5 High/Low Foundations For Dry Skin

I tested these products on my own moisture-deprived skin, so I know they work.
Publish date:
February 17, 2015
chanel, mac, maybelline, dry skin, foundation, drugstore foundation, winter skin

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been searching for a foundation that will give my ridiculously dry skin a luminous look--without sacrificing coverage or making my skin greasy or flakey. Finally, I've discovered five that will do just that.

Here’s my review of each foundation, along with some tips on application.

I’m only wearing foundation on my skin in these photos. But first, a before shot.

This product comes in 13 shades. I’m wearing Classic Ivory, the third lightest, but I could go lighter. I find that Maybelline shades often look a bit peach-toned on me. If you have the same experience, I recommend buffing this foundation well with a kabuki brush, all the way past the jawline to the neck.

This foundation has an SPF of 18 and a noticeable fragrance. I don't like the packaging--without a pump, it's difficult and messy to use--but otherwise this is a great option. It offers light to medium coverage that's blendable and breathable, with a dewy finish. Just make sure you get the right shade.

L’Oreal True Match Lumi Healthy Luminous Makeup, $13

This foundation comes in 15 shades and three undertones; I’m wearing Porcelain Ivory (Warm), the lightest.

I’ve been wearing this foundation, which is packed with SPF 20 and vitamins C and E, for almost a year now and can almost always rely on it. Its pump makes it easy to use and as long as your skin is properly moisturized first, it gives an amazing glow. If your skin is really dry, however, it can look a bit cake-y as the coverage is on the heavier side. After moisturizing, I suggest applying this with a kabuki brush for lighter coverage, or a foundation brush for total coverage.

MAC Studio Face And Body Foundation, $27

This comes in 13 shades, with cools and neutrals. I’m wearing N1 here but C1 works for me too.

This foundation is the sheerest of the bunch, making it just a step above a BB cream in terms of coverage. Luckily it’s somewhat buildable and very easy to blend, although you still might need concealer. (You'll also need a separate sunscreen as it doesn't contain any.) It’s extremely slippery in consistency and can easily make your skin look almost too dewy. I recommend using clean fingers to get the best application and your favorite setting powder for longevity and a slightly less shiny finish. Sometimes I start with an anti-redness primer, but not everyone will need that.

Japonesque Color Luminous Foundation, $36

This lightly frangranced foundation comes in 10 shades. I’m wearing the second lightest, Shade 2.

I first saw this at Ulta and was immediately sold after testing it out in the store. Normally I have to prep my skin before putting foundation on but this went onto my midday, dry skin almost perfectly. I still recommend moisturizing first, but for the most part, this foundation is mistake-proof. You can apply it with fingers or a brush (which I prefer) and you’ll get medium coverage with a luminous but semi-matte finish. One note: it doesn't include SPF.

Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua, $45

This rose-scented foundation comes in 10 shades. I’m wearing 10 Beige but can also wear 22 Beige Rose.

With an SPF of 15, this foundation is a good choice if you have dry skin but still want a matte finish. If you moisturize well first, it will give a semi-matte, bright finish without caking. It says ultra-light on the bottle, but don’t expect a BB cream with this. I’d say it gives light to medium natural-looking coverage, with a “your skin but better” effect. I use a brush first, then pat on extra as needed with my fingers.

My favorite foundation out of all of these is the Japonesque Color Luminous Foundation. It’s the perfect shade and coverage for me, doesn't cake on my dry skin, delivering a glowing not greasy look.

If I had to pick my drugstore favorite, it would be the L’Oreal True Match Lumi.

  • Do you have dry skin? What are your favorite high/low foundations?
  • Is foundation one of those products you like to splurge on, or do you stick to drugstore and save your splurge dollars for other things?

Photos by Joshua Kirby