The world doesn’t stop spinning just because it’s cold. Or because your face has become super-dry and is literally flaking off, making it impossible to put on makeup without looking a little deranged. So what’s a girl to do? Time to talk about makeup for dry skin — the expert approved way!
Prep, Prep, Prep!
Peep into the tents at any fashion week, and you will see makeup artists spending the better part of an hour massaging the models’ skin. In fact, at shows like Isabel Marant and Nina Ricci, where skin is the primary beauty accessory, Tom Pecheux says he spent more time prepping the complexion than on putting the actual makeup.
That’s because flakes or dry areas become a magnet for powders and foundations, creating a patchy, grainy mess. So, right before you apply the makeup, gently exfoliate for a minute and give yourself a mini-massage with a facial oil (I am obsessed with the Summer Fridays Heavenly Sixteen All-In-One Face Oil) or a hydrating moisturizer.
Makeup for Dry Skin: Prime the Canvas
Primer is the unsung hero of the makeup world, especially for those with dry skin. It smooths over flaky areas, fills in fine lines, and reduces the appearance of enlarged pores, creating a smooth base for foundation and concealer. This means no settling into lines or dry patches.
Primer helps your makeup adhere better to your skin, increasing its longevity and preventing it from fading or flaking off.
And finally, primers for dry skin are formulated with hydrating ingredients that help lock in moisture, keeping your skin hydrated underneath your makeup. Look for primers with hyaluronic acid, glycerin, or oils like jojoba or squalane to help maintain moisture levels in your skin throughout the day.
The best primers for dry skin? Here are the top picks (click on name to purchase!):
Laura Mercier Hydrating Primer: A vitamin-rich, hydrating treat for dry skin! This primer not only extends the wear of your makeup but also includes vitamins A, C, and E to protect and nourish your skin. The creamy texture leaves you with a soothing, soft-focus finish.
Bobbi Brown Vitamin Enriched Face Base: A cult favorite, this primer is rich in vitamins B, C, and E. The shea butter formula instantly hydrates, softens, and cushions the skin for a smooth application that’s spot-on when doing makeup for dry skin.
Tatcha The Silk Canvas: A balm-like primer that not only protects skin but also provides a silky-smooth texture and poreless finish. Infused with silk extracts, it creates a barrier between makeup and skin, minimizing clogged pores and breakouts.
First Aid Beauty Coconut Skin Smoothie Priming Moisturizer: Combining the benefits of a primer and moisturizer, this 2-in-1 product provides an instant radiant boost. Loaded with coconut water and quinoa protein, it leaves your skin bright, hydrated, and ready for a flawless makeup application.
Fenty Beauty Pro Filt’r Hydrating Primer: This primer is perfect for those who want their skin to feel as good as it looks. The grape seed oil and sodium hyaluronate in its formula makes it incredibly moisturizing, leaving your skin feeling soft and smooth.
Milk Makeup Hydro Grip Primer: This primer is designed for ultimate hydration and grip. Formulated with blue agave extract, it forms an invisible layer to lock in moisture and hold makeup in place. Enjoy a smooth, hydrated, and long-lasting makeup experience.
Foundation: Your Second Skin
When it comes to makeup for dry skin, the ideal foundation should do more than cover — it should hydrate and nourish your skin, smoothly cover dry patches and fine lines without emphasizing them, and maintain a comfortable, flawless finish for hours without flaking, caking, or wearing off.
For dry skin, steer clear of matte, powder, and oil-free formulas, as these can exacerbate dryness. Instead, opt for hydrating cream or liquid foundation. Look for ingredients like hyaluronic acid or glycerin, which provide deep hydration, and natural oils such as jojoba, argan, or coconut for a smooth, nourishing application.
The perfect foundation for dry skin? Here are the top picks (click on name to purchase!):
Giorgio Armani Beauty Luminous Silk Foundation: Known for its hydrating properties and seamless coverage, this silky, lightweight foundation leaves your skin glowing. It is ideal for dry skin and promises a luminous, airbrushed finish with every application.
Koh Gen Do Maifanshi Moisture Foundation: Discover the secret of Japanese skincare with Koh Gen Do’s Moisture Foundation. Infused with minerals and botanical extracts, it provides sheer-to-medium coverage while deeply hydrating and soothing dry skin for a dewy, luminous finish.
Estée Lauder Futurist Hydra Rescue Moisturizing Foundation SPF 45: Estée Lauder’s full-coverage foundation offers not only moisture and coverage but also a hefty dose of sun protection. Infused with ion-charged water, it soothes, hydrates, and covers imperfections, leaving a radiant finish and a protective barrier.
Charlotte Tilbury Beautiful Skin Foundation: This offers full coverage while remaining weightless and hydrating. Formulated with hyaluronic acid and vitamin C, it reduces the appearance of dark spots, redness, and pores.
Bobbi Brown Vitamin Enriched Hydrating Skin Tint SPF 15: Bobbi Brown combines makeup and skincare in this innovative serum foundation. It offers SPF protection while rejuvenating your skin’s natural glow. The medium coverage foundation hydrates and improves skin texture, providing a smooth and natural finish.
Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Invisible Cover Stick Foundation: The advanced formula of Ultra HD Foundation is designed to look invisible on 4K cameras and to the naked eye. It offers medium coverage, suitable for all skin types but especially hydrating for dry skin, ensuring a flawless, natural complexion.
Concealer: The Art of Disguise
Concealer acts like a magic wand in your makeup routine, effortlessly making blemishes, dark circles, and other imperfections disappear. However, for those with a dry complexion, it’s vital to choose a concealer that covers these imperfections without emphasizing dry spots.
The ideal concealer for dry skin should cover smoothly without creasing or caking. Opt for cream or liquid formulas with a creamy texture, as they are more hydrating and less prone to flaking.
So, if you are doing makeup for dry skin, seek out concealers labelled as hydrating or moisturizing. Check the ingredients list for skin-loving elements like hyaluronic acid, vitamins, and natural oils to ensure the skin, particularly the sensitive under-eye area, stays moisturized and smooth.
The best concealers for dry skin? Here are the top picks (click on name to purchase!):
Charlotte Tilbury Beautiful Skin Radiant Concealer: This is your magic wand for imperfections. Charlotte Tilbury’s concealer reduces the appearance of blemishes, dark circles, and fine lines with a hydrating, elastic formula that moves with your skin, preventing creases and dryness.
Maybelline New York Instant Age Rewind Eraser: This concealer does more than cover; it treats. Infused with goji berry and Haloxyl, it works to diminish fine lines and dark circles. The cushion tip allows for a smooth, hydrating application, making it a budget-friendly favorite for dry skin.
Tarte Shape Tape Contour Concealer: A cult favorite, Shape Tape offers full coverage with a flawless matte finish. It’s enriched with shea butter and mango seed butter to hydrate and nourish dry skin while licorice root brightens. Despite its matte look, it’s surprisingly comfortable and hydrating.
Yves Saint Laurent Touche Éclat High Cover Radiant Concealer: YSL’s iconic concealer brightens and covers with a luxurious, radiant finish. Infused with caffeine and calming Moroccan calendula extract, it hydrates and soothes dry skin while providing impeccable coverage.
IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Under Eye Full Coverage Anti-Aging Waterproof Concealer: Developed with plastic surgeons, this concealer is perfect for sensitive and dry skin. It delivers intense hydration and coverage with skin-loving ingredients like collagen, hyaluronic acid, and antioxidants — perfect when doing makeup for dry skin.
Dior Forever Skin Correct Full Coverage Concealer: Dior combines 24-hour wear with skin-caring ingredients. This multi-use concealer not only covers but improves skin’s condition, offering a hydrating, comfortable finish perfect for dry skin types.
Chic Cheeks: Color and Contour
After creating a flawless base with foundation and concealer, it’s time to bring dimension and life back to your face. Contouring and adding color isn’t just about following a trend; it’s about enhancing your natural bone structure and adding a healthy, vibrant look to your skin.
Contouring can sculpt and define your features, while blush and highlighters can bring a natural-looking flush and glow that emulate healthy, hydrated skin.
Once again, think creamy and non-talc. A cushiony formula, like NARS Cream Blush, will create a dewy glow and hide dry patches rather than highlighting them further. Go at with your fingers or use a fluffy, dome-shaped powder brush.
The best blushes for dry skin? Here are the top picks (click on name to purchase!):
Glossier Cloud Paint: A gel-cream blush that’s seamless, sheer, and buildable, ideal for creating a natural-looking tint. Its lightweight formula complements dry skin, leaving a dewy finish that looks like you’re blushing from within.
Charlotte Tilbury Cheek to Chic Blush: A two-tone blush with a color-rich core surrounded by a luminous outer ring. Formulated with light-flex technology, it guarantees luminous coverage and a soft flush that revitalizes dry skin.
Bobbi Brown Pot Rouge for Lips and Cheeks: This award-winning, creamy formula provides a lovely, soft color perfect for creating a “just pinched” look. It’s great for dry skin as it blends easily and can be used on both the lips and cheeks for a natural-looking glow.
Fenty Beauty Cheeks Out Freestyle Cream Blush: Lightweight, easy to blend, and impossible to overdo, Fenty’s cream blush is a dream for dry skin. The sweat- and water-resistant formula ensures a healthy glow that lasts all day without drying out your skin.
Make Up For Ever HD Blush: Designed to create a soft-focus effect, this cream blush offers a seamless, second-skin color that looks natural and lasts all day. It’s perfect for dry skin, providing both hydration and a color that doesn’t crack or flake.
RMS Beauty Lip2Cheek: This dual-purpose product delivers a hydrated, sheer hint of color for both lips and cheeks. Made with organic ingredients and oils, it nourishes and moisturizes, providing a natural, dewy look.
The best contours for dry skin? Here are the top picks (click on name to purchase!):
Fenty Beauty Match Stix Matte Skinstick: Tailor-made for contouring, these matte skinsticks come in a range of shades to fit any skin tone. The product is creamy, buildable, and blends seamlessly into the skin, providing a natural, sculpted look that’s perfect for dry skin.
Charlotte Tilbury Hollywood Contour Wand: Easy to use and blend, this liquid contour comes with a cushion applicator that dispenses just the right amount of product. The formula is lightweight and hydrating, leaving a beautiful, sculpted, and dewy finish.
Westman Atelier Face Trace Contour Stick: Formulated with clean ingredients, this contour stick is creamy and blends into the skin effortlessly. It’s perfect for dry skin, providing a hydrated finish and a natural shadow ideal for defining your features.
Clinique Chubby Stick Sculpting Contour: This creamy contour stick is known for its user-friendly application and natural-looking results. The formula is hydrating, making it an excellent option for dry skin, and it offers a soft, subtle contour that’s perfect for daily wear.
Tom Ford Shade and Illuminate Cream Duo: This luxury duo offers both a contour and a highlighter. The contour cream is soft and buttery, blending into the skin for a seamless, hydrated finish. It’s perfect for creating a subtle, refined look.
Cover FX Contour Kit: A versatile palette with four cream shades for contouring, highlighting, and concealing. The formula is rich and emollient, perfect for blending into dry skin for a natural, sculpted finish.
Do the Eyes
This may seem off-the-wall, but you need a primer on your lids to create a smooth canvas and prevent eyeshadow from becoming uneven, especially over the dry patches.
Yes, eye primers exist, and almost all brands have a variant — like the NARS Pro-Prime Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base and the Pat McGrath IntensifEYES Longwear Eyeshadow Primer.
Also important: when dealing with makeup for dry skin, opt for a cream-based eyeshadow (stay miles away from anything with talc, which can look dried-out and caked-on). You can layer it with a powder shadow in the crease of your eyes, which have more natural oils and hence don’t dry out quite as much.
And eyeliners? Choose eyeliners that glide on without tugging at the delicate skin. Pencil, gel, or liquid liners with a smooth, creamy texture are ideal.
Best eye shadows for dry lids? Here are the top picks (click on name to purchase!):
MAC Pro Longwear Paint Pot: A highly pigmented, long-wearing blendable cream shadow that doubles as a primer. Infused with a moisturizing formula, it’s perfect for dry lids, ensuring a smooth application and vibrant color that stays put all day.
Laura Mercier Caviar Stick Eye Color: Enjoy effortless application with this luxurious eyeshadow stick. The creamy formula provides lasting, buildable coverage that is perfect for dry eyelids. It’s a versatile product for both simple shading and dramatic lining.
Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Waterproof Cream Shadow Stick: This stick is designed to last through any condition while providing a smooth, even layer of color. Its hydrating formula glides on lids, offering a comfortable wear that’s perfect for dry skin.
Charlotte Tilbury Eyes to Mesmerise Cream Eyeshadow: Dive into the creamy, water-infused texture of this eyeshadow for a cooling effect upon application. Its hydrating formula ensures a vibrant, luminous finish that’s ideal for dry, tired eyes.
BareMinerals Mineralist Eyeshadow Palette: This cream eyeshadow is a powerhouse, offering five benefits, including 12-hour long wear and SPF protection. Its silky, blendable texture is perfect for dry skin, providing a smooth, even color.
RMS Beauty Eye Polish: A sheer, mineral cream eyeshadow that doubles as a nourishing eye cream. It’s perfect for adding a subtle glow or a pop of color, all while hydrating and illuminating dry, delicate eyelids.
Enhancing Your Lips
Chapped lips can be even more challenging to hide away than a dry face since your lipstick will cling to flaky patches and highlight every crack and crust. So, begin with a light exfoliation (this DIY lip scrub will do the trick), then apply a lip balm and let it sit for 5 minutes.
After that, blot away the excess balm and layer on a lip primer if the lips still look cakey. Next, pick a creamy, moisturizing lipstick. Avoid matte or long-wear formulas, as they can have a drying effect.
For an extra touch of shine and hydration, consider lip glosses or lip oils. These products not only give a light tint but also keep your lips looking plump and moist all day long.
Best hydrating lipsticks for dry lips? Here are the top picks (click on name to purchase!):
Burt’s Bees 100% Natural Moisturizing Lipstick: Made with 100% natural ingredients, including beeswax and moringa oil, this lipstick offers 8 hours of moisture and a smooth, satin finish. It’s the perfect choice for those looking for effective, natural hydration.
L’Oréal Paris Colour Riche Lipcolour: Rich in omega-3, vitamin E, and argan oil, this lipstick nourishes and softens lips while providing a luxurious, hydrating color. The creamy formula melts onto your lips for long-lasting, comfortable wear.
MAC Cremesheen Lipstick: A creamy, balmy lipstick featuring a comforting feel, medium buildable coverage, and a semi-glossy finish. Infused with pearlized pigments and a moisturizing serum blend, it leaves lips soft and fully moisturized.
Tarte Rainforest of the Sea Color Splash Lipstick: Dive into hydration with this long-wearing, pigment-rich lipstick fortified with lip-quenching ingredients. Infused with shea butter and oils, it provides a smooth application and a creamy, velvety finish.
Givenchy Le Rouge Lipstick: A couture lipstick that offers luxurious, full-coverage color and a creamy, hydrating matte finish. Enriched with hyaluronic acid, this lipstick ensures a smooth, moisturized, and voluptuous pout.
Lancôme L’Absolu Rouge Cream Lipstick: This hydrating lipstick is infused with moisture-boosting Pro-Xylane, ensuring lips stay moist, soft, and comfortable for up to 8 hours. It offers a rich, satiny color and reshapes and replenishes lips upon application.
Makeup for Dry Skin: Finally, The Method Matters
Skip those fancy brushes when doing makeup for dry skin: your fingers are the best cold-weather tools. Applying foundation, blush, and eye shadow with your fingers allows you maximum manipulation over and around the dry patches.
Plus, the skin-on-skin friction creates the perfect amount of heat to literally melt makeup into your skin for a seamless finish.