Find the best primer for your skin in our round-up
A quick survey of the office tells me that you’re likely to be one of two types of people: either you wouldn’t be caught dead applying your foundation without a layer of primer on your skin first, or you’ve never tried one. Whether you’re the former or latter, read on to find the best primer for you. Our sister site Powder gives tailored-to-you beauty recommendations so try looking here for your perfect primer.
I’m a recent primer convert; up until recently I didn’t think I could benefit from using one, thinking – wrongly so – they were only for mopping-up excess oils. How wrong I was.
But that’s not all they do; depending on the formula a make-up primer will blur enlarged pores, smooth bumpy skin and disguise redness. I’ve yet to find a concern that the correctly-matched primer couldn’t target.
Make-up artists are divided too. Primers aren’t used so much on the catwalk or on shoots, primarily because the foundation doesn’t have to be on the skin for too long and so doesn’t need any help staying there. But make-up artists do love a primer for their red carpet celebrities though. Blurring primers make skin look smoother and silkier, pores smaller and lines and wrinkles softer – all things the cameras love.
It’s in real life where primers really come into their own. Facing a long day in the office? A light layer of primer under your foundation will help it defy the air-conditioning and stay put all day. Get greasy in the afternoon? A primer will absorb the shine. Or, woke-up to a gigantic unwelcome friend on your face this morning? Well, after you’ve tackled the spot with this spot-busting routine then the right primer will help smooth over the bump and disguise any inflammation.
Best primer for dry skin
If dryness is your skin’s biggest concern, you want a primer that will hydrate your skin and make it look radiant, and prevent your best foundation for any skin type, best BB cream or powder settling into areas of loose, flaky skin. Velvety in texture and easy to apply, Benefit’s Porefessional is great if you want to achieve flawless looking skin. Or go for Tom Ford’s Complexion Enhancing Primer for a dewy finish – it’s worth the spend.
Best primer for oily skin
If you have oily skin a make-up primer is kind of essential; the right one containing fine silky powders will help to mattify by absorbing excess oils and keep your foundation in place for longer. Try Nars’ Pore Refining Primer or Stila’s Stay All Day 10-in-1 HD Beauty Balm to keep excess oil at bay all day.
Best primer for combination skin
For combination skin, the right primer can make your face look dewy and luminous with light reflecting particles – that make your skin look glowy not glittery – for an enviable, healthy glow. Clinique’s Superprimer Universal Skin Primer is a great all-rounder to even out your skin’s surface and provide a great base for make-up.
This is an all-time favourite. It feels so light worn under foundation. If you’re not a fan of feeling make-up on your face (there’s plenty of us out there) then this is the guy for you. It gives a beautiful healthy glow to your skin without looking greasy and it keeps your foundation looking fresh for as long as you’re wearing it. Greasy types may be put of by the extra glow if your skin on the dry side you’ll love it.
This silky formula works ‘wonders’ on fine laughter lines and the creases that appear around your mouth as you get older (or if you smoke). It subtly blurs imperfections and gives a warm glow to the skin. The bronze/apricot tone give a slight sun-kissed effect to paler skins and enhances darker skin tones. But that’s not all it does; it’s full of peptides and hyaluronic acid so you’ll be doing the health of your skin a favour too.
Containing a pearly tint that blends into all skin tones, this formula is a favourite among make-up artists who are after completely flawless, life-like skin. Its a creamy gel thats best blended with finger tips and, in addition to its make-up prolonging prowess, it contains vitamins A, C and E which help to protect skin against aggressors like pollution.
Anyone with dry skin will love this super-hydrating formula. The peachy tone corrects sallowness and discolouration, so faint patches of pigmentation, redness, dark under eye circles or yellow-ish areas are instantly knocked-back. It’s on the dewy side so if you’re prone to very shiny skin this is unlikely to be your perfect match. But, if you have dehydration-prone, medium-toned skin you’ll be hard-pushed to find a better partner in crime.
Okay, so this base is not for the faint-hearted. If you’re after super-luminous, glowy – almost ethereal looking – skin then there really is nothing better than this. I use it under foundation for any kind of night out when I want my skin so appear really glowy and healthy. It’s so light reflective that you can even get away with wearing it on its own if you don’t have any blemishes to disguise and you’re just looking for a healthy sheen. It’s a real multi-tasking marvel so don’t feel that you can only use it before you apply your base; try mixing a little into your foundation if you want a more subtle glow, or just pat a small amount over your cheekbones and onto your cupids bow if you want to be more controlled with your highlighting.
Rihanna is a big fan of the Benefit The POREfessional PRO Balm Primer and if it’s good enough for RiRi…
Best for girls with dry skin, the POREfessional is more about minimising pores (the clue’s in the name) than it is about keeping your skin matte or your make-up in place. Skin is super soft and genuinely flawless – prepped and primed for foundation.
Often touted as the holy grail of primers, this new version of the bestselling Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer comes with pore minimising properties for an even smoother finish. The texture of the Smashbox primer is refreshing: Less of a paste and more of a gel, you will notice the difference as soon as you apply a small amount to your skin.
This clear primer stops shine and holds make-up all day, blurring pores for a flawless look that really lasts. Tip: Dab this primer onto skin, rather than rubbing it in. You will notice your pores are even smaller…
Disguise problem skin, irritation and redness with the unique formula of L’Oréal’s Paris Nude Magique Blur Cream. An instant skin perfector that leaves your complexion soft to touch and completely even, giving a more flawless coverage that foundation alone.
This primer is also slightly tinted, meaning you can wear it without make-up for a natural look, leaving your skin feeling lighter and fresher in the summer months.
Apart from boasting a great name, the Givenchy Mister Smooth Smoothing Primer also delivers on its promise of giving velvety-soft results. Creamier in texture than other primers, this version sinks well into skin, without leaving any greasy residue and really does help to keep make-up in place for longer.
Thanks to our nights out now being regularly posted all over Facebook and Instagram, normal make-up just isn’t good enough any more. We now need HD make-up as well as filters to ensure our selfies look just as perfect as Kim Kardashian’s.
Step up, the Stila Stay All Day 10-in-1 HD Beauty Balm, which has got to be the most comprehensive primer on the market. Promising to reduce pore size, control oil and hide blemishes, this primer also hides imperfections and reduces wrinkle depth by up to 84%.
Clinique have created a whole collection of primers to cover every kind of complexion concern. From dullness, to redness and even sallowness, there also a universal Clinique Superprimer for anyone who just wants to create an even surface without altering the tone of their skin.
This primer also won’t settle into fine lines or allow your foundation to ‘slip’, so you know that you will still look great all day, even when you are too busy for regular touch-ups.
If it’s radiance you’re after, head this way. Perfect for sallow, dull skin, this peach tinted primer instantly brightens your complexion before you apply your make-up. Its silky (never sticky) formula is enriched with vitamins and antioxidants to ensure your skin is as healthy as can be.
We’re completely sold on anything that promises ‘baby skin’, so were excited to try the new Maybelline New York Baby Skin Primer. A great primer – especially for the price – the classic combination of minimised pores and softer skin makes this high street version a must have for any make-up bag.
If you hate the idea of a primer that’s heavy or greasy, look to Laura Geller for all your priming needs. The mattifying Spackle primer resurfaces your skin and helps to regulate oil levels without drying out your skin, meaning optimum moisture without an overly shiny look. It’s really no wonder it’s one of their best sellers.
A targeted primer that focuses on brightening the complexion, Estée Lauder’s Illuminating Perfecting Primer is a good investment for dull and dry or mature skin.
Vitamin e, rice bran extract and shea butter also hydrate and moisturise skin for lasting softness and smoother make-up application. A little goes a long way, making this luxury primer good value for money too.