The best primers for dry skin 2022—smooth, hydrate and plump

The best primers for dry skin boast a multitude of beauty benefits. As well as creating an ultra-smooth base, many new-gen formulas are laced with hydrating properties like hyaluronic acid, shea butter, and various vitamins. 

These skincare-makeup hybrids can seem like an unnecessary step, but the best primers will smooth pores, hydrate, and help makeup last all day without flaking. “Makeup primers for dry skin will prevent foundation from clinging to dry patches, creating a smooth base, while also providing skincare benefits,” says Frederic Letailleur, UK national makeup artist for YSL Beauty.

To help bolster glow and boost your best foundation’s staying power, our round-up of the best primers for dry skin has got you covered. Read on for our tried-and-tested product picks at every budget, as well as expert tips and tricks to find the perfect formula for you.

HOW TO CHOOSE THE BEST PRIMERS FOR DRY SKIN

Learning how to use a primer on dry skin types is simple. It can easily be slotted into your routine and is simply smoothed onto the skin after applying one of the best moisturizers for dry skin, requiring little-to-zero skill. Picking a primer, however, does require a fraction of your attention.

As a starting point, Letailleur and Amalie Russell, pro makeup artist in residence for Bobbi Brown, recommends seeking out these ingredients:

  • Shea Butter: “This is a great ingredient to look out for,” says Amalie. “The natural oil plumps skin and gives an instant moisture boost.”
  • Hyaluronic Acid: Many of the best hyaluronic acid products moisturize dry skin. “It will help add radiance,” says Letailleur, “while also locking moisture into the skin.”
  • Blurring Powders: “Primers containing blurring powders will help even the appearance of dry skin, creating a smooth canvas,” says Letailleur.
  • Vitamins: “Vitamins are another ingredient to look out for,” advises Amalie. Vitamin C can help brighten skin and vitamin E will protect it from free radicals.

Amalie’s top tip? “Test the product on the back of your hand first—if you can instantly see a radiant glow and skin looks hydrated, then your face will happy, too!”

The best primers for dry skin, chosen by our experts

Best primer for dry skin from Bobbi Brown

(Image credit: Bobbi Brown)

1. Bobbi Brown Vitamin Enriched Face Base

 

Best overall primer for dry skin

Specifications

RRP: $64/£46.50

Type: Moisturising

Targets: Dehydration, skin texture, makeup longevity

Reasons to buy

+

Multipurpose benefits

+

Sits well under makeup

+

Hydrates dry skin

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Skincare ingredients

 

A cult classic, this moisturizer-meets-primer delivers a hefty dose of hydration (thanks to shea butter, hyaluronic acid, and vitamins B, C, and E) to smooth and soften skin, creating the perfect base for foundation.

On first impressions, the texture is rich but once you work it into the skin it quickly melts in without leaving any greasy residue behind. “I love this product for the instant radiance it gives as well as the silky cushioned feel it has,” says Russell. Allow a couple of minutes to let the product completely absorb before going in with your base.

For those on the lookout for makeup for sensitive skin, it’s worth noting that this primer has a gentle scent of grapefruit and geranium that may be irritating on some skins.

Best primer for dry skin from Facetheory

(Image credit: Facetheory)

2. Facetheory Ultraglide Silicone-Free Face Primer

 

Best budget primer for dry skin

Specifications

RRP: $13.40/£9.99

Type: Smoothing

Targets: Fine lines, pores, makeup longevity

Reasons to buy

+

Lightweight texture

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Soft focus finish

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Silicone-free

 

Reasons to avoid

Matte finish not for all

 

If you have dry skin and steer clear from anything that mattifies, this primer may well change your mind. A hydrating mattifier, the lightweight texture sinks in quickly (warning: a little goes a long way) boosting glow with brightening vitamin C and smoothing with plant cellulose. The results? A healthy, happy complexion that’s well-prepped for your chosen base.

It’s no wonder this has received hundreds of five-star reviews with some swearing that it is “the best primer they’ve tried,” and we agree that its scent-free formula is well-deserving of love. If you’re after a hyper-moisturized, glass-skin finish, this product may not be for you. But, if you’re looking for a weightless formula with a silky-soft touch that helps you nail how to apply foundation seamlessly then we’d highly recommend giving this primer a whirl.

Best primer for dry skin from YSL Beauty

(Image credit: YSL Beauty)

3. YSL Touche Éclat YSL Blur Primer

 

Best luxury primer for dry skin

Specifications

RRP: $52/£32

Type: Illuminating

Targets : Radiance, smoothing, fine lines

Reasons to buy

+

Evens skin tone

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Boosts radiance

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Lovely gel texture

 

Blended with gold shimmer flecks, this luxurious primer from YSL definitely looks the part. It also feels and acts the part, too. The super-light gel texture is the first thing that struck us, as it has a lovely silky feel. Your base will glide on like a dream with a dewy makeup finish and stick around all day long without settling into dry patches—a big tick from us.

As for ingredients, “the primer contains micro-pearls and a volatile oil that will help even makeup application while also adding radiance,” explains Letailleur. These micro-pearls also help soften fine lines and minimise the appearance of pores. The only downside? It is scented, so tread with caution if your skin gets irritated easily.

Best primer for dry skin from NYX cosmetics

(Image credit: NYX Cosmetics)

4. NYX Professional Makeup Bare With Me Hydrating Jelly Primer

 

Best soothing primer for dry skin

Specifications

RRP: $19/£15

Type: Hydrating

Targets: Dryness, pores, smoothing

Reasons to buy

+

Water-based

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Hydrating and soothing

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Minimizes the appearance of pores

 

Reasons to avoid

Jelly texture not for all

 

NYX cosmetics is a firm favorite among the beauty crowd—the products, including some of the best makeup palettes around, boast pigment-packed formulas and impressive staying power. It’s no wonder then that their primer offering comes up trumps. Water-based with a refreshing jelly texture, this hydrating hero instantly refreshes and soothes skin with cooling cucumber and aloe leaf.

A top pick for dry, dehydrated, or tight skin, this is undoubtedly one of the best primers for dry skin if you want a fresh-faced dewy glow. It’s worth noting that a little goes a long way—we’d recommend using roughly a pea-size amount, work it into the skin then allow to set before applying your foundation.

Best primer for dry skin from Laura Mercier

(Image credit: Laura Mercier)

5. Laura Mercier Pure Canvas Hydrating Primer

 

Best primer for dry skin for extended wear

Specifications

RRP: $40£34

Type: Hydrating

Targets: Dryness, smoothing, makeup longevity

Reasons to buy

+

Non-sticky

+

Moisturizing

+

Skincare ingredients

 

Reasons to avoid

May pill on some complexions

 

Specifically formulated for dry, dehydrated skin, this lovely primer from Laura Mercier ticks all the boxes and then some. First up, it’s ultra-lightweight and sinks into the skin quickly. Next, it deeply hydrates and nourishes the complexion thanks to aloe leaf, olive extract, and vitamins A, C and E. Finally, it really does help prolong the wear of makeup.

The only advice we’d give is to avoid layering lots of creams and serums on beforehand as even the best skincare products can cause the primer and, ultimately, your makeup to pill. However, because of all its nourishing and skin-loving ingredients, you can definitely swap out your moisturizer for this primer instead. For a ‘no makeup’ natural makeup look, try dotting on one of the best under-eye concealers on top of this primer.

Best primer for dry skin from Gucci Beauty

(Image credit: Gucci Beauty)

6. Gucci Sérum De Beauté Fluide Mattifying Primer

 

Best mattifying primer for dry skin

Specifications

RRP: $57/£42

Type: Mattifying

Targets: Smoothing, controls shine

Reasons to buy

+

Blurs skin

+

Non-sticky formula

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Silicone and oil-free

 

Unlike most of the best primers for dry skin, this Gucci primer is one that aims primarily to control shine. But, it also contains caring ingredients, including hyaluronic acid and glycerin, that will moisturize dry skin.

The oil-free formula has a milky gel-like texture that absorbs quickly. Once sunk in, the primer blurs pores and evens skin tone creating a matte (but not dry) base that sits really well under both liquid foundation and the best powder foundations. It is, however, lightly scented, so might not suit extremely reactive skin. Although it’s worth noting that it does promise to be dermatologically tested and suitable for sensitive skins.

Best primer for dry skin from Charlotte Tilbury

(Image credit: Charlotte Tilbury)

7. Charlotte Tilbury Wonderglow Face Primer

 

Best illuminating primer for dry skin

Specifications

RRP: $55/£39

Type: Illuminating

Targets: Radiance, smoothing, fine lines

Reasons to buy

+

Multipurpose benefits

+

Skincare ingredients

+

Glowing finish

 

Reasons to avoid

Tinted primer not for all

 

We can always count on Charlotte Tilbury to deliver the glow-bestowing goods and this primer is no exception. Combining light diffusers with hyaluronic acid, camellia oil, and rosehip oil, it moisturizes skin and adds luminosity in seconds.

So much more than just a primer, it can be used on its own for a dewy ‘your skin but better’ finish or applied below makeup to give your foundation a candlelit finish. You can even press it on top of makeup throughout the day to act a bit like the best highlighters do, giving a little skin pick-me-up. A true multi-tasking wonder, this is ideal for anyone with dry skin who covets glow. If the shimmer tint puts you off, know that it blends into a translucent formula that flatters every skin tone.

Best primer for dry skin from By Terry

(Image credit: By Terry)

8. By Terry Hyaluronic Hydra-Primer

 

Best blurring primer for dry skin

Specifications

RRP: $54/£42

Type: Blurring

Targets: Smoothing, firming, fine lines

Reasons to buy

+

Skincare ingredients

+

Blurs fine lines and smooths skin

+

Refreshing feel

+

Scent-free

 

On first impressions, the texture is completely different to other primers we tested—it’s a mousse meets cream that has a lightweight airy feel that’s refreshing on the skin. If your complexion feels tight or is irritated, this will definitely help to soothe it.

Asides from texture, the formula is scent-free and, as you may have guessed, loaded with hyaluronic acid. Despite this, it doesn’t feel super hydrating or wet on the skin and leaves a matte finish, so may suit normal to dry skin types more than severely dehydrated skin. If you do want more moisture, we tried applying this on top of the By Terry Hyaluronic Global Face Cream which worked wonders. And our makeup stuck around all day long.

Best primer for dry skin from Too Faced

(Image credit: Too Faced)

9. Too Faced Plump & Prime Luxury Face Plumping Primer

 

Best plumping primer for dry skin

Specifications

RRP: $42/£32

Type: Plumping

Targets: Fine lines, pores, smoothing

Reasons to buy

+

Lightweight texture

+

Absorbs quickly

+

Skincare ingredients

 

Streamline your beauty regime with this skincare serum and primer all-in-one. As well as being one of the best primers for dry skin, this is jam-packed with hardworking skincare ingredients (including hyaluronic acid, glycerine, and peptides) This means it delivers a hefty dose of moisture to plump up and smooth dry skin.

We especially enjoyed the lightweight, milky texture that sinks into skin quickly, creating a super soft base for foundation. Plus, not only did our makeup blend in seamlessly but it also lasted really well throughout the day, and at no point did it extenuate dry patches.

Best primer for dry skin from first aid beauty

(Image credit: First Aid Beauty)

10. First Aid Beauty Coconut Skin Smoothie Priming Moisturizer

 

Best hydrating primer for dry skin

Specifications

RRP: $32/£24

Type: Hydrating

Targets: Brightening, smoothing, pores

Reasons to buy

+

Ultra-moisturising

+

Oil-free

+

Skincare ingredients

+

Suitable for sensitive skin

 

Reasons to avoid

Slight shimmer not for all

 

If you’re not yet familiar with First Aid Beauty, let us introduce you. This clinical skincare brand has an extensive line of products formulated with sensitive skin in mind. Suitable for anyone with eczema, dry skin, or dermatitis, the products focus on restoring and repairing the skin’s barrier without compromising on luxury.

This primer-meets-moisturizer is great for dry, unhappy skin. It contains quinoa and coconut water to repair and nourish skin, alongside light-reflecting micro-pearls to create a dewy glow. Skin feels super moisturized after use and makeup sits beautifully on top. For those days where you want to forgo foundation, this primer creates a healthy, hydrated base.


woman&home thanks Frederic Letailleur and Amalie Russell for their time and expertise. 

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