best primer

The best primer for radiance, blurring and keeping make-up in place

Because it's the one buy you need for truly flawless skin...

A quick poll of the office tells us that you’re probably one of two types of people: either you wouldn’t be caught dead applying your best foundation without putting on your best primer first, or you just cannot be bothered with it.

For those who can’t be arsed with one, perhaps we might be able to convince you? In the sticky heat, you want your make-up to last, no? As for those who might fancy a new primer to play with, read on to find one that best suits your needs.

No doubt you’re already well-versed in why they exist; to ‘prime’ the skin and create the perfect canvas for your make-up, while simultaneously keeping it on your face for as long as possible.

But depending on the formula, a primer can also soak up excess oil, blur the appearance of pores, smooth out bumpy skin or neutralise redness. We’re yet to find a concern that the right primer won’t fix…

Best primer for oily skin

Laura Mercier Oil Free Foundation Primer, £30, John Lewis

best primer Laura Mercier

Hailed as one of the best primers for oily skin that money can buy, Laura Mercier’s Foundation Primer (Oil Free) is a classic in many a beauty lover’s make-up bag, offering maximum priming power, sans oil. The water-based, gel primer blurs the skin’s texture to create a kind of ‘airbrushed’ finish, while also protecting the skin against environmental damage by acting as a vitamin-enriched antioxidant barrier.

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Best primer for dry skin

Smashbox Photo Finish Radiance Primer, £30, Boots

best primer for dry skin Smashbox

As well as applying the best moisturiser for dry skin, you need a primer that stops your make-up drying out your skin throughout the day. If there’s one thing the name Smashbox is synonymous with, it’s primer that keeps your skin looking photo-ready all day long.

The Photo Finish Radiance Primer is great for any kind of skin that needs a glow boost, but especially dry types as it’s jam-packed with hyaluronic acid (aka the essential ingredient when it comes skin hydration). This one leaves your skin looking so healthy you can also wear it alone for a fresh faced, dewy look.

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Best primer for combination skin

Marc Jacobs Under(Cover) Perfecting Coconut Face Primer, £32, Net-A-Porter

best primer Marc Jacobs

For combination skin, the right primer can make your face look dewy and luminous – think glowy, not shiny. If you have combination skin, you’ll struggle with both dry and oily areas, as well as an uneven skin texture that’s sometimes bumpy for no apparent reason.

Described as a ‘deconstructed coconut’ in a bottle, Marc Jacobs Under(Cover) Primer is one of the silkiest primer formulas you’ll ever come across when it comes to evening out skin’s texture. Inspired by how much MJ himself loves coconut water, it contains five forms of the fruit (from cold press to juice), which means skin really reaps the benefits.

The science behind the formula is a bit complicated, but basically all you need to know is that a ‘polysaccharide complex’ preps the skin to hold make-up in place, while simultaneously allowing skin to breathe. Essentially, your face will feel and, more importantly, look its best.

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Best primer for acne prone skin

Cover FX Mattifying Primer With Anti-Blemish Treatment, £29, Space NK

best primer Cover FX

As well as having the best acne treatments at your disposal, you need a primer that won’t worsen your skin condition. Even better, you want one that actually helps to reduce its severity.

Fortunately, a handful of primers are actually designed to help control your sebum levels (an excess of which contributes to acne) and fight off lingering bacteria. The mattifying properties of this particular primer by Cover FX mean you can wave goodbye to shininess. But that’s not all; its got willow bark-sourced salicylic acid inside, which gently exfoliates the skin and helps de-clog your pores. And for super sore, angry acne, African tree bark can help to soothe and reduce inflammation.

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Best primer for sensitive skin

Too Faced Hangover Primer, £27, Cult Beauty

best primer Too Faced

If you have sensitive skin, you know the drill: you want to avoid anything that can irritate. So you’re after a formula that’s silicone, fragrance and alcohol-free wherever possible. Unfortunately, this can take a little trial and error, as what irritates one person’s skin could be another’s complexion saviour. Patch tests are key before slathering it all over your face. This one is a super-light solution, so not gloopy or pore-clogging and non-irritating. Hooray!

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Best drugstore primer

The Ordinary High-Spreadability Fluid Primer, £5.50 Beauty Expert

best primer The Ordinary

‘High-spreadability’ is the key phrase 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. Can also be worn alone as it creates the most beautiful blank canvas. If you have dry skin, you’ll love using this.

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Best primer for pores

Benefit The POREfessional, £27.50, Fabled

best primer porefessional

Enlarged pores are a nightmare. If you have them, then you probably avoid magnified mirrors at all costs. Those giant craters stand between you and your flawless base and something must be done about them. Spoiler: Your pores will never completely ‘close’ – they are not doors. They also won’t disappear. Sorry. However, with a cracking skincare routine and the right primer you can reduce the appearance.

Your best buy here is one of the most famous primers in the world, Benefit’s POREfessional Face Primer – the clue’s in the name. This little beauty makes short work of minimising the appearance of enlarged pores with its lightweight and velvety formula. It kind of blurs everything – a bit like your favourite Insta filter.

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Best mattifying primer

Illamasqua Matte Primer, £28, Illamasqua

the best primer Illamasqua

If you hate the idea of a primer that’s heavy or greasy, a mattifying primer is what your skincare routine needs. The formula’s tend to be light as air, so it won’t feel like you’re wearing any make-up.

Illamasqua are known for their brilliant primers and this is no exception. It actually helps to regulate oil levels without drying, meaning optimum moisture without looking overly shiny. Make-up also lasts forever on top.

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Best illuminating primer

Mac Strobe Cream, £25, John Lewis

best primer Mac

Mac’s Strobe Cream is a cult product that’s seen on every make-up stand backstage at fashion week. Why? Because it is unrivaled in its ability to create a luminous, glowy canvas. It’s kind of pearlescent, it’s a bit magical looking and it gives skin life. Whether you’ve had one hell of a heavy night or you’re a seasoned sufferer of dull-skin-syndrome, then this will instantly give you that much needed radiance boost. Whilst you can pop it on before your foundation (like a typical primer) you can also mix it in with your base or use your fingertips to pat a small amount over your cheekbones and onto your cupid’s bow if you want a more controlled highlight. As they say, fake it til you make it.

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Best primer with an SPF

Giorgio Armani UV Master Primer SPF40, £43 John Lewis

best primer Armani

If you struggle with introducing an extra SPF step into your routine in the mornings, then why not look to your primer as a way of getting it in? This Armani number goes on like silk, but turns to velvet when it dries down. Make-up stays put and you stay protected.

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Best eyelid primer

Urban Decay Original Eyeshadow Primer, £17.50, Fabled

best primer eyeshadow Urban Decay

Of course, the world of primers doesn’t stop at your face – eyeshadow, lip and even mascara primers are equally as essential in our opinion. Once you’ve put all the hard work into creating a smokey eye or steely metallic shadow look you want it to last no?! Well duh. For this you need a concentrated formula that will stop unwanted smudging and creasing. Urban Decay’s Primer Potion is a firm favourite of beauty editors and bloggers all over the globe . Once you’ve tried the original formula, look out for the extensive shade range tailored to specific eyeshadow looks.

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So there you have it, the best primer for your skin type, solved.

Consider your skin priming needs well and truly fixed.

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