The Best Face Primers for Smooth, Even Makeup Application
These often-overlooked products have multiple benefits, from minimizing pores to reducing redness.
If you've ever thought a face primer is an unnecessary step in your makeup routine, it's time to think again. These formulas are designed to smooth and even skin tone, minimize the appearance of pores, reduce blatant redness, create a mattified base for the final look, and, overall, help your makeup actually stay put all day long—in other words, primers are multi-taskers, which make them well worth the investment. All you have to do is find the correct formulation for your specific complexion.
That's where we come in. Here, you'll discover several of the best face primers to include in your regimen. Whether you have dry skin and are looking for a product to help maximize hydration, suffer from oily skin and need a formula to keep that shiny midday T-zone in check, or experience enlarged pores or unforgiving redness, we've got you covered (literally!). Best of all, all of the products we've culled do more than lock your makeup in place—they were actually formulated to help heal your skin in the process, too.
But that's not all. If you're someone who prefers less base makeup (or if you skip it altogether), these primers can still be incorporated into your routine. Rather than serving as something foundation might adhere to, these products can act as the final shield between your skin and the world, helping it look and feel its best in the process (some are even packed with SPF for an added defense against the sun's harmful UV rays). Whatever your beauty needs may be, face primers—specifically those listed here—are here to serve you (and your skin) a world of good.
Designed for normal, dry, oily, and combination skin types, this top-rated primer is a dream for just about everyone. The oil-free formula addresses everything from enlarged pores and redness to uneven tone, promising a flawless base after each application.
Shop Now: Tatcha "The Liquid Silk Canvas" Primer, $52, sephora.com.
This primer is the perfect buy for anyone who prefers to go sans makeup the majority of the time. While the serum-inspired primer is designed to perfect the look of any makeup application, it also works wonders on its own. Simply apply it and bask in that glow.
Shop Now: Neutrogena "Hydro Boost" Glow Primer + Serum, $14.97, amazon.com.
Touted as one of the industry's best-selling face primer formulas, this gel-like product goes on smoothly to visibly reduce the appearance of pores and support your smoothest foundation application yet. What's more, it's infused with vitamins A and E, so it protects the skin against free radicals, too.
Shop Now: Smashbox "The Original Photo Finish" Smooth & Blur Oil-Free Primer, $37, ulta.com.
Unlike most squeeze tubes of face primer, this luxe iteration from Bobbi Brown comes in a chic jar you'll be glad to display on your vanity. The formula itself has a creamy consistency and is made with shea butter, as well as vitamins B, C, and E—in other words, it's essentially a moisturizer geared specifically toward makeup application.
Shop Now: Bobbi Brown Vitamin Enriched Face Base Priming Moisturizer, $60, sephora.com.
A face makeup primer that can also be used as a setting spray? It doesn't get better than that. This cult-favorite product hydrates skin; promotes up to 12 hours of wear; and can even be used to refresh makeup mid-way through the day.
Shop Now: MAC Prep + Prime Fix+ Primer and Setting Spray, $29, maccosmetics.com.
Yves Saint Laurent
Corn oil, apricot kernel oil, passiflora oil, and rice bran oil combine in this good-for-you formula that perfects skin upon every application. The ultra-lightweight formula is suited for all skin types and, despite being made with oils, will never leave your complexion looking greasy.
Shop Now: Yves Saint Laurent Touche Eclat Blur Primer, $52, sephora.com.
There are plenty of high-quality primers to be found in the drugstore, including this option from Maybelline. Not only will this product even tone and blur imperfections, it is also formulated with SPF 30 to create a base of sun protection, too (but don't skimp on your regular sunscreen before applying this one!).
Shop Now: Maybelline Face Studio Master Prime Primer, $8, target.com.
Here's another oil-based formula that doubles as a primer—complete with 11 oils, this fast-absorbing product hydrates, protects, nourishes, and prepares your skin for future makeup.
Shop Now: Beauty Bakerie Wake & Bake Face Oil, $28, ulta.com.
Wish there was a way to achieve longer-lasting makeup without fully drying out your face? Here's your answer. Made with hyaluronic acid, aloe vera, cannabis seed extract, and blue agave extract, this primer is essentially a tall drink of water for your complexion.
Shop Now: Milk Makeup Hydro Grip Primer, $30, sephora.com.
This cream primer is formulated with ultra-fine powder to softly blur the appearance of any imperfections. It's suited for all skin types and has been a staple in many beauty experts' bags for years—which means it's worth making room for in your routine.
Shop Now: Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer, $54, nordstrom.com.
If you have limited counter space, you'll love this primer that multi-tasks as a corrector and setting spray. When you spray it on prior to makeup application, it brightens, illuminates, and helps makeup adhere to the skin. When applied after makeup, it locks products in place for up to 12 hours.
Shop Now: Milani "Make It Last" Prime + Correct + Set Makeup Setting Spray, $9, target.com.
This primer creates such a smooth, virtually-flawless texture that it's almost too good to be true—it's aptly named. The lightweight formula goes beyond shrinking the appearance of pores and works to actually reduce the look of fine lines and wrinkles, too.
Shop Now: Urban Decay Optical Illusion Face Primer, $36, ulta.com.
Where cannabis extract helps to deeply hydrate skin and visibly reduce the look of redness, SPF works overtime to protect skin against free radicals and UV damage. It's rare to find a face primer with SPF, let alone one that works to moisturize skin for up to 24 hours post-application.
Shop Now: NYX "Bare With Me" Daily Moisturizing Primer, $17, target.com.