A Makeup Artist’s 4-Step Guide for Applying Foundation On Top of Dry, Flaky Skin

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Applying makeup to a dry complexion can be tricky, and things get even more complicated when you're dealing with patches that are particularly dehydrated and flaky. If you aren't careful, layering foundation on top of these spots can make them stand out even more, which is likely the exact opposite of the look you're trying to achieve. The key to seamless blending, says J. Brandon Correa, Yves Saint Laurent's national makeup artist, is making sure your skin is adequately prepped.

"The shift to colder weather sometimes means there is a shift in our skin—we tend to lose a touch of hydration," says Correa. "Adjust your routine by layering in extra hydration throughout the application." Below, he explains exactly the steps you'll need to take to do it properly.

Experts In This Article
  • J. Brandon Correa, J. Brandon Correa is Yves Saint Laurent's national makeup artist.

How to apply makeup to dry, flaky skin in 4 steps

1. Exfoliate

"If you have any excess dry skin, you should exfoliate before your makeup application," says Correa. Although it can be tempting to go in with a grainy scrub, this type of mechanical exfoliation might do you more harm than good during the cold winter months. Instead, opt for a chemical exfoliant, which will gently melt away dead skin cells from the surface of your complexion. Correa recommends the YSL Pure Shots Night Reboot Resurfacing Serum ($50 to $120). "It will gently exfoliate, refine, and hydrate [your skin] during the night," he says. The Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting 2 Percent BHA Liquid Exfoliant ($30) is also a great option, as it uses salicylic acid to clear out dead, flaky skin.

2. Hydrate your skin

Before applying foundation, it's essential to prep your skin with a hydrating product, whether that be a makeup primer or your favorite moisturizer. Corres recommends the YSL Nu Glow In Balm Face Priming Moisturizer ($36) or the YSL Pure Shots Hydra Bounce Essence-In-Lotion ($78). He says they both provide smooth, weightless hydration.

3. Apply thin layers of a buildable foundation

Using a flat brush, like the YSL 01 Foundation Brush ($45), apply a thin layer of a buildable, hydrating foundation "by gently tapping or stippling the foundation in place to blend," says Correa. "Do not buff as this will cause the texture of the dry patch to become evident." The Covergirl Clean Fresh Skin Milk Foundation ($12) and the Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation ($64) are both great options. To keep the skin hydrated during application, Corres recommends spritzing your skin with the YSL Nu Dewy Mist Rejuvenating Face Spray ($36). "Its bi-phase hydration protects with rich antioxidants like pomegranate extract and plumps with powerful hydrators like hyaluronic acid and jojoba oil," he says.

4. Finish off with oil

"Place a drop of Or Rouge Anti-Aging Face Oil ($275) in the palm of your hand and rub together then gently press it on your skin over makeup for an instant boost of hydration and glow," says Corres. The Drunk Elephant Virgin Marula Luxury Face Oil ($40 to $72) is also a great option.

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