13 Primers For Dry Skin That Keep You Glowing All Day Long

Without any makeup caking or creasing.

by Ellie Nan Storck and Rachel Lapidos
Originally Published: 
13 primers for dry skin that keep you glowing all day long.
Photos courtesy of Tatcha, Beauty Bakerie, and Ilia

First things first: What exactly do primers do for your skin? Generally, they're used as a base for makeup, and are something that you apply before foundation, powder, or anything that goes directly onto your face. And the best primers for dry skin will upgrade your glow-up and also work to hydrate your complexion – a win-win.

When choosing a makeup primer, you should consider your own skin type (is it sensitive? eczema-prone? extra-dry?), the type of products you'll be using on top of the primer (liquid foundation, loose powder, etc.), and the ingredients that go into the primer itself. If your complexion tends to be on the dry end, erring on the side of gentle, soothing ingredients that pack a good hydration punch will be your best bet.

"Primers can have many benefits, depending on the formula," celebrity makeup artist Daniel Martin, global director of artistry and education for Tatcha, tells Bustle. "Like you would with skin care products, it's important to find a primer formula that works with — not against — your skin, which will allow you to achieve your desired look without your primer or makeup pilling or sliding around throughout the day."

A primer for dry skin actually delivers moisture, working as a sort of makeup/skin-care hybrid — a major perk for those whose complexions are feeling parched. "Because my skin is dry, I need a primer that's moisturizing and going to keep the makeup looking fresh and glowy for the long haul," Katey Denno, Credo lead makeup artist, tells Bustle. Martin adds that if you don't opt for a primer that's suitable for your skin type, "you'll notice all that hard work [of your makeup] breaking up on the skin after just a couple of hours." And nobody wants that.

For a dry skin-friendly primer, Denno recommends looking for one that's based in various carrier oils, such as camellia seed, sunflower seed, avocado, jojoba, and pomegranate seed. "Also beeswax, if you're open to that, glycerin, and cetyl alcohol, which is a fatty alcohol that works as an emollient," she says.

To help you find one for your makeup bag, here are 13 of the best primers for dry skin that'll do double duty on your glow.

We only include products that have been independently selected by Bustle's editorial team. However, we may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.


For Comfortable Wear

Fenty's hydrating primer delivers moisture via sodium hyaluronate and grape seed oil so your makeup application is flake- and crease-free. It's really light, so you'll barely remember putting it on as it extends your foundation wear and keeps your complexion looking radiant all day.


For An Oily T-zone

This makeup primer uses a unique temperature control technology to ensure that makeup stays cool and doesn't slide around, which stops foundation, powders, and more from settling deep into pores. This is a great option for those who are on the combination side of dry skin, as it moistens while soaking up unwanted oil around the t-zone, leaving skin smooth and ready for your makeup routine.


For Extended But Breathable Coverage

Celebrity makeup artist Mary Irwin recommends this primer for dry skin types because it's uber-hydrating yet really lightweight. "This formula is skin-plumping, and it's one of the best options out there," she tells Bustle, nodding to the formula's hydrating olive extract, glycerin, and marine hydra botanicals. Laura Mercier has been making primers for a long time, but the Pure Canvas Primer collection launched at the end of 2019 with a variety of options targeted towards different skin types — and it's garnered rave customer reviews ever since.


For A Velvety-Finish

Tatcha's silky-smooth primer immediately makes your complexion appear poreless and even, and lets your makeup evenly glide over it for a flawless application. It's formulated with actual silk powder (hence the smoothness), anti-pollution actives that protect your skin, and algae and squalane to hydrate.


For Skin Soothing

e.l.f.'s hydrating primer option calms inflamed or dry skin with its gentle trifecta of hyaluronic acid (for moisture), sunflower seed oil (also for moisture), and cannabis sativa seed oil (which quashes irritation). It's also spiked with vitamins A and C, star antioxidants that help brighten your skin — so your complexion gets plenty of perks as your makeup goes on smoother.


For Layering Over Your Face Oil

Denno's a fan of this primer, nodding to its aloe vera as its superstar ingredient because it "leaves a really nice glow," she says. "This primer is great layered on top of a face oil for those who need extra hydration." It also contains moisturizing glycerin and hibiscus extract along with blue agave leaf, which has a tightening effect on your skin.


For Your Shelfie

Makeup lovers turn to Pat McGrath Labs for the brand's iconic, gorgeously pigmented eyeshadows and lipsticks, but don't sleep on the primer. The luxe formula contains hyaluronic acid and coated microspheres of cosmetic filler powder that diffuses light, makes your skin baby-soft, and helps your makeup last all day without caking or creasing.


For An Acne-Friendly Option

Denno also loves the Exa primer because it keeps your complexion "looking moist and glowy" as it keeps hydration in your skin. The semi-matte formula creates a smooth canvas for makeup, and its complexion-friendly ingredients — think CoQ10 and raspberry seed oil — work well on both dry and acneic skin types.


For Foolproof Application

If you're always grabbing makeup products that are in stick form, this one's the primer for you. Beauty Bakerie's new HydraSilk Primer is an easy-to-swipe wand that has a buttery-soft feel and feeds your skin nourishing antioxidants and moisture as it grips to whatever foundation or pigment you apply afterward.


For A Hydration Burst

This one isn't your typical primer: It comes in a pot, and it's bouncy and gel-textured. But it does the job, thanks to moisturizing aloe and cucumber extracts which deliver hydration as you get at least eight hours of makeup wear when you apply it before your foundation.


For Locked-In Moisture

Hydration is the name of the game with this plant-based primer cream. The formula features a trifecta of aloe, natural shea butter, and hyaluronic acid to provide a protective barrier that hydrates while locking in rich moisture, leaving the skin smooth and primed for foundation.


For A Matte Finish

Irwin says this primer gives "the most beautiful finish while hydrating." If you prefer a matte or demi-matte finish, this one's a great choice. "It blurs lines and pores while making your foundation last all day," adds Irwin. This is because of the peptides, which give a pore-tightening effect, and dimethicone, which provides an easy makeup glide, that are in the formula.


For Sensitive Skin

There are a few great things about this priming moisturizer: Not only does it provide rich hydration for the skin without causing any irritation or redness (so it's especially good for those with sensitive complexions), but it's also made from protein-rich superfoods like coconut water and quinoa. Oil-free and revitalizing, this lightly-scented moisturizer blurs pores and blemishes, leaving skin soft, supple, and ready for makeup.

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