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 can’t be bothered with it.
For those who can’t be arsed with one, perhaps we might be able to convince you: when you’ve spent time applying your make-up just so, wouldn’t you quite like it if it stuck around all day? Because some of the best primers offer 24-hour staying power. While you mind not need the full 24 hours, you can’t really argue with that promise.
As for those who might fancy a new primer to play with, read on to find one that best to suit your needs…
What is make-up primer?
In case you’re not already well-versed in why they exist; they ‘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, neutralise redness and even protect your skin from the sun’s rays.
‘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 pro 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.
‘Primers are designed to adhere to your foundation and can provide amazing results when using the appropriate primer for your skin type. They act as an instant filter by reducing the appearance of redness, and adding instant radiance and glow while blurring imperfections.’
Intrigued? Keep reading for the best of the best.
Best primer for oily skin
Laura Mercier’s primers are kind of legendary, so when she reformulated them earlier this year we wondered: how they could possibly get any better? But, of course, they did. There are now more options available – including the much-loved Illuminating and SPF versions – including Blurring, a new take on the previous oil-free option. It mattifies, blurs the appearance of pores and absorbs excess shine that manifests throughout the day. If you want a smaller size to start with, try the Travel-Sized Version, £17 at Lookfantastic, first.
Best drugstore primer
‘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. It can also be worn alone as it creates the most beautiful blank canvas. If you have dry skin, you’ll love using this.
Best primer for dry skin
As well as applying the best moisturiser for dry skin, you need a primer that stops your make-up drying your skin out throughout the day. There’s nothing worse than spotting a dry, flaky patch when you pop to the loo half way though the day. This ultra soothing primer will keep your hydration levels up and has the added bonus of a high SPF, so you’re essentially getting two products in one. Yay.
Best primer for pores
Enlarged can feel like 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 their 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.
Best eyeshadow primer
Of course, the world of primers doesn’t stop at your face – eyeshadow, lip and even lash 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.
Best primer for combination skin
‘I carry the BareMinerals Prime Time Foundation Primer in my kit as it instantly smoothes the complexion whilst minimising enlarged pores and combating signs of dryness for a sleek coverage,’ says Cher. It’s a real classic that manages to smooth things over and soften any rough patches, making it a great choice for those with combination skin.
Best primer for acne prone skin
If you have blemishes, you actually benefit from using a primer the most. Why? Because not only will a primer help to create a smooth base on any bumpy areas, but find one that contains spot-busting ingredients, like this one, and you’re also helping to treat the issue throughout the day too. This one also mattifies any annoying oiliness that so often comes hand-in-hand with spots. And if you only use cruelty-free and vegan beauty products, Cover FX is an excellent brand to have on your radar.
Best illuminator primer
When you think of glowy skin, BECCA is probably the first brand to come to mind. Nobody does glowy primers and highlighters like them. The Backlight Priming Filter is one of their cult products that creates a ‘lit from within’ kind of glow – wear it under make-up or on its own for the healthiest, most radiant glow you ever did see.
Best matte primer
A mattifing primer does wonders if you have oily skin – especially around the T-zone. This genius primer stick by Smashbox, arguably the biggest brand name synonymous with primers, can be used under your foundation in the areas you feel you need it most to help keep your skin nice and matte for up to 12 hours. Consider your blotting time significantly reduced.
Best SPF primer
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 velvety gel from Murad is a great make-up base that comes with the added benefit of a broad spectrum SPF 30 PA +++. (Remember in the summer months it’s best to use sometihing with factor 50, though.)
So there you have it, the best primer for your skin type, solved. Read on for more of our favourite buys and consider your skin priming needs well and truly fixed.
'I also love the Ole Henriksen Banana Bright Primer as it's packed with Vitamin C, it delivers instant radiance and glow whilst increasing make-up longevity,' explains Cher. Inspired by the colour-correcting banana powders once used by make-up artists, it beats dullness by brightening up your complexion.
Another one of Laura Mercier's new primers, this time focussing on nourishment and hydration for dry skin. Cakey foundation, be gone.
If redness or uneven skintone are your biggest bug bear, this is the one for you. Different coloured pigments work together to neutralise your base before you put the rest of your face on; it can also be worn alone to take the edge off any redness.
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.
This primer has a three-pronged approach to priming skin. It brightens a dull complexion, it blurs out imperfections AND it protects against pollution.
At first the texture and appearance of this little pot of jelly might confuse you, but push past that as this genius product is one of the brand's bestsellers. Using the teeny spatula that comes with it, spoon some on to the back of your hand and use a small fluffy brush to buff it into your skin before foundation. It's ideal for those who have dry skin, but still love that dewy look.