How to Apply Makeup When You Have Dry Skin

Step 1: Smooth things out.

According to New York City-based dermatologist, Shari Marchbein, flaking skin and facial dryness can happen for a variety of reasons, including but not limited to rashes due to allergic reactions, skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema, extreme temperatures, overusing harsh products like retinoids and other acne medications, and exfoliating too often. In any situation, Marchbein recommends paring down your skin-care routine and using a very mild scrub to remove dead or peeling skin (she favors St. Ives Gentle Smoothing Oatmeal Scrub). “To prep the skin directly before applying makeup, a hydrating moisturizing gel can help smooth the skin and allow for more even makeup application by acting as a humectant, attracting water and moisture to the top layer of the skin,” she explains, adding that her two favorites are Neutrogenas Hydro Boost Hyaluronic Acid Hydrating Face Moisturizer Gel-Cream and Simples Simple Water Boost Hydrating Booster. (If your skin is on the drier side, you can always swap out a gel in lieu of a richer moisturizer, like Eau Thermale Avènes Tolerance Extreme Cream, which is packed full of skin-softening agents like shea butter and thermal spring water.)

If time allows, makeup artist Elisa Flowers says she loves doing a quick mask session to resurface the skin. “Try using Glam Glows Youthmud Tinglexfoliate Treatment for 10 minutes,” she suggests. “This invigorating, tingling mud mask, tightens and smooths away dead skin cells, leaving behind a radiant complexion,” she adds. Another one of Flowerss top tips is to use a gentle lip scrub (were partial to Bite Beautys Agave Sugar Scrub) to smooth away buildup and simultaneously prime and soften the lips.

If youre pressed for time, however, makeup artist Robin Black has a genius hack that tackles stubborn dry spots in a pinch. “This simple trick works to instantly remove dry skin on the face and lips,” she says matter-of-factly. “Pat your dry, clean skin with the sticky side of Scotch tape, [as] the adhesive in the tape is strong enough to pull off all the loose bits but gentle enough to not harm your skin,” she explains. Once youve removed the flakes, Black suggests using a hydrating serum or face oil, followed by a moisturizer to lock everything in.

Step 2: Layer up for good measure.

Once your skin is feeling fresh and nourished again, its time to prime the skin, which you can do with either a traditional primer or a face oil and/or cream that caters to dry skin. (This will allow your makeup to glide on seamlessly and retain its glow.) Renowned makeup artist Tom Pecheux is famous for using oil on his clients skin, as well as adding extra to any drier areas, to make skin look ultra-luminous. Rodin Olio Lusso is one of his favorites.

If youre a primer person, Flowers recommends YSLs Touche Éclat Blur Primer, which she says gives the skin a soft glow and also blurs surface issues like uneven texture and large pores. Check out our list of favorites, too, if youre curious.

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Tip #2: Exfoliate. Advertisement

Few things can wreak havoc on your makeup look like dry skin. During the winter, achieving that smooth and even complexion can be difficult, especially if youre someone with dry skin thats also peeling or flaking.

No matter how much you moisturize, it can seem like your makeup clings onto and emphasizes the dry patches on your complexion. So if youve tried to douse your face in the most moisturizing products countless times, but you still feel like getting a smooth and even makeup application is not possible during the colder months, then weve got you covered.

Here we tapped professional makeup artists to learn their most coveted tips and tricks for how to apply makeup on dry skin.

1. It’s All About The Prep

When it comes to how makeup sits on your face, its all about whats underneath. “There are levels to perfecting any makeup application,” says professional makeup artist Dominique Lerma. “If youre someone who suffers from those dry areas during the harsh winter months, your first call to order should be solidifying a skincare routine that sets you up for successful makeup application.”

If you arent already, start incorporating serums, moisturizers, and face mists into your routine with hydrating ingredients, like hyaluronic acid or glycerin. “I like to use serums and dry oils to the skin before moisturizers to help revitalize the skin and prepare it for makeup application, says celebrity makeup artist Billie Gene. “I also tend to spray the face with a refreshing mist before moisturizer to add moisture and soften the skin for a better absorption.”

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