To help us provide you with free impartial advice, we may earn a commission if you buy through links on our site. Learn more

The best primer for dry skin in 2023

Keep your makeup fixed and your skin looking dewy with best primer for dry skin

Dry skin can cause a few issues that make applying makeup a little bit more difficult, but finding the best primer for dry skin can alleviate a considerable amount of these problems. When your skin is dry, it can cause products such as foundation, concealer and blusher to cling to dry patches or emphasise imperfections.

However, this doesn’t mean applying these makeup products to dry skin is impossible. All it takes is one additional product to completely transform the way that your makeup looks and feels, and how well it lasts throughout the day. And that magic product is primer. We’ve put a multitude to the test to see which ones work for a variety of drier skin types, including those of you with sensitive skin and those who’d love for their dry skin to glow.

If you’ve never used primer before, our buying guide below will get you clued up before you spend out. Alternatively, scroll on for our reviews of the best primers for dry skin.

READ NEXT: Our guide to the best moisturiser for all skin types

Best primer for dry skin: At a glance

How to choose the best primer for dry skin for you

What does a primer do?

If you don’t already know what a makeup primer is or have never used one before, think of it this way: when applying paint you often apply a primer first. This primer creates an even base on top of which paint can then be applied. It makes colours show up brighter and helps paint to go on smoother. We see the same when we apply eyeshadow or foundation on top of skin that has been primed.

Makeup primers work in a similar way. They’re applied to the skin, normally after you’ve applied skincare but before you apply your base makeup products such as foundation, concealer or contour, and create an even surface, while simultaneously helping your makeup products last longer throughout the day.

What types of formula do primers come in?

Depending on your preference, there are many different formulations that makeup primers come in. But for dry skin, we recommend opting for a hydrating liquid, gel or creamy primer. You want to avoid words such as mattifying, and instead keep an eye out for words such as hydrating, nourishing and plumping.

How do I apply a primer?

The best time to apply a makeup primer is directly after completing your skincare routine. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t also apply it to bare skin. Either dispense the primer directly onto your skin and blend it with your fingertips, or apply it first to your fingertips, warm it up slightly by rubbing it together and then apply to your entire face.

It’s best to wait until your primer is completely dry before you then go on to apply any makeup on top of it. Not allowing it to dry properly can cause foundation to pill or go on patchy.

How do I know if I have dry skin?

Typically, if you have dry skin you’ll find that your skin looks dehydrated and dull, with extremely dry skin even flaking in the winter months. You may also have dry skin if, once you’ve washed your face and left it to dry naturally, you experience a tight feeling to the skin.

Why do I need a makeup primer if I have dry skin?

As mentioned above, if your skin is particularly parched of moisture, skipping a makeup primer can be an easy mistake, one you might not have even known you were making. You don’t want your makeup to crease or look caked-on simply because you didn’t spend a few extra seconds applying a primer first.

Adding hydration back into your skin, even if you’ve just completed your skincare routine, is especially important for those who have dry or dehydrated skin. This extra step can make applying makeup a much quicker and more pleasant experience, as base products such as foundations, concealers and blushers won’t cling to dry areas quite as much. A good hydrating primer can also make your skin look plumper and even glowy if you pick the right one.

How much should I spend?

While our top pick is over £40, you don’t have to spend this much if you’re on a budget or don’t want to spend too much on your first product. You can pick up a good primer for as little as £5.

How we test face primers for dry skin

At Expert Reviews, we know that hands-on testing delivers the most complete information about a product. As such, we personally test all the face primers we review. Where face primers are recommended for a particular skin concern, we test on that specific skin type/area to ensure we make an accurate recommendation. For this test, the face primers were tested specifically on dry skin.

We start by applying each face primer to clean, dry skin to evaluate the overall ease of application, before adding makeup on top of it. This makeup includes foundation, concealer, contour and blush. We then note how well the makeup lasts over the course of a day, and whether any product moves, smudges or disappears as the hours progress. Our experience is then compared to a day where makeup is applied without using primer first.

READ NEXT: Our roundup of the best foundations

The best primer for dry skin to buy in 2023

1. Bobbi Brown Vitamin Enriched Face Base Primer: The best all-round primer for dry skin

Price: £47 | Buy now from Bobbi Brown

This 2-in-1 moisturiser and primer combo is incredibly nourishing and without a doubt our favourite all-round primer for dry skin. A great option for all ages including mature skin, it ensures that base products such as foundation and concealer don’t sink into any fine lines or cake over dry patches.

If you want flawless makeup application or even want to apply it to bare skin for a boost of moisture, this pot of creamy, hydrating primer is the one to pick up. It also has a divine scent that isn’t too overpowering.

Key details – Vegan: No; Fragrance-free: No

Buy now from Bobbi Brown

2. Milk Makeup Hydro Grip Primer: The best long-lasting primer for dry skin

Price: £31 | Buy now from Cult Beauty

Need your makeup to last all day? Then let us introduce you to this supremely effective hydrating primer. Designed to grip makeup to the face, you need only a small amount for excellent coverage. It’s ideal for full-face makeup and keeps your skin looking fresh all day. The consistency leaves skin feeling smooth and soft, and it even has a slight cooling effect during application.

If that wasn’t enough, Hydro Grip is also silicone-free, oil-free, fragrance-free, cruelty-free and vegan.

Key details – Vegan: Yes; Fragrance-free: Yes

Buy now from Cult Beauty

3. The Ordinary High-Adherence Silicon Primer: The best budget primer for dry skin

Price: £5.20 | Buy now from Boots

If you’re on a budget or don’t want to splash out on your very first product, this value option from The Ordinary is the way to go. Priced at just over £5, it hydrates the skin while also mattifying any shiny areas you might have. What’s more, you need only a small amount to cover the whole face, making it even more cost-effective.

This is also a great option for those who prefer a silicone primer. Silicone blurs and smooths the skin instantly, allowing makeup to be applied on top flawlessly. It can also be used on its own as a moisturising base.

Key details – Vegan: Yes; Fragrance-free: No

Buy now from Boots

4. BareMinerals Good Hydrations Silky Face Primer: The best primer for dry, sensitive skin

Price: £27 | Buy now from House of FraserThis specific face primer has been designed with dry skin in mind and is our favourite for those who struggle with sensitive skin. Particularly impressive on dry, flaky skin, this moisturiser-like primer creates a great canvas for makeup to be applied onto.

While this dries to a velvety finish, the inclusion of hydrating ingredients such as hyaluronic acid and glycerin means moisture is addded back to the skin. It also does a great job at blurring pores and blemishes.

Key details – Vegan: No; Fragrance-free: Yes

Buy now from House of Fraser

5. Charlotte Tilbury Wonderglow Face Primer: The best for glowing skin

Price: £40 | Buy now from Charlotte TilburyCharlotte Tilbury products are very much about the glow and that’s exactly what you get with this glowy face primer. Giving the skin a luminescent shimmer, this lightly tinted face primer can be worn with or without makeup on top.

When using under foundation or base products such as concealer, this primer brightens your makeup, as well as helping it to look more dewy on the skin. If you want healthier-looking, slightly sunkissed skin, this is a great choice.

Key details – Vegan: No; Fragrance free: No

Buy now from Charlotte Tilbury

Read more

Best Buys