FACE PRIMERS! I get a lot of questions about primers. “Do I really need a face primer? What does it even do? What’s the best one?”

Not everyone needs to use a face primer. It depends on your skin type and how you like your foundation to look. I’ve also found that most primers are really hit or miss. Basically, a primer is either going to do amazing things for your makeup, do nothing, or make your foundation a greasy, patchy mess. In the second two cases, it’s definitely better to go without a primer than to use one just for the sake of using one.

A lot of people have never considered using a primer, and if you’re having any foundation or skin issues, I recommend trying one. Oftentimes friends will come to me and think that there is something weird going on with their skincare or their foundations, and when I give them a primer to add in without changing anything else, all of their problems are solved. It doesn’t always work, but it’s something to consider.

I personally think primers are much more useful for people with either oily or dry skin than for people with normal skin – if you have normal skin, you can usually get away with not using one. The proper primer can help mattify your face or give it the hydration that it needs. It can help your makeup apply more evenly for a flawless finish (goodbye cake face!), and it can increase the longevity of your foundation.

I recently went on a huge primer kick – it was kinda ridiculous. I went to the drugstore, Sephora, and Ulta and picked up a million and five primers that I hadn’t tried yet. I do this every so often with primers, foundations, concealers, mascaras, etc. just to make sure I’m not missing out on anything life-changing that’s come out recently. A few months of playing makeup detective pretty much reaffirmed that my original favorites are still the best of the best for my skin, so I thought today I’d share my go-to products in Primer World.

Unfortunately, most of these are high-end. The drugstore is really slackin’ in this department. However, it’s worth it in my opinion to pay a bit more for a product if it’s truly going to transform your makeup. Plus, most primers last a very very long time, so you get your money’s worth.

I have combination/oily skin, so I look for something that will keep the oils at bay, make my makeup last longer, and make my foundation glide on flawlessly. I also obviously want something that’s not going to irritate my skin or make me break out. If your skin is normal, then some of these might work fabulously for you, but if you have dry skin, these are not the primers for you. If you want me to write a separate post on my favorite primers for normal and/or dry skin, leave a comment below and I would be happy to do so!

NYX Shine Killer 

This is my only drugstore pick, but it also happens to be my all-time favorite primer for oily skin. (NYX in general has good primers, FYI.) I always choose this if I’m going somewhere that puts my skin at high-risk for oiliness – like if I’m going to be out for an extremely long period of time, if I’ll be in the sun all day, or if I might sweat. I can always count on this lil’ guy to keep me as matte as possible and to keep my foundation lookin’ good all day long. It’s clear with a gel-like consistency, but it isn’t very thick so it soaks into the skin very quickly. This makes your skin feel silky smooth so that your foundation applies flawlessly.

Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer Light

This has been my go-to everyday face primer for about five years now, and I highly doubt that will change. It keeps the oils at bay without sucking the moisture out of my face, and it helps any type of foundation glide on easily. This has a slightly thicker consistency than the NYX Shine Killer, but it still soaks into the skin pretty quickly. I prefer this for everyday wear because it gives my face more of a normal finish rather than a straight up matte finish, which can sometimes be too much for a casual day. If you have normal skin, I would still highly suggest this primer because it will improve your makeup application and help your foundation stay on all day long.

Note: make sure you buy the “Light” version of this! Smashbox sells one that looks almost exactly the same but doesn’t say “Light” on it, so it’s easy to get them confused.

Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer 

I have NO WORDS for how silky smooth this primer will make your skin. Like, I have never felt anything like it. This is a bit expensive, so I save this for when I really want my skin to feel like silk. A lot of people claim this keeps their skin super matte, but it personally gives my skin more of a normal finish than a matte look. It definitely keeps my oil under control, though. I also love this because it’s water-resistant, actually helps minimize my pores, and has very clean ingredients compared to most other primers. There is also a bit of sun protection in this one, and we all know I’m obsessed with keeping SPF on my skin at all times (#fairskinprobs). But honestly, I need to reiterate how damn smooth this makes your skin. The consistency is very thin, and it seriously TRANSFORMS the way your foundation applies. I feel like I’m putting magic on my face.

Make Up For Ever Step 1 Skin Equalizer Mattifying Primer

I have kind of a love-hate relationship with this primer. It definitely keeps your skin matte AF, but it has a thick consistency that can be hard to work with. Once you get the hang of using it, it can seriously save a girl with oily skin, but it takes getting used to. First of all, you need hardly any product. Like, much less than you think. And do NOT rub this into your face! When using it, just pat it into the areas of your face that get oily, like your T-zone. I repeat – PAT! DO NOT RUB! If you rub, it will start to ball up on your face and will just fall off. If you use too much, your foundation can start to look cakey and ball up as well. Less is more! With this product, it works much better to pat your foundation on rather than buff it into the skin with your brush. Or use a Beauty Blender – that always works too! In sum, if you want to be matte matte matte, this is a definite winner, but make sure you’re applying it properly.

I hope this makes it a bit easier for you to navigate the face priming world – I know it can be an overwhelming place! I would love to hear what your favorite primers are, so please comment and let me know! I’m still in the process of trying even more primers (there are seriously ten billion on the market), and I’ll be sure to let you guys know if I find any new faves! XO

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