Posted on: January 1, 2024 Posted by: Comments: 0

I have a confession to make. I used to really, really dislike makeup primers. I’m all for optimising the longevity of my makeup, but honestly? So many makeup primers I’ve tried throughout the years have been a bit of a flop. Some of them can feel heavy on the skin, and some of the thicker ones give flawless results, but the trade-off is that they clog my skin for days on end. And at best? Some primers don’t really do anything at all for me. Before beginning my career as a beauty journalist, I felt a bit clueless about what makeup primers were best for oily skin like mine, or what radiance-boosting primers were really worth the money.

Beauty editor Eleanor Vousden swears by the E.l.f. Power Grip Primer and Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer.

Thankfully, primer formulas have come on leaps and bounds lately, and I’m since converted. So much so, I can’t imagine doing my makeup without one now. Primers are akin to priming a canvas, or prepping a wall for paint. Depending on the formula, they can smooth over pores and fine lines, hydrate parched complexions or add a touch of radiance underneath your foundation for a lit-from-within kind of glow. They also help to grip onto makeup, helping it last better throughout the day.

Want to know what the best makeup primers are? Scroll ahead to read the ones that made my list (I’m seriously fussy, so you can guarantee these are actually worth trying).

This might be my favourite primer on this list, and it just so happens to be a friend to your bank account, too. The gel texture melts into the skin, creating a slickly tacky (but in no way sticky) base that acts like velcro for anything you put on top. It’s also very hydrating and not heavy, making it great for those with dry or oily skins alike. I’ll never be without a tube of this in my makeup bag. Best for: All skin types. Pros: Hydrating, makes foundation last longer, affordable. Cons: It’s so popular, it’s often sold out

Temple Spa has cleverly formulated a primer an SPF in one, meaning you can streamline both application steps into one. This one is silky and featherlight, making it ideal for all skin types. The addition of SPF 50 means your skin is shielded on application, and the added antioxidants boost your complexion as you wear it. Best for: All skin types. Pros: Lightweight texture, SPF 50 broad-spectrum protection, non-greasy. Cons: Slightly more expensive than others

I was floored the first time I tried this primer—it really is as good as the hype suggests it is. It has a silky, liquid texture that dries down into a velvety soft finish that blurs pores and skin texture to flawless levels. It makes foundation look airbrushed and last much better too. Best for: All skin types. Pros: Blurs pores, lightweight, velvety finish. Cons: More expensive than most

This has been recommended to me by numerous times for its hydrating formula and dewy finish—it’s like a tall glass of water for dry skin or skin types that are prone to dehydration.  Best for: Dry skin. Pros: Hydrating, dewy finish, illuminated dull complexions. Cons: Might not be suitable for blemish-prone skin

Everyone loves this primer, and I do too. It has a ultra-hydrating gel formula that acts like superglue for your makeup. You need to wait a few moments for it to set on the skin before following up with makeup, but it really does boost your makeup to last for hours on end. Packed with hydrating ingredients, it quenches skin without overpowering oily skin. It’s just right. Best for: All skin types. Pros: Hydrating, makeup lasts for longer. Cons: More expensive than most

While technically a moisturiser, this has been a priming hero for years. It blends the benefits of a nourishing and lightweight moisturiser and a primer, streamlining your makeup application. So many makeup artists swear by this moisturiser for flawless and long-lasting makeup for brides. It even helps to stop your foundation from oxidising and changing colour. Put simply, it’s iconic for a reason. Best for: All skin types. Pros: Moisturiser and primer in one, hydrating, great prep for makeup. Cons: Can be costly if you’re using it regularly

Want to give your skin a healthy glow? Rare Beauty has you covered with this one. The water based formula glides onto skin, leaving behind a pearlescent glow that looks beautiful worn alone, or to give a lit-from-within radiance underneath foundation.  Best for: Normal, combination and oily skin types. Pros: Illuminates skin, lightweight formula. Cons: Shimmer can cling to dry patches, so might not be suitable for dry skin types

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t instantly fall in love with this product when they try it. It’s one of those hybrid beauty products that acts as a primer, a highlighter, or, it can be mixed with other products for a radiance boost. There is zero glitter in this, instead it lends skin a pearlescent halo of light. I personally love wearing it on its own, but if you want to give your foundation extra glow and dewiness, you’d do well to try this under makeup. Best for: All skin types. Pros: Illuminating, can be used as a primer or highlighter. Cons: More expensive than most

I see this backstage at Fashion Week every. Single. Season. The truth is that makeup artists love this moisturiser for makeup prep, because it works for every skin type and sinks in fast on models’ skin. The moisturising formula melts into a milky consistency that absorbs instantly, leaving skin plumped and refreshed. It’s a French pharmacy staple for a reason. Best for: All skin types. Pros: Affordable, hydrating. Cons: Might not be suitable for very oily skin

You’ll have no doubt heard about these if you haven’t already been swept up in the TikTok hype around them. If you want to add warmth to your skin or foundation, these are a great way to add a sunkissed look. A few drops go a long way to lend the skin a healthy, bronzed and radiant result. Best for: All skin types. Pros: Adds a healthy bronze glow. Cons: May be too dark for very fair skin

Dior has created some phenomenal makeup formulas, and this primer is one of them. It has a silky liquid formula that contains mattifying formulas, helping to give a soft-matte finish and help makeup stay put all day long on skin that is prone to shine. Best for: Combination and oily skin. Pros: Mattifying, blurring, boosts makeup longevity. Cons: Shea butter in formula may not be suitable for acne-prone skin

Price shown is member price. For a totally flawless finish, it doesn’t get much better than this. It practically glides over pores, uneven skin texture and fine lines to leave a smooth canvas, whether worn alone or under makeup. It has a matte formula that contains tiny microspheres that absorb oil and ensure any makeup you put on top has a soft-focus finish. Best for: Normal to oily skin types. Pros: Mattifying, blurs pores, fine lines and uneven skin texture, creates flawless results. Cons: May be too mattifying for dry skin

Laura Mercier is world-renowned for its makup primers (you’ll often spot them in MUA kitbags) and this one is brilliant for adding radiance to lacklustre complexions. It smooths over the skin with a buttery finish that also lends skin a big dose of instant radiance. Best for: Dull or lackluste skin. Pros: Illuminating, smoothing. Cons: Might not be suitable for very oily skin

If oiliness or pores are concerns that you want to address, then you’ll love Glow Recipe’s offering, Featuring beta-hydroxy acids, the formulation helps to unclog pores and balance oily production, while the finish is mattifying and soft-focus. The lightweight texture doesn’t clog pores, and it can even be used over makeup to mattify oiliness throughout the day. Best for: Combination, blemish-prone and oily skin types. Pros: Mattifying, blurs pores, great for combination, acne-prone or oily skin types. Cons: May be too matte for dry skin types

Want a liquid formula that has a velvety soft and blurring finish? Tatcha’s is incredible. It smooths over uneven skin texture, fine lines and pores, helping to create a smooth canvas for makeup application. It really helps foundation wear beautifully throughout the day. Best for: Normal to oily skin types. Pros: Blurs pore, fine lines and skin texture, boosts makeup longevity. Cons: More expensive than most

Refy’s innovative primer allows you to prime and massage the skin simultaneously, making it great for de-puffing the skin and sculpting as you prep for makeup application.  Best for: All skin types. Pros: Massage head helps to sculpt and de-puff, Lightweight formula. Cons: May not be hydrating enough for dry skin

I firmly believe that E.l.f. deserves a second mention on this list for its Poreless Putty Primer. While the Power Grip Primer is more hydrating, this one is mattifying and blurs pores and uneven skin texture amazingly. And for £10, this pot will last you for ages too, making it a steal. Best for: Normal, combination or oily skin. Pros: Affordable, blurs pores, mattifies. Cons: May clog pores of not removed properly

I’ve been road-testing this primer over the past week, and I’m really impressed with how well it blurs the pores around my nose, but without feeling thick and gloopy like some pore-blurring primers. It helps to control oiliness throughout the day, and even helps to improve the appearance of pores over time as you wear it. Best for: Normal, combination or oily skin types. Pros: Blurs pores, controls oiliness and shine. Cons: More expensive than most

Craving a brighter, more even-toned complexion? Try this. Based on the iconic Banana Bright Eye Cream, this helps to address dull skin with colour-correcting pigments, all while boosting the wear of your makeup throughout the day. Best for: Dull skin. Pros: Illuminating, brightening. Cons: Might not be suitable for very oily skin

I was enticed by the name, but I stayed for the formula. This one plumps skin, smooths over irregular skin texture and pores, and grips onto makeup really well. Best for: Normal, combination or oily skin. Pros: Blurs pores, fine lines and texture. Cons: Has a marshmallow fragrance

I often keep Saie’s Glowy Super Gel on standby for days when my skin needs extra oomph. It has the most beautiful sheen that lends skin an healthy radiance. But I also love to add a couple of pumps to my arms and shins when they’re looking lacklustre. A little goes a very long way, so this will last for a long time. Best for: Normal to dry skin. Pros: Illuminating, lightweight gel texture. Cons: May be too glowy for oily skin

Up Next, I’m a Beauty Editor—This Is My Ultimate List of the Best Foundations

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