Velvety makeup primers are a luxurious part of any beauty routine, providing a silky soft feel to the skin, and making foundation glide on flawlessly. Face primers only became a fixture on the makeup scene about 15 years ago, but unlike many fleeting trends, they dug their heels in and became a staple. No matter what’s your skin type or how much makeup you like to wear, you will likely be able to find some use for a makeup primer.
The key is to learn about the different types of makeup primers, so you can choose the right one for yourself, to learn how to use makeup primer, so you can apply it flawlessly, and to figure out which is the best makeup primer, so you can make sure to use an excellent product. I cover all these bases in this article, so you can really lay down a flawless base.
Guide to Makeup Primers: Contents
16 Best Makeup Primers for Every Need and Skin Type
Here we have compiled a list of the best makeup primers for every skin type and concern to help you choose the best one for you!
Best Makeup Primers for Normal Skin or All Skin Types
1. MAC Prep + Prime Face Protect Lotion SPF 50
A high SPF is something I always find intriguing, so it was lovely to find out that MAC flawlessly combined it here with a really effective priming formula. Just a hint of silicone makes this light lotion glide on the skin easily, where it seriously boosts the application of any foundation. It diffuses imperfections well, and works with almost any skin type. You can pick it up at Nordstrom.
2. Dior Diorskin Forever & Ever Wear Makeup Primer SPF 20
This light, liquid makeup primer perfects the skin by blurring any kind of imperfection or rough texture. It goes on light and easy, and yet seriously extends the wear of any foundation you might have. A 20 SPF and some skin care ingredients help keep your skin looking healthy and smooth. This primer is available at Neiman Marcus.
3. CoverFX Anti-Aging Primer
This is a two-in-one primer and serum that combines the best elements of makeup primers and anti-aging products, and yet it works beautifully for just about any skin type. It is loaded with some extremely effective antioxidants, as well as the pore- and wrinkle-blurring silicones. It has a smooth finish that is not overly matte, but is not dewy either. You can pick up this lovely choice from Sephora.
Best Makeup Primers for Oily Skin and Acne
1. Benefit The POREfessional Face Primer
This primer gets mixed reviews, but that’s because it’s really not a one-size-fits-all. This is a true moisturizer for oily skin, because it mattifies and totally hides the look of pores. For those with dry skin this silicone-based formula is quite likely to cling to dry patches. It is available for sale at Sephora.
2. Dr. Brandt Pores No More Pore Refiner Primer
This cult-followed primer also doubles as an acne treatment, thanks to a touch of tea tree oil. Being a silicone-based primer it mattifies for days, not allowing even a touch of oil to peak through throughout the day. You can feel confident with this on, assuming your skin isn’t even close to being dry. You can find this primer at Sephora.
3. Hourglass Mineral Veil
Just because you have oily skin, it doesn’t mean that you have to give up on luxury. Few things are as luxurious as Hourglass products, and this silky mattifying makeup primer is no different. It mattifies while also hiding redness, large pores, and fine lines, plus it has a 15 SPF to protect your skin! It is up for sale at Nordstrom.
4. Jouer Anti Blemish Matte Primer
This silicone-free primer may not be as mattifying as its silicone-containing cousins, but it definitely overshoots as a primer for acne-prone skin. It is formulated with blemish-busting salicylic acid and pore-tightening witch hazel, which come together to make a product that looks a lot like great skin care.
Choose this if you suffer from acne without overly dry skin, and want something that won’t over-mattify you. You can pick up this primer at Nordstrom.
Best Makeup Primers for Dry and Mature Skin
1. Too Faced Hangover Rx Replenishing Face Primer
This silicone-free formula makes foundation go on smooth and dewy, in a way that is flattering to anyone with dry, dull, or mature skin. It also has a ton of beautiful skin care ingredients like willow bark extract ferment and coconut water to nourish the skin. This phenomenal primer can be found at Sephora.
2. Guerlain L’Or Radiance Concentrate with Pure Gold
Light and luxurious, this makeup primer feels gorgeous on the skin. A touch of gold gives a very lightly illuminating effect, while a collection of anti-aging ingredients helps to firm up the skin and reduce the look of fine lines and wrinkles.
It is a silicone-free makeup primer that will work beautifully for mature and dry skin, for gorgeous makeup that will look hydrated and stay put. This primer is up for sale at Nordstrom.
3. Clarins Beauty Flash Balm
Like an instant face lift, this unique makeup primer from Clarins doesn’t blur wrinkles – it simply tightens them out of existence. This anti-aging primer is excellent when you really have to wow, and is also an excellent choice if you have oily yet mature or sagging skin, since it does have a semi-matte finish. Pick up this wonder-cream at Nordstrom.
Best Illuminating Makeup Primers
1. Becca Backlight Filter Face Primer
Trust the highlighting pros to create the perfect illuminating primer. It gives a healthy glow to the skin that isn’t shimmery or sparkly – simply dewy. This makes it perfect even for those with mature skin, although it truly works for almost any skin type. What’s more, it is a silicone-free formula! You can pick it up at Sephora.
2. L’Oreal Studio Secrets Magic Lumi Light Infusing Primer
This should be your go-to if you have always wanted to be a glowy goddess. This makeup primer gives a shimmery glow that, when applied below a foundation is fairly subtle, but can also be layered on top of foundation for a more extreme strobing effect. This gorgeous primer can be found at Ulta.
3. Laura Mercier Foundation Primer Radiance
This moisturizing primer gives the skin a wet-looking glow that is perfect for those with dry or dull skin, or simply anyone that needs a glowy pick-me-up. This gel formula is super light, but it is enriched with moisturizing ingredients like castor and jojoba oils. This lovely primer is excellent for all skin types, except for the very oily. It is available for sale at Sephora.
Best Color Correcting Makeup Primers
1. Urban Decay Optical Illusion Complexion Primer
This primer brightens the skin and eliminates sallowness thanks to a pale pink tint. It has a thicker texture than many other makeup primers, and it gives a beautiful finish to foundations. It works well to blur pores and fine lines, control oils, and increase makeup’s longevity. You can find this gorgeous primer for sale at Sephora.
2. Make Up For Ever Step 1 Skin Equalizer in Yellow
MUFE has a few excellent color correcting primers, but I am personally a fan of yellow color correctors the most, especially for reducing redness in the skin (especially for those who have yellow undertones in their skin). If you have pale or cool-toned skin, you might prefer their green color corrector instead.
Either way, this covers all the bases, because it also increases foundation longevity and provides a lit-from-within glow. If you want to pick it up for yourself, look no further than Sephora.
3. Clinique Redness Solutions Protective Base SPF 15
To hide redness when you have pale skin, a green corrector is key. Clinique’s hit formulas are always a good choice, but here the skin-smoothing, mattifying goodness of the primer was combined with that wonderful tint. Clinique also has yellow and peach primer options. You can grab it for yourself at Nordstrom.
What Are Makeup Primers?
A makeup primer is a unique product that straddles the line between makeup and skin care, and yet does not quite fit into one or the other. Makeup primers are lotion or cream-based formulas that are applied to the skin before foundation (or occasionally in its stead).
Their purpose is to sit on top of the skin, where they will fill in any gaps between pores and wrinkles, thereby turning the skin into a smoother canvas to which it is easier to apply foundation. Makeup primers also act as a shield, separating the foundation from the skin and preventing any of its ingredients becoming absorbed by the skin.
This also means that foundations that are applied over makeup primers tend to last much longer, and the skin ends up looking smooth and flawless for many hours.
Do I Need a Makeup Primer?
So while I do not think makeup primers are a mandatory makeup step, it is totally up to you to decide for yourself. You should definitely add a primer to your makeup routine if any of the following applies to you:
• Your foundation doesn’t last as long as you would like it to, despite setting it with powder.
• Your skin texture is uneven either due to large pores, fine lines and wrinkles, scarring, dryness, or any other reason, and you find it difficult to apply foundation over it.
• Your skin produces a lot of oil, and gets shiney throughout the day even with face powder.
• You find that most foundations oxidize (i.e. become a different shade, normally a little more orange or a little darker than what it was in the tube) after being applied to your skin.
You might also consider using a primer if you simply like the luxury of it, if you find other benefits to it (like sunscreen or color correction), or if you find that it makes your foundation application a little bit easier, and don’t mind taking…