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11 Best Foundations for Dry Skin, According to Experts 2023

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When it comes to makeup, the foundation of your foundation is, well, everything! But if you’re someone whose skin tends to run on the drier side, you’ll know that this is doubly true. Dry skin can be a real diva, prone to flakiness, dry patches, and dullness that makes putting anything on top of it a challenge; it’s key to find a foundation for dry skin that doesn’t make your skin thirstier than it was before, not to mention, one that actually blends in seamlessly with your skin tone, without any pilling or creasing.

With that in mind, who better to pinpoint which foundations are truly the best for dry skin than an expert on all things skin care (a dermatologist) and someone whose literal job is to do people’s makeup every day (a celebrity makeup artist). Below, celebrity makeup artist Nikki La Rose and Loretta Ciraldo, MD, FAAD, a Miami-based board-certified dermatologist and founder of Dr. Loretta skincare, share their best foundations for dry skin recommendations, plus pro application tips to ensure a flawless finish.



Best foundations for dry skin, at a glance:

  • Best overall: Giorgio Armani, Luminous Silk Foundation, $69
  • Best budget: L’Oréal Paris, Age Perfect Radiant Serum Foundation, $12
  • Best splurge: Tom Ford, Shade and Illuminate Soft Radiance Foundation SPF 50, $150
  • Best for full coverage: Hourglass, Ambient Soft Glow, $58
  • Best for light coverage: MAC, Studio Radiance Face & Body Radiant Sheer Foundation, $42
  • Best for medium coverage: NARS, Light Reflecting Advanced Skincare Foundation, $50
  • Best tinted SPF: Ilia, Super Serum Skin Tint SPF 40, $48
  • Best for acne-prone skin: IT Cosmetics, CC+ Nude Glow Lightweight Foundation + Glow Serum, $44
  • Best for sensitive skin: Tower 28, Sunny Days Tinted Sunscreen Foundation SPF 30, $32
  • Best for redness: IT Cosmetics, Cream Illumination Full Coverage Foundation, $44
  • Most hydrating: Dior, Forever Skin Glow, $55 
  • Most sustainable: Kjaer Weis, Invisible Touch Liquid Foundation, $48

What to look for in foundation for dry skin

Dr. Ciraldo says the key is to look for foundations that contain moisturizing ingredients such as ceramides, fatty lipids, aloe, shea butter, and botanical oils. These will all help the skin retain moisture as opposed to making it dry out fast.

As for consistency, Dr. Ciraldo suggests sticking to a liquid foundation formula, which will maintain hydration better than a powder. La Rose seconds this advice, as, “they will blend on easily, look luminous, and give you a healthy ‘skin-like’ glow.” La Rose also advises steering clear of foundation formulas that claim “24-hour wear” or “matte,” which isn’t ideal for dry skin. Instead, she recommends looking for the keywords “glowy,” “luminous,” and “dewy” in the title.

The 11 best foundations for dry skin, according to experts

Best overall:

Armani Beauty Luminous Silk Foundation

Giorgio Armani, Luminous Silk Foundation — $69.00

Shades: 40

If La Rose had to choose one foundation as the best overall foundation for dry skin, it’s this one by Giorgio Armani. “It checks all of the boxes, in my opinion,” she says, thanks to its medium to buildable coverage and the gorgeous, healthy glow it provides even on dry skin types. Not to mention, it comes in a whopping 40 different shades, so you can find your one true match.

Sizes: 0.6 oz. and 1 oz.

  • Lightweight and hydrating
  • Oil-free and suitable for all skin types
  • Long-lasting
  • Luminous finish
  • 40 different shades
  • Pricey
  • Makeup only—no skin-care benefits
  • No SPF

Best budget: L’Oréal Paris, Age Perfect Radiant Serum Foundation — $12.00

Shades: 30

The L’Oreal Paris Radiant Serum Foundation is a fabulous drugstore option. Dr. Ciraldo gives it her stamp of approval as one of the best foundations for dry skin thanks to its coverage and because it gives the skin a youthful glow. It’s also infused with skin-care ingredients that nourish while it’s on, like vitamin B3 (for extra hydration) and SPF 50 (for sun protection, of course!).

Sizes: 1 fl. oz.

  • Affordable
  • Lightweight and hydrating
  • SPF 50
  • 30 different shades
  • Suitable for all skin types
  • Not as long-lasting as other formulas

Best splurge: Tom Ford, Shade and Illuminate Soft Radiance Foundation SPF 50 — $150.00

Shades: 40

If you want to splurge on a new foundation for dry skin, this medium to full-coverage Tom Ford foundation is an excellent option Dr. Ciraldo recommends. “Tom Ford Shade and Illuminate Soft Radiance Foundation SPF 50 is packed with glycerin, a humectant that’s more hydration than hyaluronic, and a slew of botanical oils,” she says.

Sizes: 1 fl. oz.

  • Super hydrating
  • Long-lasting
  • SPF 50
  • Infused with botanical oils for added moisture and nourishment
  • Luminous, radiant finish
  • Expensive
  • Might be too hydrating for those with oily skin

Best for full coverage: Hourglass, Ambient Soft Glow — $58.00

Shades: 32

If you’re looking for a full-coverage foundation for dry skin that won’t let you down, this Hourglass Ambient Soft Glow foundation (available in 32 different shades) has you covered, literally. “This formula won’t settle into fine lines and wears extremely long,” La Rose says. Despite its full-coverage effect, it feels virtually weightless on skin, while light-diffusing pigments create a soft blurred effect over lines, blemishes, and pores.

Sizes: 1 fl. oz.

  • Lightweight and non-comedogenic
  • Radiant blurred finish
  • Sweat-, humidity- and transfer-resistant
  • Diverse shade range
  • Infused with anti-oxidants to nourish skin

Best for light coverage: MAC Cosmetics, Studio Radiance Face & Body Radiant Sheer Foundation — $42.00

Shades: 30

If you prefer a lighter, more natural-looking coverage, check out this one from MAC. “It’s a super lightweight foundation that is water-based, sheer but extremely buildable, and feels like a drink of water on the skin,” La Rose says. Bonus points: This foundation is also long-wearing (8 hours!) and totally waterproof.

Sizes: 1.7 fl. oz.

  • Lightweight and buildable
  • Sheer, natural-looking finish
  • Dermatologist and ophthalmologist tested
  • Waterproof
  • 32 different shades
  • Oil-free
  • Pricey
  • Sheer—coverage is more like a skin tint than a foundation if more coverage is what you prefer
  • Not infused with skin-care ingredients for nourishment
  • No SPF

Natural Radiant Longwear Foundation

Best for medium coverage: NARS, Light Reflecting Advanced Skincare Foundation — $50.00

Shades: 36

Makeup lovers who prefer a medium-coverage foundation should try the Nars Light Reflecting Foundation. It’s one of La Rose’s favorites for dry skin, as its breathable and light without skimping on coverage. It features a blend of makeup and skin-care ingredients that strengthen the skin’s barrier, helping lock in moisture. And it comes in 36 different shades.

Size:

  • Weightless and buildable
  • Hydrating
  • Infused with skin-care ingredients for added nourishment
  • Light-reflecting for a luminous finish
  • Suitable for all skin types and non-comedogenic
  • 36 different shades
  • Pricey
  • Not as long-lasting as other formulas
  • No SPF

Best tinted SPF: Ilia, Super Serum Skin Tint SPF 40 — $50.00

Shades: 26

If you’re a fan of multi-tasking products, you’ll likely be into Ilia’s Super Serum Skin Tint, which works as a sunscreen (SPF 40!), foundation, and hydrating serum that will give dry skin the hydration it needs. A 3-in-1 powerhouse that skin slurps right up, Dr. Ciraldo is a fan of its hydrating formulation that features shea butter, lipids, and hyaluronic acid for moisture.

Sizes: 1 fl. oz.

  • Lightweight, buildable coverage
  • Sensitive-skin friendly and non-comedogenic
  • SPF 40
  • Infused with skin-care ingredients for nourishment
  • 26 different shades
  • Pricey
  • Sheer—coverage is more like a skin tint than a foundation if more coverage is what you prefer

Best for acne-prone skin: IT Cosmetics, CC+ Nude Glow Foundation Serum SPF 40 — $47.00

Shades: 21

For acne-prone skin, La Rose suggests opting for foundations formulated with sensitive and acne-prone skin in mind. In particular, she’s a fan of this tinted moisturizer which provides great coverage and is available in three different finishes. Pro tip: Go with the glow formula, which is infused with niacinamide for a brighterr boost the moment you dab it on, plus hyaluronic acid and green tea extract for added hydration.

Sizes: 1 fl. oz.

  • Lightweight, buildable coverage
  • Sensitive-skin friendly and non-comedogenic
  • Infused with niacinamide for brightening
  • Infused with hyaluronic acid and green tea extract for long-lasting moisture
  • SPF 40
  • Luminous, radiant finish
  • 21 different shades
  • Pricey
  • Sheer—coverage is more like a CC cream than a foundation if more coverage is what you prefer

Best for sensitive skin: Tower 28, Sunny Days Tinted Sunscreen Foundation SPF 30, — $32.00

Shades: 17

If your skin is really prone to eczema flare-ups or breakouts, you can’t go wrong with Tower 28. The brand makes cosmetics exclusively for shoppers with sensitive skin and is the only foundation product approved by the National Eczema Association. That aside, it’s very hydrating, infused with prickly pear extract and white sage extract for a burst of hydration *and* protection from blue light and UV. And it has SPF 30, so UV rays are no match for your fragile face.

Sizes: 1 fl. oz.

  • Sensitive-skin friendly and non-comedogenic
  • SPF 30
  • Hydrating and long-lasting
  • Infused with skin-care ingredients for extra protection against blue light and pollution
  • Lightweight and buildable
  • More affordable than other options on this list
  • Not as many shades as others on this list

Best for redness: IT Cosmetics, CC+ Cream Full-Coverage Foundation SPF 50+ — $47.00

Shades: 20

Dr. Ciraldo recommends this IT Cosmetics foundation as another excellent option for blending out redness, rosacea, and the like. Plus, she says that the creamy and hydrating texture will make the skin look and feel hydrated and it features SPF 50, which is a nice bonus.

Sizes: 1 fl. oz.

  • Color-correcting formula
  • Long-lasting hydration
  • Infused with skin-care ingredients for nourishment
  • SPF 50
  • Sensitive-skin friendly and non-comedogenic
  • 26 different shades
  • Pricey
  • Full-coverage might be too heavy for those who like a more sheer finish

Most hydrating: Dior, Forever Skin Glow Foundation — $55.00

Shades: 45

“Dior Forever Skin Glow hydrates and gives skin a luminous appearance, claiming 24-hour hydration after a single application,” Dr. Ciraldo says. This foundation features a mostly floral-derived skin-care base that intensely hydrates the skin while letting it breathe. Plus, it’s non-comedogenic, so it won’t clog your pores.

Sizes: 1 fl. oz.

  • Long-lasting, buildable coverage
  • Luminous, radiant finish
  • SPF 30
  • Infused with botanicals for nourishment and hydration
  • 45 different shades

FAQs

Why does my face look so dry when I put on foundation?

There are a few reasons why your skin can look even drier once you apply your foundation. For starters, if you haven’t exfoliated your skin, the product can adhere to the buildup of dead surface skin cells and emphasize whatever it picks up underneath. “For example, if you are starting your makeup application with skin that is not thoroughly prepped and moisturized, then the foundation, once it’s applied, is going to stick to those areas of the face, bringing it out even more,” La Rose says.

Dr. Ciraldo also notes that it could be the type of foundation you use that makes your skin look parched the moment it’s put on. For instance, a matte foundation on more mature skin, which tends to be drier, will get into creases, creating a rougher and drier-looking complexion.

How do you get a flawless foundation with dry skin?

Before even thinking about applying foundation, La Rose says the key is starting with proper skin care to assure proper moisture. In other words, be sure to hydrate your skin before applying foundation. Dr. Ciraldo recommends using a hydrating cleanser, and then applying a lipid or ceramide serum for an extra burst of moisture. Or, La Rose is a fan of a hyaluronic acid serum for an instant dose of hydration and then locking it in with a moisturizer. And as always, finish with sunscreen.

Then, to ensure a flawless foundation application on dry skin, La Rose says a damp beauty sponge is your secret weapon. “Oftentimes if we are not gentle in our application, it’s easy to over-blend and disrupt the skin care that is underneath,” La Rose says. “If you find that this is the case for you, switch to a damp soft sponge and use a bouncing motion to apply—works like a charm every time.”

What is the best foundation for mature, dry skin?

In general, La Rose says the foundations that work for dry skin (i.e., the recommendations above) will also work well for mature skin. Again, the secret is ensuring that your skin is hydrated and prepped before applying your foundation.

Our editors independently select these products. Making a purchase through our links may earn Well+Good a commission.



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