Makeup primers are crazy important — yet one of the often over looked and misused beauty products for young and mature skin.
They serve a multitude of purposes and come in a variety of forms based on skin types.
Makeup primers create a smooth base and perfect canvas upon which to apply your favorite foundation so that your face makeup will slide over your skin and you will get an airbrushed finish.
This article will discuss a variety of primers, from drugstore primers to more expensive department store ones, one of which will definitely be the right primer for your skin to complete that glowing makeup look.
The best makeup primer will be the one that makes your skin look flawless. It will not take long for it to become an integral part of your beauty routine the same way a great lipstick is!
1. ELF Matte Oil Control Primer
As the name suggests, this lightweight primer is good at controlling oil because it is infused with Kaolin clay to absorb the oil (1, 2).
It also contains tea tree oil to help treat blemishes to improve your complexion and decrease oil production (3).
The silicones it has will help fill in large pores and diminish the look of pores and the appearance of acne bumps (3).
It’s vegan and cruelty-free, too!
It doesn’t contain any parabens, sulfates or phthalates.
This is one of the best drugstore primers not only because it is easy to find in most drugstores, but it also carries an inexpensive price tag of about $10!
2. Honest Beauty Everything Primer Matte
This primer was made for oily skin not only because it is oil free but it also contains bamboo powder to soak up the oil and give your face a matte finish.
It also has a combination of black currant and raspberry which are antioxidants that can help protect your skin from aging (4-6).
It contains glycerin and sunflower oil to hydrate the skin without making it greasy (3).
It’s cruelty free and has no potentially harmful ingredients, such as parabens, silicones, fragrance, petrolatum or lanolin.
It is reasonably priced at about $20 — so you definitely get a bang for your buck!
3. Laura Mercier Pure Canvas Primer
Blurring powders are clever ingredients which not only soak up the oil but also even out texture and tone. In this case, it contains iron oxide powder as a blurring powder to give your skin an even matte appearance and blur pores.
Another amazing ingredient is algae, which are antioxidants and anti-inflammatory to help keep skin looking younger and less inflamed (7-9). It can also hydrate your skin because it contains glycerin (3).
This primer doesn’t contain parabens, silicones sulfates, or fragrance. It is a bit pricier at $40 and is available in departments stores or online.
4. L’Oreal Paris Infallible Pro Matte-Lock Longwear Mattifying Primer
This drugstore primer is also great for oily skin because it is a lightweight gel but it won’t dry out your skin.
It combines silicone to smooth out the skin and to blur pores and glycerin to hydrate it to give your skin a non-greasy matte look that lasts all day (3).
This combo makes it one of the best drugstore primers! It does not contain phthalates, sulfates or parabens.
It’s very affordable at $13 and can be found in drugstores or on Amazon.
5. Neutrogena Shine Control Matte Primer + Serum
This liquid primer, which is one of the best drugstore primers, contains rice protein to help soak up oil to give your face a matte finish and decrease the appearance of pores.
Its liquid texture goes on easily and is lightweight and non greasy.
It also contains glycerin to hydrate your skin and keep it from drying out (3). It does not contain any parabens, sulfates, silicones or phthalates.
It’s pretty affordable at $20 and can be found in most drugstores!
6. Supergoop Mattescreen Sunscreen SPF 40
This is a great primer because it accomplishes many important tasks.
It is a lightweight primer that leaves your face with a matte finish. It is also a 100% mineral broad spectrum sunscreen, which will block UVA and UVB rays to keep your skin from aging prematurely or getting skin cancers (3).
The combination of titanium dioxide and zinc oxide make this a powerhouse sunscreen.
It does not contain chemical sunscreens which could irritate the skin and will work as soon as you apply it, unlike chemical sunscreens which you have to wait 30 minutes.
Finally, it contains a potent combination of antioxidants, such as vitamin E and resveratrol (3, 10-11). It does not contain phthalates, parabens or sulfates.
With these added benefits, you do have to pay more… but we promise it won’t let you down.
The price tag is about $40 and you can find it easily online or at Sephora!
7. Bareminerals Blemish Rescue Anti-Redness Mattifying Primer
This primer does it all. It will help control oil and breakouts while calming and hydrating the skin and covering the redness. This lightweight gel lotion control oils with Kaolin clay which acts like a sponge to absorb excess oil to prevent the look of greasy skin (1, 2).
The silicones will leave your face with a smooth matte appearance and decrease the appearance of pores (3).
The sulfur and zinc will help fight acne and improve your complexion (3).
The chamomile and arnica calm and soothe inflamed skin, while sunflower and olive oil hydrate the skin without making it greasy (3, 12). It is phthalate and paraben-free.
For all this goodness, it is reasonably priced at $26 and can be found online.
8. MAC Cosmetics Prep+Prime Skin Refined Zone Treatment
This oil free primer controls the appearance of oily skin with lightweight silicones to blur the appearance of pores (3).
It also hydrates the skin with sodium hyaluronate and glycerin to prevent dehydration. This primer does not contain parabens, sulfates, or phthalates.
It’s reasonably priced at $23 and can be found online or at MAC stores.
The best part about going to the MAC store is that a makeup artist will apply the products for you and teach you how to do it at home!
9. Tarte Poreless Mattifying Primer
This lightweight gel primer is great for oily skin. Not only does it smooth out your skin and give it a silky finish, but it also soothes it with avocado and hydrates it with non-comedogenic safflower oil (3).
Avocado is loaded with anti-aging ingredients, such as vitamins A and E. It is also packed with antioxidant fruits and botanicals to help protect the skin from environmental assaults (13, 14).
The best part is that it is waterproof, so it is long-lasting. It’s vegan and doesn’t contain any parabens, mineral oil, phthalates, or gluten!
It’s a little pricier at $32 and it can be found online or at Sephora.
10. Black Opal Invisible Oil Blocking Gel Primer
This lightweight gel primer works well on oily skin. It contains witch hazel which removes oil and keeps skin looking non-greasy (3).
The gel primer contains silicones to smooth out the skin and keep it looking matte. It’s cruelty free and does not contain any parabens, sulfates or phthalates.
It is very affordable at $10 and can be found online.
11. Tatcha The Liquid Silk Canvas: Featherweight Protective Primer
This innovative Japanese product uses silk to give the skin a matte finish. It is a lightweight oil-free formula that can help your skin in many ways.
The silk will not only soak up oil, but also help hydrate the skin and blur imperfections while protecting skin from pollutants and unclogging pores.
It contains anti-oxidants, such as green tea and algae, to keep skin protected and prevent wrinkles (7-9).
It also hydrates the skin with glycerin (3). Silicones also help smooth out the texture and skin tone to provide a flawless base and silky-smooth canvas on which to apply your foundation.
This product also contains pink and gold pearls to act as a brightener to give your face a healthy radiance and glow.
It does not contain parabens, fragrance, mineral oil, sulfates or phthalates.
It is the most expensive on this list at $52…but well worth it. So if you’re not ballin’ on a budget, give this one a try!
It can be found online or at Sephora.
Why the right primer is important
The right primer prevents that dreaded cakey look that liquid foundations can cause when applied to bare skin. It camouflages dryness, oiliness, dark spots, fine lines and wrinkles, redness, acne, large pores and uneven tone.
This will make makeup application a breeze. It will help your makeup stay longer and you won’t require as much to last all day.
Remarkably, all it takes is just a pea size amount to accomplish this for your entire face. You can spread it evenly with fingertips or a brush on a bare face.
Types of primers
There are 2 types of primers: silicone or water based.
Silicones include such ingredients as dimethicone or cyclopentasiloxane.
These are like spackle for your pores and wrinkles.
In addition to primers for the face, they also have specialized primers for lips, eyelids and eyelashes which serve the same purposes. If your skin type is the same on your face and your lids, you can use the same product for both.
Otherwise, choose one specific for the area being treated.
Primer types for each skin type
Based on your skin type, you can find the perfect face primer. Oily skin or acne-prone skin can benefit from a primer that is mattifying or oil controlling to diminish the look of pores.
These are usually available in gel or lotion formulations.
They may even contain blemish fighting ingredients, such as salicylic acid. This should decrease the need for using blotting papers.
Combination skin may require 2 different primers or trial and error to find the perfect one.
Dry skin will benefit from a hydrating primer in cream form.
There are color correcting or blurring primers to help decrease redness. They usually contain green pigments to counteract the redness.
If you have sensitive skin, you may want to avoid potential irritants like parabens, sulfates, and phthalates.
Primers are an essential part of your skincare regimen. They serve to hide skin imperfections and provide a smooth canvas on which to apply your makeup or concealer, while evening out tone and texture to give your face an airbrushed look.
It is important to pick the right one for your skin type.
People with oily skin need lightweight gels or lotions that control oil. That is not to say oily skin does not need moisturizers. If you have oily skin type, avoid thick hydrating creams as they will make your face greasy looking.
However, any primer for oily skin should include non-comedogenic, non-greasy moisturizers, such as hyaluronic acid. Some primers contain the added benefits of anti-oxidants or sunscreens to her protect the skin.
There is a primer that is perfect for everyone on this list.
The first time you use it, you may use too much. Practice makes perfect so don’t get discouraged! You may also need to try a few until you find your favorite primer or the best face primer for you.
There is no reason not to try a primer as long as it is the right primer for your skin. You will find that it will become the most indispensable makeup product in your cabinet.
If you need further help, you can always ask your dermatologist for advice.
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