Best makeup primer

Face Makeup

To get the best results with your makeup primer, apply moisturizer beforehand. Once you apply it, let it sit for about a minute before you apply foundation or other products.

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Which makeup primers are best?

While many don’t consider primer to be an essential makeup product, it’s much more important than many believe. Makeup primer is responsible for the beautiful, soft, airbrushed finish that is typical of well-applied makeup. Most primers have multiple functions and as such, are great options for anyone looking to minimize blemishes and uneven texture. It also helps maintain the freshness of makeup throughout the day without any blotchiness or melting. For a makeup primer that will leave you looking flawless all day, the Smashbox The Original Photo Finish Smooth & Blur Primer is an excellent choice.

What to know before you buy a makeup primer


Foundation primer comes in different formulas to suit the needs of different users. The most common forms they’re found in are creams, serum/gel and powder. The type of primer you select is most often based on preference. Consider the type of foundation you use. For example, if you tend to use loose powder foundations, then it is best to purchase a cream or powder primer rather than one that is more like a serum or gel.

Skin type

Considering your skin type when selecting a primer ensures you get the most flawless makeup look.

  • Sensitive skin: People with sensitive skin easily get irritated and tend to have acne-prone skin. To curb any possible irritation or acne flare-ups, look for primers that are fragrance-free and hypoallergenic.
  • Oily skin: Users with oily skin often deal with excessive shine and should use primers that control oiliness. Primers that are mattifying and oil-absorbing give the best results.
  • Dry or mature skin: Dry or mature skin is prone to flakiness and patches, so primers that are hydrating are best for a fresh, natural look. Moisturizing primers are best for this skin type.
  • Normal skin: Users with normal skin can use most types of primers without any problem. If you have normal skin, you can experiment with different types and formulas of primers to see what suits you best.


Primers often come in different types of packaging depending on their formula. Serums and gels often are packaged in a pump. Creams tend to be in jars or tubes, and powders are in compacts or jars.

What to look for in a quality makeup primer


Primer is primarily made to fine-tune the final look of your makeup by giving a smooth and natural appearance while letting your makeup last longer. Aside from this, primer usually is made to be moisturizing or hydrating.

Although these are the main purposes and benefits of using primer, there are primers that target specific needs. Depending on your skin type and the makeup look you’re going for, you can find primers that offer particular solutions, such as minimizing pores, reducing shine or giving a blur effect.


Although primer comes in different formulas, high-quality primer should be lightweight. Heavy makeup primers often affect the final look of your makeup when applied, making it look cakey or unnatural. 


Although primers are known for the ability to smooth and soften, they also are made to increase the wear time of any makeup applied. From foundation to eye shadow, primers help products stay on for longer and look as fresh as when they were applied.

How much you can expect to spend on makeup primer

Budget-friendly primers go for about $5-$24 while more high-end primers range from about $25 to $45.

Makeup primer FAQ

Can you skip primer in makeup?

A. Yes. However, primer ensures smoother application of other products and keeps it lasting longer.

Can you swap primer with moisturizer?

A. No. Primer and moisturizer are not the same thing; using moisturizer as primer won’t give the same results.

Does moisturizer or primer go first?

A. When applying makeup, moisturizer goes on before primer.

What are the best makeup primers to buy?

Top makeup primer

Smashbox The Original Photo Finish Smooth & Blur Primer 

Smashbox The Original Photo Finish Smooth & Blur Primer 

What you need to know: An oil-free primer gel, it gives a flawless finish by smoothing out fine lines and pores.

What you’ll love: Sulphate and cruelty-free, this primer is lightweight and filled with vitamins and antioxidants that keep the skin protected and nourished. With a rich, silky feel, makeup application is smoother. Users with sensitive skin also say it doesn’t make them break out.

What you should consider: Some users have said this primer is too runny.

Where to buy: Sold by Kohl’s and Amazon

Top makeup primer for the money

e.l.f. Cosmetics Tone Adjusting Face Primer

e.l.f. Cosmetics Tone Adjusting Face Primer

What you need to know: It leaves a natural matte finish on all skin types. 

What you’ll love: This primer is vegan and cruelty-free. 

What you should consider: Some users said the product felt greasy upon application.. 

Where to buy: Sold by Ulta Beauty

Worth checking out

Laura Mercier Pure Canvas Primer

Laura Mercier Pure Canvas Primer

What you need to know: A hydrating cream formula, it leaves your skin with a fresh, radiant finish. 

What you’ll love: This water-based primer is luminous and sulfate-free, making it gentle and breathable when applied. This formula is also protective because it creates a barrier that prolongs makeup wear. It is suitable for most skin types, particularly sensitive and mature skin.

What you should consider: Some users with dry skin complained the product flakes off their skin.

Where to buy: Sold by Kohl’s and Amazon


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Nentapmun Gomwalk writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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