These 17 Foundations Make Dry Skin Look & Feel Nourished

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Glossier, Neutrogena & Charlotte Tilbury make a few of our favorite options.

<p>InStyle / Reese Herrington</p>

InStyle / Reese Herrington

If you’ve been personally victimized by drying foundations as someone with tight, flaky skin (especially in the colder months)—you’re not alone. While the purpose of foundations is to act as a veil for your natural skin, the wrong product can actually highlight the areas you’re trying to conceal, especially if you have dry skin. In order to prevent product from clinging to dry patches, creases forming due to areas of tightness around your face, or excessive flakiness, it’s important to invest in foundations that will keep your skin feeling nourished throughout the day or night.

Don’t know how to find this ideal foundation for your dry skin? There’s no need to panic, because us dry skin-havers at InStyle have spent more than enough time searching high and low for coverage products with the most hydrating ingredients, satisfying finishes, and all-day nourishment . While it took us a while to find and test out our perfect picks, it won't take you long—just peruse this list to find a slew of options, including top-of-the-line drugstore buys, luxe liquid formulas, the easy, everyday essentials, and more.

Read on to discover our best foundation picks for dry skin, based on hours of research, consultations with expert makeup artists and a dermatologist, and real-life testing from our team at InStyle. 

Best Overall: Glossier Stretch Fluid Foundation

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What We Love: This formula feels as comfortable as a moisturizer on your skin.

What We Don’t Love: We love that there are 32 shades to choose from, but this extensive range means it could take longer to find your perfect shade.

While she admits that she’s been a part of the cult of Glossier since her teenage years, our writer believes that the brand’s recent foundation release, the Stretch Fluid Foundation, is without a doubt deserving of the best overall spot on this list. Barber tested this formula out on her annoyingly dry skin for weeks, and was amazed at the end of each day or night by the way it didn’t budge or crease, and had the same flawless, natural finish and subtle glow as it did when it was first applied in the A.M. Over the few weeks she tested this formula, she stopped to admire her skin in more mirrors and reflective store mirrors than she’d like to admit—it’s that good.

Barber is typically a fan of minimal-coverage products (which is why she gravitates towards brands like Glossier in the first place), but she loves how the Stretch Fluid Foundation formula offers the coverage of a true foundation but the comfortable feel of her go-to skin tints—she’d even go so far as to say it feels as nourishing as her favorite moisturizer. Thanks to hydrating ingredients like squalane, glycerin, and plankton extract, this claim makes perfect sense. Plus, it has a gel/liquid-like texture that makes applying with your go-to dense brush (Barber’s preferred method), or beauty sponge (you can use your fingers, too!) an easy process.

We also love how extensive the shade range is, and there’s even a shade finder quiz available on Glossier’s website if you’re struggling to find the right one for your shade/undertone (Barber notes that it took her a few tries to find the appropriate one for her skin).

Price at time of publish: $34

Key Ingredients: Squalane, glycerin, plankton extract | Finish: Natural | Coverage: Light/medium | Number of Shades: 32 | SPF: No | Size: 1 oz

Best Drugstore: Neutrogena Healthy Skin Liquid Makeup SPF 20

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What We Love: The natural finish and feel, plus the inclusion of SPF, makes this product a great daytime foundation option.

What We Don’t Love: The shade range is lacking for darker skin tones.

If you’re a proud member of the dry and sensitive skin club (like our writer is), you’ve likely picked up a Neutrogena product from the drugstore at least once during your adolescent years, and maybe even well into adulthood. This brand is recommended by the dermatologist that Barber has been visiting for years, and after trying a multitude of moisturizing products from the brand, she can attest to the fact that they are the top drugstore brand when it comes to both skincare and makeup. So, it’s no surprise that the liquid foundation from its Healthy Skin line takes our spot for the best drugstore pick.

The lightweight feel and natural finish of this formula reminds our writer of our aforementioned best overall pick (the packaging is similar, too—dare we call this a drugstore dupe?!), and the inclusion of glycerin, vitamin E, and feverfew extract help give this foundation its nourishing feel. What’s better? There’s SPF 20 in this formula in the form of titanium dioxide, making this option a great choice for anyone with dry skin seeking a new daytime foundation.

One thing we should note is that although this product feels more accessible to those close to a drugstore or with a more limited makeup budget, the shade range skews towards light to medium skin tones, so we cannot justify its accessibility in that regard.

Price at time of publish: $14

Key Ingredients: Glycerin, feverfew extract, vitamin E | Finish: Natural | Coverage: Medium | Number of Shades: 14 | SPF: 20 | Size: 1 fl oz

Best for Dry, Mature Skin: Jones Road Beauty What the Foundation

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What We Love: This foundation acts more as a tinted, moisturizing balm, giving it the perfect, your-skin-but-better finish and feel.

What We Don’t Love: The formula can have a strange consistency when you first open the product, so you’ll have to mix it prior to applying it to your skin.

We understand that at first glance, this foundation from Jones Road doesn’t look like your traditional foundation formula, and that can be a little off-putting. We’re here to tell you that this unconventional appearance is the secret ingredient to the perfect foundation for not only dry skin but dry, mature skin. Jones Road’s What The Foundation is better described, as the brand says, as a “tinted moisture balm”—which is music to a dry skin-haver’s ears. Jojoba oil is the star ingredient in this formula, which is the ultimate nourishing ingredient, and with sodium hyaluronate also on the list, which is a form of hyaluronic acid (a.k.a. a known hydrating ingredient), this is undoubtedly a product you should invest in if you’re experiencing dryness, tightness, and the works.

As for why What The Foundation works for mature skin types as well: the hydration these key ingredients offer, combined with the unique, balm-like feel of the formula itself, makes this product feel like a second skin, so you won’t experience the cakeyness of traditional foundations that otherwise emphasize fine lines and wrinkles and cling to dry spots. Plus, the light to medium coverage level (it’s buildable) provides a natural finish, rather than one that looks too heavy on aging skin. The Bobbi Brown, the creator of Jones Road, even said it herself that this foundation is the best for anyone over the age of 50.

Price at time of publish: $44

Key Ingredients: Jojoba oil, sodium hyaluronate | Finish: Natural | Coverage: Light/medium | Number of Shades: 12 | SPF: No | Size: 1.14 oz

Best Full Coverage: Smashbox Always On Skin Balancing Foundation

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What We Love: This foundation offers full coverage without looking (or feeling) cakey on the skin.

What We Don’t Love: The price point is a little high, but we think you get your money’s worth thanks to the full coverage and flawless finish.

“Every year without fail, my skin dries out like a desert cactus in the summer heat and despite this fact, I’m still supremely lazy when it comes to applying moisturizer, which is why I’m obsessed with this hyaluronic-acid-infused foundation from Smashbox,” says InStyle Commerce Writer Irene Richardson, and “the ultra hydrating ingredient helps [her] skip a few steps in [her] skincare routine.” While Smashbox’s Always On Skin-Balancing Foundation feels like nothing more than your favorite hydrating moisturizer, it actually offers more coverage than the other options on this list. So, if you prefer a full beat (but still like your coverage to look natural) for your everyday makeup routine, this is definitely a product to consider.

Alongside its hydrating benefits, this formula also includes adaptogens, specifically licorice root and sea asparagus, which help to keep your skin barrier in check (a.k.a. keep your skin feeling balanced while you wear it)—this likely explains why Richardson raves about how this foundation “keeps [her] makeup from clinging to flaky dry patches.” Due to the liquid formulation, you also have a ton of freedom when it comes to the application method, but Richardson prefers to use a firm complexion brush to buff it out, specifically Danessa Myricks’ Yummy Face 1.0 All Over Complexion Brush.

Price at time of publish: $45

Key Ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, licorice root, sea asparagus | Finish: Natural | Coverage: Full | Number of Shades: 30 | SPF: No | Size: 1 oz

Best Powder: BareMinerals Original Loose Powder Foundation SPF 15

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What We Love: Although dry skin types are typically recommended to steer clear of powder formulas, this option works just as well as other liquid or cream options.

What We Don’t Love: We wish the SPF level in this formula was at least SPF 30.

It’s not often that we see powder foundations recommended for dry skin types, as these formulas run the risk of settling into dry spots and lacking hydration needed to keep skin feeling nourished while wearing makeup. However, Bare Minerals’ Loose Powder Foundation is a true exception, and is one of InStyle Senior Beauty Commerce Editor Kaitlin Clark’s go-to formulas for her skin. She explains: “I’ve had problematic skin my whole life, from acne to dryness to rosacea, and I’ve tried nearly every foundation under the sun over the years to cover these annoyances, and I keep coming back to this Bare Minerals foundation. I’ve been using it since high school and I honestly haven’t found a better foundation that works with my sensitive skin and still gives me the full coverage I want. And even though it’s a powder foundation, it’s not at all drying (I have no idea how—magic, I assume) but it still mattifies the areas of my face that need it, like my T-zone.”

Not to mention this formula has a mineral-based SPF on its ingredients list (specifically titanium dioxide and zinc oxide), so alongside your makeup coverage you’ll get some UV protection as well. Although, we should mention that it’s only SPF 15, which is lower than the recommended SPF level. Make sure to use your usual SPF (or moisturizer with SPF) underneath this foundation for ample protection. It’s also hypoallergenic and dermatologist-tested, so if you have dry and sensitive skin like Clark, this product is a fabulous option for you.

Price at time of publish: $38

Key Ingredients: Titanium dioxide, zinc oxide | Finish: Matte | Coverage: Full | Number of Shades: 30 | SPF: 15 | Size: 0.28 oz

Best For Dry, Sensitive Skin: Tower 28 SunnyDays SPF 30 Tinted Sunscreen

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What We Love: This formula is approved by the National Eczema Association, so the ingredients won’t further irritate sensitive skin.

What We Don’t Love: May work better during the day due to the SPF in the formula, as not everyone feels the need to wear a sunscreen product at night.

Not only does our writer have dry skin, but she also has sensitive, eczema-prone skin as well (she’s so blessed!). Despite this frustrating combination, she never has to risk additional flare-ups or the appearance of unsightly dry, red patches thanks to Tower 28’s SunnyDays foundation. Approved by the National Eczema Association (and the only foundation product to have that Seal of Acceptance!), this product keeps sensitivities at bay while ensuring dry skin stays moisturized throughout the entire day. The ingredients list includes glycerin, one of our favorite hydrating ingredients, prickly pear extract, a known antioxidant (which helps protect against outside pollutants), and non-nano zinc oxide for UV protection, which is the better sunscreen ingredient to use if you have sensitive skin.

This foundation offers light coverage (but is buildable if you’re seeking more), and has the perfect natural, slightly dewy finish that conceals any pesky imperfections on the skin, which, for our writer, includes her dry eczema patches and subtle dark spots from pimples past.

Price at time of publish: $32

Key Ingredients: Glycerin, prickly pear extract, non-nano zinc oxide | Finish: Natural | Coverage: Light | Number of Shades: 17 | SPF: 30 | Size: 1 oz

Related: These 12 Tinted Mineral Sunscreens Offer Goof-Proof Protection

Best Dermatologist-Recommended: Alastin Skincare HydraTint Pro Mineral Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 36

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What We Love: We love how this tint works for both dry and sensitive skin types.

What We Don’t Love: Although the singular shade of this product functions as a universal tint, it may not work as well for dark skin tones.

If you trust our InStyle picks but think you need a more professional recommendation for a foundation for dry skin, we understand. For you, our writer consulted an expert, a.k.a. dermatologist Dr. Marc Beuttler, MD, FAAD at Modern Dermatology in Westport, CT for his professional opinion. ALASTIN Skincare’s HydraTint Pro Mineral Broad Spectrum Sunscreen with SPF 36 is his “go-to foundation recommendation for dry skin.” Beuttler says: “This tinted, zinc-based sunscreen instantly brightens the skin and looks universally good,” (we’re listening). Plus, “[it’s] loaded with skin-friendly antioxidants that protect against environmental toxins, free radical damage, and IR/Blue Light. While deeply hydrating, it is also non-comedogenic—all while providing SPF 36 protection.”

The HydraTint Pro Mineral Sunscreen is chock full of some of our favorite ingredients, including zinc oxide for UV protection, which also benefits those with sensitive skin looking for SPF options, ecotin, which prevents your skin from drying out, as well as squalane and glycerin—our best friends when it comes to hydrating the skin.

However, one thing we should mention is that this foundation functions more as a tinted sunscreen than a true, medium/full-coverage product (which is why there’s only one shade), so if you’re seeking a foundation to help you complete a full beat, consider other options like the aforementioned Smashbox Always On Skin-Balancing Foundation instead.

Price at time of publish: $64

Key Ingredients: Zinc oxide, ecotin, squalane, glycerin | Finish: Natural | Coverage: Light | Number of Shades: 1 | SPF: 36 | Size: 1 oz

Related: The 15 Best Foundations for Acne-Prone Skin of 2023

Best Hydrating: Dior Forever Skin Glow Foundation

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What We Love: This formula is packed with unique ingredients that keep your skin feeling hydrated.

What We Don’t Love: We like how this foundation has SPF, but the level of coverage is only at 15 and the protective ingredient is octisalate.

It’s true that all of the picks on this list are hydrating options (what else works for dry skin-havers?), we love the specific ingredients included in this luxe foundation from Dior. Dior Forever Skin Glow Foundation is a liquid foundation with medium/full coverage and a glowy finish, and comes in 42 different shades across light, medium, and dark skin tones.

Included on its ingredient list, which Dior notes is more than halfway composed of floral-based skincare ingredients, is none other than glycerin, our go-to moisturizer, as well as iris extract, hibiscus extract, and wild pansy extract. If you’re unfamiliar with what these floral extracts do (we assume you are), we’ll break it down for you to reveal why we love these ingredients so much: iris extract keeps hydration locked into the skin and has antioxidant properties, hibiscus extract also has powerful antioxidant properties (ideal if you’re also in the market for anti-aging products), and wild pansy extract is thought to also keep maintain your skin’s natural hydration in order to prevent you from drying out.If you’re starting to believe this foundation is more of a skincare product than something to add to your makeup bag, you may just be right—this alone allows us to justify the over-$50 price tag.

Price at time of publish: $55

Key Ingredients: Glycerin, iris extract, hibiscus extract, wild pansy extract | Finish: Radiant | Coverage: Medium/full | Number of Shades: 42 | SPF: 15 | Size: 1 oz

Best Dewy Finish: Maybelline New York Fit Me Dewy + Smooth Foundation

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What We Love: This formula offers the coverage and gorgeous finish of a high-end product but at a more affordable price.

What We Don’t Love: The UV protection in this foundation is pretty low, and the chemical ingredient octinoxate can be potentially harmful.

With the term “dewy” in the name, you can rest assured that your skin will be glowing to the gods after applying this foundation. Maybelline’s Fit Me Dewy + Smooth Foundation is perfect for anyone seeking a drugstore option that provides the same radiant finish as higher-end options on the market. Plus, it offers medium coverage, so it’s better for those desiring a full-fledged makeup look rather than something more natural and sheer.

Of course, this foundation wouldn’t be on this list if it didn’t boast a hydrating feel—vitamin E is the main ingredient in this formula, which, as we’ve mentioned can be a source of nourishment for the skin, and also acts as a protector against the effects of photoaging (damage to the skin from UV rays). So, not only will this formula not further dry out your already-dry skin, but it even possesses antioxidant properties as a bonus—these ingredients combined with the SPF 18 protection from octinoxate makes it a powerhouse foundation (and it’s only ten bucks!).

Price at time of publish: $10

Key Ingredients: Vitamin E | Finish: Radiant | Coverage: Medium | Number of Shades: 24 | SPF: 18 | Size: 1 fl oz

Best Lightweight: MAC Studio Radiance Face and Body Radiant Sheer Foundation

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What We Love: With 30 shades to choose from, you’re guaranteed to find the perfect sheer tint for your skin tone.

What We Don’t Love: It’s pricey for such a barely-there complexion product.

There’s something to be said about a foundation that doesn't feel like a foundation—MAC’s Studio Radiance Face And Body Radiant Sheer Foundation has that effect. This MAC foundation has a barely-there feel on your skin thanks to the totally sheer, liquid formula that you can keep sheer or use to build coverage as you please. Plus, the finish is natural with a slight sheen, so not only will it feel ultra-lightweight on your skin, but it will also appear like you have nothing on your skin (rather it’ll look like that glow is au naturel).

Another fabulous feature of MAC’s Studio Radiance Face And Body Foundation? It’s waterproof, thanks to the inclusion of ingredients like ​​dimethicone, making it the ultimate everyday foundation—it feels like nothing, looks like skin, and won’t budge (even if you get caught out in the rain or in some other unfortunate water-related mishap).

Price at time of publish: $42

Key Ingredients: ​​Dimethicone | Finish: Natural | Coverage: Light | Number of Shades: 30 | SPF: No | Size: 1.7 fl oz

Best Serum: LYS Beauty Triple Fix Serum Foundation

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What We Love: Despite its serum-like consistency, this foundation offers great coverage.

What We Don’t Love: Some reviewers note that it's tricky to find a true shade match

Do you ever wish sometimes that you could apply complexion products to your dry skin with the same ease that you apply your favorite serums? With LYS Beauty’s Triple Fix Serum Foundation, you can! This foundation is not just any liquid foundation, rather it functions more like a true serum, so you can easily (and evenly) blend and build it on your skin post-application, whether you prefer to use your fingers (like you would with a real serum), a brush, or a sponge. Plus, this consistency ensures that the formula feels ultra-lightweight and like a second skin, despite the product boasting a medium-level layer of coverage.

Like your-go serums in your skincare routine, the Triple Fix Serum Foundation is packed with favorable ingredients like hyaluronic acid for that much-need hydration, ashwagandha, known for its anti-inflammatory effects on the skin, and turmeric, whose antioxidant properties prevent skin damage and wrinkling from UV rays. We also can’t get enough of the shade range, which includes 35 shades truly suitable for all skin tones and undertones and works especially well for those with medium to dark skin.

Price at time of publish: $24

Key Ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, ashwagandha, turmeric | Finish: Natural | Coverage: Medium | Number of Shades: 35 | SPF: No | Size: 1 fl oz

Best Stick: Westman Atelier Vital Skin Foundation Stick

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What We Love: The cream formula combined with the stick packaging makes this foundation easy to place and blend onto your skin, allowing for the most natural, even finish.

What We Don’t Love: This foundation is on the pricier side, but it doubles as a concealer which makes it worth the higher price point. 

What’s even easier than a serum foundation? A cream foundation in stick form, giving you complete control over where you place your foundation without needing to get your hands dirty. Westman Atelier’s Vital Skin Foundation Skin provides you not only with that unique type of control, but also with a beautiful dewy finish and ample coverage for uneven texture, hyperpigmentation, and blemishes.

Cream products like this one are wonderful for dry skin types, as this consistency makes it easier for the formula to blend right into your skin—the inclusion of nourishing ingredients like squalane and berryflux vita ensure that said creamy formula doesn’t dry out your skin or create uncomfortable dry patches while you wear it. Not to mention the stick packaging itself makes this product easy to travel with and looks just as luxe as your typical luxury compact or glass bottle.

Price at time of publish: $68

Key Ingredients: Squalane, berryflux vita | Finish: Natural | Coverage: Medium | Number of Shades: 21 | SPF: No | Size: 0.31 fl oz

Best Buildable : Charlotte Tilbury Beautiful Skin Liquid Foundation

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What We Love: This buildable formula gives you the best of both worlds when it comes to your makeup routine: a more natural look on your less glam days, and a more full-coverage, airbrushed look on the days you want something more.

What We Don’t Love: Reviewers say it’s tricky to find the right shade if your skin is super light.

Charlotte Tilbury is no stranger to amazing complexion products (the brand’s Flawless Filter tint has a cult following at this point), and we especially love the brand’s more recently released Beautiful Skin Foundation for its supreme buildability. As a medium-coverage product, you’re getting more bang for your buck when it comes to covering up blemishes or discoloration, but the coverage level isn’t so intense that it’s easy to look cakey—use a dot or two around your face for a more natural finish that isn’t too sheer, or, if you’re craving a more airbrushed look, add a few more to build up the coverage.

Thanks to hyaluronic acid in this formula, you can rest assured that despite how much you build up your coverage, there’s no risk of drying out your skin or clinging to dry spots as you dab your makeup sponge. Plus, Charlotte Tilbury’s trademarked Bix-Activ ingredient works to limit unwanted sheen and the appearance of pores on the face.

Our Associate Commerce Fashion Editor, Hayley Prokos, is this product’s number one fan for a few reasons, but she specifically raves about it because although her skin is technically “classified as combination,” her use of topical products to treat acne results in “a lot of dry patches, which [she’s] found that the Beautiful Skin Foundation works well over (probably because of the hyaluronic acid).” Prokos says: “Despite my acne I don't like to wear a lot of makeup; I want to feel like my skin can breathe, so I love that this formula is really lightweight and has a natural finish. and yet it's buildable so you can tailor your coverage.”

Price at time of publish: $49

Key Ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, Bix-Activ | Finish: Radiant | Coverage: Medium | Number of Shades: 30 | SPF: No | Size: 1 fl oz

Best Matte Finish : Rose Inc. Soft Light Skin-Smoothing Non-Comedogenic Foundation

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What We Love: We love how this formula includes a slew of hydrating ingredients like squalane and ectoin.

What We Don’t Love: This foundation is on the pricier side.

Our writer is not typically one to gravitate towards matte finishes, but this recent release from ROSE INC (if you’re not familiar, this is model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley’s brand) may have converted her. ROSE INC’s Softlight Skin-Smoothing Liquid Foundation truly feels like a second skin, and it’s all thanks to its soft matte finish which prevents it from looking too cakey or flat on the skin. After applying it in the morning before a long WFH day, Barber forgot she was even wearing a complexion product by lunchtime—that’s how comfortable this feels.

As for the formula’s hydrating properties, this does not disappoint. The first ingredient that catches our attention is ectoin, which prevents transepidermal water loss in the skin, leaving it plump and hydrated, and also squalane, which is one of the best moisturizing ingredients in the game. Our trusty glycerin is on the list, too, so you can trust that this is a suitable choice for anyone with dry skin seeking out a matte complexion product.

Not only can our writer speak about the comfortability and hydration of the Softlight Skin-Smoothing Liquid Foundation, but she also raves about the level of coverage, noting how it covers up even her most prominent irritation (a.k.a. the persistent patch of eczema on her right cheekbone), and keeps it covered throughout the day.

Price at time of publish: $54

Key Ingredients: Ecotin, squalane, glycerin | Finish: Matte | Coverage: Medium | Number of Shades: 31 | SPF: No | Size: 1 fl oz

Best Natural Finish: Giorgio Armani Beauty Luminous Silk Foundation

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What We Love: This natural-looking formula is perfect for everyday, but can be built up for more coverage in the PM.

What We Don’t Love: We wish this formula didn’t have parabens and fragrance in it.

One of my longstanding foundations in my kit for dry skin is Armani's Luminous Silk Foundation,” says celebrity makeup artist Neil Scibelli. “The formula has sheer, light-reflecting pigments in it, so it creates a multi-dimensional glow on the skin which is great for dry skin—” we can’t help but agree. Those “sheer, light-reflecting pigments” in this Armani Beauty foundation that Scibelli mentions create the perfect natural finish for anyone seeking a more subtle formula for their everyday makeup looks.

The liquid formulation also allows for buildable coverage, so you can have a more sheer finish during the day and build it up to its maximum medium coverage look for a night out. Plus, this formula has hydrating glycerin in it, so you can trust Scibelli’s choice to use it for his celebrity clients with dry skin. Also on its ingredient list is Armani Beauty’s trademarked Micro-Fil Technology, which gives this formula its smoothing, pore-minimizing appearance and gives you that your-skin-but-better complexion.

We recognize that this luxury foundation is on the pricier side at just under 70 dollars, but the Luminous Silk Foundation formula is one-of-a-kind when it comes to that ideal natural finish on your skin. So if you’re in the market for a luxe complexion product for your parched skin, we can’t help but recommend this one.

Price at time of publish: $69

Key Ingredients: Glycerin, Micro-Fil Technology | Finish: Natural | Coverage: Medium | Number of Shades: 40 | SPF: No | Size: 1 fl oz

Best With SPF: Saie Slip Tint Dewy Tinted Moisturizer SPF 35

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What We Love: This formula not only has SPF 35 from non-nano zinc oxide, but also includes hydrating, soothing, and antioxidant ingredients.

What We Don’t Love: May not work for someone seeking more coverage. 

Similar to the SunnyDays tinted SPF from Tower 28, Saie’s Slip Tint has a non-nano zinc oxide based formula that hydrates just as much as it protects your skin, and these are not the only reasons that our writer has been obsessed with this complexion product for over two years (she’s about to be on her third bottle). This foundation has the perfect finish in her opinion—it looks dewy on her dry skin (never greasy) and provides light coverage that still feels purposeful (imagine Instagram’s Paris filter IRL). It’s truly ideal for everyday wear, whether you’re headed to the office, to the beach, to happy hour—there’s no event that this tint isn’t suitable for. Plus, it couldn’t be easier to apply. Barber prefers to use the brand’s The Big Brush because it’s super dense and prevents streaks, but she also admits to using her hands and applying it like you would a moisturizer from time to time (do this for an even more natural finish).

Aside from the mineral SPF included on the ingredients list, Slip Tint boasts a slew of other favorable ingredients as well, including: hyaluronic acid and glycerin (you know why we love these for dry skin by now!), licorice root extract, which has antioxidant properties, and even aloe vera, which is known for its soothing properties.

Price at time of publish: $36

Key Ingredients: Non-nano zinc oxide, hyaluronic acid, licorice root extract | Finish: Radiant | Coverage: Light | Number of Shades: 14 | SPF: 35 | Size: 1.35 oz

Read Full Review: Nearly 2,000 Shoppers Love This Skin Tint That Makes Me Look Like I’m Wearing a Beauty Filter IRL

Best Long-Wear: NARS Natural Radiant Longwear Foundation

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What We Love: It’s easy to find a shade that perfectly matches your skin tone and undertones.

What We Don’t Love: Some reviewers note it may take a few tries with the right primer to get this formula to look flawless.

If you’re someone who regularly does a full beat and needs it to actually last all day or all night, the NARS Natural Radiant Longwear Foundation will become your new go-to. This formula provides both full coverage and a natural finish, and you don’t have to use too much to get the full effect. Due to the fact that a little goes a long way with this foundation, there’s less of a chance of any unsightly creasing on your skin from too much product as the day goes on post-application, and NARS’ claim that it lasts up to 16 hours on your skin while still looking just as good as when you first applied makes this the ideal complexion product for anyone needing to have that flawless look for hours and hours on end.

Not only does this formula have our go-to glycerin on its ingredients list, making it wonderful for dry skin types, but it also includes a variety of fruit extracts, specifically raspberry, apple, and watermelon; raspberry and watermelon extracts act as fabulous moisturizing ingredients, while apple extract has antioxidant properties that help reduce skin damage from UV rays.

Price at time of publish: $50

Key Ingredients: Glycerin, raspberry, apple, and watermelon extracts | Finish: Natural | Coverage: Full | Number of Shades: 34 | SPF: No | Size: 1 oz

What to Keep in Mind

Skin Prep

When it comes to ensuring your dry skin can handle wearing foundation throughout the day, the first step is always ample skin preparation. Take it from makeup artist Ian Russell: “Makeup is only ever as good as your skin prep.”

A good moisturizer is always a necessity when it comes to your pre-makeup skin prep, and it’s key to apply said moisturizer both the night before and in the AM right before application. Neil Scibelli notes that “ lock[ing] in a great nighttime moisturizer” allows you to “wake up with supple skin,” therefore making foundation application a smoother process. Our writer prefers to use separate moisturizers for the night and day times, specifically Paula’s Choice Skin Recovery Replenishing Moisturizer in the PM and Paula’s Choice Defense Essential Glow Moisturizer SPF 30 in the AM—it’s her holy grail routine for dry skin.

If your skin is super dry and needs a little extra TLC, makeup artist Grace Lee recommends “serums that help boost hydration levels like hyaluronic acid.” Make sure to also “thoroughly massage [...] moisturizer into the skin [and] apply another layer if needed.”


While all formulas can work well for dry skin as long as they have a good lineup of hydrating ingredients, Russell notes that “as a general rule, liquid foundations tend to be the better choice for a dry skin, especially as skincare components are now available in so many products.” Scibelli agrees, saying that he “tend[s] to stick with cream or liquid foundation formulas for dry skin because they bind to the skin easier and smoother[,] whereas powders can settle into dry skin and accentuate fine lines.” However, if you are interested in a powder foundation for dry skin rather than the typical liquid or balm formulas, Bare Minerals’ Loose Powder Foundation with SPF 15 has our stamp of approval here at InStyle.


As you’ve seen on this list, there are a few different finish types amongst foundations for dry skin, and if you’re confused about what they all mean, we got the lowdown from our experts. Scibelli says: A matte foundation typically contains a lot of silicones which seal the pores and decrease oil production, [...] a dewy finish will give you that three dimensional glow, often with light reflective properties, [...] a natural finish is neither too dewy nor too matte, it should just look like your skin, [and] a satin finish is a combo of both a matte and a natural finish, giving the skin a slight velvety, airbrushed effect.” His top finish type for dry skin types? A dewy finish, which “gives the effect of radiance to the skin”—something that people with dry skin don’t usually experience naturally.


Just as there are different finish types, there are also different levels of coverage for foundations for dry skin.

“Coverage refers to the opacity of makeup,” explains Russell. “Full coverage [...] is designed to completely cover the skin, appears opaque when applied and contains the most pigment. Sheer coverage is lightweight and the most transparent,” and “medium/buildable [is] nestled somewhere on the scale in between.”

While coverage level is, of course, a personal preference, Lee loves “medium or light” coverage products, combined with “natural or dewy” finishes, as they “usually [...] have moisturizing ingredients in them.”

Moisturizing Ingredients

Keep an eye out for specific moisturizing ingredients when shopping for a foundation for dry skin. Glycerin is a common nourishing ingredient that is found in more than a few of our top picks, including the Glossier Stretch Fluid Foundation, Neutrogena Healthy Skin Liquid Makeup, and Saie Slip Tint.

Scibelli notes that “hyaluronic acid is always a great [ingredient] because it draws moisture from the air and locks it into the skin for instant hydration.” Russell also loves hyaluronic acid-based formulas (like the Smashbox Always On Skin-Balancing Foundation), and acknowledges that other ingredients like squalane, [and] nourishing plant-based oils like shea butter, coconut, buriti and jojoba” are also ones to look out for. Jones Road What The Foundation has jojoba oil as its star nourishing ingredient, while a few on our list have squalane, like our best overall choice, Glossier Stretch Fluid Foundation, and Westman Atelier’s Vital Skin Foundation Stick.

Application Method

While you may already have a tried-and-true way to apply your foundation, keep in mind the best ways to do so based on your product’s formula type. Lee suggests “a damp sponge or hands” for most liquid/cream formulas, as “applying foundation with your hands [allows you to] warm up the foundation with your hands [in order to] [go] on seamlessly.”

In order to prevent that annoying cakey appearance that can happen when applying foundation, “apply foundation in thin layers, building up coverage slowly [...] it’s far easier to add more than to blend (or even remove) excess.”

Your Questions, Answered

What type of foundation is best for dry skin?

As we noted earlier, the best foundations for dry skin are typically liquid or cream formulas with natural or dewy finishes. With these types of formulas, there’s less risk of product clinging to dry patches, and any radiance from a dewy or natural finish gives your skin a more moisturized appearance. Additionally, any foundations with known hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and squalane (amongst many others!) work best to prevent your already-dry skin from further drying out.

Are serum foundations good for dry skin?

According to Russell, “serum foundation products are some of the most beneficial on the market when dealing with dry skin types.”  Why is this? “They feel lightweight, are packed with hydration and also include heavy-duty ingredients that target specific concerns such as aging, pigmentation and skin dullness,” says Russell. Our top serum foundation recommendation is the Triple Fix Serum Foundation from LYS Beauty—a staple for dry skin, especially if you have a darker skin tone.

How do you make your foundation look flawless with dry skin?

Anyone applying foundation knows how tricky it can be sometimes to achieve that perfect flawless finish—thankfully Lee knows the secret: “Skin prep is key. I can’t stress enough that moisturizing before is important.” Additionally, “picking the right formulation and making sure that you don't overdo it with foundation. Less is more and [you] don't [need to] pack on coverage where it's not needed, as that [tends] to dry out the skin as well.”

Why Shop With Us

Madison Barber is a passionate beauty product-researcher and a victim to dry, sensitive skin. For this article, she spent hours researching foundations with suitable ingredients, finishes, and formulas for dry skin, and tried out a few herself, including the Glossier Stretch Fluid Foundation, ROSE INC Softlight Skin-Smoothing Liquid Foundation, Tower 28 SunnyDays Tinted Sunscreen, and Saie Slip Tint. She also included favorites from other dry skin types on the InStyle team and consulted consulted three makeup artists and a dermatologist to hear some of their expert picks and advice, including: Dr. Marc Beuttler, MD, FAADNeil Scibelli, Grace Lee, and Ian Russell.

Related: The 15 Best Foundations for Oily Skin That Won’t Get Greasy, Per Makeup Artists

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