10 best primers for every skin type
Whether you have oily skin, dry skin or sit somewhere in between, adding a primer to your routine can help make your makeup look better, last longer and correct colour imbalances hard to do with foundation alone.
It can feel like adding another step between even a very simple skincare routine and applying your makeup is excessive. A good primer though, is akin to wearing great underwear beneath a silk slip. It’ll smooth and flatter, keeping everything where it should be, and making anything worn on top look even better than it would alone. They really come into their own in warmer weather, when makeup can vanish with the heat, and added SPF works more comfortably than sunscreen alone.
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It used to be they relied heavily on silicone - usually listed as dimethicone - the benefit of which is a blurred, Facetune effect on skin that’s hard to beat, but it can cause makeup to ball up or pill. Newly released options offer a wider range of solutions from glow-boosting hydration to clever pigments that correct colour imbalances like excessive redness.
L-R: Too Faced Hangover Primer, Coola Daydream Mineral Primer, Huda Beauty Matte Perfection, Maybelline Master Prime Anti-Redness Primer, The Ordinary High-Adherence Silicone Primer.
Too Faced Hangover Primer, $23
The holy grail for dry crepey skin, this one is silicone-free and infused with coconut water which feels instantly soothing and absorbs quickly, meaning you can apply your makeup without pausing.
Huda Beauty Mattifying Primer $56
US makeup artist Huda Kattan went on a very public hunt for an ideal unconventional makeup base. The results inspired her own unique blend that works brilliantly, particularly for oily skin types. It can also be used as a spot touch up, which we like for a 3pm shiny nose or chin.
Coola Daydream Mineral Primer SPF 30, $65
A happy discovery on the search for a clean, vegan, zinc-based SPF - the smooth, reliable, shine-balancing base for makeup was a bonus. Great for sensitive skin too.
Maybelline Master Prime Anti-redness primer, $19
Green toned primer is designed to counteract redness in your skin but unlike some products which leave you looking like kermit, this has a very subtle tint that disappears almost instantly for a smooth, prepped canvas.
The Ordinary High-Adherence Silicone Primer, $14.70
Adept at smoothing over noticeable pores and minimising the appearance of fine lines, this affordable hero also keeps oil at bay.
L-R: Bobbi Brown Primer Plus Radiance, Clarins SOS Primer in Coral, Smashbox Photo Finish So Chill Coconut Primer Water, Giorgio Armani Fluid Master Primer, YSL Top Secrets Instant Moisture Glow.
Bobbi Brown Primer Plus Radiance SPF35, $62
Pricey, but if you’re not a fan of strobing and just want a beautiful ‘lit from within glow’ this is the choice to make. It’s an amazing makeup base to add radiance to matte foundations and it has a decent whack of SPF in it too.
Clarins SOS Primer in Coral, $64
Green-toned correctors that balance redness are old school - we love this newbie, a coral tone that diminishes the appearance of acne scars, dark spots and pigmentation.
Smashbox So Chill Coconut Primer Water, $51
Spray primers are the quickest option for adding a layer of extra hydration to clean skin that helps hold on to foundation. Category masters Smashbox extend their reach with this limited-edition that also sets makeup as a final step too.
Giorgio Armani Fluid Master Primer $88
Makeup addicts know one of the things Armani Beauty excels at are its primers. The price will make you look twice but it’s a great match for the brand’s famous Luminous SIlk Foundation, for a soft, flattering mid point between matte and real-skin radiance.
YSL Top Secrets Ultra Moisture Glow, $100
Skin often dries out as it ages, and dullness is a constant challenge. This is more like a moisturiser that leaves no discernable ‘film’ on skin, just beautiful ‘sparkle-free’ luminosity and lush, plump hydration.