers, as I feel like I'm getting that extra hit of hydration. However, they don't always provide enough coverage, so I need a foundation that can offer me both: hydration and adequate coverage.
While each of the below are different in finish and coverage levels, I made sure that they all had these things in common:
- They are all hydrating
- They all keep skin moist over a long period
- They don't excessively gather in dry areas
- They last and last
The best foundation for dry skin
Best for long-lasting coverage
Chantecaille Future Skin Oil-Free Foundation
This oil-free protective gel foundation contains 60% charged water and seaweed extracts and has the unique ability to transfer water into the skin and prevent water evaporation. Which is exactly what you want from a foundation for dry skin.
I used this foundation on my wedding day and my skin looked glowy and hydrated even at the end of the day when I had consumed more champagne than I care to divulge.
- Contains 60% water and seaweed extracts to hydrate
- Doesn't feel heavy on skin
- Looks glowy all day
- It's not a budget buy
- The glass pot makes it hard to travel with
- You need to use a spatula to take a bit out hygienically
Best for a real hydration hit
Westman Atelier Vital Skincare Complexion Drops
Think of this as a glossy skin tint packed with radiance-boosters and hydration thanks to tsunami oil, pomegranate extract, and ginseng extract.
The best thing about this: even though it's lightweight and makes skin look radiant, it also doesn't slide around and stays put over the course of the day.
- Lightweight but hydrating
- Makes skin look luminous
- Stays put
- Is light and easy to transport
- It isn't buildable so you can't cover lots of redness with it
Best for healthy glow
Suqqu The Cream Foundation
If you really want that soft 'lit from within' thing: this is the one. Scores of pro make-up artists (including Patsy O'Neill, Holly Willoughby's favourite) rely on it for soft glow with serious hydration. The secret is the combination of oils and pearlescent pigments, which jointly create a glow which really hangs around.
- The combination of oils and pearlescent pigments makes skin glow
- It's seriously hydrating
- It resists getting cakey over the course of the day
- It can get messy thanks to the pot design, so, again, you must use the spatula
- It's quite costly
Best for barely-there coverage
Sisley Phyto-Teint Nude Foundation
Think skin glaze vs foundation and you'll know what to expect from this one. While it's oil-free, it slides easily over dry patches, adding a healthy lustre to skin.
If you have areas which need more coverage, you could try using this all over then returning with a concealer.
- The barely-there finish
- It makes skin look really glossy
- The small bottle is easy to wield and travel with
- It doesn't cover much redness
- It's quite expensive
Best for glossy skin
Bobbi Brown Intensive Serum Foundation SPF40
The Intensive Serum Foundation is formulated with skin-loving nutrients, so you feel happy applying it knowing that it's being kind to your complexion. Offering a high level of SPF 40, this a great one for mature skin and the super-fine pigment won't settle into fine lines or patches of dry skin.
- Contains SPF 40
- Has a lightweight serum finish
- It stays glossy and healthy-looking all day
- It has a lavender scent which might not be ideal on sensitive skin
Best for an everyday easy-to-fling on base
L'Oréal Paris True Match Nude Plumping Tinted Serum
As soon as I tried this for the first time I fell in love. It's sheer, so won't suit everyone's needs, but I love that it gives my complexion a wash of colour whilst also feeling like I'm applying an extra layer of serum.
- Feels like another layer of skincare
- Very hydrating
- Doesn't provide much coverage
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Katie Thomas is the Senior Beauty Editor at Marie Claire UK. With over 10 years of experience on women's luxury lifestyle titles, she covers everything from the best beauty looks from the red carpet and stand out trends from the catwalk, to colonic irrigation and to the best mascaras on the market. She started her career on fashion desks across the industry - from The Telegraph to Brides - but found her calling in the Tatler beauty department. From there she moved to Instyle, before joining the Marie Claire digital team in 2018. She’s made it her own personal mission to find the best concealer in the world to cover her tenacious dark circles. She’s obsessed with skincare that makes her skin bouncy and glowy, low-maintenance hair that doesn’t require brushing and a cracking good manicure. Oh and she wears more jewellery than the Queen.