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12 best foundations for dry skin, recommended by beauty experts for dewy finishes and full coverage

These foundation formulas will help dry skin feel hydrated

Helen Wilson-Beevers
Tuesday 16 May 2023 12:17 BST
<p>We tested the products throughout the day and into the evening  </p>

We tested the products throughout the day and into the evening

Our Top Picks

After applying skincare, foundation is the starting point for creating an even make-up base, whether you go for a lightweight layer or prefer full coverage. But it can be a tricky balance to perfect, as finding the right product depends on your skin type.

If your skin is dry, it lacks key moisture and can appear flaky, dull and tight, as it doesn’t produce as much oil to form a protective barrier. This skin type is an underlying predisposition, which can be seen alongside combination concerns. While it manifests in similar ways, dehydrated skin is different, and occurs due to having too little water in the layer closest to its surface. But, when it comes to shopping for foundation, both skin types suit comparable formulas.

Foundations for dry skin should include hydrating ingredients and a smoothing formula to plump up tightness and even out any patchiness, while delivering radiance to offset dullness.

Skincare ingredients to look out for cover the likes of hydration boosting hyaluronic acid, soothing vitamin E and brightening vitamin C.

We’ve been putting lots of foundations to the test, finding out which products present a smooth, hydrating base. Read on for our pick of the best foundations for dry skin to suit all budgets.

How we tested

We tested several foundations over a few months, wearing them across long days and into the evening, in both warm and cooler weather. They were each worn over the same skincare routine to ensure testing consistency, and we noted how hydrating they looked and felt too. Our tester explored different price points, while looking at the formulas, packaging, and ingredients.

From balms and creams to glowy and matte formulas, read on for our list of the best foundations for dry skin.

The best foundations for dry skin in 2023 are:

  • Best foundation for dry skin overall – Dior forever skin glow foundation for dry skin: £45, Sephora.co.uk
  • Best budget foundation for dry skin – e.l.f flawless finish foundation for dry skin: £9, Superdrug.com
  • Best light-coverage foundation for dry skin – Mac studio radiance face and body foundation for dry skin: £32, Maccosmetics.co.uk
  • Best full-coverage foundation for dry skin – Kevyn Aucoin foundation balm for dry skin: £42, Spacenk.com
  • Best dewy foundation for dry skin – Charlotte Tilbury beautiful skin foundation: £39, Charlottetilbury.com

Dior forever skin glow foundation for dry skin

Dior forever skin glow foundation for dry skin .jpg
  • Best: Foundation for dry skin overall
  • Size: 30ml
  • Shades : 42

Showcasing signature Dior branding, the glass bottle has a pump dispenser releasing a midweight formula with SPF20 that instantly created radiance on our tester’s skin. Available in over 40 shade options, this foundation features hydrating skincare ingredients including wild pansy and rose. There’s a light yet noticeably fresh floral scent too which we found appealing, and it’s suitable for sensitive skin.

Our tester saw a full coverage smoothing effect without any heaviness, and a luminous glow which lingered for hours. This is a long-lasting breathable foundation, and it remained in place throughout our working day and well into the evening, without becoming patchy or sliding off.

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e.l.f flawless finish foundation for dry skin

elf dry skin indybest.jpg
  • Best: Budget foundation for dry skin 
  • Size: 20ml
  • Shades: 40

An oil-free foundation coming in at under a tenner, there are 40 shades to choose from in this offering from e.l.f. The light, fluid consistency is silky, ensuring a seamless spread across our tester’s sometimes dull and dehydrated skin. As it’s oil-free, there’s no shiny residue, and we suspect that the inclusion of hydrating glycerin is behind the slightly matte finish that we saw, which covered skin evenly. Vegan too, this is an ideal lightweight or heavier coverage multi-tasker, as you can layer up and achieve either finish. We found that this comfortable base stays in place for several hours on end.

  1. £9 from Superdrug.com
Prices may vary
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Mac studio radiance face and body foundation for dry skin

mac dry skin indybest.jpg
  • Best: Light coverage foundation for dry skin
  • Size: 50ml
  • Shades: 30

Packaged in a handy squeezy bottle with screw top lid, we found this lightweight veil formula to be cooling and comforting on skin. Suitable for use across the face and body, its natural effect covered a patch of redness on our tester’s neck well. There are 30 shades across different undertone options, including peachy and golden, and the 50ml size is generous for the price point. We saw a buildable, long-lasting, touch resistant finish that felt gently moisturising, with competent yet light coverage.

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Kevyn Aucoin foundation balm for dry skin

kevyn aucoin dry skin indybest.jpg
  • Best: Full coverage foundation for dry skin
  • Size: 22.3g
  • Shades: 20

This creamy balm, which comes in a pot with twist-off lid and an application brush for effortless use, transfers weightlessly onto skin. Not at all shiny or greasy, we found a little bit of this putty-textured product went a long way across our complexion. With a 20-shade range across neutral, yellow, and pink undertones, the coverage is buildable thanks to the small, soft brush and smoothly blending formula. For that reason, we noticed you can either focus on specific areas or apply an evenly coated finish. Hydration promoting ingredients include hyaluronic acid and vitamin E. Our tester saw a full coverage effect, balancing out redness and dry patches while remaining consistently satiny.

  1. £42 from Spacenk.com
Prices may vary
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Suqqu the cream foundation for dry skin

suqqu dry skin indybest.jpg
  • Best: Luxury foundation for dry skin
  • Size: 30g
  • Shades: 23

The lavishly creamy formula comes in a tub with an applicator spatula, meaning we could carefully dot it onto our face. 23 shade options span across yellow beige, beige and pink beige undertones, so it’s not the widest range by a long way. However, for those it does suit, we found the complex successfully ticked both rich coverage and dewy glow boxes while offering smoothing and soothing for dryness. Our tester saw a seamless, more even complexion, without product sticking to pores or lines. Key ingredients including green tea and silk protein make up the Japanese brand’s blend – it’s undeniably an investment buy, but we only needed a tiny amount to cover our face, so can see the product lasting a long time.

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Huda Beauty glowish multidew skin tint for dry skin

huda beauty dry skin indybest.jpg
  • Best: No make-up look foundation for dry skin
  • Size: 40ml
  • Shades: 13

Although technically a skin tint, rather than full foundation, this silky formula offers a subtle hint of coverage that’s particularly good if you prefer not to go heavy with a base, – we wore this dewy formula on “no make-up make-up” days for breathable skin comfort. The choice of 13 shades come presented in a tube, and you can apply as little or much as you want because the product layers up evenly to balance skin tone. Alternatively, our tester saw a highlighting glow from its reflective pearl pigment and rose oil blend, when adding this into or on top of a thicker foundation.

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Charlotte Tilbury beautiful skin foundation

Charlotte Tilbury beautiful skin foundation .jpg
  • Best: Dewy foundation for dry skin
  • Size: 30ml
  • Shades: 30

Available in 30 shades, beautiful skin comes in a squeezy recyclable tube to easily slot into any make-up bag. The formula is vegan-friendly and key ingredients include hyaluronic acid, coconut extract and rose. We found the hydrating foundation easily smoothed onto skin, quickly creating buildable medium coverage and an impressive glow.

It feels super lightweight to wear, and our tester noted this radiant base stayed put well even after a rainy walk. We noticed how satisfyingly soft the foundation is on skin too, and we appreciated the plumping finish it provided. Particularly as our dry skin can sometimes appear tight and parched.

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No7 restore and renew serum foundation SPF30

No7 restore and renew serum foundation SPF30.jpg
  • Best: Foundation for dry skin with SPF
  • Size: 30ml
  • Shades: 18

Skincare ingredients included in this No7 serum foundation cover brightening vitamin C, soothing vitamin E, plumping peptides and nourishing ceramides. A base ready to boost dryness, we saw instant skin-softening as the formula glided onto our tester’s face. It didn’t settle in our fine lines or pores either, instead smoothing over any residual dryness. Although we still wore our usual SPF underneath, the factor 30 inclusion delivers welcome integral sun protection.

The finish is lightweight while still ensuring tone-balancing coverage. For under £20, this is a premium-feeling hydrating foundation at a slightly cheaper price-point.

  1. £20 from Boots.com
Prices may vary
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It Cosmetics your skin but better foundation and skincare

It Cosmetics your skin but better foundation and skincare.jpg
  • Best: Foundation for dry skin with skincare ingredients
  • Size: 30ml
  • Shades: 39

Applying this lightweight foundation feels a lot like slathering soothing skincare on, and that’s because of ingredients including hyaluronic acid, aloe vera and vitamins E and B5. Although it’s a very light, liquid formula, we still saw sufficient skin-balancing coverage and our tester could barely feel it during wear. We found you can easily add layers too, whether looking for further coverage or a top-up throughout the day.

The foundation holds well and doesn’t rub off, instead just subtly fading as hours passed. Our tester saw gentle radiance and comfortable skin, with the texture appearing more toned too.

  1. £36 from Boots.com
Prices may vary
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Estée Lauder double wear stay-in-place makeup SPF10

Estée Lauder double wear stay-in-place makeup SPF10.jpg
  • Best: Long-wearing foundation for dry skin
  • Size: 30ml
  • Shades: 55 shades

A cult classic buy, Estée Lauder double wear is available in over 55 shades and neutral, cool, and warm undertones. The glass bottle doesn’t have a pump applicator nozzle, making it easier to recycle and we avoided any wastage during application by adding a bit of product to our hand at a time.

The oil-free formula feels smoothing, while creating a matte finish that balanced out any visible dryness. Meanwhile, if you’ve got combination skin, we saw it help reduce excess shine on the T-zone too. Our tester noted this foundation stays put for several hours, with the base still in place after a long day and well into a warm summer’s evening.

  1. £37 from Boots.com
Prices may vary
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Pat McGrath Labs skin fetish: sublime perfection foundation for dry skin

Pat McGrath Labs skin fetish- sublime perfection foundation for dry skin .jpg
  • Best: Buildable foundation for dry skin
  • Size: 35ml
  • Shades: 36

Available in 36 shades, this lightweight foundation instantly evened our skin texture and created a silky soft finish. The pump nozzle releases a smoothing formula which we saw improve the look of our fine lines while feeling noticeably comfy to wear. We alternated between light coverage and layering extra foundation when seeking a stronger look, although even a tiny bit balanced out any redness.

Our tester also loved how well it settled onto our skin and didn’t cling to pores, instead being adaptable and breathable. Although a splurge buy; the beautiful bottle with gold and black detailing looks suitably expensive in our make-up bag.

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Rare Beauty liquid touch weightless foundation for dry skin

Rare Beauty liquid touch weightless foundation for dry skin .jpg
  • Best: Breathable foundation for dry skin
  • Size: 100g
  • Shades: 48

We instantly appreciated this foundation’s chic, minimalist packaging and its integral wand enables easy mess-free application. There are 48 shades to choose between, and the vegan-friendly formula is suitable for sensitive skin. The ingredients list includes lots of botanical extracts, and while it’s recommended for normal to combination skin, our dry skin did still feel soothed. However, we tended to wear it with lots of skincare underneath, so this product may be best for slightly dry skin rather than overt tightness or flakiness.

The serum-like texture is almost runny and rubs in easily, leaving a lightweight layer of tone-balancing base. We were impressed by how comfortably breathable the foundation felt and being non-comedogenic, it won’t block pores either.

  1. £29 from Spacenk.com
Prices may vary
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The verdict: Foundations for dry skin

Our best overall buy is Dior’s forever skin glow for its smoothing effect and long-lasting full coverage finish, plus the welcome luminous glow created. Meanwhile, Pat McGrath Labs’ skin fetish sublime perfection foundation delivers a buildable formula and left our skin silky soft. Finally, It Cosmetics’ your skin but better foundation and skincare is a lightweight foundation bursting with skincare ingredients, and it feels comfy to wear.

Not all foundations shield you from the sun, and protection is paramount – so, check out our round-up of the best sunscreens for your face

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