Ace your base with one of these skin-smoothing & hydrating primers…

Primer is the unsung hero of our beauty bag that, in the realm of make-up, often gets overlooked. Seriously hardworking, a good primer will not only up the staying power of your foundation (check out our pick of the best foundations for dry skin while you’re here), but the latest formulas will hydrate and make skin appear smoother, too.   

"Prepping your skin for make-up is essential, especially when you have a drier complexion," says Dominic Skinner, global senior artist for MAC Cosmetics. If this speaks to you, follow Dominic’s advice and "work with products that will deeply condition and hydrate your skin from the very start." 

From hydrating fluids to glow-giving creams, take your pick from our carefully curated edit of the best make-up primers for dry skin that promise to prep, moisturise and blur texture for your best base yet.  

How to choose a primer for dry skin 

"People seem to assume that a primer needs to be oil-free or have a matte finish to make a foundation last, but this is simply not the case," assures Dominic. "If the skin is too dry, the foundation will dry out and start to flake and vanish," he continues. 

Contrary to what we may think, "foundation actually likes a hydrated base, as the moisture holds the foundation onto skin", explains Dominic. "So, if you have a drier complexion, look for a primer that has hydration and moisture within it." Shea butter, hyaluronic acid, glycerin and vitamin E are all excellent hydrators. 

It’s also worth noting that a hydrating primer doesn’t have to equate to a dewy finish. "Once you’ve completed your make-up, you can decide the finish through your choice of setting sprays," says Dominic, who recommends MAC Fix+ Magic Radiance, if you want to stick with the glow and MAC Fix+ Matte, if you’d like to go matte. 

The best way to apply primer for dry skin 

According to Dominic, the best way to apply primer for dry skin is with fingers. "Massaging the primer into your skin will help push the moisturising properties deeper, delivering the appearance of a plumped and radiant look," he says. 

"However, if you find your skin is really dry and sensitive, using fingers can sometimes irritate the skin further. So, using a clean and sanitised make-up brush is going to really help here," adds Dominic. His top tip? "Use the same brush to then apply your foundation as the residue that remains on the brush will help make your foundation look fresher."

7 of the best primers for dry skin that you can buy at Boots
Best for glow

Try: MAC Studio Radiance Moisturizing + Illuminating Silky Primer

• Size: 30ml
• Water-gel texture

Ideal for anyone with dry skin who’s after a dose of radiance, "this new primer from MAC is perfect as it deeply conditions and hydrates skin, giving you a gorgeous glow, all while locking in your foundation," says Dominic. The water-gel texture is ultra-refreshing and jam-packed with moisturising ingredients including jojoba oil, vitamin E and hyaluronic acid.

Best for travel

Try: e.l.f. Hydrating Face Primer

• Size: 14ml

• Travel-friendly
• Cruelty-free

If your skin is dry and dehydrated (note that these are separate skincare concerns), turn your face to this nourishing number. Laced with grape and vitamins A, C and E, this travel-sized primer hydrates and makes skin appear smoother, while leaving behind a natural matte finish – ideal if you’re going on holiday to a hot, humid country.

Best for hydrating

Try: Laura Mercier Pure Canvas Primer – Hydrating

• Size: 50ml
• Water-based

Skin feeling parched? Give this hydrating primer from Laura Mercier a whirl. Specifically formulated for dry skin types, it contains olive extract to help smooth skin, along with marine hydra botanicals to support skin’s hydration. Apply after moisturiser and before foundation for a glowy base.

Best for multipurpose

Try: Bobbi Brown Vitamin Enriched Face Base

• Size: 50ml
• Rich texture

This primer-meets-moisturiser has a loyal fan base and is brimming with nourishing shea butter, as well as vitamins B, C and E to help soften, hydrate and cushion skin. Rich in texture (without being greasy), forgo moisturiser and go straight for this, massaging it into skin for a bright, beautiful base. We’re hooked.

Best for on-the-go

Try: Urban Decay Quick Fix Hydracharge Spray Face Primer

• Size: 118ml

• Cruelty-free

A great choice for on-the-go misting, this refreshing primer will perk up your complexion, while helping skin look smoother and brighter. Spritz on before make-up and continue to spritz on throughout the day or whenever you need a pick-me-up. Thanks to the ultra-lightweight formula, it will never interfere with your make-up.

Best for dull skin

Try: Weleda Skin Food Cream

• Size: 75ml
• For face and body

If you’re not yet familiar with Skin Food, let us introduce you. A must-try for dry, parched and lacklustre skin, this tried-and-tested formula is loaded with calendula and camomile in a rich, thick base of oils and beeswax. Apply to the face, as well as the body, for seriously hydrated, dewy-looking skin, from top-to-toe.

Best for on a budget

Try: Natural Collection Hydrating & Radiance Primer

• Size: 30ml

• Fragrance-free

For a purse-friendly pick that’s suitable for dry skin, look no further than this radiance-boosting primer from Natural Collection. Camomile helps soothe skin, while light-reflecting pearlescent pigments bolster glow for a super-subtle sheen. Lightweight and hydrating – it’s a total steal at just £2.99.

Have a browse of our full range for more primers for dry skin that have received glowing customer reviews.

And now you’ve got your prep sorted, find your perfect base with our guide to the best foundations for dry skin