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Winter Foundation Tips For When Your Skin Is Flaking Off

Spring is so close I can almost feel it... Wait, no, I can’t feel anything because my toes are literally numb from the record-breaking cold. The (way) below-freezing temps across the country are proof that winter isn’t going anywhere anytime soon; and your makeup routine needs to roll with the punches. If you’re not sure where to start, these winter foundation tips — curated by some of the best makeup artists in the business — should help.

Choosing the right foundation for the wintertime is key, since this is the literal “foundation” that you build the rest of your look on top of — and finding your perfect base begins by getting to know your skin and figuring out what it needs. “First, you want to examine how the winter changes your skin,” Jaleesa Jaikaran, a backstage beauty fixture who glammed up models for the latest Savage x Fenty runway, tells The Zoe Report. “Some may get drier and bit paler than others, so your choices of foundation will vary from shade to finishes.” According to the makeup artist, there are four main areas to focus on — shade, hydration, texture, and application — to ensure you’re wearing winter foundation the right way.

Ahead, the four-part guide to buying and applying winter foundation like a pro.

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“Color is the most important thing for foundations,” Nina Soriano, an editorial makeup artist who works with Harper’s Bazaar and ELLE, tells TZR. And unfortunately, you probably can’t get away with wearing the same shade year-round. “In winter, our complexions tend to be much paler than in summer months — so having a color to suit our winter versus our summer complexions is a must,” she says. Your “winter skin” is likely only a shade or two lighter than your “summer skin,” depending on how deeply you tan. Soriano recommends checking out Fenty Beauty’s Pro Filt’r Foundation range, which has 40 shades to choose from.


It’s no secret that cold winter air tends to dry out the skin — that’s why your lips are constantly chapped and your face gets a little flaky. To counteract this act of nature, it’s all about hydration. “Always prep the skin with plenty of hydration to start with — face mist, hyaluronic acid serum, and moisturizer,” Molly Greenwald, Constance Wu’s go-to makeup artist, tells The Zoe Report. She swears by Pour Moi’s Climate-Smart skincare range, which “treats your skin for the climate you're in.” Greenwald is also a fan of mixing a drop of face oil into her foundation before applying, to give it a little light-reflecting boost.

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Avoid foundations that are matte and opt for ones that are more lightweight,” Jaikaran instructs, noting that matte finishes can accentuate any dry patches. “I like to look for a more hydrating, luminous formula,” Greenwald says. “I'm digging the new Laura Mercier Flawless Lumiere Radiance Perfecting Foundation and the Shiseido Synchro Skin Glow — they both stay so radiant and have long wear, which is needed in the winter elements.”


One often-overlooked factor when it comes to choosing the right foundation is skin texture. Is yours bumpy? Flaky? Acne-prone with large pores? All of that will influence which foundations will work for you. “I believe that if you have bumpy or acne-prone skin, you should go for foundations that are light in weight,” Soriano says, since thick formulas may draw attention to an uneven surface. The same goes for luminous or dewy finishes. “I stay away from pearlescent or too-shiny formulas on any heavily textured skin — wrinkles, acne, pores, scars — since it can end up accentuating it instead,” Greenwald says. She prefers the semi-matte look of Armani Luminous Silk Foundation.

“For large pores, I would recommend an oil-free foundation to help mattify the skin and make pores appear smaller,” Soriano adds; while rough, dry skin will benefit most from a lightweight or hydrating formula.

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Of course, all of that means nothing if you don’t apply your foundation in a way that can withstand winter weather. “If you're flaky and dry, don't rub or drag your foundation,” Greenwald warns. “Stick to stippling and pressing it in to avoid lifting the scaly skin.”

“I also like using thinner layers of makeup in the winter time,” Jaikaran says. And as much as you love your BeautyBlender, you may want to send it into hibernation for winter. “Try using duo fiber brushes instead of sponges and blenders, since those can tend to apply more product,” she tells TZR. Soriano suggests keeping it low-key by applying foundation directly with your fingertips “so it melts into the skin.”

Ahead, the foundations making it a little easier to face the winter cold.

Shop Winter Foundations

Flawless Lumiere Radiance


Laura Mercier

"We all tend to be a little (or a lot) more dry and dull in the winter months, so I like to look for a more luminous formula," Greenwald says. This just-released foundation fits the bill, thanks to skincare-level ingredients like vitamin C (to brighten) and mushroom extract (to hydrate).

Argan Matchmaker Serum Foundation


Josie Maran

Did somebody say hydration? Josie Maran's innovative serum-foundation formula is packed with argan oil to keep your face protected from harsh winter winds.

Alight Clean Foundation



With a hit of hyaluronic acid inside to boost moisture, dry air is no match for this new foundation from Pacifica.

Luminous Silk Foundation


Giorgio Armani

Both Jaikaran and Soriano love Armani's Luminous Silk formula for the season. "It has a balanced texture," Soriano says. "Not too heavy, not too light."

Forever 24h* Wear High Perfection Skin-Caring Matte Foundation



Dior's brand new foundation features pansy extract, which keeps the skin from drying out in the wintertime — plus, it has a full 24 hours of wear. It dries matte, though, so it's ideal for normal to oily skin.

Super Radiant Booster



If your cold weather skin is looking a little dull, layer NARS Super Radiant Booster under your foundation. Its subtle rose gold glow will leave you looking radiant (not red).

Shameless Youthful-Look 24H Foundation


Marc Jacobs

"I’m also a fan of Marc Jacobs Shameless Youthful-Look 24H Foundation for customers who like a light-to-medium finish," Soriano says.

All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation



"The winter air sucks out all the moisture in the skin, so you’d want a dose of extra hydration," Jaikaran tells TZR. She likes the moisture-rich but lightweight finish of this foundation from NARS.

Soleil Glow Drops


Tom Ford

Fake a sunkissed complexion with a drop or two of Tom Ford's Soleil Glow Drops, formulated with aloe leaf to act as a natural highlighter.

Synchro Skin Lasting Liquid Foundation



"Do not sleep on your SPF in the winter as if the UV rays magically disappear when its cold," Greenwald says. Her top pick, Shiseido Synchro Skin Glow, has SPF 20 built right in.

Soft Focus Glow Complexion Enchancer



Accentuate a smooth, flake-free face with a glowy foundation, like Milani's latest (which is under $11). It's made with pearl extract to refract light, so dull winter skin is a thing of the past.

Eclat Opulent Nutri-Lifting Foundation


By Terry

If your skin texture is defined by fine lines or wrinkles, look no further than By Terry for the perfect winter foundation. Pumped with moisture-boosting hyaluronic acid, this one is designed to visibly plump skin and give it a smooth, even finish.