5 Best Makeup Primers

5 Best Makeup Primers


After 17 hours of research evaluating 95 products, we picked Benefit Cosmetics The POREfessional Face Primer as our top choice.

Makeup primer is often forgotton or seen as an unnecessary step during your makeup routine. But if you want your makeup to look flawless (and last all day), it should be the first thing you're putting on after your moisturizer.

You're probably wondering:

What does face primer do? The best face primer fills in englarged pores and wrinkles, smooths uneven skin, and disguises redness. 

According to The Dermatology Review, you could use expensive serums, get laser peels, or Microdermabrasion. Or, you could simply use a good makeup primer.

These days, the best face primers vary from matte to dewy finishes, light to heavy consistencies and more afforable options to designer brands. There are literally hundreds to choose from. 

The good news is:

We spent hours testing and researching hundreds of the best makeup primers for your skin. The result? An honest list of the best makeup primers. Finally, the struggle to find the perfect primer is over.

What's a good primer without a good foundation? Be sure to check out our list of the best foundations. And, don't forget to take it all off at the end of the day with a makeup remover and face wash



5 Best Makeup Primers

  • 5. e.l.f. Studio Mineral Infused Face Primer
  • 4. Too Faced Hangover Replenishing Face Primer
  • 3. Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer
  • 2. Dr. Brandt Skincare pores no more pore refiner primer
  • 1. Benefit Cosmetics The POREfessional Face Primer

Best Drugstore Primer


e.l.f. Studio Mineral Infused Face Primer

Best Drugstore Primer: e.l.f. Studio Mineral Infused Face Primer
180 Bought
84 % Editor Score
82 % User Score

Why People Love it

  • Leaves your skin smooth making it easier to put on makeup
  • The consistency is soft and light - it's like putting silk on your face
  • Cheap and effective

This e.l.f face primer keeps makeup put all day, mattifies shine and oil, and can be found at any drugstore.  

There is so little, actual product in this pump. It looks, by its size, like there is a lot more product inside it.

Who's it for? This makeup primer is for anyone on a budget and can be used on any skin type. 

What it does: If expensive beauty products aren't your thing, we've got the perfect face primer for you. And, you can find it at any drugstore. e.l.f Studio Mineral Infused Face Primer is just about as good as it gets if you're looking for a cheap product. This stuff leaves your skin smooth making it super easy to apply your makeup. The clear, silicone-based formula slides across your face like silk and leaves a satin finish (that isn't greasy). Makeup users, bloggers, and reviewers everywhere love it - and so do we. 

The one downfall with this face primer is the bottle. It's a little misleading. The outer, clear cylinder is empty so the bottle looks like it has more product than it actually does. The good news is, this bottle contains 0.47 ounces of primer and a little goes a long way.

Price: For the price, you can't find better - it's one of the cheapest products out there. This is a product every girl needs to try! However, this face primer is so popular it can be tough to find in stores, so you're better off ordering directly from Amazon. 


Best Primer for Dry Skin


Too Faced Hangover Replenishing Face Primer

Best Primer for Dry Skin: Too Faced Hangover Replenishing Face Primer
128 Bought
81 % Editor Score
82 % User Score

Why People Love it

  • Dry skin is left looking bright and hydrated
  • Has a great smell
  • Gives you a glow that lasts all day

A replenishing makeup primer that hydrates, smoothes, and brightens dry skin for a dewy, healthy looking finish.

Not for those with oily skin, this primer will end up looking greasy throughout the day.

Who's it for? This makeup primer is ideal for anyone with combination to dry skin. Additionally during the dry, winter months, any skin type can benefit from this super hydrating primer. 

What it does: One thing we love about this primer is the dispenser. The Too Faced bottle has a pump dispenser which allows you to control how much product you want to use. This creamy makeup primer was made to hydrate. It leaves even the driest skin feeling moisturized without feeling oily. As a bonus, it smells amazing. The Too Faced formula is infused with coconut water, a probiotic-based ingredient, and skin revivers which work together to boost your skin’s radiance, promote elasticity, and help hydrate. Plus, this product is cruelty-free, vegan-friendly, and silicone-free - which feels good, too.

Price: The $32 price tag isn't terrible for a 1.35 ounce bottle. The good news is, you can try this stuff out before committing to a full-size bottle. Sephora offers a .68 ounce travel size for just $15. 

Best Primer for Oily Skin


Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer

Best Primer for Oily Skin: Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer
128 Bought
86 % Editor Score
87 % User Score

Why People Love it

  • It goes on so velvetty and smooth; feels like satin
  • Holds makeup in place for up to 8 hours
  • Leaves behind a dewy, matte finish

An oil-free primer with a silky, airy texture that leaves a smooth canvas for makeup, while reducing the look of redness, pores, and wrinkles. Keeps makeup looking fresh for up to 8 hours, no matter how oily your skin may be. 

Not for those with dry skin. 

Who's it for? This makeup primer is ideal for most skin types, even sensitive, blemish-prone skin. Because this formula is oil-free, it's the best choice for those of you with oily skin.

What it does: The words “mineral” and “paraben-free” caught our attention immediately on this primer. This silky primer not only makes your makeup last, but also conceals redness, minimizes the appearance of pores, fine lines and wrinkles, and provides SPF 15. Now, that's impressive. The velvetty formula feels like satin on your skin and leaves behind a dewy, oil-free glow. Fair warning though, if you don't have oily skin, this may dry your skin out. But if you do have super oily skin, your natural oils will mix with this primer to make your skin look natural and beautiful.

Price: Unfortunately, the price of this makeup primer is on the higher end. The standard 1-ounce bottle is $54, ouch. The good news is, Hourglass offers two additional sizes. The .31 ounce bottle is only $19, which is great if you want to try this stuff out. And, the 2-ounce bottle is $75, which saves you money in the long run.

Our favorite products are the ones where a little goes a long way (mostly because it saves us money). And the Veil Mineral Primer is another one of those life savers. Only a small amount is needed for each use, making the bottle last for quite a long time.

Best Pore Minimizing Primer


Dr. Brandt Skincare pores no more pore refiner primer

Best Pore Minimizing Primer: Dr. Brandt Skincare pores no more pore refiner primer
149 Bought
91 % Editor Score
91 % User Score

Why People Love it

  • Leaves skin looking perfectly matte
  • Fills in surface pores and fine lines flawlessly
  • Absorbes excess oil 

An effective primer that instantly mattifies shine and minimizes the look of pores.

Because this primer absorbs oil, it's not ideal for those with dry skin. It also comes with an expensive price tag. 

Who's it for? This makeup primer is ideal for anyone with normal, oily, or combination skin looking to minimize the appearance of pores and fine lines. 

What it does: This Dr. Brandt makeup primer is made to minimize the appearance of pores and fine lines - and it really does work! Tiny microspheres, which are mineral powders, fill in large pores to immediately minimize their annoying appearance. This primer is also made with tea tree oil and flaxseed extract which absorb any excess oil on your skin. So your skin is left looking smooth, matte, and ready for foundation.

The texture of this makeup primer is smooth and velvetty, which makes it easy to spread around. After applied, this product leaves a matte, shine-free finish. So, if you prefer a dewey finish you might not like the way this product looks. 

Price: This makeup primer is a bit on the high-end at $45 for the standard 1 ounce bottle. But, depending on how much you use, it will last you 6 months to a year. Not to mention, Dr. Brandt is a brand we love, and one you can trust. If you prefer to try this primer out beforehand, you can get the 0.5 ounce travel-size for $22. 

Best Overall Primer


Benefit Cosmetics The POREfessional Face Primer

Best Overall Primer: Benefit Cosmetics The POREfessional Face Primer
310 Bought
96 % Editor Score
96 % User Score

Why People Love it

  • Makes your makeup look incredibly smooth
  • Leaves your skin feeling soft
  • Fills in enlarged pores and any imperfections

A silky and lightweight, translucent makeup primer that minimizes the appearance of pores and fine lines. 

Those with dry skin aren't a fan of the matte formula. Expensive price tag. 

Who's it for? The Benefit POREfessional Face Primer is for anyone who is looking to fill in fine lines and englarged pores. Which, lets be honest, is most of us. This makeup primer is especially good for those with oily skin, too because it mattifies unwanted shine.

What it does: This makeup primer is the best of the best. We know because we've tested it ourselves. The oil-free formula fills imperfections and evens your skin tone without actually looking covered up. Why we love this product so much? It's silky formula is ultra-lightweight and gives you a flawless matte finish.

Price: We think $31 for the best makeup primer is a pretty good deal. Not to mention, this stuff is so lightweight you don’t have to use very much to get the job done. The less you have to apply, the less you have to buy. And, depending on how much you use on a daily basis, the 0.75 ounce bottle should last 3-6 months. If this is simply out of your budget, or you're hesitant to spend so much on a product you havent tried, Benefit offers a travel size for $12. Pair this makeup primer with the Laura Mercier Silk Creme Oil Free Foundation and you'll never look back.


Makeup Primer Expert Tips

Gone are the days when foundation was regarded as the only base makeup that mattered. Since surging to popularity in the past decade, makeup primers have replaced the classic foundation as the all-too-important first step to flawless makeup.

As you can probably tell from the dozens of new primers that come out year after year, makeup primers do make a difference. Makeup brands simply won’t attempt to outdo each other with their own specialty formulas if primers didn’t fly off the shelves, selling like hotcakes.

But the vast array of options available today can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, there’s probably something out there for every skin concern you could come up with. On the other, the entire makeup primer shopping process has gotten quite overwhelming, to say the least.

But hey, that’s why this expert buying guide exists!

Now, before we dive right into helping you shop for the best makeup primer, here are a couple of things you have to list down:

  1. Your skin type. Is your skin dry, oily, combination, or normal? Do you have specific concerns, such as acne, large pores, dry spots, fine lines, and wrinkles?
  2. The look you’re going for. Are you looking for a matte, full-coverage, and party-proof finish? Or is the dewy, lit-from-within makeup look your thing?
  3. Your favorite foundation’s formula. Is your usual foundation water-based, silicone-based, or oil-based? Your primer's formula has to work well with your foundation. After all, one is applied right on top of the other!
  4. Your budget. This is pretty self-explanatory. Primers come in different shapes, sizes, and, of course, price points. Are you looking for a drugstore product or are you a Sephora loyalist?

What Does a Makeup Primer Do?

Obviously, a makeup primer “primes” your face for makeup. But what does that actually mean?

Depending on the formula you choose, a makeup primer can deliver all sorts of awesome benefits.

It can make your skin look flawless. Needless to say, most of us aren’t blessed with perfect skin. Usually, our imperfections affect how our makeup looks throughout the day. If you struggle with large pores and acne scars, you're probably used to seeing your makeup settling into the crevices of your face—which is not a good look, obviously.

Fortunately, there are makeup primers that specifically target textured skin—making it look poreless and more even.

It can extend the wear of your foundation. Oily skin and hot, humid weather can make your makeup melt faster than an iceberg placed in the Sahara. That said, long-wear primers can help ensure that your makeup stays on all day. No more unnecessary trips to retouch in the bathroom!

It can give you that envy-worthy radiance. Let’s face it: we all have dull days. No matter how much we try to maintain a top-tier skin care routine, the stresses of everyday life (or a night out gone wrong) can dim our skin’s glow. The right makeup primer, however, can bring radiance back to your face.

Oh, you didn’t get to sleep for more than three hours last night? Didn’t notice. *wink wink*

It allows you to experiment with different types of makeup bases. Have you ever felt the urge to try the newest foundation in town, but are discouraged because it doesn’t seem like it would go well with your skin type? We can relate.

Whether you’re an oily-skinned gal who wants to try a dewy foundation or a dry-skinned chick who’s curious about the latest full-coverage matte base, using a primer that will complement your chosen foundation will work wonders.

It lets you get away with using less concealer and foundation. A tinted makeup primer is a smart choice if you want added coverage. Using one will help even out your skin tone and make dull tones disappear—therefore letting you use a thinner layer of foundation and/or concealer on top. If your complexion is already pretty even, you can even skip foundation altogether!


Silicone-Based vs. Water-Based Primers: Which Is Better?

Makeup primers are basically divided into two main categories: water-based and silicone-based. So what’s the difference?

Silicone-based primers have a slightly thicker texture and are excellent for blurring pores, texture, and fine lines. The silicone ingredient makes it easy for the primer to “fill in” the indentations on your face, therefore making it appear smoother.

Silicone primers usually have a matte finish. To tell whether a specific primer is silicone-based, check out its ingredients list. You’ll find words ending in –cone, -siloxane, and –methicone in the first few ingredients. Otherwise, the primer is most likely water-based.

Water-based primers have a runnier or gel-like texture. They work well to hydrate and nourish the skin before makeup.

Thinking about which one to choose? Check whether your foundation is water- or silicone-based. As a general rule, you should use a water-based primer with water-based foundations and a silicone-based primer with silicone-based foundations.

While there can be exceptions, this is a simple rule of thumb that you can follow if you want to simplify the primer shopping process.

Makeup Primer Types

Smoothing and pore-filling primers, which are also called blurring primers, create a smooth canvas for your foundation. These are great if you struggle with visible pores, fine lines, and minor acne marks.

Hydrating primers give your skin a shot of moisture. If you have dry skin, using a hydrating primer will help prevent dry spots and flaky skin from messing up your base.

Mattifying primers are great for people with oily skin. It helps control oil throughout the day so you don’t end up looking like a walking oil mine by lunchtime.

Illuminating primers will save your bum on days when your skin looks dull and dreary. These primers contain light-reflecting particles that will make you look glowing and radiant.

Color-correcting primers are amazing at correcting an uneven skin tone. Green-toned primers work well if you have a lot of redness on your skin. Meanwhile, a purple primer will help uplift sallow skin to make it look brighter.

These categories are by no means exclusive. For example, one primer can be both color-correcting and hydrating at the same time. Different combos are available for various needs, which is awesome.

The Best Makeup Primer According to Your Skin Type

For mature skin, we recommend hydrating primers. They deliver a shot of moisture and plump up the skin to make lines and wrinkles less noticeable. Avoid primers with visible shimmer or glitter particles as these can emphasize uneven texture.

Oily skin will benefit from smoothing silicone primers. They make pores look less noticeable while giving you a nice matte finish. The silicones in the primer can also act as a barrier between your foundation and the oils on your skin, which helps avoid makeup oxidation.

If you have acne-prone skin, you probably deal with redness all over your face. That said, a color-correcting primer—specifically, a green-toned one—will help counteract redness and make your face look more even.

For dry skin, hydrating and illuminating primers will work wonders. The former will help control the appearance of dry spots and flaky areas on the face, while the latter will give your skin the dewy glow that it usually lacks.

Combination skin could be remedied by using a balanced makeup primer that works well with both oily and dry skin. But if you want to have all your bases covered, try using two different primers: a hydrating one for the dry parts of your face, and then a mattifying one for your oily areas.

For sensitive skin, try to go for primers with simpler formulas—the shorter the ingredients list, the better. If you’re currently fighting a bout of irritation, a green or yellow primer can help you with color correction.

Application Tips and Tricks

Sure, familiarizing yourself with all the different types of makeup primers might be a bit challenging at first, but primer application doesn’t have to be! Nailing a perfectly primed face is easy. Simply follow these steps:

  1. Start with a clean, moisturized face. For the most flawless results, a clean canvas is key.
  2. If you’re applying makeup for daytime, don’t forget to apply SPF. Wait for 10-15 minutes after the last step in your skincare routine before proceeding with your primer. This ensures that all the products you applied have been completely absorbed.
  3. Squeeze out a pea-sized drop of primer and dot it along your forehead, cheeks, nose, and chin. You can use a little bit more if you feel the need to, but generally speaking, a tiny amount will do.
  4. Quickly blend out the primer all over your face. Remember to be gentle and to avoid tugging on your skin. PRO TIP: Use tapping motions and light downward strokes to ensure that your facial hairs are laid down flat. Doing otherwise might make your makeup appear less smooth.
  5. Wait 5 minutes for the primer to completely set. Finish off with your favorite foundation and the rest of your makeup—and voila, flawless makeup all day!

Can You Use a Makeup Primer On Its Own?

Absolutely! On days when the idea of putting on foundation sounds unnecessarily taxing, using a makeup primer on its own is a great alternative. Applying a makeup primer will do a lot to improve the appearance of your skin with minimal effort.

Makeup Primer Do’s and Don’ts


  • Mix and match. You can strategically place different primers on different parts of your face—a hydrating one on dry areas, an oil-control formula on oily spots, and an illuminating one on high points like your cheekbones, brow bone, and nose bridge.
  • Be mindful of your primer’s formula. These days, we’re blessed with countless primer options. But before you get too excited, don’t forget to take into account your skincare routine and foundation formula before shopping. For example, acne-fighting primers with active ingredients like salicylic acid now exist. But if you layer one on top of a skincare product that already has high-strength pimple-fighting ingredients, you might end up with irritated skin.

  • Mix primer with your base if needed. Did you know that you can mix primer with your foundation to sheer out its coverage? Also, you can transform your natural-finish foundation into a radiant one by mixing it with an illuminating primer.
  • Use your primer for other purposes. Layering a bit of mattifying primer on top of a lipstick will make it look matte. You can also make your own DIY strobing cream by mixing loose powder highlighter with an illuminating primer.


  • Overdo it. While it’s not uncommon for some people to use several primers at a time, piling on layer upon layer could do more harm than good. You could end up with pilling foundation or even cause your makeup to slide right off.

  • Forget to thoroughly cleanse at night. Primers have been formulated to adhere well to both your skin and makeup. That said, make sure to properly clean your face at the end of the day. Especially in the case of smoothing primers that seal your pores, skipping your makeup remover and facial wash can leave you with clogged pores and acne.
  • Be afraid to use your fingers. When it comes to primers, applying using your fingers is better than using a brush or sponge. The warmth of your fingers will help the primer melt into your skin. A brush or sponge will just drag the primer around your face.

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Article Staff

Marina is a California girl and former Idaho resident who is currently living her best life in the Seattle area with her husband and newborn baby. She has a BA in Journalism from Boise State University, as well as a M.Ed from Western Washington University.

Marina has a passion for running, hiking, brunching and, of course, all things home decor. When she isn’t writing, Marina loves to be with family and friends, preferably in the outdoors.

Marina covers everything from health and beauty to babies and women. If the product is in one of these categories, she's likely tried it. For all beauty + mom advice, she's your go-to girl. Want to be friends? Follow her on Instagram: @mrswiersma

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