Let’s be honest, makeup primers can feel like an extra step, ie a waste of money. But, no matter how great your makeup is, well-prepped skin always wears better. Plus, there are new products now on the market that will totally change your mind about this skincare category. Well that, and the summer humidity that seems hell-bent on making sure your makeup slides off of your face as soon as you step out of my door.

So, what’s so interesting about these face primers? 

Whether they’re packed with SPF, only contain non-toxic ingredients, are laced with anti-aging goodness, or infused with acne-fighting properties, these little wonders do way more than just making sure your makeup stays in place—they actually make your skin look better over time. Read on to find which one is perfect for you – there’s something for everyone!

featured image by thirteen thoughts

Best All Around: Tatcha Silk Canvas Primer

This all-star is quickly becoming a fave of makeup lovers (it’s been sold out at Sephora the last couple times I’ve tried to buy it). It works well for combination and super sensitive skin types, keeping makeup out of your pores and boasting ingredients that over time will clear blemishes. It truly lasts all day, while leaving skin looking luminous and airbrushed.

Best for Radiance: Becca Backlight Priming Filter

Becca’s Priming Filter is a personal fave. It creates a luminescent “lit from within” look all while softly diffusing imperfections and creating a smooth base for your makeup. An added perk is that it’s equally as beautiful used alone to create an effortless dewy finish for days when you want to go foundation free.

Best for Oily Skin: Smashbox The Original Photo Finish Smooth and Blur Primer

This silicon based cult-favorite goes on velvety smooth and tones down the high shine areas in the perfect way. Oily areas are left mattified while dry and dull areas are given a radiance boost.

Best for Dry or Mature Skin: Hourglass No. 28 Priming Serum

This primer works especially well for dry skin since it works double duty as a primer and serum, due to it’s skin plumping oils. The silky formula plumps up and softens fine lines for a beautiful dewy makeup base. A little goes a long way for this ultra-hydrating primer, so if the full size is out of your budget, you can get by with a travel size for awhile!

Best for Acne Prone Skin: Cover FX Mattifying Primer with Anti-Acne Treatment 

If you’re acne-prone, every step of your skin care routine counts—and now, you can put your primer to work by preventing blemishes as well. This mattifying primer is infused with salicylic acid and natural fruit AHAs, which help to gently encourage cell turnover and prevent clogged pores.

Best Clean Beauty Pick: Vapour Stratus Soft Focus Instant Skin Perfectector

Boasting a “soft-focus finish,” this non-toxic pick minimizes signs of wrinkles, age spots, or scars with its subtle tint, while moisturizing pumpkin and papaya oils infuse the skin with antioxidants to protect your complexion from environmental damage. 

Best SPF + Primer Combo: Bareminerals Combo Control Milky Face Primer

Many makeup products on the market nowadays have some SPF included, but few boast an SPF as high as 50. Slip this on underneath your foundation to ensure that your makeup looks perfect all day—and your skin stays healthy and sun-damage free!

Best Budget: Maybelline New York FaceStudio Master Prime Primer Makeup SPF 30 Blur + Defend

The lowest priced primer on our list, this budget primer certainly pulls it’s weight. It gives the pricier versions a run for their money by keeping skin silky smooth and shine-free all day! And the SPF 30 is an added bonus. This primer disappears instantly and wears perfectly under makeup.

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Comments (6)
  1. 1
    Allie July 9, 2018 at 7:40 am

    Glossier priming moisturizer is really good too if you are looking for something light! These look great too, especially the bare minerals one (they always have such great products!) xAllie

    • Hannah Zahner September 3, 2019 at 12:18 pm

      Definitely will have to try out the glossier moisturizer – my sister swears by it!

  2. 2
    BeingIsabella July 9, 2018 at 3:51 pm

    I actually haven’t heard of any of these primers before! It looks like I’ll have some major discovering to do over the next few months! I am completely with you on this one! Until recently, I really didn’t see the point of using primers. I thought it was just an extra step in my makeup routine and the only purpose was to make my make up last longer. Little did I know it does a lot more. Primers have now become a crucial part in my everyday makeup and skincare routine. I recently tried out the new Bobbi Brown one and it’s quickly become my favorite! I look forward to trying these out, especially the Pur one.


    • Hannah Zahner September 3, 2019 at 12:22 pm

      It’s amazing how much of a game changer it actually is. I need get my hands on the Bobbi Brown one!

  3. 3
    Alice Mecklenburg July 30, 2020 at 2:43 pm

    This is an awesome guide, Hannah! I MUCH prefer these ‘best of’ posts when the options are tailored for different skin types. It makes life a lot easier in picking out the right choice. Keep it up!

  4. 4
    Abby Ash August 3, 2020 at 2:46 pm

    How do you apply primer? Like foundation, with a Beauty Blender? I have never used primer, and I’m still not entirely sure if I understand what it’s supposed to do. But I’m intrigued! This summer I’ve been keeping my makeup routine simpler and more natural than ever. I’m wondering if primer makes sense for that. Thanks!