Nourished, perfected base, anyone? These are the foundations – from light to medium & full coverage – that will actually work for your skin type

If you’re reading this, then chances are you have dry skin – and you’re on the hunt for a new foundation. Well, you’ve come to the right place. We know it can be tricky to make the right choice, so we’re aiming to bring you all the skin-formation you need in your quest for complexion perfection. But first thing’s first. What is dry skin?

“Dry skin produces fewer natural oils than other skin types and is characterised by a dull appearance that may feel tight, rough, flaky and itchy,” says Dr Susan Mayou, consultant dermatologist at the Cadogan Clinic. “Scales may be apparent and the skin may feel less elastic with fine lines being more visible.”

So it’s no surprise that those of us with dry skin can struggle with foundation as it often ends up looking patchy. With this in mind, several top industry experts share with us everything we’ve ever wanted to know about foundation for dry skin, from what to look for to how to apply it and how to achieve a glowy, seamless finish.

What type of foundation is best for dry skin?

“Seek out a foundation with moisturising properties,” advises celebrity make-up artist, Lauren Montgomery. “When paired with a hydrating moisturiser and primer, the product will glide on more evenly.”

Check out our guide to the best primers for dry skin to nail your prep.

Another common dry skin concern?

“Its lacklustre appearance,” adds Lauren. Fortunately, a luminous base can help. “A foundation with light-reflective particles will naturally boost radiance. However, I’d make sure to avoid anything powder based,” she cautions. “These types of formulas are designed to absorb moisture – something dry skin doesn’t need.”

Why does my skin look dry with foundation?

If you’ve asked yourself this question, then as well as changing up your foundation, it could be good to switch up your skincare, too.

“Anyone with dry skin should be using hydrating ingredients regularly and consistently,” explains Dr Mayou. These include humectants, such as hyaluronic acid and ingredients like squalane that mimic the skin’s natural oils, boosting hydration and helping improve the appearance of your complexion.

“I’d also look towards ceramides that can help prevent moisture loss and protect the skin barrier from environmental stressors,” says Dr Mayou. Look for these in your foundation and other make-up too, for even more glow for your buck.

What’s the best way to apply foundation on dry skin?

Unsurprisingly, good skin preparation is key.

Exfoliate and use a face cream or moisturiser for dry skin to build the smoothest base before make-up application,” recommends Lauren. “Avoid applying foundation with a buffing, circular motion. This will only lift the skin further and highlight dry patches. Instead, use a patting movement to apply your chosen product. A flat brush, beauty blender or simply using the fingers will ensure your make-up stays put all day long.”

Learn more tips for foundation application for flawless, glowing skin in our easy-to-follow make-up tutorial.

12 of the best foundations for dry skin you can find at Boots

Now you’ve mastered the base-ics, scroll on for our edit of some of the best foundations for dry skin.

From skincare-infused formulas to complexion-perfecting heroes, here are 12 of our top picks for dry skin, suited to all budgets.

Shop more great foundations for dry skin in our full range.

Best natural finish foundation for dry skin

Try: Max Factor Miracle Second Skin Hybrid Foundation

• Size: 30ml

• Sheer, buildable coverage

• 9 shades

• SPF20

Max Factor has gained a rep for its great range of affordable foundations that work for all skin types. One of our favourites is this second skin-effect option, which is formulated with nourishing ingredients – just what we love to hear. 

Best dewy foundation for dry skin

Try: Shiseido Synchro Skin Radiant Lifting Foundation

• Size: 30ml

• Medium-to-full coverage

• 28 shades

• Non-comedogenic

• SPF30

Just because we want to make our dry skin look more hydrated, doesn’t mean we want it to look like an oil slick. This option from Shiseido provides a delicate, subtly dewy base that never looks greasy. Plus, we can confirm it feels totally undetectable.

Best brightening foundation for dry skin

Try: Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation

• Size: 30ml

• Medium, buildable coverage

• 40 shades

• Oil-free

A gorgeously lightweight foundation that promises seamless application? Count us in. This oil-free number is a favourite, thanks to the fact it brightens and hydrates skin with minimal effort. We have the glycerin in its formula to thank for that!

Best light foundation for dry skin

Try: Huda Beauty GloWish MultiDew Skin Tint

• Size: 40ml

• Sheer coverage

• 15 shades

• Fragrance-free

• Non-comedogenic

• Vegan

Loved by influencers and editors alike, this glowy, hydration-packed skin tint instantly illuminates and blurs – ideal for a soft-focus, dewy finish. A must for ‘no make-up, make-up’ days, the formula is bursting with nourishing properties that help improve the look of dry skin.

Best glowy finish foundation for dry skin

Try: NYX Professional Makeup Born to Glow! Naturally Radiant Foundation

• Size: 30ml

• Medium coverage

• 13 shades

• Vegan

• Cruelty-free

A glowy finish foundation is probably just what your heart desires if dryness has left your skin looking dull. And this NYX Professional Makeup foundation provides medium but buildable coverage that will take you from a night out to the taxi home – it has impressive day-to-night staying power, in other words.

Best full coverage foundation for dry skin

Try: Fenty Beauty PRO FILT’R Hydrating Foundation

• Size: 32ml

• Medium-to-full coverage

• 20 shades

Fenty Beauty has always been a brand that pushes boundaries, so it’s no surprise that its PRO FILT'R Hydrating Foundation should be similarly innovative. How? Well, it’s a hydrating foundation with full coverage that actually lasts. You can thank the grapeseed oil in its formula for how pleasant it is to apply.

Best value foundation for dry skin

Try: L’Oréal Paris True Match Super-Blendable Foundation

• Size: 30ml

• Medium coverage

• 35 shades

If you’re looking for a foundation that’s as excellent for your skin as it is for your wallet, look no further. Boosted with hyaluronic acid and glycerin, this pick helps dial up the glow for dry and dehydrated skin types.

Best radiant finish foundation for dry skin

Try: No7 HydraLuminous Moisturising Foundation

• Size: 30ml

• Medium coverage

• 19 shades

• SPF15

It's no surprise that a moisturising foundation with medium coverage – such as this one – should be just the tonic for dry skin? By grace of its added grapeseed oil and vitamins, it will leave you with luminous-looking skin.

Try: Lancôme Teint Idole Ultra Wear Care & Glow Foundation

• Size: 30ml

• Medium coverage

• 30 shades

Powered by hydrating heroes hyaluronic acid and mandelic acid, the finish of this glow-boosting foundation gives your skin a supercharged healthy glow that naturally catches the light. It stays fresh-looking for up to 24 hours and is easily buildable, too.

Best foundation for dry-to-combination skin

Try: Estée Lauder Futurist Hydra Rescue Moisturising Foundation SPF 45

• Size: 35ml

• Medium-to-full coverage

• 28 shades

• SPF45

Given that it’s both moisturising (thanks to the IonCharged Water Complex) and lightweight, this foundation is a blessing for those of us with dry, combination skin. And with an SPF45, it provides added sun protection, too.

Best foundation for sensitive, dry skin

Try: Nars Sheer Glow Foundation

• Size: 30ml

• Sheer, buildable coverage

• 23 shades

• Non-comedogenic

• Fragrance-free

Soothe sensitive dry skin with a suitable foundation. As its name would suggest, Nars Sheer Glow illuminates the complexion, evening it bit by bit and leaving it with a natural, lightweight glow.

Best foundation for dry and redness-prone skin

Try: IT Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC+ Full Coverage Cream Original SPF 50+

• Size: 32ml

• Full coverage

• 14 shades

• SPF50

• Boots Beauty Awards winner

We know that this is technically a CC cream as opposed to a foundation, but we just had to give it a mention as it has so many great benefits. It has has enough coverage to disguise redness, reduce the appearance of wrinkles thanks to hydrolyzed collagen and hyaluronic acid, SPF50 and a bursting trophy cabinet of awards. In fact, it won ‘Rosacea Saviour’ at the Boots Beauty Awards.