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How Do I Apply Foundation if I Have Dry Skin?

A model using a makeup brush to apply foundation

People with dry skin know just how real the struggle is when it comes to applying foundation. In the moment, you might feel like everything is going according to plan. But fast forward 15 minutes after application and the patchy dry skin on your face somehow seems cruelly amplified.

If you’ve ever cursed the beauty gods, fists in the air, shouting, “Why does my makeup look so dry when all I want is makeup that looks gorgeous?” we hear you and we’re here to help. That’s why we’re spilling our best pro tips on how to apply foundation on dry skin and showcasing our best makeup for dry skin types.

Why Does My Foundation Look Dry on My Skin?

Even with normal to dry skin, makeup can grab onto rough patches and flaky bits, causing them to become more noticeable.

The good news is that you can take steps to boost hydration and make your skin look and feel smoother so foundation sits nicely on your face. There’s also some game-changing makeup for dry skin that can further moisturize so you’re serving more of those glowy goddess vibes.

Wondering “Why does my makeup look dry?” The following tweaks to your beauty routine can help.

Confidence in a Cleanser
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Confidence in a Cleanser


Old price New price $35.00

Your Cleansing Products Could Use an Upgrade

Not all facial cleansers are created equally, and if you have dry skin then it’s especially important to use a product that’s gentle, nourishing, and hydrating. We recommend a moisturizing cleanser formulated with ceramides that help to support your skin barrier.

A strong barrier can help your skin retain moisture, which can ultimately lead to a smoother, more hydrated complexion that foundation glides onto easily. Confidence in a Cleanser combines the power of a cleanser with the hydration of a serum to help boost moisture.

You’re Skimping on Moisturizer

Along with using high-quality cleanser, make sure you’re sticking to a hydrating skincare routine that includes a serum and moisturizer. This is a second and third chance to up your hydration levels, which will make it easier to apply your foundation on dry skin.

One of our favorite hydration combinations is applying Bye Bye Lines Hyaluronic Acid Serum and then layering Confidence in a Cream Anti-Aging Hydrating Moisturizer on top. The former is formulated with 1.5% hyaluronic acid to deliver long-lasting hydration. (Bonus: it visibly minimizes fine lines.) The latter helps lock in moisture while visibly strengthening the skin barrier with consistent use.

When moisturizing dry skin, make sure you’re selecting a rich cream versus a lotion or gel. Thinner formulas are great for normal to oily skin types, but typically not enough for those with drier complexions.

Bye Bye Pores Glycolic Acid Serum

Bye Bye Pores Glycolic Acid Serum


One size only for Bye Bye Pores Glycolic Acid Serum
1 US fl. oz. / 30 ml
Old price New price $36.00

Your Skin Could Use Some Exfoliation

Ever notice dry, flaky bits on your face? When you apply foundation on dry skin, it clings to them and can make them appear more noticeable.

Dry, flaky skin is a clear sign that your face could use some gentle exfoliation. Adding an exfoliating alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) to your regimen can help visibly refine the skin’s surface for a smoother complexion. Try using Bye Bye Pores Glycolic Acid Serum—formulated with 10% glycolic acid—two to three times a week after cleansing and before moisturizer and you’ll see a difference.

You Powder Your Whole Face

While some powder products can be hydrating, many setting powders actually absorb oil from the skin for a matte finish. This is great if you don’t want to look shiny, but not so ideal if you’ve got dry skin.

Instead of applying a setting powder to your entire face, use a makeup brush and precisely apply it to oily areas, such as the T-zone. As an alternative, use a hydrating finishing spray, such as Your Skin But Better Setting Spray+. You can even use the spray throughout the day to keep your skin feeling hydrated.

Your Foundation Isn’t Intended for Dry Skin

In your quest to learn how not to be dry, you may be making the mistake of using a foundation that’s not intended for your thirsty skin type. When buying makeup for dry skin, look for formulas that are clear about being hydrating and moisturizing.

For example, you wouldn’t want to use a mattifying foundation, which will absorb oil. Instead, you’d want to choose something like CC+ Nude Glow Lightweight Foundation + Glow Serum with SPF 40, which is formulated with a hydrating, anti-aging serum and moisturizing day cream.

Our Best Routine for Prepping Dry Skin for Makeup

If you’ve made any of the above errors, don’t sweat it. Knowledge is power, and power translates to confidence! Follow this straightforward skincare routine and you won’t have to feel frustrated the next time you apply foundation on dry skin.

  1. Cleanse: Skip the harsh face wash (and definitely throw away the bar of soap) and grab your oh-so-gentle, skin-strengthening Confidence in a Cleanser.

  2. Exfoliate: Two to three times a week, use a gentle exfoliant to help visibly improve skin cell turnover for a smoother-feeling complexion.

  3. Hyaluronic Acid Serum: Liberally apply your Bye Bye Lines Hyaluronic Acid Serum to give your skin a nice drink and to minimize the appearance of fine lines.

  4. Moisturize: After your serum, apply a layer of Confidence in a Cream Anti-Aging Hydrating Moisturizer. This nourishing and moisturizing formula helps visibly bolster the skin barrier and sets your foundation up for a smooth application.

  5. Foundation: Now that you’re aptly cleansed, exfoliated, hydrated, and moisturized, you’re officially ready to apply foundation. Your skin shouldn’t feel dry at this point, nor should you see any rough patches or flakes. Just make sure you use the best makeup for dry skin, such as CC Cream Foundation SPF 50+ or CC+ Nude Glow Foundation SPF 40.

  6. Setting Spray: To keep it all in place, use a hydrating mist such as Your Skin But Better Setting Spray+. It not only keeps makeup in place for longer, but it’ll impact a dewy, hydrated radiance. You can even use it throughout the day if your skin could use a drink. This one is formulated with hyaluronic acid, coconut water, and aloe vera to help hydrate and moisturize.

If you have dry skin, the skincare routine you keep—and the makeup products you use—can make or break your look. Follow this advice, though, and you’ll be smooth sailing.

Did you know that as we get older and wiser our skin naturally becomes drier? Check out this routine for mature skin.

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