10 best foundations for dry skin, starting from £10

products tested by the Hearst Institute , Charlotte Bitmead
·5-min read
Photo credit: .
Photo credit: .

From Prima

When it comes to the perfect foundation for dry skin, you’re looking to boost moisture, rather than take it away, so it’s best to stay clear of powder foundations. They will absorb any moisture to leave you with flaky patches and tight-feeling skin.

Liquid foundations, on the other hand, will quench skin’s thirst while covering up any redness or blemish, to give you an even finish.

For optimum application, make sure you prep your skin by applying a moisturiser at least 10 minutes before blending in your chosen foundation. This will allow the face cream enough time to sink in, while still providing an adhesive base for makeup.

How We Test

Our panel of 300 testers tried a range of foundations designed for dry skin over two weeks. They assessed coverage, blendability, and how hydrating they were.

In the Hearst Institute lab, we used our multi-skin test centre to measure the hydration levels of each foundation on first application and again after six hours.

Here are the ones that impressed the most:

Best Foundation For Dry Skin

Providing you with a flawless finish while also protecting skin against the damaging effects of UV rays and blue light, this foundation delivers all the coverage without any cakiness. Our testers were impressed with how well it lasted throughout the day, keeping skin hydrated without settling into dry patches.

Key specs

SPF: Yes

Finish: Natural

Coverage: Light

Shade range: 14

Best Cream Foundation For Dry Skin

This Japanese beauty brand is known for creating products that enhance rather than hide your natural beauty, which is why we love this radiance-boosting formula. It was a hit among testers for its lightweight feel on skin, which didn’t leave any greasiness. They found it kept skin hydrated throughout the day and gave it a healthy glow.

Key specs

SPF: Yes

Finish: Dewy

Coverage: Sheer

Shade range: 12

Best For Long Wear

Almost like a glass of water for your skin, Estee Lauder’s foundation has an instant moisturising effect, without compromising on coverage. Our testers noticed skin was softer after first application, while dryness improved after multiple uses. The buildable coverage also impressed our panel, who said it didn’t settle into dry patches, fine lines or wrinkles, and didn’t budge throughout the day.

Key specs

SPF: Yes

Finish: Natural

Coverage: Full

Shade range: 12

Best For Velvet Finish

This foundation provides skin with a velvet finish and sun protection of SPF20 - all for under £13. Testers loved the creamy consistency, which didn’t dry out skin throughout the day and provided light to medium coverage. Testers also didn’t report any irritation and described it as a great final step to their morning skincare routine.

Key specs

SPF: Yes

Finish: Natural

Coverage: Light

Shade range: 13

Best For Combination Skin

If you find your t-zone gets oily by midday but your cheeks are still crying out for hydration, this option will help balance out combination skin, and cover redness if you get the occasional breakout. Formulated with hyaluronic acid, testers appreciated the smooth, natural finish it provided without leaving skin looking flaky.

Key specs

SPF: No

Finish: Matte

Coverage: Full

Shade range: 40

Best For Brightening

Get your glow back in an instant with this lightweight foundation. Packed with antioxidants (vitamin A, C and E), it protects against environmental aggressors while working to relieve dry skin. Our testers were impressed with the instant brightening effect it had on skin, providing sheer coverage that didn’t settle into dry patches or fine lines.

Key specs

SPF: Yes

Finish: Natural

Coverage: Medium

Shade range: 12

Best Budget Buy

You don’t have to spend a fortune to achieve a premium finish. Testers raved about the “flawless” look this foundation provided, while feeling lightweight and non-sticky. Everyone was also impressed with how comfortable it was and loved how it made skin look even and smooth, without stripping moisture.

Key specs

SPF: Yes

Finish: Natural

Coverage: Medium

Shade range: 40

Best For Sensitive Skin

Prone to sensitivity? This one gives you buildable coverage without causing any flare ups. Blended with aloe vera and antibacterial properties, it also helps to repair and soothe skin as you wear it, tackling everything from blemishes to redness. Our panel was impressed with how seamlessly it evened out skin tone, leaving skin looking instantly smoother.

Key specs

SPF: Yes

Finish: Natural

Coverage: Sheer

Shade range: 14

Best For Full Coverage

Tackling everything from pigmentation to age spots, testers loved how well this foundation covered skin without leaving it feeling cakey or greasy. The exfoliating ingredients - salicylic acid and peptides - are designed to improve the skin’s appearance while you wear it, too. And our panel agreed, with the majority noticing it looking smoother and more even after application.

Key specs

SPF: No

Finish: Natural

Coverage: Full

Shade range: 34

Best For A Natural Finish

Looking to keep things natural? Benefit’s offering uses photochromic pigments to make skin look perfected, no matter what the lighting. Testers liked how blendable it was, without making smile lines or dry patches appear more prominent. Despite the medium coverage, the formula isn’t the most hydrating on our list, so might not be suitable for those with super-dry skin.

Key specs

SPF: Yes

Finish: Natural

Coverage: Medium

Shade range: 12

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