If you’ve got dry skin, you may think the primer category isn’t one for you. And you’d be right, to a certain extent: many of the buzziest primers out there are created with mattifying in mind, soaking up oil to help lock a liquid foundation firmly in place.
But now, as many of us switch out the full coverage for something lighter and glowier, hydrating primers formulated specifically for dry skin are hitting the shelves at a rapid rate. Gone are the sticky, suffocating silicone bases of old, and in comes a whole host of dewy, light-reflecting creams that’ll deliver glass skin, no matter how dry your complexion.
When picking a primer, it’s crucial to cater to your skin type. ‘I choose my primer based on skin type and foundation based on the final look I’m trying to create – natural or more matte’, advises Hector Espinal, Fenty Beauty Global Make-Up Artist. ‘For dry skin, look for sodium hyaluronate (or hyaluronic acid) as an ingredient, because it nourishes and hydrates skin to provide a really natural finish.’
If you find foundations tend to cake across your pores and gather around fine lines, a primer for dry skin is the missing link in your routine. Find a good one, and it’ll act as an extra layer of moisture, sandwiched in-between your SPF and foundation, adding luminosity and smoothing out texture too.
Here, see the primers we always recommend for moisturising dry skin.
The Best Primers For Dry Skin
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Studio Radiance Moisturizing + Illuminating Primer
Loaded with humectants hyaluronic acid and glycerin, this recent launch from MAC is a hero for skin that tends to look dry by lunchtime. The viscous cream texture works brilliantly to prep skin for a layer of foundation, smoothing pores and lines while helping to ‘grip’ your base products. Try it over the brand’s Face + Body Foundation for a low-coverage, supremely dewy complexion.
Kjaer Weis’ rich and creamy primer contains ethically sourced mica pigments to lend the skin a pearly sheen. The effect is undeniably beautiful: think skin that gleams without obvious glitter. Wear it alone on low-key days, or slip it beneath a light foundation for extended staying power.
Long Lasting Hydrating Veil
Clé de Peau’s sublime primer will keep dry and flaky patches at bay from morning to night. The lightweight milk might sink in seamlessly, but it’ll be working hard to keep your skin super-hydrated for hours on end. Try the brand’s equally good Radiant Fluid Foundation on top.
This is the one to choose if you’re hoping to brighten skin all-over. The peachy tint works to even out sallow areas and make you look ultra-rested, even without a foundation on the top. Extra points for the broad-spectrum SPF 35, too.
Another newcomer to have slipped straight into our kits, Refy’s Glow and Sculpt Face Primer is one to try. More skincare than make-up, the pigment-free serum contains glycerin, niacinamide and camellia oil to hydrate and balance the skin barrier, and leaves behind a transparent, shimmer-free base that’ll grip your foundation for hours. We’re approaching the ‘sculpting’ promises with a firm side-eye, but the dewy effect this one delivers is not up for debate.
Le Blanc De Chanel Multi-Use Illuminating Base
A true classic, Le Blanc De Chanel sits somewhere in-between a skin illuminator and a primer. The pearlescent fluid instantly boosts skin radiance and can be used all over the face before a foundation, or simply to spotlight the highest points of your cheekbones. It does contain powders, so isn’t for anyone seeking a super-dewy result, but the radiance it delivers is outstanding.
A lot of ‘blurring’ primers tend to highlight dryness and flaking patches, but Tatcha’s Liquid Silk Canvas is the perfect middle ground. It’s silicone-based, so does a great job of masking enlarged pores and lines, yet is balanced out with hydrating ingredients that’ll keep a thirsty complexion satisfied. For days when you want your make-up to really go the distance, head here.
Re-Evolve Radiance Locking Primer
This under-the-radar gem has us seriously impressed. RMS’ milky gel primer makes skin feel mega-hydrated (thanks to the squalane and hyaluronic acid inside) yet isn’t so emollient that your foundation slips and slides around on top. A brilliant add-in for full-face days, it seems to disguise fine lines and texture while making skin feel drenched in moisture, taking a liquid foundation from flat to flawless in one swift step.
Pure Canvas Hydrating Primer
Laura Mercier is known for its stellar primers, and this is the most hydration-focused member of the family. The humectant glycerin base locks water into the skin, stopping your foundation from drying out and amping up the dewiness tenfold.
Hollywood Flawless Filter
For a gleam that shows through your foundation, it has to be Charlotte Tilbury’s multi-use Hollywood Flawless Filter. A highlighter / primer hybrid, this pigmented formula lights up dull, dry skin, and looks great either worn solo or beneath a liquid base. Try swiping it over your cheekbones as the final step in your routine for a little extra impact.
Our love for Glossier’s most misunderstood product knows no bounds. Futurdew is billed as an ‘oil-serum’ hybrid which, honestly, is helping no-one to understand exactly what it does.
Trust us: the best way to employ this dewy wonder product is by smoothing a very light layer beneath foundation: the result is that elusive mega-moisturised effect that you usually only get after a lengthy facial.
Cell Rejuvenating Priming Moisturizer
A make-up and skincare hybrid, this luxe formula was created with the help of Augustinus Bader, the man behind one of Victoria Beckham’s favourite skincare brands. It works as both your moisturiser and illuminator, and contains Bader’s lauded TFC8 nutrient cocktail to plump and regenerate in the long term.
Both shades look beautiful on all skin tones: Original is an iridescent pearl, while Golden is a skin-warming bronze.
Bare With Me Hydrating Jelly Primer
This bouncy jelly primer feels so cooling and quenching on eternally thirsty skin. It’s water-based and completely clear, so a good one for layering under a glowy foundation, and puts a complete stop to those caky patches that develop throughout the day.
Pro Filt’r Hydrating Primer
When it originally launched, Fenty Beauty was firmly focused on creating a matte complexion, so the dry-skinned among us rejoiced when this hydrating powerhouse joined the line-up
A tall glass of water for dehydrated skin, it feels deliciously cooling and will make your foundation apply flawlessly.
Luminous Silk Hydrating Primer
Luminous Silk is a holy-grail base for many, and we can confirm the corresponding primer is every bit as impressive.
This milky formula leaves behind a natural-looking sheen that appears almost pearlescent, and works beautifully beneath the aforementioned foundation.
Instant Eclat Glow Primer
This primer eradicates any signs of tiredness (dark circles, be gone!) whilst providing skin with a gentle sun-kissed glow. Trust it to relieve any uncomfortable dryness while making a heavy foundation feel lighter and fresher.
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