The 11 Best Foundations for Dry Skin, According to Dermatologists

No one needs flaky foundation in the year 2022.

We independently research, test, review, and recommend the best products—learn more about our process. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.

Best-Foundations-for-Dry-Skin-GettyImages-1190121935
Photo: Getty Images

Dry skin and foundation can be a disastrous mix. Thanks to the former's lack of moisture, the latter can do any number of unwanted things, like flaking off your face or separating into a splotchy mess. It's not the look most people have in mind—but thanks to new formulas, there are tons of options to keep dryness at bay and your skin looking flawless.

So how do you brave the beauty aisles and come out with the best foundation for dry skin? According to board-certified cosmetic dermatologist Michele Green, MD, the key is to look for a few essential hydrators in the ingredient list, like squalane, glycerin, and hyaluronic acid. "Squalene can sink deep into the skin to promote hydration and new cell growth, [which] aids in moisture retention," she tells Health. Glycerin is a humectant, meaning it draws water into the skin and provides what Dr. Green terms a "hydrating barrier"—yum. And hyaluronic acid, the most popular kid in the skincare cafeteria, is a dry skin all-star. "Hyaluronic acid is a molecule that is naturally a part of the skin, and it can retain up to 1,000 times its weight in water to moisturize," she says.

Also look for ceramides, which are lipids that maintain the skin's moisture (they power CeraVe products, so you know they work). "They promote balance and protect the skin from oxidative and environmental stress, [and] aloe vera has rich anti-inflammatory properties and can calm the skin," Green said.

Board-certified dermatologist Anthony Rossi, MD, adds that the best foundation is hydration, so those with dry skin should prioritize cream- and oil-based foundations—advice that's seconded by Alicia Zalka, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and founder of Surface Deep. If you're prone to acne, though, Rossi says a water-based foundation (like this Neutrogena option) is your best bet.

On the "nix" list? Fragrances can be irritating if you have dry or sensitive skin, Green says, and they can conceal hormone-disrupting phthalates. Salicylic acid can be too harsh for dry skin, as can parabens, sodium laurel sulfate, ammonium lauryl sulfate, and some types of alcohol.

Regardless, Rossi says the key to great makeup is great skin underneath—so don't be afraid to exfoliate first, and start your makeup routine with an intensive moisturizer like Ghost Democracy's face oil, one of Zalka's favorites. Then add a moisturizing primer, and finally, a juicy foundation.

These are the 11 best foundations for dry skin, according to dermatologists and customers:

Fenty Beauty Pro Filt'r Hydrating Longwear Foundation

foundation
Sephora

Green calls out Fenty Beauty's moisturizing foundation as a great option for people with dry skin thanks to its inclusion of hyaluronic acid and grapeseed oil. As one reviewer on Fenty's website wrote of the medium- to full-coverage formula, "I've been trying for ages to find a foundation that doesn't make my dry skin any dryer, and this is by far the best one so far. Gives great coverage, doesn't feel like you have makeup on at all, and lasts all day." And as to be expected from Fenty, it's available in a huge range of shades—50, to be exact.

Saie Slip Tint Dewy Tinted Moisturizer SPF 35 Sunscreen

moisturizer
Sephora

Saie is one of the newer brands on the block, having launched in 2019, but it's already nailed it with this makeup-skincare hybrid. Hyaluronic acid holds moisture in your skin, licorice root gets to work lightening dark marks, and pansy flower extract lends protective antioxidants. Add argan oil, jojoba oil, vitamin E, aloe, SPF 35, and a sheer wash of color, and it checks every box. "This tinted moisturizer smoothes on with a creamy, fluffy lightness that makes it super easy to apply and wear," said a dry-skinned devotee on Sephora's website. "It makes my skin look dewy, fresh, and even-toned."

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hydrating Tint

neutrogena hyrdo boost
Amazon

Neutrogena's water-based gel tint is a drugstore mainstay for a reason: The powerful dose of hyaluronic acid makes quick fans of users. On Amazon, it's earned 4,500+ five-star ratings; over 70 shoppers with dry skin have left glowing reviews, mentioning that it works better than high-end products and never looks cakey. As one shopper with "very dry" skin remarked, "This is the only foundation that plumps my skin up and goes on seamlessly, and keeps that look all day."

LYS Beauty Triple Fix Serum Foundation

foundation
Sephora

When a foundation puts "serum" right in its name, you can safely assume it brings a hefty amount of moisture. So it goes for this skin perfector from LYS Beauty, which has won over shoppers whose old foundations clung to dry spots and veered "scaly [and] crackly," as one reviewer put it. Hyaluronic acid works behind the scenes of this moisturizing, light- to medium-coverage layer, and turmeric and ashwagandha add antioxidants that counter aging. The same reviewer concluded, "The texture this gives my dry skin is beautiful."

Elta MD UV Elements Tinted Moisturizer with SPF 44

elta MD
Amazon

Celebrities like Kourtney Kardashian, Mindy Kaling, and Ashley Graham have lauded Elta MD products before, and Zalka dubs the brand's tinted SPF one of her favorite lightweight foundations for dry skin. While it only comes in one medium-tone shade, reviewers call it one of the best products they've ever tried. "This is the first sunscreen I ever tried that felt wonderful—this is luxury skincare. Only the very darkest and very palest skin colors might feel like the tint isn't a perfect match, but most will find it invisible," a shopper wrote. "The finish is a healthy looking satin. The UVA and UVB protection are top of the line. [I] highly recommend."

Burt's Bees Goodness Glows Liquid Foundation

foundation
Ulta

Rain and snow are no deterrent for Burt's Bees' skin-friendly formula, Ulta customers say, and neither is exceptionally dry skin. The medium- to full-coverage liquid glides over fine lines without settling and minimizes pores, and even those in their late 60s write that it works wonders for their dehydrated skin. "I have used high-end foundations before this, but never again," wrote a sexagenarian. Meadowfoam seed oil, squalane, glycerin, and jojoba oil make for a radiant, moisturizing finish.

Sephora Collection Best Skin Ever Liquid Foundation

foundation
Sephora

The name of this foundation promises a lot, but according to Sephora customers with dry skin, the formula pulls it off with a mix of hyaluronic acid, glycerin, vitamins C and E, and hydrating algae. "I typically hate wearing foundation because I have dry skin, and everything feels cakey and looks awful. This is super lightweight, and a little bit goes a long way," said a fan of the light- to medium-coverage matte formula (if you have hard-to-match skin, note that there are 50 shade options). Another person added, "I have been searching for a good foundation for mature, dry, blotchy skin, [and] this is amazing."

BareMinerals Complexion Rescue Tinted Moisturizer with SPF 30

bareMinerals Complexion Rescue Tinted Hydrating Gel Cream
Amazon

At this point, BareMinerals' Complexion Rescue Tinted Moisturizer is close to legendary. The dewy formula's made a fan out of celebrities like Hailey Bieber and Jennifer Hudson, and it's nabbed the top spot as Australia's favorite foundation. It turns the glow up for dry skin in the dead of winter, per a Sephora shopper: "I'm blown away by how good it is… I have fine lines and dry skin with texture on my cheeks, and this stuff covers my redness beautifully and lays very smooth." The coverage is semi-sheer and buildable, creating what another person described as the "most skin-like finish I've ever experienced in my whole life. It looks like you, but a little more perfected."

Exa High Fidelity Foundation

foundation
Credo

You'll be hard-pressed to find a foundation more moisturizing than Exa's vegan, cruelty-free, and EU-compliant formula, which boasts aloe, glycerin, jojoba, apricot seed oil, sunflower seed oil, vitamins C and E, hyaluronic acid, and a host of plant extracts for antioxidants. As a Credo shopper wrote of the semi-satin formula, "I've had problems with makeup flaking on my dry forehead, but this leaves me with such a nice finish. There is a subtle glow, but it isn't as dewy as some other foundations. Your skin just looks healthy and youthful."

Pacifica Beauty Ultra CC Cream Radiant Foundation with SPF 17

foundation
Ulta

"This foundation is wonderful. Light coverage for a natural look, and also very good for dry skin," said one Ulta shopper of Pacifica's CC cream, and that's the consensus among all reviewers. The foundation's supremely natural, water-weight texture stems from its use of hyaluronic acid, coconut water, and ginseng extract, all of which nourish skin as the color glazes over imperfections. Even estheticians have taken to the comments to express their satisfaction with the SPF-infused cream; high marks, indeed.

N°1 De Chanel Revitalizing Foundation

foundation
Ulta

Chanel's newest foundation is the priciest on this list, but according to fans with dry skin, it's well worth the tag. "Absolutely love this foundation—reminds me of the old formula for Lancôme's Renergie, but feels more like skincare. Lightweight on the skin, dewy finish," wrote an Ulta customer. "Perfect everyday foundation, but still makes you feel beautiful." They're not the only one on cloud nine: More shoppers raved about the "airbrushed, glowy skin" they see from the long-lasting, camellia oil-infused formula.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles