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- Too faced
- Makeup primer is one of those steps you might be tempted to skip, but you’ll be happier with your foundation application if you don’t.
- It can help make your makeup apply more smoothly and last longer, and depending on the formula, can also help mattify and decrease the appearance of large pores.
- Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer is our top pick because it gives skin a velvety smooth finish to help base products glide on and stay in place all day long.
Primer like a gimmick, but I promise it isn’t. The step adds a cumulative 30 seconds to your routine but makes a world of difference in your makeup application whether you wear foundation or not.
But there are so many options out there. Choosing a primer can quickly become overwhelming if you’re wandering around the beauty aisle unprepared. There are ones that mattify, hydrate, illuminate, blur pores, and more. How can you ever pick just one?
There are two important things to keep in mind when shopping for a primer – your skin type and base makeup preferences. People with oily skin might gravitate toward mattifying or pore-blurring primers, while those with dry skin might prefer hydrating or radiant primers. Even those who don’t wear foundation can benefit from primer to keep other products like eyeshadow in place, especially if your makeup does the Slip ‘N Slide before your first cup of coffee.
This breakdown of the best makeup primers I’ve personally tested will help you narrow down the sea of options to find your one perfect pick.
Here are the best makeup primers you can buy in 2019:
- Best makeup primer overall: Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer
- Best radiant primer: Becca Backlight Priming Filter
- Best moisturizing primer: Too Faced Hangover RX Replenishing Face Primer
- Best solid primer: Milk Makeup Blur Stick
- Best blurring primer: Yves Saint Laurent Touche Éclat Blur Primer
Updated on 5/24/2019 by Jada Wong: Updated links, prices, recategorized Milk Makeup Blur Stick as our Best Solid Primer, and swapped in Yves Saint Laurent Touche Éclat Blur Primer as our Best Blurring Primer.
Keep scrolling to check out our top picks.
The best makeup primer overall
Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer is a blockbuster beauty product that blurs imperfections and helps you achieve a smooth, long-lasting makeup application.
I can’t stand when products I normally love pill up because of something I applied underneath, and the cult-favorite Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer is designed to prevent exactly that scenario.
It’s a silky smooth white liquid that quickly becomes transparent as you work it into the skin. This primer creates an even base on which to blend your foundation and concealer by minimizing the appearance of redness, pores, and imperfections. The formula contains broad spectrum SPF 15 for some added sun protection, though I and your dermatologist, most likely would caution against using makeup as your primary sunscreen.
My skin feels super soft after applying Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer and I find that my makeup lasts all day without settling into fine lines. It’s oil- and fragrance-free, and made without parabens or sulfates, so the formula is not irritating or greasy on my sensitive skin. Thanks to the airy texture, I find it leaves me matte without that dehydrated effect. Hourglass is also one of my all-time favorite beauty brands, and every single product I’ve tried, including this one, blends seamlessly and leaves me looking flawless but not “makeup-y.”
This is one of the most universally beloved primers on the market. It’s been mentioned by countless publications including Rank and Style, Allure, and Byrdie, and has more than 6,800 reviews and a 4.4 rating on the platform Influenster and 3,900+ 5-star reviews on Sephora.
Pros: Oil and fragrance-free, suitable for all skin types
The best radiant primer
Don’t let the intense luminosity scare you off – Becca Backlight Priming Filter gives you a gorgeous, natural glow that shines through foundation.
I don’t know what kind of fairy dust they’re working with at Becca Cosmetics HQ but these people know about glow.
The Becca Backlight Priming Filter is the first primer I ever wanted to write poetry about. It makes my complexion look healthy and bright, whether worn alone or under foundation or tinted moisturizer. Unlike with some of our other picks though, this one didn’t extend my foundation wear-time.
I tend to gravitate toward this primer in the winter when my skin is feeling dull or on occasions when I’m wearing fuller coverage foundation. Just one pump blurs imperfections and imparts the most natural champagne-colored luminosity to the skin.
The radiance comes from Filtering Luminescent Pearls that diffuse light and add subtle shimmer – not glitter. The formula also contains nourishing vitamin E.
With a 4.2 star rating on Sephora based on 1,300+ reviews, this is a fan-favorite primer that has been featured on Best Products, Cosmopolitan UK, Vogue UK, and Women’s Health, among other publications.
Pros: Beautiful natural glow, can be worn alone or with foundation, cruelty-free, paraben-free
Cons: Has a strong scent, doesn’t extend foundation wear-time
The best moisturizing primer
- Too faced
Quench your thirst with the hydrating, coconut water-infused Too Faced Hangover Rx Replenishing Face Primer.
Dry patches and overall dehydration are the bane of anyone’s existence. Enter Too Faced Hangover Rx Replenishing Face Primer – a super-light moisturizing primer that plumps skin and keeps makeup looking fresh all day.
I reach for this when I’m doing my makeup several hours after applying skin-care products to give my skin an extra shot of moisture. If you have dry skin, you’ll probably want to use it on the daily. It’s hydrating without being greasy, so you can use it under matte base products without disrupting the finish, though people with oily skin might prefer our mattifying pick more.
Another plus is the travel-friendly packaging. The primer is housed in a flexible tube with a pump on the end. The design prevents spillage in transit and also makes it very difficult to accidentally dispense too much, thus cutting down on waste. The cruelty- and silicone-free formula is packed with coconut water and probiotics to keep your complexion happy.
“New favorite face primer!” writes one Sephora reviewer. “It is the smoothest thing I have ever put on my skin, feels amazing. It is super hydrating and my makeup goes on beautifully and prolongs it so well!” Still not convinced? There are nearly 3,000 other reviews and mentions in Women’s Health, Cosmopolitan UK, Women’s World, and Best Products.
Pros: Moisturizing, silicone- and cruelty-free, travel-friendly pump packaging
Cons: Strong coconut scent, not ideal for oily skin
The best blurring primer
The Yves Saint Laurent Touche Éclat Blur Primer instantly blurs skin for an almost-airbrushed look and provides a smooth base for makeup.
This is YSL’s iconic Touch Éclat in primer form – it gives your complexion a wonderful glow, is versatile to use anywhere on your face, and makes your skin look airbrushed and primed for makeup.
The gel-like formula is made with four oils – corn, apricot, passfloria, and rice bran – to hydrate, mattify, and blur out the appearance of large pores. There are also tiny flecks of golden shimmer for a nice radiance. I didn’t find that they made my face look glittery, it’s almost like I applied highlighter over my entire face.
To use, you just pump a tiny bit of primer from the bottle (because a little goes a long way, and because this bottle is expensive) and smooth it all over your face. The instructions say to let it set on your skin for 10 seconds before applying base makeup, and both I and reviewers suggest following it closely otherwise the foundation won’t go on as smooth.
The best solid primer
- Milk Makeup
The Milk Makeup Blur Stick is a unique solid primer that minimizes the appearance of pores and mattifies the complexion.
If you want a heavy-duty primer but in solid form for portability, look no further than the Milk Makeup Blur Stick. As the name suggests, it blurs pores and imperfections. The solid formula allows for targeted application, so you can place it only where you need it, sort’ve like a giant glue stick.
I like to use the Milk Makeup Blur Stick on the oily parts of my T-zone and apply a different primer on my drier, rosacea-prone cheeks. The travel-friendly packaging makes it easy to bring on the go for touch-ups – you can even tap it on top of makeup to absorb oil if you get shiny throughout the day.
I love how easy this is to swipe on quickly without making a mess. The instructions recommend warming the product on the back of your hand before you apply to the skin, and I second that because otherwise the product tugs on your skin if you apply directly from the stick.
Like with most Milk products, The Blur Stick is free of silicone, oil, talc, and animal cruelty, and it’s also vegan.
Though the Blur Stick sounded gimmicky at first, I was really impressed with the skin-smoothing results. The Sephora reviews are somewhat mixed, resulting in a 3.5-star rating from more than 2,000 reviews, but many shoppers rave about the effects.
“It’s not a primer that you can feel is there like others (probably because it’s silicone free) but it does keep my makeup in place.,” writes one reviewer.
Pros: Vegan, cruelty-free, silicone-free, oil-free, portable, non-liquid
Cons: Needs to warm up before applying smoothly