5 High/Low Foundations For Dry Skin

I tested these products on my own moisture-deprived skin, so I know they work.
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Kelly
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I tested these products on my own moisture-deprived skin, so I know they work.

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. 

foundations in light shades

L-R: MAC Face and Body Foundation, Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua Foundation, L’Oreal True Match Lumi Makeup, Japonesque Luminous Foundation, Maybelline Fit Me Foundation

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.

no makeup bare face

My bare skin.

Maybelline Fit Me Foundation, $8

maybelline fit me foundation

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.

maybelline fit me foundation after

Wearing Maybelline Fit Me Foundation in Classic Ivory 

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

l'oreal true match lumi makeup

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

l'oreal true match lumi makeup after

Wearing L’Oreal True Match Lumi Healthy Luminous Makeup in Porcelain Ivory. 

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

mac studio face and body foundation

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

mac studio face and body foundation after

Wearing MAC Face and Body Foundation in N1.

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

japonesque color luminous foundation

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

japonesque color luminous foundation after

Wearing Japonesque Luminous Foundation in 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

chanel vitalumiere aqua foundation

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

chanel vitalumiere aqua foundation after

Wearing Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua in 10 Beige. 

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.

foundation swatches on arm

L-R: MAC Face and Body Foundation in N1, Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua Foundation in 10 Beige, L’Oreal True Match Lumi Makeup in Porcelain Ivory, Japonesque Luminous Foundation in Shade 2, Maybelline Fit Me Foundation in Classic Ivory

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