Foundation and dry skin can be like oil and water, Batman and Joker, Taylor and Kanye—which is to say that most of the time, they don’t get along. Instead of smoothing out dry or flaky skin, the wrong foundation can cake, itch, and further dehydrate an already-parched complexion. To find out which formulas are friends, not foes, to dry skin, we asked two makeup artists to share their intel.
Alexandria Gilleo, celebrity makeup artist and foundation expert recommends avoiding, “matte, powder, and powder-based foundations when working with dry skin because they can make dry skin appear worse and even more dull and dehydrated,” she says. Instead, you’ll want to look for creamy foundations in the form of oils, serums, tints, or creams. Terri Bryant, another world-renowned makeup artist, explains that the most hydrating foundations are ones that are infused with ingredients like hyaluronic acid, a moisture magnet, and niacinamide, which supports the skin’s natural moisture barrier. Both artists stress the importance of skin prep, reminding everyone to apply a hydrating serum, moisturizer, and primer before even thinking about starting on makeup.
To find a product that fits the bill, keep scrolling for 10 makeup-artist-approved foundations that will leave even the driest complexions looking and feeling smooth.
If you’re looking for a foundation with medium coverage that is packed with moisturizing and hydrating ingredients, Gilleo swears by this BECCA product. “It has a great velvety finish that helps dry skin look healthy and radiant,” she says.
Shop now: BECCA Skin Love Weightless Blur Foundation, $44
Spiked with squalane and coconut oil, this easy-to-use foundation stick can spot-treat pigmentation and acne or work as an all-over foundation. In addition to boosting skin’s moisture, it also protects from environmental aggressors and helps your complexion fight inflammation.
Shop now: Westman Atelier Vital Skin Foundation Stick, $68
With a mix of collagen, which helps with elasticity-and-hydration-boosting peptides, skin-tone evening niacin, and skin-damage-reducing antioxidants. this product truly overachieves. “Its finish is radiant, and the formula is buildable,” sats Gilleo, who names it as one of her go-tos when dealing dry skin.
Shop now: IT Cosmetics CC+ Cream with SPF 50, $40
For the perfect “no-makeup makeup” look, this oil-free buildable foundation has got you covered…literally. It offers medium coverage with a natural finish, and is so beloved that it’s even won the Community Favorite award at Sephora.
Shop now: Armani Beauty Luminous Silk Perfect Glow Foundation, $64
5. Tarte Babassu Foundcealer, $39
Tarte has gone and coined the term “foundcealer” to describe an all-in-one foundation-concealer, which is exactly what this product is. Its hydrating formula helps minimize the appearance of blemishes and contains antioxidants and essential fatty acids that work to protect and moisturize the skin. Best of all, it’ll cut your complexion routine down to a single step.
Shop now: Tarte Babassu Foundcealer, $39
This formula is the most breathable of the bunch, and MUAs swear by it for dewy, hydrated, and healthy skin. If you like a foundation that’s ultra-lightweight and buildable (and won’t make ever make you feel caked on), this one’s a great pick.
Shop now: Charlotte Tilbury Light Wonder Foundation, $44
With over 2,000 glowing reviews on Sephora’s site, this buildable face-and-body foundation has become a total fan fave. Because it’s waterproof (and sweat-resistant), you can be sure that it will stay on all day without smudging or creasing.
Shop now: Dior Backstage Face and Body Foundation, $40
8. Ilia True Skin Serum Foundation, $54
With a powerful blend of skin-nourishing botanical actives, this serum foundation creates an even complexion that looks as good as it feels. While providing optimal coverage, the aloe, rosehip, jojoba, and marula oils work to hydrate the skin and soothe irritation and redness, making it one of Bryant’s favorites.
Shop now: Ilia True Skin Serum Foundation, $54
9. Kosas Tinted Face Oil, $42
This tinted facial oil is the ultimate for light coverage. It’s made from a mix of six hydrating oils, and comes with a light tint that creates a clean, velvety finish that looks just like your skin. It’s unlike any traditional foundation you’ve ever tried, and has earned a five-star stamp of approval from our dry-skinned beauty editor.
Shop now: Kosas Tinted Face Oil, $42
The best things come in small packages, right? This buildable foundation creates a natural and radiant finish that can seriously last all day. Sweat? Tears? You name it, this petite powerhouse can withstand it all.
Shop now: Wander Beauty Nude Illusion Liquid Foundation, $40
This tinted moisturizer is Bryant’s fave hydrating product at the moment. The texture allows for buildable coverage (which means you get to decide whether you’re feeling light, medium, or heavy on any given day) while the hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, goji berries, and peptides are there to offer mega-hydrating benefits. Bryant recommends layering it on top of the Smashbox Vitamin Glow Primer ($39) for coverage you can rely on to stick around all day.
Shop now: Smashbox Halo Healthy Glow Tinted Moisturizer, $36
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