Best Ways To Apply Makeup To Dry Skin For A Long-Lasting Glow

Your dry skin can also achieve a celebrity glow if you know these simple makeup techniques.

Reviewed by Valerie Aparovich, Cosmetologist Valerie Aparovich Valerie AparovichCosmetologist insta_icon
Written by , MA (Mass Communication & Journalism) Joyce Joyson MA (Mass Communication & Journalism) linkedin_icon
Edited by , MA (English) Asmita De MA (English) linkedin_icon Experience: 3 years
Fact-checked by , MA (Comparative Literature) Vaishali Sinha MA (Comparative Literature) linkedin_icon Experience: 5 years
Last Updated on

Whether you are going with a minimal makeup look or trying out the current TikTok trends, your dry skin mustn’t get in the way. Makeup on dry skin can look patchy even with the most expensive cosmetics if they are not tailored to your skin type. So when your oil glands don’t produce enough sebum to keep your skin moisturized, it is essential to choose skin care products that do the job externally. Valerie Aparovich, certified cosmetologist-aesthetician, biochemist, and Science Team Lead at OnSkin, says that “the skin can become overly dried for several reasons: certain medical conditions, physiological imbalances, avitaminosis, UV damage, unsuitable skincare routine, cosmetic products containing harsh ingredients, dry climate, and more. The skin becomes dehydrated, the integrity of the lipid barrier and its defensive functions decrease, flakiness, peeling, and irritation occurs, and small cracks on the skin surface may appear. Hence, makeup cosmetics for dry skin must not only contour and cover flaws but also hydrate your skin to achieve a dewy, luminous finish.

Read this article to learn the proper pre-makeup prep for dry skin and the correct order of layering your products to slay your look every day.

protip_icon Keep In Mind
  • For Instant Hydration: For Instant Hydration During the day, use moisturizers or serums containing vitamin C and hyaluronic acid for smooth and dewy skin.
  • What To Avoid: For Instant Hydration People with dry skin should avoid products with dehydrating ingredients, such as salicylic acid, parabens, and alcohol.
  • Where To Use Powder: For Instant Hydration Dry skin does not require too much powder. Use setting powder only where it appears greasy.

How To Apply Makeup To Dry Skin

protip_icon Quick Tip
Dry skin can be caused by several internal (certain health conditions or nutritional deficiencies) and external (excessive exposure to direct sun rays, harsh surfactants, or aggressive exfoliators) factors. With a dermatologist-suggested skincare routine and proper protection from outer damage, your skin can be restored to a normal, healthy state.

Have you ever noticed that your skin appears more aged after applying makeup? This is usually a typical dry skin woe. As the foundation and concealer draw out the barely available moisture from your skin, you end up with a pale, wrinkled look. A simple solution to this problem is to prep your skin with hydrating products before you start your day’s makeup.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to applying makeup to dry skin to ensure it lasts long without cracking. But first, let’s get into how to prep your skin before you apply makeup.

Prep Your Dry Skin Before Makeup

Woman applying moisturizer
Image: Shutterstock

1. Cleanse Away The Dirt

Begin your skin routine with a mild cleanser that gently removes dirt and pollution without stripping your skin of its natural oils. But first, check the ingredients of the cleanser you intend to use. Sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate are two of the most frequently used cleansing agents by manufacturers that you should avoid. They are too harsh on the skin, strip away its natural oils, and dry it out. The healthy alternatives are softer surfactants like lauryl glucoside, coco glucoside, and disodium cocoyl glutamate. Also, using cleansing foams is preferable as they are gentler and work better to comfort the skin than cleansing gels.

2. Exfoliate Away Dead Skin

While many may advise against using a scrub on dry skin for fear of irritation and redness, a gentle scrub helps improve your skin’s texture.
The safest exfoliation solution for dry skin is enzyme peels. They are mild and gentle, contain no acids, and ensure tolerant peeling without irritating the skin. The recommended frequency is once a week. Enzymes are warmth and moisture-friendly. So, doing this kind of peel while you are taking a bath and covering your face with a film will boost its efficiency.

Beauty experts recommend light exfoliation to achieve a smooth base for seamless makeup. Exfoliation removes the top layer of dead skin that can make your face look dark, tired, and aged.

3. Hydrate With A Toner

Hydrating toners work to remove residual dead skin and add the much-needed hydration to dry skin. Toners also improve the absorption of products that you may apply afterwards.

Among the most beneficial ingredients you need to pay attention to in toners is aloe leaf extract (an excellent moisturizer with regenerating and anti-inflammatory properties), pea extract (a powerful antioxidant with hydrating properties), and Echinacea angustifolia extract (an ingredient with moisturizing, rejuvenating, and anti-inflammatory effects).

4. Dab An Eye Cream

This is an essential step to prevent your eye makeup from creasing or building up in your fine lines. Eye creams keep the eye area hydrated and reduce the appearance of fine lines.

5. Moisturize

Opt for a face cream or moisturizer that is crafted to care for dry skin. Creams with 24- to 48-hour hydrating potential make for a good selection. Use products with Aloe Vera as this succulent plant species is rich in antioxidants and their humectants can bind moisture to the skin. Focus more on areas that are prone to flaking, such as the cheeks or the corners of your mouth.

Sonia Anastasia, a beauty Youtuber, shared her personal experience and tips on how she prefers to apply makeup on her dry skin. She states, “Put on moisturizer, like double and triple on the moisturizer again, when it comes to patchiness on your face.” She further suggests how a primer can make a world of difference, stating, “The primer is also not making my textured skin any more texture-full at all, it’s just making it nice and glowing and healthy-looking (i).”

You can use natural ingredients like aloe vera gel (rich in antioxidants and humectants that bind moisture to the skin), collagen (attracts and retains moisture and reduces transepidermal water loss from the skin), shea butter (a soothing moisturizer that keeps water from evaporating from your skin).

6. Apply A Lip Balm

For a perfect pout, pamper your lips with a good lip balm. But before you do that, exfoliate the dead skin away with a sponge or lip brush specifically designed for lip exfoliation. Look for ingredients like beeswax or shea butter in your lip balm that instantly nourish and soften chapped lips.

8-Step Tutorial To Dry Skin Makeup

1. Prep With A Primer

Start your makeup by applying a cream or gel-based primer. These serve the dual purpose of creating a smooth canvas and sealing moisture into your dry skin. With a perfect base, you can now apply your makeup without the fear of creasing.

2. Layer A Foundation

Woman using a sponge to apply foundation
Image: Shutterstock

Invest in a lightweight, hydrating formula. Many skin experts suggest that a sheer foundation that gives your skin a luminous effect is more suitable for dry skin than one that gives a matte finish.

You can even skip the foundation and try out a tinted moisturizer or a serum that has a more hydrating effect on your dry skin.

While applying the foundation, use a soft fluffy brush or a damp sponge to blend the product. This ensures better foundation distribution and prevents your dry patches from showing up.

protip_icon Quick Tip
Apply the strokes in a single direction while blending the foundation. This prevents the foundation from developing streaks and minimizes friction on the face.

3. Conceal Your Dark Spots

Avoid layering too much concealer in one place, as it can dry out those areas. A good trick to make your flaky patches less visible is to apply an extra dose of moisturizer and then lightly cover them with a concealer.

4. Apply A Cream Blush

Woman applying cream blush with fingertips
Image: Shutterstock

We suggest you swear by the cream blush if you have dry skin. These products  effortlessly dissolve into the foundation and give you natural, rosy-hued cheeks.

Blush balms are also great for dry skin as their creamy formula moisturizes the drier zones on your cheeks instead of emphasizing them (as some powder bronzers and blushes do).

5. Use A Cream Eyeshadow

 Before applying a cream eyeshadow, apply a small amount of eyeshadow primer to your eyelids. This ensures the eyeshadow lasts longer without smudging. Also, try blending cream eyeshadow with your fingertips for a smoother look.

protip_icon Quick Tip
Avoid using concealer as your eyeshadow base. This will lighten the product and keep you from getting the desired effect.

6. Highlight Your Features

Highlighters can work magic on dry, dull skin, giving it the right amount of glow for a luminous, youthful appearance. The ideal choice for dry skin is a cream-based highlighter that melts into the skin and doesn’t dry out after a while.

Use a makeup sponge or your fingertips for better control while applying the product. Focus on the higher points of your face, such as the cheekbones, the nose bridge, and the cupid’s bow. Always start with a small amount of product, blend, and then build up as you deem fit.

7. Apply A Moisturizing Lipstick

These products are a blessing when you want to transform your chapped lips for a picture perfect alluring pout. Tinted lip balms can do the job perfectly well if you’re on a tight budget.

8. Set The Look With A Setting Spray

 As a finishing touch to your dry skin makeup, apply a setting spray that gives your skin a dewy texture. Various products in the market are now customized to nourish and hydrate dry skin. So do your research and pick the right one. Look for a lightweight formula that contains natural moisturizing ingredients like seed oils and aloe vera gel.

Now that you know about layering and applying your makeup correctly, getting your hands on the right products is crucial. With the market teeming with products labeled ‘for dry skin’, revamping your makeup kit can be confusing. Hence, we’ve listed a few pointers to keep in mind while shopping for the perfect drugstore liquid makeup for your dry skin.

How To Choose The Best Liquid Makeup For Dry Skin

Cream eyeshadows
Image: Shutterstock

1. Foundation

  • Pick a sheer foundation with a creamy or oily base that smoothly blends in for a dewy, radiant finish.
  • Look for ingredients like seed oils (argan, almond, jojoba), niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, vitamin E, glycerides, ceramides, and aloe vera while shopping for your foundation.
  • Avoid foundations that contain shimmer particles, as these can settle down on your skin, creating a dry, patchy look.
  • Other ingredients to avoid include toxic preservatives like methylchloroisothiazolinone, methylisothiazolinone, phenoxyethanol as they can cause skin and eye irritation and allergy reactions. Parabens are another group of dangerous preservatives that are shown to disrupt the endocrine system. Alcohols like ethanol, alcohol denat, Sd alcohol 23A, and any alcohols marked with 40А or 40С can lead to skin dryness. Also, avoid allergy-causing fragrances like amyl cinnamal or anise alcohol. Formaldehyde releasers (Imidazolidinyl urea, methenamine, and polyoxymethylene urea) are some more substances used in cosmetics as preservatives that are capable of causing allergies and pose the risk of cancer.

2. Concealer

  • Pick a hydrating, creamy formula that is lightweight. Use a brush to buff away at problem areas rather than building up the product in a single spot.
  • A concealer that contains peptides, glycerine, hyaluronic acid, shea butter, or other emollients is suitable for dry skin.
  • While purchasing drugstore concealers for dry skin, check that the product does not contain toxic and irritative preservatives, allergy-causing fragrances, or alcohol.

3. Blush/Bronzer/Highlighter/Eyeshadow

  • Pick cream- or oil-based products that blend easily, seal moisture, and don’t give your skin a textured look.
  • Check if the product contains hydrating ingredients like vitamin E, glycerin, and hyaluronic acid.
  • Avoid products that contain alcohol, toxic preservatives, certain PEG compounds, mineral oil, and synthetic dyes.

4. Lipstick

  • Avoid mattifying lipsticks and opt for tinted lip balms or creamy, liquid lipsticks.
  • Go for moisturizing ingredients like honey, aloe vera, jojoba oil, avocado oil, beeswax, and cocoa butter.
  • Stay away from products that contain hazardous preservatives, synthetic dyes, BHA, and allergy-causing fragrances.

A Guide To Winter Makeup For Dry Skin

Winter is that time of the year when getting a dewy finish becomes tricky for your dry skin. A few hours out in the cold, and your makeup feels like an over-dried face mask – creasing, cracking, and accentuating your drier areas. However, you can easily avert such a disaster with the right products and slight tweaks in technique.

So here’s a simple guide to getting your winter makeup right.

  • Step 1:Cleanse with an oil cleanser. The type of cleanser you use can greatly impact the final outcome. An oil cleanser gently removes makeup, dirt, and sunscreen without unsettling your skin’s oil balance, and leaves your skin feeling soft, nourished, and a little oily (in a good way). It also supports a healthy hydrolipidic barrier in your skin.
  • Step 2:Double moisturize. Heavy moisturizers often act as occlusives; they form a protective barrier over your skin and prevent moisture from escaping from your skin’s surface. However, owing to their dense consistency, they cannot penetrate the deeper layers of your skin. Hence, to ensure optimum moisturization, apply a serum (which usually contains more skin-beneficial ingredients) or a lightweight moisturizer first and follow it up with a heavy moisturizer.
  • Step 3: Apply a hydrating primer with a cream or gel base. These create a smooth base and provide an added supply of moisture that prevents the foundation from drying up.
  • Step 4: For dehydrated skin, you can skip the foundation and use a tinted moisturizer or a CC cream instead. Another good option is to add a few drops of moisturizer/facial oil/serum to your liquid foundation.
  • Step 5: Apply cream-based blushes, bronzers, highlighters, and lipsticks for a natural healthy glow.
  • Step 6: For the final touch, spray an illuminating setting mist to prolong the life of your makeup.

Now that you know how to handle your dry skin like a pro, let us tell you a few makeup tips for dry skin, to prolong the look you worked so hard to create.

5 Tips For Long-Lasting Makeup On Dry Skin

Woman applying face mist
Image: Shutterstock
  1. Apply a good moisturizer before you begin your makeup.
  2. Begin with a good moisturizing primer and end with a hydrating setting spray.
  3. Avoid heavy formulas. Invest in cream-based products.
  4. Use a damp sponge while applying makeup. Avoid rubbing the product into your skin. Instead, gently dab it on.
  5. Spray a face mist when in need. This instantly boosts your skin’s hydration, especially in the hotter months of the year. (Note: Spray mists contain a high water percentage. When applied on a cold winter day right before you go outdoors, they can lead to skin hypothermia, resulting in increased dryness.)

Infographic: 5 Common Dry Skin Makeup Mistakes To Avoid

Drying, creasing, and flaking makeup are common woes that every person with dry skin has to battle. While you may have invested in good beauty products for dry skin, basic blunders in the method can prevent you from achieving a flawless finish. To make things easy for you, we’ve listed in the infographic below 5 major mistakes that you can rectify to get that perfect radiant makeup look.

5 common dry skin makeup mistakes to avoid (infographic)

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team


While we all strive to get the perfect glass-like glow, some things can get in your way, like your dry skin. However, by now, you already know that this can be easily resolved with a little pre-makeup prep and some careful selection of products. Makeup on dry skin creases since it lacks adequate hydration. Valerie adds, “Emollients can help cope with this condition. These are active ingredients that restore the protective functions of the epidermal barrier. They prevent the loss of moisture from the skin surface, replenish the deficiency of essential substances, defend the skin from adverse environmental stressors, and enhance its healing properties, soften, soothe, and relieve irritation and itching.”

So be mindful about adding extra moisture in every step of your makeup routine by opting for cream bases, a moisturizer at the beginning, and a hydrating setting spray at the end. Couple these makeup tricks with an extra-nourishing skin care routine for soft, supple skin that is ready for any makeup trend any day.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is setting powder ok for dry skin?

Setting powder may become flaky on dry skin. Instead, use a setting spray for better hydrating benefits.

Does dry skin need a primer?

Yes. A hydrating primer adds the right amount of moisture to your dry skin and ensures better makeup coverage and longevity.

Is matte makeup good for dry skin?

We all adore faces of all skin tones, but if you have dry skin, you might find it challenging to adore some facial features. You might be hesitant to wear matte-look makeup, but rest assured that matte look makeup can look stunning on anyone, even if you have dry skin.

Which is the best primer for dry skin?

If your foundation is oil-based, go for an oil primer. If you have a water-based foundation, go for a water-based primer.

Is powder makeup better for dry skin?

Yes, to answer briefly. However, you might need to put in a little more effort to achieve a flawless result if you prefer a matte, powdered look and have dry skin. All you need is to moisturize your skin before applying the powdered foundation.

Which concealer is best for dry skin?

For drier skin types, liquid and cream concealers work best because they don’t emphasize dry patches or flaky skin because they contain hydrating ingredients in their formulations. Choose a matte product that will leave the skin looking radiant and has a lightweight, seamless texture.

How can I choose an eyeshadow that won’t dry out my skin or settle into creases?

Choose matte eye shadows. Use matte eyeshadows that won’t highlight wrinkles and will give the lid pigment to be safe.

How can I adapt my makeup routine for seasonal changes in skin hydration levels?

To make your skin appear hydrated, use creamier or oil-based products in the winter and water-based cosmetics and moisturizers in the summer.

Can using a facial mist or serum help to hydrate dry skin before makeup application?

The canvas it creates for your foundation is smooth and hydrated. Also, it makes the foundation blend better, resulting in a more sheer, natural-looking appearance.

Key Takeaways

  • Dry skin must be mildly exfoliated and prepped with a good moisturizer before applying makeup.
  • Invest in hydrating primer and cream-based products for the entire makeup routine.
  • Keep a face mist handy for a quick boost of hydration during the day.
makeup for dry skin

Image: Stable Diffusion/StyleCraze Design Team

Learn how to apply makeup suitable for dry skin with this step-by-step makeup tutorial video! Get tips and tricks to achieve a flawless look.

Personal Experience: Source

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Valerie Aparovich
Valerie AparovichCosmetologist
Valerie Aparovich is a certified cosmetologist and aesthetician, clean beauty advocate, and a practicing biochemist in the field of skin care with six years of experience and science team lead at OnSkin. She is convinced that beauty and health are deeply intertwined, and cosmetology has both art and science at its core.

Read full bio of Valerie Aparovich
Joyce Joyson
Joyce JoysonBeauty & Lifestyle Writer
Joyce Joyson is a beauty and lifestyle writer with over a year of experience crafting short-form content for the beauty, fashion, and lifestyle niches. She has a triple majors bachelor’s degree in History, Political Science, and Geography from IIS University and a master’s degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Kristu Jayanti College.

Read full bio of Joyce Joyson
Asmita De
Asmita DeAssociate Editor
Asmita De is an associate editor with over three years of experience. She graduated in English Literature from the University of Calcutta. She has collaborated with several digital companies and reputed publishing houses as an editor.

Read full bio of Asmita De
Vaishali Sinha
Vaishali SinhaBeauty & Lifestyle Writer
Vaishali Sinha is a beauty and lifestyle writer with five years of experience in writing for various genres. She has a master’s degree in Comparative Literature from Jadavpur University. She combines her passion for beauty and lifestyle topics with her artistic background as an Indian classical vocalist to bring a fresh and creative perspective to her writing.

Read full bio of Vaishali Sinha