The Most Hydrating Foundation Money Can Buy, According to Makeup Artists

Photo: Getty Images/
To me, the thought of plastering goopy foundation onto dry skin evokes the same response as the thought of nails on a chalkboard. The resulting cakey-ness of sticking one dry thing against another is downright unappealing, and leaves behind a complexion that is the complete opposite of the natural, dewy radiance that I'm trying to achieve.

In order to avoid all of that drama, it's really necessary to find formulas that will work with your skin—to hydrate it—instead of drying it out even more. While the general rule is that cream and liquid formulas tend to be more hydrating than powder foundation, that doesn't always hold true 100 percent of the time. "A liquid foundation could have drying alcohols that might dehydrate the skin more than a powder foundation with nourishing ingredients," cautions makeup artist Jeannie Vincent. And while labels might tout words like "hydrating," "nourishing," and "moisturizing," the real story, says Vincent, is in the ingredients. Look for formulas with ingredients like aloe vera, shea butter, and good-for-skin oils like sweet almond and jojoba. Makeup artist Chauntal Lewis, from 901 Salon, adds that hyaluronic acid is the number one most hydrating ingredient to have in a foundation.

If you've got a formula that you love but find a bit drying (or if it worked all summer and suddenly rebelled against you once cold weather came in), there are a few things you can do to amp up its hydration. First up, always prep skin by applying moisturizer immediately before your foundation, which will create a protective barrier between your skin and the makeup. Then, you can add a drop of facial oil to your formula for some more moisture. Only use a little bit, though, to avoid sheering out the formula, and be mindful of what type of oil you're using (for example: coconut oil is a bad choice, because it literally works as a makeup remover). Vincent suggests ending your routine with a spritz of organic rose water for some added dewiness, and Lewis likes to top off with By Terry Hyaluronic Hydra-Powder ($47) for a porcelain finish. And for a hydrating foundation that won't make your skin cringe when you apply, no matter how dry it is, check out their picks (and a few of my personal favorites!) below.

Photo: Lancôme

Lancôme Skin Feels Good Skin Nourishing Foundation, $35

Lewis is a fan of this formula because of its moisture-magnet ingredients like vegetable glycerin and hyaluronic acid. It's also got moringa seed extract, which helps to shield your skin from oxidation and pollution.

Photo: Armani

Armani Luminous Silk Foundation, $42

Silk indeed. Armani's iconic foundation is like a luxury draping for your skin. It's made with special pigment technology that blends seamlessly into pores and leaves your complexion actually looking lit from within.

Photo: Ilia

Ilia True Skin Serum Foundation, $54

Think of this foundation as "skin first," meaning that it gives your complexion love while also blurring the appearance of your pores and smoothing discoloration. It's got aloe leaf and jojoba, and can be layered on to create light or medium coverage.


Photo: Antonym

Antonym Skin Esteem, $52

Think of this foundation as an "invisible veil" for your skin, infusing it with hyaluronic acid, jojoba and sweet almond oils, and shea butter—AKA four of the most hydrating ingredients.

Photo: Neutrogena

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Foundation, $10

Neutrogena's Hydro Boost line—which started with skin-care and has since extended into makeup—is known for its hydrating properties thanks to star ingredient hyaluronic acid. For ten bucks, this tint is one of the best buys you can get.

Photo: RMS Beauty

RMS Beauty Un-Cover Up Cream Foundation, $52

The first foundation from this cult-fave natural beauty brand has been lauded for its creamy formula and that's exactly what founder Rose-Marie Swift had in mind when she created it. It's made with nourishing oils like jojoba and coconut, and will leave your face with a second skin-like finish on top of your natural one.


Photo: Covergirl

Covergirl + Olay Simply Ageless 3-in-1 Liquid Foundation, $13

Skin care meets foundation, thanks to this moisturizer-makeup mix. The "3-in-1" refers to its promise to plump fine lines, firm skin, and (say it with me now!) hydrate.

These foundations are so nourishing, they're basically skin-care, too. And derms finally told us whether we should be using moisturizer or oil to keep skin hydrated. 

Our editors independently select these products. Making a purchase through our links may earn Well+Good a commission.

Loading More Posts...