A Guide to Foundation for Normal-Dry Skin


Each year when fall and winter roll around, I find myself reaching for more and more products to put on my face. I'm all about that "no makeup" makeup look (or just no makeup, period) in the summer, but something about the darker evenings makes me want to create slightly more dramatic, or at least "done" looks. This usually means actually wearing foundation, which, as someone with dry skin, can get a little tricky. I've found lots of skin prep and choosing your formula carefully can make a huge difference between a flawless base and a cakey mess.

Skin Prep

Whenever I know I'll be using a heavier coverage or more matte foundation, I'll always make sure to include a chemical exfoliation step in my morning skincare routine. It just ensures that all flakes and dry bits are cleared away, and it gives the skin a beautiful glow. My favorite for mornings is the Pixi Peel & Polish* - it's super quick (about two minutes), effective, and yet still gentle. Some exfoliating peels leave my skin feeling a little raw and sensitive, so I would never want to put makeup on top. But after the Peel & Polish, my skin still feels normal, just so much smoother and more radiant. It's the perfect step to include for special occasions, or just any day you want your makeup to look a little more flawless.

As someone with dry skin, I need to apply a moisturizer underneath my foundation no matter what. Super hydrating BB cream? Doesn't matter. Certain moisturizers double really nicely as primers, too, smoothing and evening out the skin. My favorites, of course, are from Glossier. The Priming Moisturizer is my first love - it's lightweight and fluid, and it really helps tone down my redness. It also leaves a beautiful dewy glow to the skin that radiates out from underneath the makeup. The Rich version is equally lovely and great if your skin is especially dry. In the winter this is my go-to. Despite being such a luxurious cream, it doesn't leave the skin feeling greasy, and it actually has more of a velvety finish than the original version.

If I know I'm going to be using a matte formula, I'll also incorporate a facial oil into my morning routine and give it some time to sink in. I think this is why I haven't had any problems with the Fenty Beauty Pro Filt'r Soft Matte Foundation looking dry on me, when I've heard complaints of that from other people. I prefer to let it sink into the skin so as not to cause problems and settling with the foundation. It amps up the glow and allows the foundation to glide right over dry patches. I know it's nothing groundbreaking, but it's my favorite little trick if I want my skin to look extra healthy.


Products & Application

I find that the kinds of products that look best on my dry skin are lighter coverage and glowy. I prefer to build up light layers rather than piling on a thick layer. If any dry patches are lingering after skin prep, the foundation will call less attention to them this way. Lighter weight and more hydrating foundations tend to smooth over dry patches much more readily than more matte formulas, too. My favorite is the Charlotte Tilbury Light Wonder Foundation - it gives good coverage, doesn't accentuate dryness, and is glowy without being greasy.

Once you have your foundation formula chosen, it's important to think about application, too. A damp sponge is my favorite way to apply foundation, as the water in the sponge helps give it a boost of hydration and glow, and it flattens any dry patches instead of agitating them and causing them to stand up. If you really want to use a brush, applying the foundation with downward strokes will help to lay dry patches (and any hair on your face) flat.

The last thing to consider is how you're going to set your makeup. I usually reach for setting sprays instead of powders, as they help meld everything together beautifully and add more of a glow. Some powders can dry out the skin, causing cakiness. I really love the Pixi Makeup Fixing Mist - it really helps to keep the makeup in place all day and almost adds a filter-like effect to the skin. For powders, my go-to is the Glossier Wowder. It's super finely-milled and doesn't cake up at all. It's definitely a dry-skin-friendly product. It mattifies without zapping all your glow, and it also helps to blur out pores and imperfections.

What are your tips for wearing foundation with dry skin?