5 Tricks for Perfecting Makeup On Dry Skin

Aly Walansky


Makeup application on parched skin can be one of the trickiest makeup maneuvers in the book. Everyone wants a radiant, glowing complexion, and rough, peeling skin can make it hard to achieve. Don’t fret: With these simple steps, you’ll be well on your way to smooth, soft skin.

Be sure to prep the skin before putting on any makeup. Gentle exfoliation is key in combating dry skin, says makeup artist Liz Fuller of Makeup Artistry. Normal (read: not super sensitive) skin should be exfoliated about twice a week. “I use a scrub that contains safflower oil that gets left behind after I rinse off the scrub, leaving my skin very soft and less flaky,” Fuller says. Exfoliation helps to shed that first layer of dry, peeling skin, but you’ll want to moisturize thoroughly afterward to ensure that the dryness doesn’t get worse.

Mist your face with a hydrating spray before applying moisturizer to your skin. This technique helps to trap more moisture in the skin to make it feel softer and appear more supple, says Cristy Guy, founder of On the Set Styling-Behind the Scenes Style & Makeup. Moisturizing day and night to keep skin hydrated is Beauty 101, but a great face primer transforms your skin into the perfect canvas. It also adds longevity to your makeup, says makeup artist and beauty expert Jami Svay. Try Too Faced Hangover Primer—it’s filled with electrolytes and coconut water to nourish your skin.

Layering your moisturizers is also a great way to alleviate dry skin and get a better makeup application, says Bella Schneider of La Belle Day Spas. Start with a creamy moisturizer that hydrates and puts water back into the skin, then layer on an oil or serum to further the process, adding essential oils back into the skin. This also helps to create a protective layer from the elements, as well as a great base for your makeup application. The smoother and more hydrated the surface, the more even your makeup application will be.

Skip the Powder
Use creamy or liquid foundations or even a tinted moisturizer—these formulas will effortlessly glide over the skin to create a moist and smooth finish. A great application tip from beauty experts is to apply foundation with a damp brush or sponge, Guy says. After your makeup application is complete, skip the powder and set makeup with a makeup setting spray instead. Powder can dull the appearance of the skin and actually make it appear drier than it really is.

For the Body
Leave skin slightly damp before applying your body lotion. “In the winter I suggest switching to a body oil like Neutrogena Sesame Oil or a rich body cream. If your skin is extra dry, use Eucerin Aquaphor all over the body,” says Susan Posnick, makeup artist and founder of Susan Posnick Cosmetics. These moisturizers help seal the skin and act as a barrier to the elements, like cold weather and artificial heat, that can cause or aggravate dry skin. “At night, I suggest Aquaphor on hands and feet along with white cotton gloves and cotton socks … if you’re sleeping alone,” Posnick says.

Read more: 7 Surprising Body Areas Prone to Dryness (and What to Do About Them)