9 best foundations for dry skin

We put 30 products through their paces, and these are the chosen few

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The Independent Online

Dry skin has the capacity to turn the most-lauded “dewy”, “radiant”, “holy grail” foundations into a patchy, chalky, papery finish. We’re guessing you don’t want that, so we’ve put more than 30 foundations that are marketed as suitable for dry skin types through their paces. It’s been some hit and a lot of miss, but we’ve whittled it down to this precious eight that give good coverage, an even finish and don’t cake on dry patches or make your skin flake, and transform a dull, lacklustre complexion. A bold claim, but we’ll stand by it.

1. Charlotte Tilbury Light Wonder SPF 15: £32 for 40ml, Charlotte Tilbury


This is what we like to describe as a weekend foundation: it’s totally low-maintenance, being easily (perhaps best) applied with your fingertips and giving glowy, “natural” coverage. Our tester found that, while it didn’t last all day, it skimmed over dry areas rather than accentuating them and remained slightly tacky to touch for hours after application, even on parched cheeks.

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2. Givenchy Teint Couture Balm: £30 for 30ml, Feel Unique


We haven’t used another foundation quite like this. It’s thick, creamy and stays put well, yet is light and glowy like a tinted moisturiser. But most importantly, it has “hydro-magnets” that lock in moisture – in other words, it keeps skin moisturised and doesn’t settle into dry patches, despite its distinctively silicone-y glide.

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3. Clarins True Radiance Foundation SPF 15: £29 for 30ml, Clarins


Considering Clarins’ Instant Concealer is one of our favourite beauty products ever, it isn’t surprising that the brand’s foundation range comes through, too. More than any other tested, this has become our go-to for lasting coverage over a full day in the office without settling into lines and patches. Lightweight and very flattering, it also has a mysteriously magic pump that gives you full control over how much you dispense.

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4. Giorgio Armani Maestro Glow Nourishing Fusion Makeup SPF 30: £40 for 30ml, Armani Beauty


If you’re after a glowing finish with light coverage, this is The One. It’s very thin (and comes with a slightly irritating pipette applicator), so for those used to blending a creamier foundation the application takes a little getting used to, but once you’ve got it down it’s all light wear and “natural” skin.

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5. Guerlain Parure Gold Foundation SPF 30: £57 for 30ml, House of Fraser


Here’s a full-coverage foundation that is a genuine joy to use. Luxuriously creamy, it blends like a dream and doesn’t go patchy or chalky when dry, lasts all day without needing a touch-up and is super flattering on more mature skins. Exceptional. Our only gripe is that the black bottle means you can’t see how much is left.

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6. Shiseido Synchro Skin Lasting Liquid Foundation SPF 20: £32 for 30ml, Look Fantastic


Shiseido makes some pretty bold claims about this one: the “Time Match Powder technology” is designed to work with and regulate your skin, giving a dewy finish on dry areas and mattifying oily ones. We can’t speak to that, but it does give light-to-medium, radiant coverage that spreads easily and doesn’t settle into pores, lines or dry patches.

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7. Diorskin Nude Skin-Glowing Makeup SPF 15: £29.70 for 30ml, Escentual


Arguably harder to achieve on dry skin than a dewy finish, Diorskin Nude melts on to skin and dries to a velvet finish without being chalky or going patchy over time. Its medium coverage reveals just enough of the coloration below to look natural without highlighting imperfections. 

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8. Laura Mercier Candleglow Soft Luminous Foundation: £35 for 30ml, Space.NK


Available in a good range of 24 shades, this new launch from Laura Mercier gives light (buildable to medium) coverage and reflects light without highlighting imperfections in texture. It also blends really easily (we found it best applied with a classic flat brush) and felt lightweight on the skin. The only con is that our tester found it shifts a little on oilier areas around the nose. A lovely daytime base.

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9. Lancome Teint Idole Ultra Wear Foundation: £31.50, Lancome


The ever-popular foundation from Lancome comes in a brilliant 40 shades and has achieved the remarkable balance of being very long-lasting without feeling tight and dry. Its creamy consistency means it goes on easily and blends seamlessly with skin, though the coverage is fairly high. Our only quibble is that our tester found that it was hard to dispense the desired amount from the pump.

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The Verdict: Foundations for dry skin

Charlotte Tilbury is our go-to for easy-going, light coverage, while Clarins offers long-lasting higher coverage – both without flaking, drying chalky or settling into dry patches and fine lines.

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing