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How to Apply Makeup to Dry Skin for a Flawless, Hydrated Finish

With the scent of spring in the air, my mind immediately wanders to warmer days, blooming flowers, and all the joys that surround the season. But if you’re like me (and the other 81 million Americans suffering from dry skin), seasonal changes wreak absolute havoc on your skin and – in turn – your makeup. While achieving a smooth, even complexion may seem impossible, with the right makeup tips and skincare knowledge, you can say goodbye to pilling and flaking and hello to a flawless, hydrated finish. 


If you often daydream about applying makeup without the worries of dry skin and seasonal changes, look no further: We’ve gathered tidbits of need-to-know skin barrier info and tips from celebrity makeup artists and dermatologists on how to apply makeup to dry skin for an ultra-healthy and radiant look 24/7. Here’s the inside scoop:

Dry Skin Makeup Tip Number One: Learn About Seasonal Changes and Their Impact on Your Skin

To put it plain and simple: Your skin loves consistency, so when the weather changes rapidly, it’s essentially like a shock to the system. "Rapid fluctuations in weather can take its toll on our skin as it adjusts to the new environment," explains dermatologist Joshua Zeichner. "For example, as we shift seasons, temperature and humidity levels change, so the skin often has to work harder to maintain adequate hydration.”

Zeichner also mentions that this can lead to cracks in the outer skin layer, loss of hydration, and inflammation — all of which can impact the overall state and health of your skin. Dermatologist Sejal Shah, adds that these symptoms often occur due to the skin barrier becoming disrupted during seasonal changes, causing it to be susceptible to inflammation and irritation. For those in the back, let me put it simply: the skin barrier is vital to human life.  

Your skin barrier is basically a warrior queen that protects you from external threats like chemicals, systemic toxicity, allergens, and infectious agents. Internally, your skin barrier aids in maintaining homeostasis, while also protecting your body from excessive water loss. If your skin barrier is damaged, your skin may become dry and flakey. To put it lightly – makeup and a damaged skin barrier don’t jive. 

Dry Skin Makeup Tip Number Two: A Healthy Skin Barrier and pH Level Is Key

If you’re suffering from a damaged skin barrier, the first step to repairment is using a gentle cleanser. "A lot of people use exfoliating cleansers that have glycolic acid or salicylic acid. Instead, you’d want to use a cleanser that has glycerin, hyaluronic acids, or ceramides," says board-certified dermatologist Dr. Debra Jaliman. She also recommends adding cholesterols to the mix which are "bad for your arteries but very good for your skin." 

When choosing gentle skincare products (because skincare is vital to a flawless makeup look), most dermatologists recommend keeping in mind your skin's pH and choosing a product with a similar pH to your own. This’ll ensure that you don't disrupt your skin’s pH balance. “The pH of your skin is normal at 4.7,” says Anthony Youn, MD.“The thought is that if you alter that pH, you’re altering how healthy and hydrated your skin is.”

Unfortunately, the majority of skincare products in the United States don’t list the formula’s pH on the packaging. To find out what the pH of a product is, you can check the brand’s website or call the company. You can also buy pH strips on Amazon and test your favorite products in the comfort of your own home. To find out your skin’s pH level, you can take this pH estimation quiz or schedule an appointment with a dermatologist.

 Dry Skin Makeup Tip Number Three: Keep an Eye on Ingredients

When it comes to makeup, skin prep is crucial, but so is knowing what ingredients are in your favorite products. If you suffer from dry skin, it’s recommended that you take inventory of your makeup to ensure that the formulations are hydrating and suitable for your skin type. Try starting with your foundation and concealer as they’re commonly applied directly to your skin following your skincare regime. 

"When you have dry skin, it’s so important to allow your skin to bask in moisture," Denika Bedrossian, a Los Angeles-based celebrity makeup artist whose client roster includes Sarah Hyland and Hailey Bieber, explains. "You'll want to avoid ingredients such as salicylic acid, parabens, and alcohol. These ingredients tend to dry out the skin, not add any moisture. Look for ingredients like hyaluronic acid as it’s great for dry skin.”

SUBTL BEAUTY PROTIP: At Subtl Beauty, we know the importance of transparency, which is why we’ve created an Ingredient Glossary to help you understand what each ingredient does for the product and your skin. Additionally, each Subtl Beauty product is paraben-free, gluten-free, fragrance-free, vegan, and cruelty-free. *mic drop*

Dry Skin Makeup Tip Number Four: Be Strategic When Using Powder Products

Blush and bronzer have dominated the TikTok beauty realm and are being forecasted as two of the biggest makeup trends for 2023, so don’t let dry skin keep you from adding a pop of color and warmth to your complexion. Many makeup artists and dermatologists recommend that those with dry skin should opt for cream blushes and bronzers as they adhere easily to the skin without accentuating any dry patches. 

However, you don’t have to completely skip out on power formulations if you have dry skin as long as you’re strategic about the placement. "Be sure to only apply powder blushes and bronzers where you need color," advises celebrity makeup artist Billie Gene. “If you’re using a powder foundation, though, make sure it’s finely milled and isn’t full coverage as they can make your skin look drier.”

SUBTL BEAUTY PROTIP: The ultra-creamy subtl stak Lip & Cheek is a dry skin savior as it’s infused with jojoba seed oil, which is an extremely effective natural moisturizer that’s known to nourish and soothe the skin. If you’re in the market for a concealer, the subtl stak cream concealer is formulated in 19 hues to compliment all skin tones and types. 

Dry Skin Makeup Tip Number Five: Application Techniques Matter

According to Gene, the technique you use when applying makeup can either help or worsen dry patches. "When applying foundation on dry or peeling skin, be sure to apply it in one direction when using a brush or pressing technique with a makeup sponge," he says. "You don't want to rub the brush around the face (in different directions) too much because that can cause friction to the skin, resulting in the skin peeling even more."

SUBTL BEAUTY PROTIP: Meet your new subtl stak Brush BFF; it’s an adjustable, multi-use brush that’s perfect for both precision use and all-over face application, which means that it has all your makeup needs covered. However, if you aren’t into makeup brushes, you can try the 4-piece brush set that will leave your complexion looking airbrushed AF. 

Dry Skin Makeup Tip Number Six: Don’t Forget Highlighter

Adding small touches of highlighter can help dry skin look beautifully dewy and radiant. It’s important to be aware that there is an art to applying highlighter to keep from looking greasy or overly shiny. Bedrossian recommends that those with dry skin should “pinpoint the areas on the face that the light will naturally accentuate (think cheekbones, brow bone, and above the cupid's bow) and lightly tap your highlighter into those areas, blending the product in with your fingers or a fluffy brush to help spread it without clumping or streaks.”

SUBTL BEAUTY PROTIP: Ever heard of squalane? Basically, squalane, which has been a beauty buzzword as of late, is known to strengthen the skin barrier and help the skin retain moisture. The subtl stak Pressed-Powder Highlighter, which is a mineral-based powder infused with shimmer, is formulated with squalane for a smooth finish that won’t dry out your skin (aka a powder makeup product that’s perf for those dealing with dry skin). 

All Subtl Beauty Products Are Formulated With You and Your Skin in Mind

All Subtl Beauty products are thoughtfully designed and formulated to suit every skin tone and type; we’re an inclusive brand that knows the importance of easily accessible, good-for-you makeup that’ll keep your skin (and you) happy and healthy. As the home of stackable makeup, subtl stak is a brand built for people from all walks of life; our Stacks are the perfect travel companion and busy mom BFF

Interested in grabbing a Subtl Beauty Stack? Click here to take our Stackable Makeup Match Quiz that’ll make customizing a Stack perfect for you easy as pie. For those of you that are always on the go or just want a little bit of convenience, we also offer subtl stak Premade Stacks that are assembled with five of our best-selling products and shades.

Have you discovered any dry skin makeup tips using your Subtl Beauty Stack? We’d love to hear them!  


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