How To Make Matte Foundation Work on Dry Skin

Categories Featured, Makeup, Skin
make matte foundation work on dry skin

Hi guys, in the last couple of weeks I made a major discovery. I finally found a way to make matte foundation work on dry skin. I’m sure some of you already have a routine like this nailed down, but my skin has always been particularly difficult and uncooperative when it comes to matte textures. I honestly didn’t think I’d ever be able to make it work, but I got there. This routine works for me, it might not work for everyone, but I thought I’d share it and maybe it can help some of you out.  

I know when people with dry skin talk about using matte foundations, they always talk about prepping the skin well. Or moisturising well. That’s all well and good, but that doesn’t work for me. My ‘prep’ routine is quite extensive and I don’t think the word ‘well’ quite cuts it. And just moisturising is not going to do anything for this dry, flakey face. I’ve always preferred matte skin, so finding a way to make it work has made me very happy.  

My Skin 

Before we get into it, if you’d like to know more about my skin then click here for my skincare history. It’s very dry, sensitive and can get texture prone around dry areas. 

Choosing Your Foundation 

The first step in making a matte foundation work is picking the right one to begin with. Be realistic, going in with the heaviest matte isn’t going to work. You need a soft matte or comfort matte foundation. On dry skin foundations tend to sit slightly more matte than they would on normal skin anyway so going for one with a more satin matte finish will end up matte on the skin anyway. 

make matte foundation work on dry skin


I know it’s cliché and you’ve heard it all before, but drink plenty of water and eat reasonably well. Sure, this post is about products that help, but you want the best base possible before you go in with products. In order to have the best looking skin after foundation, it helps to have generally healthy skin beforehand. Stay hydrated, get lots of fruit and vegetables and healthy fats. I’m not going to preach about this but I had to mention it.  



Now, I’m just throwing it out there that no matter how good your skin prep is before you apply the foundation, it will perform better if you have a good skincare routine to begin with. Products don’t perform miracles. You can use things to boost what you’ve already got but nothing is going to give a miraculous transformation in three minutes.  

Night before  

For me, I have to prep my skin well (there’s that phrase again) the night before if I want anything to work the following morning. Hyaluronic acid is my best friend for plumping the skin up and giving it a boost, both the night before and the morning of application.  

I did a post in the past about my hydration sandwich philosophy when it comes to skincare for dry and dehydrated skin. The way I prep my skin for matte foundation is very similar to this. I know you don’t always know which foundation you want to wear the following morning, so you may not be able to prep the night before. But I tend to go through phases where I go a week or two wanting to use the same one. If I’m in a matte phase, I would use a routine similar to the one I’m about to describe every night.  

make matte foundation work on dry skin


One of the main issues with dry skin and matte foundation, is the foundation clinging to dry patches and emphasising them/ making them look bigger than they really are. To combat that, you want skin to be as smooth as possible before application. I always start my prep with a hyaluronic acid based serum, such as Hydraluron or the Sarah Chapman Skinesis Hydration Booster. If my skin is particularly dry or flakey, I use the Ren Wake Wonderful Nighttime Facial. This is a lactic acid exfoliator, and always leaves my skin looking fresh and glowy the next day. 

make matte foundation work on dry skin

Hydration & Moisturiser  

If my skin is dry but doesn’t have much texture or flakey patches, I use the hydrating serum followed by a regular mosturiser. Hyaluronic acid works by holding up to 10,000 times its weight in water, so the serum performs best if followed by a water based based moisturiser. Lately, my favourites have been the Clinique Moisture Surge Overnight Mask or the Ren Vita Mineral. The Clinique formula contains extra hyaluronic acid so skin is extremely hydrated and plum the next morning. Alternatively, the Ren product contains oils so is less hydrating but more nourishing. I decide between them depending how my skin feels on the day. I follow these products with an oil, usually the Pai Rosehip Oil, as my final step.  

make matte foundation work on dry skin

Using all of this is heavy on the skin before sleep, but it makes my skin look the best the following morning. Which is all we really care about before matte foundation.  

Morning Skincare 

So, we did the prep the night before and our skin is looking great this morning. Our morning cleanser should be an oily one so we don’t strip away all that great work from the previous night. My skin doesn’t respond well to too many products in my morning routine, so I keep it simple. More hydrating serum, usually the same one as the night before followed by SPF. As we’ve already established, the serum works better if followed by something water based. Most SPFs are water based so that isn’t a huge problem, but I usually go for the Clinique Anti-Wrinkle SPF30 as that also contains hyaluronic acid for an extra boost. 

Matte Foundation Application 

Obviously, we’ve already out a lot of work into our skin and we don’t want to ruin that with bad application. I find that Beauty Blenders work best with matte foundations. Brushes tend to press the product into the skin more and makes them slightly more dry. Going in with a wet sponge makes the application slightly less dry.  Sometimes I also spritz my beauty blender with the Moisture Surge Hydrating Mist too. Not at all essential, but I like to do it for an extra boost.

make matte foundation work on dry skin

I usually find matte foundations don’t need setting on dry skin, but if they do, I use my Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder. I’m obsessed with this product and I know it’s pricey, but I’ve truly never found another product that even comes close to this. It leaves the skin set but still has a beautiful soft focused glow that doesn’t make the skin look dry. It’s extremely finely milled so it applies lightly and nothing clings to it. 

I know this is a long post, and a long process, but this really works for me and leaves me with a finish that I love. Do you have dry skin? Have you found a way to prep your skin before wearing matte foundation?  

Until next time,



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26 thoughts on “How To Make Matte Foundation Work on Dry Skin

  1. Yes I love this post! I have really dry sensitive skin so finding products that don’t leave my skin feeling oily can be a challenge. Thanks for sharing Sophie.

  2. This is a great post! Even though I don’t have dry skin I have combination skins so parts of my face is dry like my cheeks so this is perfect! Love the skincare products that you’ve been using too especially the Clinique overnight mask, Great post xx

  3. I have normal to dry skin and have a matte foundation – Fenty Beauty one – and feel like it never really works for me now and I have to go looking for a new foundation! I feel like matte foundation alway looks more natural than dewy ones if that makes sense? But some dewy ones look really nice and I think look better on my skin. I’ve used an exfoliator once before for about a couple of months – a Neutrogena one – and it really made my face feel hydrated and fresh.

    I’ve been meaning to get into a skincare routine at night, but I’m always a bit lazy to actually even use my cleanser or anything that would really be great for my skin. After reading this I am definitely going to make more of an effort to have a set skincare before going to sleep.

    I’ve only ever used Beauty Blenders for my foundation, but I’ve seen a few YouTubers use a brush to apply it, never really knew if there was a difference!

    Before I use my matte foundation, I just make sure to use my cleanser & hydrate my skin with a hydration mist a few hours before actually putting on my foundation!


  4. Drinkin water is SO important to healthy skin – I definitely see a difference when I don’t drink as much! Also, can you recommend a good hyalauronic acid? I’m using one at the moment but I’m really not sure if it’s doing anything (Sorry if you did name one, I’ve read through it a couple times and I couldn’t see it!)

    Jas xx

  5. The Clinique overnight mask sounds like such a good product. I’ll have to remember to look for moisturisers with extra hyaluronic acid in as it sounds great for hydration. Thank you for sharing your skin care routine Sophie, I picked up lots of handy tips. Love your photos too! <3 xx

    Bexa |

  6. I don’t actually wear any makeup if I’m honest, but this was quite an interesting read. I’m always fascinated by the world of makeup and how people love creating art with it, I just hate the feeling of it on my skin haha

    I also have incredibly dry skin and drink no water at all (bad, very bad, I know) so it was interesting to discover how you found your routine. I’m still trying to find the right moisturiser that really hydrates my skin!

    Really good post, thoroughly enjoyed it!

    The Love Addict x

  7. That’s a pretty extensive and informative post about matte foundations. I always end up choosing the wrong foundations that are either dry or don’t blend well with my skin or a tad lighter or darker than my skin tone. I really love the fact that you emphasize on a healthy skincare routine and not only on skincare products. Great post!


  8. I have oily skin but I have pretty much same routines as you have, just the products that I use are for oily skin. I love all the serums and masks and just the routine itself. I drink a lot of water and also drinking lemon-ginger drink daily makes my skin glow. Great post :)!

  9. This seems like such a long process but I’m glad you’ve found something that works for your skin! I definitely need to start trying more skincare products as my skin is terrible at the minute so I’m going to look into some of the products you’ve mentioned!

    Jess //

  10. These are some AMAZING tips! My skin goes through phases where it is just super dry and looks awful with foundation on top, but the next time that happens I am definitely going to be coming back and trying some of these tips. Especially if I have an event coming up, these will be a savour – great post!

    Beka |

  11. Wow this post was so helpful, I love it !! I have normal to dry skin and applying foundation and making it look good is quite tough so reading this definitely helped me. Xx

  12. Great post! I have extremely dry skin as well so i usually stay far away from anything Matte.

    After reading this post, I might give matte makeup a try again

    Thanks for sharing!

    Stef |

  13. I have combination skin but get super dry around the outside of my face and I couldn’t agree more that it’s so important to find a good skincare routine! I’ve been wanting to try out Clinique products for a while! I’m currently using ‘The Ordinary’ serums and they’ve worked wonders for my skin over the past couple of months. This is such an informative post! x

  14. I don’t wear foundation but rather bb cream (also because i never know how to find the perfect shade) but all the tips on the pre-application would work for me anyway as my skin is so dry! it would sure need exfoliation and hydration!

  15. I have the exact opposite skin to yours, Sophie, it’s very oily. So I tend not to bother with foundation because I’ve never yet found one that will stay all day and I prefer not to clog my skin with yet more powder. But I completely agree about drinking water and taking care of skin both morning and night for a healthy glow. I’m so glad you’ve found a routine and products that work for you though, I loved reading about them! xx

    Lisa |

  16. Being hydrated is so important! It helps with keeping your skin full. Ooooh! Exfoliation is good for so many reasons, also great to prep you for the morning after. YESSSS! I am a big fan of Clinique’s moisture surge overnight mask. It might be a bit costly but worth it. I like their hydrating mist as well – good when you have foundation on your face and want to keep your face hydrated without touching it with your fingers, haha. Thanks for sharing!!

    Nancy ♥

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