At the stroke of autumn, our skin starts to do very strange things. It itches, flakes, peels, dulls and feels as dry the Sahara. Plus, our normal lineup of face creams, primers and foundations throw a tantrum in nasty rebellion. Suddenly, the formulas we reached for to achieve a smooth, glowing complexion all summer don't do the trick anymore, and we're left in want of products that cater to our dry, newly chapped skin. But there's hope!
There are tons of face primers and foundations on the market, but certain formulas are especially magical in autumn and winter as antidotes for dry, uneven skin. We've done the work for you and pulled 14 amazing primers that instantly smooth, hydrate and brighten, plus another 14 game-changing foundations they pair perfectly with. Of course, you can use any of the below solo or in combination with your other favourite foundations, but we just happen to think these 14 duos are the ultimate face primers and foundations for those suffering from dry skin. Keep scrolling!
I know it's expensive, and I'm sorry, but this is the best primer of all time for dry skin—or any kind of skin for that matter. It instantly hydrates and makes a bumpy or uneven complexion smooth and velvety-soft. When I pair it with the foundation, it's like a fairy touched my face. Dullness is gone, my acne virtually disappears, and I receive an insane number of compliments on my "perfect" skin. This face primer boasts ingredients like hyaluronic acid to retain essential moisture and a special cosmetic filler powder which mimics—I kid you not—the smoothness of actual ceramic. Fancy.
Koh Gen Do is beloved in the beauty and film industries because its famous formulas make celebs look flawless on film and in front of the camera.
This is one of the best face primer formulas not only because of its hydrating perks (it's loaded with hyaluronic acid and ceramides to plump and quench the skin) but also because it comes in four tints to target different skin concerns. The lavender-pink brightens dull or sallow skin, the green counteracts redness, the pearly white adds an extra kick of luminosity, and the yellow (my fave) diffuses the appearance darkness and discolouration. Pair it with the brand's iconic Aqua Foundation, below, and your face will glow and stay dewily hydrated all day and night—sans oiliness.
So I won't say which famous face primer this affordable formula is a dupe for, but after just one application, you'll think you paid about two or three times the price for this skin-perfecting pick. It's loaded with amazing ingredients like antioxidants and radiance-enhancing pearls to hydrate, smooth and soothe your complexion. Plus, it serves as the perfect canvas for one of my all-time-favourite drugstore foundations, below.
The name of this face primer says it all, but this is up in the top three primers I've ever used. In fact, I used to swear off primers completely until I tried this one and it made me believe. No matter what I put on my face afterwards, it keeps my skin happy, healthy-looking and perfectly moisturised. In addition to hyaluronic acid, it has an impressive roster of valuable ingredients like algae and marine plant extracts, calming turmeric and probiotic-rich kefir extract for an exemplary brightening effect. I recommend pairing it with the brand's lightweight, medium-coverage foundation below to keep the skin magic going.
Laura Mercier makes some of the most famous face primers on the market. All are fabulous, but if your skin is especially prone to dryness, this hydrating pick, in particular, will be a standout for your complexion. It's a lightweight cream-gel hybrid that contains helpful things like vitamins A, C and E alongside other essential hydrators like glycerin and hyaluronic acid. To keep things from getting too dewy, I love pairing it with the brand's long-wearing matte foundation below. Together, they make for a flawless, satiny-smooth complexion.
This is such an OG but honestly still so, so good. Benefit Cosmetics wasn't kidding when it came up with the cheeky name, either. It instantly minimises pores, yes, but thanks to an antioxidant-rich formula, it also keeps skin moisturised and protected from environmental threats like free radicals. For glowy, natural-looking coverage, I'm obsessed with the brand's latest foundation debut, below.
Between this strategic mix of coconut water, probiotics and other handy skin brighteners, this luscious little primer from Too Faced is heaven-sent for a dull complexion. It instantly boosts hydration and sets you up for the smoothest foundation application. We reach for the brand's best-selling icon, Born This Way, for lightweight, buildable coverage that shares all the same hydrating magic—hyaluronic acid, alpine rose and coconut water.
This über-convenient priming spray is perfect for anyone who's perpetually running late (me) or just seeks a super-fast hit of face-priming hydration pre-makeup. It's formulated with vitamin B3, Sepitonic M3 and coconut water to immediately brighten, minimise the look of pores, smooth and, of course, de-parch ASAP. Follow your spritz with the brand-new foundation for an airbrushed finish, and feel free to use throughout the rest of your day or night if you need a quick refresh.
You already know and love Beautyblender for gifting the world population with the most loved and sought-after makeup sponge ever. But the brand also makes a mean primer and foundation. It has a couple of great options, but for dry skin especially, we're obsessed with this equal parts moisturising and illuminating formula. Obviously, it's pure magic when paired with the brand's top-rated foundation. Together, makeup stays dewy and perfectly in place—no touch-ups necessary.
Just in time for our dry winter blues, the skin masters at Giorgio Armani blessed us with this brand-new hydrating face primer to pair with its iconic Luminous Silk Foundation—the obvious accompaniment for A-list-level skin. To keep skin porcelain-smooth, the brand added glycerin, rice bran and shea butter. It's an investment but worth every penny.
It doesn't get much better than Ren's newly formulated, clean, vegan, cruelty-free, gluten-free and silicone-free Perfect Canvas Clean face primer. It's filled with agave extract to smooth and mattify, plus probiotic extracts and alpha-glucans to support the skin's microbiome, which can get out of whack during the dehydrating months of autumn and winter. It pairs well with anything, but I love it with another new favourite, Anastasia Beverly Hills Luminous Foundation. It makes your skin look filter-level flawless.
If there's anyone we trust to help us achieve a bright, lit-from-within skin glow, it's legendary makeup artist Charlotte Tilbury. She makes two different face primers, but this is our suggestion for dry, lacklustre skin. An expert melding of chlorella, watercress, vitamin B3 and olive extract works to moisturise, reduce redness and discolouration, blur away breakouts, nix shadows or circles and even out overall skin tone and texture. Just call it a miracle in a bottle. We pair it with Tilbury's Magic Foundation—the brand's fan and celebrity favourite.
It Cosmetics makes some of the best formulas for those with perpetually parched skin. The brand's holy-grail CC+ Cream is honestly great and probably moisturising enough on its own, but if you want a seriously flawless finish or just need a little bit more hydration insurance, we love this skin-enhancing primer which helps grip and set your makeup with helpful additions like peptides and essential oils.
Rich in omega fatty acids 3, 6 and 9, this primer-highlighter hybrid utilises gorgeous ingredients like marula and passion fruit oil which immediately flood dry skin with much-needed refreshment. Not only will it instantly make your skin glow, but it also sets your complexion up for an A+ foundation job thanks to a super-smooth result. Apply it before, mixed with or after the brand's Sensual Skin Enhancer Concealer, which is a high-coverage concealer-foundation situation that buffs and smooths beautifully for an artist-level finish. Just be warned: It's very creamy, and a little goes a long way.
As the name suggests, this nourising primer is a celebration of all things coconut. It boasts a hydrating, nutrient-rich formula that delivers a burst of vitamins and antioxidants to skin to prime, smooth and nourish dry complexions. Plus, the coconut extracts help to form a natural barrier between your skin and makeup to prevent flaking or peeling throughout the day. It layers beautifully beneath any foundation but I particularly like it worn with Marc Jacobs Beauty Shameless Youthful-Look Longwear Foundation.