Smooth, dewy and radiant? More like dull, flaky and parched. When you have dry skin, every day is like a walk in the desert for your face. And what’s worse, trying to cover it up lands you with cakey foundation that sinks into every line and shows every dry patch. But there is hope, and it comes in the form of a hydrating foundation primer. Below, the top fan favorite, plus a few of our other picks for good measure.
Best Value: e.l.f. Poreless Putty Primer
This affordable primer is known for being a Tatcha Harper dupe, which is partially why it’s earned itself the top slot on our list. But it’s the fact that the velvety formula is made with squalane—an intensely hydrating ingredient that mimics the skin’s natural moisture—that sealed the deal for dry skin. More than 200 reviewers on Walmart gave it five stars for its ability to smooth over pores and hold foundation in place for as long as 16 hours while keeping skin moisturized. And at such a low price point, the bang for your buck is through the roof.
Editors’ Pick: Laura Mercier Hydrating Foundation Primer
A PureWow editor favorite, this moisture-rich formula smoothes and conditions skin while providing a soft-focus effect that minimizes pores. The lightweight yet creamy texture creates a barrier that locks in hydration to create a perfectly even surface for applying makeup and keeping it flake-free.
Editors’ Pick: BeautyBlender Opal Essence Serum Primer
Hydrating serums are a dry gal’s best friend, so a serum-infused primer was only a matter of time. Enter this moisturizing option from makeup sponge brand Beautyblender, which claims to deliver the perfect dose of dewiness thanks to a powerful blend of fermented botanical extracts that soothe skin while transforming its texture. One editor agrees with that claim, citing the way it smoothed over her dry patches pre-foundation.
Underdog: VDL Lumilayer Primer
Another PureWow editor pick, VDL’s best-selling primer is a K-beauty favorite for its trademark Lumilayer Prismatic Pearls. Suspended in a moisturizing cream, they are created with both red and blue pigments to emit a soft violet sheen. Basically, dry or dull skin is no match for this lit-from-within primer.
Runner-Up: Smashbox The Original Photo Finish Smooth & Blur
While super-rich and oily products often feel like the only solution to dry skin, they’re the antidotes to lasting foundation. Go figure. This primer, however, helps both products meet in the middle. One editor who regularly experiences flakiness wore this underneath her wedding makeup and found that it was the perfect barrier to lock in her moisturizer while giving her foundation a dry, smooth layer to latch on to. The result? A camera-ready complexion with not a single pore, line or flake in sight.
This article reflects prices at publication that may change.