How to Apply Makeup to Dry and Flaky Skin

From primers and foundations to exfoliators and moisturisers, these are our best tips for dry skin

Dry skin isn't a curse; in fact, it can even be a blessing. During the balmy summer months, your makeup likely stays in place as everyone else's slowly sweats its way off. And you can probably load on luxurious creams without worrying about greasy shine or acne spots.

But when your skin's especially dry, foundation can go on unevenly, leaving you with a flaky, cakey mess. You don't have to give up makeup or resign yourself to uneven skin tone. The right makeup, coupled with a few skincare hacks, can keep your dry complexion glowing all day long.

How to Apply Makeup to Dry and Flaky SkinHow to Apply Makeup to Dry and Flaky Skin

Prep Your Skin Before Applying Foundation

If you've ever painted a wall or piece of furniture, you know that paint goes on unevenly if a surface is dirty or rough. A new coat of paint can actually emphasise imperfections. The same is true of makeup on your complexion. Just as objects need the right pre-treatment before being painted, your skin needs to be properly prepared for your makeup.

Makeup primers fill indentations in your skin for a smoother surface. Try a primer for dry skin that contains hydrating ingredients such as Napoleon Perdis Auto Pilot Pre-Foundation Primer - GOLD, Bobbi Brown Primer Plus Hydrating 3-in-1 Setting Spray, The Ordinary High-Spreadability Fluid Primer or M.A.C Cosmetics Strobe Cream

A lightweight formula that promotes luminosity and radiance. This brightening face cream is infused with antioxidants, botanicals and nutrient-rich vitamins. Designed to banish dull, flat or tired skin, this unique brightening moisturiser will smooth, improve clarity and hydrate skin. Available in pink, peach, silver and gold, this cream can be used on all skin types.

Choose the Right Makeup for Dry Skin

Makeup labels exist for a reason: manufacturers really do formulate products for various skin types. So if you have dry skin, you need a makeup for dry skin. Of course, that doesn't mean every formula you try will work for you. When choosing the right foundation for your complexion, steer clear of powder foundations as they can dry out your skin and make it look cakey. Instead, you should pick a moisturising formula, such as Elizabeth Arden Prevage Anti-Ageing Foundation, Napoleon Perdis Sheer Genius Liquid Foundation or Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation.

Reveal your inner light with Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation. This cult classic is weightless on the skin, while imparting a flawless, lit-from-within glow.

Since uneven application can create dry-looking patches it is important to thoroughly blend your foundation, we recommend using a sponge such as the asap pure beauty blender. You may also want to try a BB cream instead of a foundation if your complexion is relatively smooth. BB Creams offer sheer coverage and are less likely to cake and flake. Tinted moisturisers are great too. 

How to Apply Makeup to Dry and Flaky SkinHow to Apply Makeup to Dry and Flaky Skin

Exfoliate Weekly

Exfoliation removes the top layer of dead skin, reducing flakiness and helping your makeup go on more smoothly. Unfortunately, exfoliation can also strip your skin of its natural oils, increasing dryness over time.  Balance these competing effects by choosing an exfoliator specifically formulated for dry skin, such as Dermalogica Gentle Cream Exfoliant. Exfoliate only once per week and moisturise immediately afterwards.

A gentle, non-abrasive hydroxy acid exfoliation treatment that thoroughly removes dulling surface debris, dramatically improving skin texture.

Don't Forget to Moisturise (the Right Way)

Moisturiser is dry skin's best friend, but some products are more effective than others. Steer clear of treatment formulas that address wrinkles and acne, since these often contain skin-irritating ingredients. Instead, select a highly emollient moisturiser, such as Weleda Skin Food. Moisturise at least twice daily: once in the morning after showering or cleansing, and again at night after removing your makeup. Moisturising before you apply makeup can help reduce cakiness, but moisturiser can also make your makeup go on unevenly if you rush the process. Apply moisturiser fresh out of the shower, and wait until it's completely absorbed into your skin before applying your foundation.

Experts at Dr. Hauschka claim that the way you apply moisturiser can make a big difference. A pressing motion can improve the way your foundation sits, as this method doesn't unsettle dry skin. Try warming a pea-size dab of Dr Hauschka Rose Day Cream 30ml between your palms to melt the waxes. Then press the product into skin that's still hydrated with toner.

The Rose Day Cream, a Dr.Hauschka face care classic for 30 years, is still one of the most popular skin care products. Its special properties support the skin's own regenerative powers and provide optimal protection for normal skin, dry skin, sensitive skin, and mature skin with a tendency to premature ageing.

Brand and product inclusions are at the sole discretion of Adore Beauty’s highly trained Customer Service team. We do not seek or accept payment from brands or individuals listed in our guides.

Our First Impressions of Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation:

Makeup Tutorial: For a Glowy, Natural and Fresh-Looking Makeup Look