Best foundation for dry skin featured

Best foundation for dry skin, tried and tested by our editors

5th January 2023 | Author: Victoria Woollaston-Webber

Looking for the best foundation for dry skin? We’ve tested more than 100 foundations to discover which are the best 

Finding the best foundation for dry skin isn’t simply a case of choosing a brand or finding a foundation match for your skin tone.

Dry skin can cause makeup to gather and look clumpy. This causes uneven coverage and flaky patches. Cold weather can then make things worse, as can harsh soaps and face washes, or too many hot baths and showers.

As a result, people with dry skin need to keep their faces hydrated throughout the day, and simply using a moisturiser first thing in the morning is unlikely to do the job. This is where buying a good foundation for dry skin comes in.

Below, we’ve put together a collection of what we consider to be the best foundations for dry skin. They’re not exclusively for people with dry skin, but they offer additional ingredients and consistencies that are beneficial to dry skin. You can also check our best foundation and best foundation for dark skin lists for more options. 

The ranking comes from our major foundation group test. We recently began testing as many foundations in the UK as we could on TikTok in a bid to find the best foundations for different skin types, coverage, and budget. We’ve included more about how we test foundations at the bottom of this article (you can jump straight to that section here), or you can go to our How we test foundations guide.

FURTHER READING: What causes dry skin and how to get rid of itThe best moisturisers for dry skin

Best foundation for dry skin

  1. 17. Second Skin – £5 | Buy now
  2. Max Factor Facefinity – £13.99 | Buy now
  3. Surratt Surreal Skin Wand – £62 | Buy now
  4. Morphe Filter Effect Foundation – £18 | Buy now
  5. Charlotte Tilbury Beautiful Skin – £36 | Buy now
  6. Clarins Everlasting – £32 | Buy now
  7. Fenty Beauty Pro Filt’r Longwear – £30 | Buy now
  8. Too Faced Born This Way – £32 | Buy now
  9. Urban Decay Stay Naked Foundation – £29.50 | Buy now
  10. No7 Restore and Renew – £19.95 | Buy now


WANT MORE?: How we test foundationsHow to find your perfect foundation match | MUA explains how to get flawless makeupBest foundation for oily skinBest high-street foundation UKBest full-coverage foundation UKBest foundation for mature skin

1. 17. Second Skin 

£5 | Buy now

Best foundation for dry skinmamabella | mamabella


Price: £5

Shades: 20

Coverage: Medium

Base: Water

Finish: Natural

Vegan: 10

Cruelty-free: 10

17.’s Second Skin is the best foundation for dry skin because it not only increased the hydration of our skin after application – a rarity across the 100+ foundations we’ve tested – but it’s also super affordable and gives a lovely natural finish.

In fact, it increased skin hydration by 1.4 percentage points, which equates to 5%.

This made it the joint highest most-hydrating foundation in our test, alongside Max Factor Facefinity (see below.)

The 17. Second Skin performed well on the orange and strawberry tests.

It let out a huge amount of oil and humectants on the blotting paper, which is what makes it so suitable for dry skin. As does its water base.

There are a couple of downsides. The shade range isn’t huge – there are only 20 shades available which, even given the low price, is disappointing.

The 17. Second Skin also doesn’t last very long on oily skin.

It lasts much better on dry skin, without causing flaking, but you’ll need to use a hydrating setting spray or similar if you want to make it last all day.

We recommend refreshing it throughout the day using The Beauty Crop Oui Cherie Mist.

Buy now from Boots

2. Max Factor FaceFinity

£13.99 | Buy now

Max Factor FaceFinity foundation reviewMax Factor


Price: £13.99

Shades: 33

Coverage: Med/Full

Base: Silicone

Finish: Matte

At £13.99, MaxFactor’s FaceFinity is an affordable foundation for dry skin in its own right, but it’s even better value for money when you consider you get three products for the price of one. FaceFinity can be used as a primer, a concealer, and a foundation.

It provides a smooth, relatively long-lasting base that blurs the pores with enough coverage to tackle dark circles and redness.

It even mattifies the skin without making it appear flat or dull which is unusual in a foundation for dry skin.

In our orange test, this foundation underperformed on the larger “pores” on the strawberry and it produced an above-average amount of liquid on the blotting paper. Which talks to its mattifying qualities.

The coverage is medium but you can build it up to full coverage if you need/want to.

In our hydration test, FaceFinity was one of only a handful of foundations to increase the hydration of the skin.

It rose hydration by 1.3 percentage points or 5% overall. This put it in joint first place with 17. Second Skin.

This hydrating formula means it’s a great foundation for dry and mature skin. As an added bonus, the foundation has SPF 20 and is non-comedogenic.

That’s not to say it’s without fault. MaxFactor promises “24-hour wear” and claims it’s touch- and shine-proof but in our experience, FaceFinity didn’t quite live up to this promise. Our shiny T-Zone began making a slight appearance by midday, and by the end of the day, areas of redness started to peek through.

The staying power is better on dry skin though.

Buy now from Boots

Charlotte Tilbury Beautiful Skin

£36 | Buy now


Price: £36

Shades: 30

Coverage: Medium

Base: Water

Finish: Dewy

Charlotte Tilbury’s Beautiful Skin took the crown as the best foundation for mature skin, and it’s also one of the best foundations for dry skin.

Like the 17. Second Skin, Beautiful Skin is a water-based foundation and its most abundant ingredient is Pyrus Malus fruit water, which comes from apples.

This ingredient hydrates and smoothes the skin.

It’s a mild exfoliant that has antibacterial properties which help with breakouts and calms redness and irritation.

In the oil-paper test, Beautiful Skin released one of the lowest amounts of oil across our foundation tests.

It also provides great, long-lasting coverage meaning it doesn’t easily melt off when your skin becomes overly oily, and it doesn’t settle into the creases left by your wrinkles and fine lines.

This is particularly great for dry skin because it means it doesn’t gather on dry patches.

If you’re interested in knowing which is the best Charlotte Tilbury foundation, then check out our group test.

Best Charlotte Tilbury Beautiful Skin foundationmamabella | mamabella
Buy now from Charlotte Tilbury

How we tested

For each foundation, we noted down the price, shade range, coverage, finish, and whether or not it’s vegan and cruelty-free. We then applied each to an orange and a strawberry. This may sound odd but both fruits mimic the texture and pores of skin so we feel it’s a fairer way of testing the foundations without our specific skin type interfering with the results.

In the orange and strawberry tests, each foundation is scored either 1, 3 or 5.

  • A score of 1 means it falls short of the coverage that is expected i.e a full-coverage foundation which fails to adequately cover the orange skin and “pores”
  • A score of 3 means the foundation meets expectations; in short, it covers as promised
  • A score of 5 means it exceeds the coverage expected

For the oil test, each foundation is ranked out of 10. The less oil released, the higher the score and then we test the hydration levels of each foundation.

This involves applying each foundation onto the back of our hand, blending it with a beauty blender (as this is a common application method and will give us the worst-case scenario), and recording the hydration changes with a skin sensor.

The total of each category (excluding price) is added together. The price is then taken off this total to determine a foundation’s final score.

In our science of foundation article, we also explain what ingredients you need to look out for and which types of foundation are better for dry skin.

Best moisturisers for dry skin

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