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11 Best Foundations to Hydrate Dry, Flaky Skin

This makeup actually quells dry, sensitive patches.

different brands and shades of makeup foundation on pink background

Dry skin is not just uncomfortable: It can make you desperate to cover up redness and dry, flaky patches on your face caused by irritation. But, as anyone with dry skin knows, layering makeup on top of parched areas can frustratingly highlight dryness rather than conceal it.

"The goal for women who have dry skin is to pick a foundation that will make skin look moisturized, fresh and luminous," says makeup artist Erica Whelan. In addition to a hydrating face moisturizer and a solid skincare routine, Whelan says that when it comes to foundations, sheer to medium coverage options are best, and liquid or lightweight cream formulas with a water base will help keep skin hydrated as the day goes on instead of accentuating (or worsening) dryness. The best foundations for dry skin will actually prevent flaking and cakey finishes and provide plenty of moisture to keep your skin looking and feeling smooth.

The analysts in the Good Housekeeping Institute Beauty Lab tested to find the best foundations for dry skin that won't crack, flake or slip. After tallying up and ranking data from over 990 questions answered in our tests, we've found the very best options you can buy, including the best drugstore foundations for dry skin:

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BEST OVERALL FOUNDATION FOR DRY SKIN
Luminous Silk Perfect Glow Flawless Foundation
Giorgio Armani
Giorgio Armani

This foundation blew away the competition in Lab testing: It earned a perfect score for having the smoothest texture, and got top scores for being easily blendable and providing smooth, nearly undetectable coverage. It's also a favorite of numerous editors in the Beauty Lab, who say it blends into the skin seamlessly to give medium coverage and a silky finish that works well on both dry and mature skin. Testers and pros alike love that it seamlessly glides over skin and perfects complexion without making it look like you're wearing makeup.

Coverage: Sheer to medium
Shades: 40
Finish: Radiant
SPF: None

  • Smooth, easily blendable liquid formula
  • Seamless, silky coverage

  • No SPF
BEST VALUE FOUNDATION FOR DRY SKIN
Simply Ageless Instant Wrinkle-Defying Foundation
CoverGirl
Covergirl & Olay
Now 19% off

This pick is a hybrid of Olay moisturizer, hyaluronic complex and vitamin C for hydrated, nourished skin that looks even-toned. Although it's lightweight and "goes on like a face moisturizer,” testers love its medium- to full-coverage formula and SPF 28 for added protection from sun damage. And with over 15,000 reviews on Amazon, reviewers say they "like how soft, creamy and dewy it goes on and STAYS that way, without settling into fine lines."

Coverage: Medium to full
Shades: 12
Finish: Radiant
SPF: 28

  • Anti-aging cream formula
  • Skin-perfecting ingredients
BEST FOUNDATION FOR DRY, SENSITIVE SKIN
Lift & Luminate Triple Action Serum Foundation
No7
No7

This drugstore buy goes on smoothly and leaves a dewy, satiny finish on dry skin. It's packed with firming and brightening ingredients and has anti-aging benefits to smooth fine lines and blur imperfections. In our Institute's research, professional makeup artists said it works best for dry, sensitive and mature skin types. Experts love that it can provide buildable sheer or medium coverage and ranked it highly for ease of use and performance.

Coverage: Sheer to medium
Shades: 13
Finish: Radiant
SPF: 15

  • Line-blurring liquid formula with satiny finish
  • Packed with skin-friendly ingredients
BEST FULL COVERAGE FOUNDATION FOR DRY SKIN
Bye Bye Foundation Full Coverage Moisturizer with SPF 50+
It Cosmetics
It Cosmetics

Of all the products we tested, It Cosmetics' foundation scored highest for mature, dry and sensitive skin. It creates a dewy, satin-like finish, and it got perfect scores for providing smooth, even coverage on dry skin. Our testers loved that it dispensed the exact right amount of product and blended easily over skin. Not to mention, it's a 2-in-1 product with enough SPF to protect your skin from the sun. For best results, apply it with your fingers or using a sponge.

Coverage: Full
Shades: 12
Finish: Radiant
SPF: 50+

  • Dewy, satiny smooth formula
  • Easy to blend
BEST TINTED MOISTURIZER FOR DRY SKIN
Skin Feels Good Hydrating Skin Tint
Lancome
Lancôme

Tinted moisturizers are skin care/cosmetic hybrids, which means that you should expect serious hydration power but lighter coverage. We haven't tested this pick in the Lab yet, but it's GH Beauty Director April Franzino’s go-to — sheswears it hides imperfections and discoloration "without settling into lines or caking," while adding a gorgeous glow.

Coverage: Light
Shades: 15
Finish: Natural
SPF: 23

  • Hydrating liquid moisturizer formula
  • Makes skin glow
BEST CC CREAM FOR DRY SKIN
Tone Correcting CC Cream
Olay

CC creams (or "color correcting" creams) are a combination of skin care and foundation, that offer very lightweight coverage while perfecting skin. This Good Housekeeping Seal-holder is a standout for its moisturization abilities: In Lab tests, it boosted skin hydration levels by an impressive 36%. Bonus: Over time with continued use, the Lab found that it minimized the appearance of brown spots and pores. Its only pitfall? It's only available in one light shade.

Coverage: Sheer to medium
Shades: 1
Finish: Radiant
SPF: 15

  • Moisturizes without feeling heavy
  • Minimizes brown spots and pores over time

  • Only available in one shade
BEST BB CREAM FOR DRY SKIN
Dream Fresh BB Cream
Maybelline
Maybelline New York

"BB" stands for "beauty balms," and BB creams are known to even skin tone and correct blemishes without being as heavy as traditional foundations. Testers loved the "natural" look of this super affordable BB cream, and it really works to increase hydration: It amped up skin moisturization by 11% in Lab tests. The one downside is its limited shade range.

Coverage: Sheer
Shades: 3
Finish: Natural
SPF: 30

  • Proven hydrating formula
  • Sheer, comfortable wear

  • Limited shades
BEST CUSTOM FOUNDATION FOR DRY SKIN
Le Teint Particulier Custom-Made Foundation
Lancôme
Lancôme

For a truly perfect shade and formulation match, look no further than this 2017 Beauty Award-winner from Lancôme, which not only allows you to choose your perfect tone, but hydration level as well: the brand says there are 72,000 possibilities for an exact color and texture match. "I chose the most hydrating formula and found it felt softening and more like a face cream than makeup on my skin," says GH Beauty Director April Franzino. In Lab tests, it matched a range of light, medium and dark skin tones, and testers loved the finish on skin.

Coverage: Customizable
Shades: Customizable
Finish: Customizable
SPF: None

  • Over 72,000 options for the perfect match
  • Customizable hydration

  • Pricey
BEST WINTER FOUNDATION FOR DRY SKIN
Prisme Libre Skin-Caring Glow Foundation
Givenchy
Givenchy

This hydrating, silky-smooth pick by Givenchy is perfect for the dead of winter. Made with glycerin and coconut oil, "it feels really hydrating, and has been perfect for this final stretch of winter where my skin is even drier than usual," said one tester. "I’m always wary of foundation looking patchy on my dry skin, but this one is light coverage, wears like a second skin and doesn’t sink into my pores."

Coverage: Light
Shades: 30
Finish: Radiant
SPF: None

  • Liquid formula made with hydrating glycerin and coconut oil
  • Doesn't settle into pores

  • No SPF
BEST FOUNDATION FOR DRY COMBINATION SKIN
Instabake Aqua Glass Foundation
Beauty Bakerie
Beauty Bakerie

This cult favorite brand caught everyone's attention when it presented its foundations in order from darkest to lightest shades. This full-coverage-yet-hydrating offering from the brand gives a "dewy, glass-skin look," and while we haven't tested it in the Beauty Lab yet, reviewers can't get enough. "Lightweight and a little goes a long way (a tiny dot is more than enough to cover my face)," says one. "It also covers EVERYTHING: blemishes, fine lines... gone. It isn’t heavy looking at all either."

Coverage: Full
Shades: 30
Finish: Dewy
SPF: None

  • Full, hydrating coverage
  • Blurs imperfections

  • No SPF
BEST SHADE MATCH FOUNDATION FOR DRY SKIN
Ultra HD Invisible Cover Foundation
Sephora
Make Up For Ever

With 50 different shades to help you find your perfect match, more than 10,000 reviewers have raved about this foundation. "I have super dry skin and any other foundation cracks and breaks off around my nose, but not this one!" said one reviewer. "It feels hydrating and leaves a glowy finish." We haven't put it to test in the Lab yet, but the brand claims this foundation is formulated with hyaluronic acid to hydrate dry patches and adaptive technology to adjust to your complexion.

Coverage: Medium
Shades: 50
Finish: Natural
SPF: None

  • Hydrating, flexible liquid formula
  • Wide shade range to choose from

  • No SPF
How we test foundations
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The Good Housekeeping Institute's Beauty Lab regularly tests foundations for ease of use, coverage ability and smoothness of application. To find the best foundation for dry skin, we rounded up over 190 products and narrowed down the field to 30 based on each product's claims, price and availability, with formulations ranging from liquid to powder to cream. For products that make skin moisturization claims (think BB creams, CC creams and tinted moisturizers), we use a Corneometer, a device that measures changes in skin's hydration, to see how well (and if) they really moisturize.

We then recruited a panel of makeup artists to evaluate these 30 different high-end and drugstore foundations (with masked labels to remove brand bias). Our experts ranked each product's performance on criteria like buildability, blendability and smoothness.

testing foundations in the gh beauty lab
Sabina Wizemann
What's the best way to apply foundation to dry skin?
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When you suffer from dry skin on the face, "it’s best to avoid powder makeup, which can make skin appear drier and emphasize flakes and cracks." In terms of application, "try dabbing foundation on with a damp sponge for a dewy finish, and choose creamy formulas," says Mally Roncal, celebrity makeup artist and founder of Mally Beauty in NYC.

And when your skin is dry, what you apply before makeup is just as key as the makeup you use, so be sure to always moisturize skin first. And go one step further: "If you layer on a moisturizing makeup primer, your face will be smoother no matter what type of foundation goes on top of it," she explains. The golden rule of makeup for dry skin: "Overall, less makeup is more on a dry complexion," she says. "Too much caked on can make your face look more parched."

Why trust Good Housekeeping?
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The Good Housekeeping Institute has been testing products since 1900. Today, the chemists, scientists and engineers in the Health, Beauty & Environmental Sciences Lab carefully and rigorously evaluate beauty, haircare and skincare products to find the best products on the market that actually work.

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