Want your make-up efforts to last all day? The best primer is a must for your beauty kit
When you’ve spent time getting your make-up exactly right, wouldn’t you quite like it if it stuck around all day or night? That’s virtually impossible without using the best primer.
This often overlooked step does more than just keep your make-up in place, though. As well as locking down make-up, primers can tackle all manner of skin concerns, from boosting radiance to moisturising and even filling in pores and fine lines.
Why is the best primer such an essential step?
‘Primers are an essential part of my personal make-up routine and a must have in my make-up kit, as they are the first step to a flawless base!’ says professional make-up artist Cher Webb. ‘They are a game-changing product, working in harmony with your skin and foundation, merging and blending for a seamless complexion.
If your only experience of primers are those heavy silicone-based formulas that can cause irritating pilling, then it’s time to become reacquainted. These days many primers come with skincare benefits that help to look after your complexion, while simultaneously helping your best foundation stay in place for longer. Ingredients like hyaluronic acid, vitamin B3 (often in the form of niacinamide) and witch hazel extract are now common in modern day primers. Thankfully, you can now forget that feeling of a thick layer of something on top of your skin.
Nowadays the best primers can even soak up excess oil and blur imperfections. They’re able to camouflage the appearance of large pores and smooth out bumpy skin to help your make-up apply more evenly. If you struggle with concealing redness or rosacea, there are colour-correcting primers that will neutralise it. There are now some formulations that even protect your skin from the sun’s rays, with the addition of a high SPF.
‘Primers are designed to adhere to your foundation and can provide amazing results when using the appropriate primer for your skin type,’ Cher adds. ‘They act as an instant filter by reducing the appearance of redness, and adding instant radiance and glow while blurring imperfections.’
With that in mind, we’ve done our research and have tried and tested as many of the best primers on the market. Below you’ll find our handpicked edit of the very best formulas to shop now – and we think you’re guaranteed to find a new make-up bag staple. Happy priming!
Best brightening primer:
Cher Webb is a huge fan of this primer by Ole Henriksen. 'It's packed with Vitamin C, delivers instant radiance and glow whilst increasing make-up longevity,' she explains. Inspired by the colour-correcting banana powders once used by make-up artists, it beats dullness by brightening up your complexion.
Why it gets the Marie Claire seal of approval: The colour-correcting powders in the entire Banana Bright range are truly exceptional.
Best primer for oily skin:
A mattifing primer does wonders if you have oily skin – especially around the T-zone. This genius primer by Smashbox (a brand synonymous with primers) helps keep your skin nice and matte for up to 12 hours. Consider your blotting time significantly reduced.
Why it gets the Marie Claire seal of approval: Oily skin is absolutely no match for this primer.
Best illuminating primer:
As bases go, this one is kind of iconic, giving you the kind of healthy glow (you thought) you only dreamed of. Wear it alone for a skin boost or team with foundation for the ultimate radiance.
Why it gets the Marie Claire seal of approval: Gives a seriously out-of-this-world, ethereal glow.
Best hydrating primer:
It's not at all necessary to get absolutely bladdered to reap the benefits of this primer. What it does is help skin when it has the tell-tale signs of a heavy night (even if you haven't actually had one): redness, dehydration and dullness.
Why it gets the Marie Claire seal of approval: Perks skin up better than any hangover cure we know.
Best primer for keeping makeup in place:
This is one of the best primers if you have dry skin and hate when make-up gathers in your dry patches. It contains a multitude of ingredients that will help hydrate the skin. It also creates an invisible veil (that you won't feel) that make-up attaches itself to for long-lasting impact.
Why it gets the Marie Claire seal of approval: Grip by name, grip by nature.
Best blurring primer:
Laura Mercier's primers are kind of legendary. There are multiple options available – including the much-loved Illuminating and SPF versions. However, the Blurring primer, which is oil-free, mattifies and blurs the appearance of pores and absorbs excess shine that manifests throughout the day.
Why it gets the Marie Claire seal of approval: Keeps shine at bay all day long.
Best affordable primer:
'High-spreadability' is key here. This serum-like primer glides onto the skin and makes make-up blending so much easier. Foundation and concealer will melt into skin, rather than accumulating. It can also be worn alone as it creates the most beautiful blank canvas.
Why it gets the Marie Claire seal of approval: The nice low price tag.
Best glowy primer for oily skin:
If you have oily skin that lacks glow, then this might just be your new favourite product. It's oil-free and slightly pearlescent, which adds a subtle hint of luminosity. Oh and we applaud the added UVA and UVB protection.
Why it gets the Marie Claire seal of approval: The perfect amount of glow for oily skin, with the added bonus of an SPF.
Best for a skin boost:
When a product promises 'perfect' we are always fairly dubious. However, this silicone-free primer does just that: it perfects. Not only visibly with a mattifying effect, but also with the skin-boosting ingredients that after repeated use help to smooth and plump.
Why it gets the Marie Claire seal of approval: Gives your skin a boost as well as providing a strong base for makeup.
Best for seriously glowy skin:
Right, this is TECHNICALLY not a primer. It is described as a liquid highlighter, but so many make-up artists have praised its priming power. Not only does it create a beautifully illuminated base (which is the idea base for the no-make-up-makeup look), but it also holds on tightly to your foundation and concealer. We urge you to try it.
Why it gets the Marie Claire seal of approval: Give your skin a glow worthy of a red carpet.
Best smoothing primer:
This whipped formula works hard to even out skin tone and skin texture. Promising to keep your make-up in place for as long as 16 hours, it's the one you grab when skin is having a meh day. It's also vegan - yay!
Why it gets the Marie Claire seal of approval: Affordable AND hard-working? We love to see it.
Best primer for dry skin:
When applying complexion products to dry skin, the big worry is dry patches. So the best primer to go for is one that's packed full of hyaluronic acid. This is almost a hydrating serum, as well as a primer. Make-up with skincare benefits.
Why it gets the Marie Claire seal of approval: The super duper hydrating formula that helps flood dry skin with moisture.
Best for blurring:
The Benefit Porefessional primer is one of their most-loved products for a reason. The primer works to minimise the appearance of pores, helping to give a flawless-looking finish.
Why it gets the Marie Claire seal of approval: Easily one of the most famous makeup buys of all time.
Best anti-shine primer:
The Fenty Beauty primer is ideal for those who want to keep shine at bay without drying out their skin. The oil-free formula evens skin tone, smooths away the look of pores and absorbs shine without that instant drying feeling.
Why it gets the Marie Claire seal of approval: A complexion perfector worthy of Rihanna.