Best lip primer

Lip Makeup

Step up your lipstick game with primer. If you’re tired of seeing your favorite lip color fade after only an hour or two, get a lip primer to make it last longer and look better.

BestReviews is reader-supported and may earn an affiliate commission. Details.

Which lip primers are best?

If you’ve ever had trouble getting your lipstick to last longer and not bleed past your lip line, you might want to try a primer. Lip primers are designed to smooth out your lips and provide a good base that your lipstick can hold onto. Because of this, you’re less likely to see feathering around the outer edges of your mouth, and your lipstick will look better. 

If you feel ready to upgrade your lipstick game, find the perfect primer. The best one is the MAC Prep + Prime Lip.

What to know before you buy a lip primer

Extra prep

If you start using lip primer, be aware that it requires some extra prep. For folks who wear lipstick very often, it’s a good idea to start exfoliating regularly if they aren’t already. Even with moisturizing primers, your lips can still get dried out from wearing certain lip products a lot. Exfoliating helps to ensure your lips are always smooth and comfortable before you start adding anything else. You can also apply a lip balm if you’re not using a moisturizing primer. While it’s a little extra work, doing these steps is better for your lips.


A lip primer is a necessity mainly if you notice significant issues that affect how often and how long you wear lipstick. If you love lipstick but find yourself wearing it less often because you know it will feather or fade too quickly, then you should get yourself some of the quality primers available online aplenty.

Frequency of use

You may be concerned about the cost of a lip primer, but the truth is, if you wear lipstick a lot of the time, you won’t need to reapply it as often when you wear primer. Because primer helps your lipstick stay put and look better longer, you will end up using less lipstick over time. That means the primer actually helps you save money. 

What to look for in a quality lip primer


Wearing lip products can dry out your lips, especially if you wear them very often or doing any lighter physical activity while wearing them, such as walking longer distances, riding your tricycle to work or occasionally running to cath the train. That’s why it’s better to get a lip primer that is also moisturizing. That will save you an extra step when prepping because you won’t need to layer a balm under the primer.


Lip primers are usually colorless, but some come in shades that are meant to match your concealer. This can help make your lip line extra clean, but it’s not strictly necessary, and there’s always the risk that it will show through your lipstick. Clear lip primers are a safe option, but everyone has different needs.


Some lip primers have a “plumping” effect. This means they have ingredients like cinnamon, capsaicin, hyaluronic acid or others that can make your lips appear slightly fuller. This can be very effective for certain people and helps them enjoy the way their lipstick looks more. In contrast, for others, the tingling from the plumping can feel more like burning or irritation. If you can, sample these products in person before you buy and check ingredients. People who are generally sensitive to spicy foods, for example, should avoid plumping products containing capsaicin, the chemical that makes chilis spicy.

How much you can expect to spend on a lip primer

A decent lip primer can cost anywhere from $12-$20.

Lip primer FAQ

Can I just use lip balm instead?

A. You can, but it will not work the same as a primer. It will most likely be much harder to apply any lipstick over balm, and it will not have the same lasting effect. You can use lip balm first and then primer on top, but if you’re concerned about dry lips, you can get a moisturizing primer.

Do I need lip primer?

A. You don’t need it, but it will make your lipstick last longer, effectively paying for itself over time. It will also make your lip products look better, which makes makeup exciting and fun.

What are the best lip primers to buy?

Top lip primer

MAC Prep + Prime Lip

MAC Prep + Prime Lip

What you need to know: Well-loved by many, MAC’s lip primer is a solid fan favorite that does the job.

What you’ll love: This primer goes on clear and keeps your lips hydrated and moisturized. It’s the ideal base for almost any lip product and works well on different skin types, including mature skin. It’s also free of oils, parabens, and phthalates. 

What you should consider: It is not vegan or cruelty-free, and it’s difficult to get the very last of the product out.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Ulta

Top lip primer for the money

Lip Primer and Plumper Duo by e.l.f.

Lip Primer and Plumper Duo by e.l.f.

What you need to know: This affordable primer also uses cinnamon to plump your lips.

What you’ll love: For the price, you get two products. If you’re on a budget, this primer by e.l.f. will do what you need it to. The cinnamon plays a dual role in adding both a pleasant fragrance and creating a slight plumping effect.

What you should consider: Some may not enjoy the fragrance or are sensitive to cinnamon.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Anastasia Beverly Hills Lip Primer

Anastasia Beverly Hills Lip Primer

What you need to know: This lightweight primer is easy to apply and comfortable to wear.

What you’ll love: ABH’s primer goes on clear and takes most lip products well. It has a wax formula and can function as a lip balm because it is so moisturizing. It works well on different skin types, including mature skin.

What you should consider: Some customers report issues getting lip products to adhere. You might have to let it sit for a few minutes first.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.

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

Copyright 2021 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.

Trending Stories