If you have dry or severely dry skin, it can be a challenge to wear makeup, especially foundation, which can emphasize dry patches as well as fine lines. The wrong foundation will start caking, accentuate flaws and draw attention to flaking skin.

Wear Foundation When You Have Dry Skin
How to Use Foundation When You Have Dry Skin.

How to Choose a Foundation for Dry Skin

Look for liquid foundations that are cream (but not too thick) or oil-based. Some gel, mousse or water-based foundations can also work, depending on the formula. (See below for more about this).

Avoid powder-based foundations, which emphasize dryness, especially absorbent powders and ingredients that are formulated to prevent shine and absorb oiliness. Foundations that are designed to reduce shine and which usually have matte finishes will make the skin look drier and once again, emphasize any dry patches, lines, and wrinkles.

Look for Hydrating Formulas

The dilemma:

  1. Foundations that give great coverage often can give those with dry skin a heavy mask-like look.
  2. Some foundations that have enough moisturizing ingredients don’t typically give enough coverage; so pick one that blends easily with buildable coverage.
  • You want a foundation that will provide good coverage while hydrating the skin, without caking.
  • If the foundation is water-based, there must be humectants (ingredients that help the skin retain water) in the formulation or else evaporation from dry air, can and will make the skin even drier.
  • Look for foundations that are described as having a dewy finish. If you’re not into a dewy look, one with a satin finish will do.
  • Since dry skin tends to be easily irritated, also look for formulas that are for sensitive skin to avoid ingredients that can be potentially drying or that can cause inflammation, redness or itchiness (like fragrance or certain preservatives.) The right foundation will not feel dry or tight while wearing it.

Some ingredients to look for:

Humectants like glycerin and hyaluronic acid to help the skin retain moisture.

Antioxidants like vitamin A, C, E to protect the skin from wind, cold and sun. Dry skin is susceptible to environmental damage since the skin barrier is compromised.

Steps to a Smooth Foundation

Start With a Clean, Not Squeaky Clean Face

  • When cleansing the face, use a product that is formulated for dry skin, such as a gentle, moisturizing cleanser.
  • Gently exfoliate the face once a week to get rid of accumulating dead skin cells.

Exfoliating Facial Treatments


  • Apply a moisturizer five minutes before applying foundation, letting it absorb into the skin. You can use a good eye cream or serum to soften lines and wrinkles around the eyes.

Hydrating Face Serums

Prep and Prime

  • Next apply a makeup primer with hydrating ingredients, which will help keep dry patches at bay and give skin a smooth canvas on which to apply foundation.

Application Tips

  • If you have a favorite foundation that lacks enough moisturizing and hydrating ingredients, take non-greasy oil, like grapeseed oil and apply to the skin before applying makeup or add a little bit to your foundation.
  • Apply foundation using clean fingertips or a damp sponge. If you use a foundation brush, it should be soft, or the bristles could be rough on the skin.

Tips and Products for Long-Lasting Makeup

Finishing Touches

  • Use a hydrating or oil-based spray to mist the face during the day.
  • Make sure you drink fluids (water and fresh juices) and eat fruits and vegetables. For more, read these articles for Juice Recipes for Clear and Smooth Skin and Foods for Younger Looking Skin.
  • Moisturize daily and use a rich night cream. Treat yourself to a hydrating facial masque once a week to keep dry skin healthy.
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