For make-up that lasts all day long, a good primer is essential. Yes, it’s an added step in your morning routine, but find the right formula and it’s totally worth the extra few minutes. The question is, which is the best primer for you? So it doesn't become yet another item to languish unloved at the bottom of your make-up bag or clutter up your bathroom, the Grazia team have researched the best primers on the market.
It's not only the longevity of your base that will get a boost (if you want your make-up to stick around past lunchtime, a decent primer is a must), but a good primer will also improve the quality of your foundation. We’re talking added radiance, a reduction in the appearance of fine lines (thanks to clever, skin-savvy ingredients) and (if you choose the correct formula for your skin type) a dewy but shine-free finish.
What does a make-up primer do?
A make-up primer is designed to smooth and even skin tone, preparing it for your foundation - be it a drugstore foundation or high-end. Ultimately it can make your make-up sit better, last longer and help to create a really polished finish. Of course, there are different primers for different needs - so consider what finish you're after, whether that's matte or dewy.
How do I choose a primer that’s right for me?
To find a primer that is best suited to you, think about how your foundation currently sits on your skin and what you'd like to change. For instance, if you want to take down shine and control excess oil - look for a mattifying primer that is oil-free. If, however, your foundation and powder look flaky and dry, opt for a hydrating primer that is blended with skin-savvy ingredients like hyaluronic acid.
For those of us with sensitive skin, avoid primers loaded with fragrance and look for something hypoallergenic. And if you want to minimise the appearance of fine lines, a moisturising primer that contains antioxidants is the best choice.
If you're prone to blemishes and are worried about using a primer that may irritate your skin, try a product with salicylic acid that will help keep your spots at bay. Go for products that are oil-free, fragrance-free and non-comedogenic as these will all help to not clog your pores.
With more specific issues such as colour correction, use a green corrector to reduce redness, purple to balance out yellow undertones, yellow to cancel out blue/purple veins, and a peach to reduce dark circles.
Whether you want to secure longevity with your foundation, better application when using a make-up brush, or need a touch of colour correction or a moisture boost, we’ve got you covered with our edit of the best primers below to suit every budget from high street to high end. You can thank us later…
SHOP: The Best Primers As Rated By Grazia
Best Primers - Grazia
BEST FOR: Blurring
Too often, blurring primers are packed with silicone and feel heavy on the skin. This one? No silicones whatsoever. Instead, it's packed with blurring powders to create a matte, soft-focus base. A small amount of product can be used to massage on your skin using your fingertips. Over time, it can improve the condition of your skin with the microalgae helping to better the texture and finish.
BEST FOR: Longevity
This green-tinted gel delivers a hefty hit of hydration with aloe water and hyaluronic acid. Despite the hydrating benefits, once absorbed, the primer acts like a magnet to makeup and keeps it locked in all day long. Allow it to sit and absorb for a minute before applying makeup on top of it.
BEST FOR: Dull, lacklustre skin
Consider this the ultimate fixer-upper for dull, tired skin. Charlotte's clever concoction works to boost radiance when worn on bare skin or mixed in with your foundation. It gives a real soft-focus, radiant sheen that peeks through a lighter coverage foundation. The product should be applied across the whole face, but focus on the top of the cheekbones to give an instant lift. It can also be applied on top of makeup, on your cheekbones and brow bones to add to the lift and to perk up your complexion.
BEST FOR: A matte finish
A secret weapon used backstage to create a smooth base, this matte, soft-focus primer ticks every box and then some. Whether you are wanting to reduce pores, blur imperfections, mattify or brighten your skin, this product has got you covered. The product has shea butter to keep skin hydrated and it is non-comedogenic, meaning it will not clog your pores.
BEST FOR: Sun protection
Committed to super-lightweight, invisible formulas, Hello Sunday's products are perfect for protecting against UV rays (and blue light!) without leaving a white cast on your skin. This clever, fragrance-free primer has a velvety finish and glides over skin, minimising shine. Bridging the gap between sun protection and skin care, it's infused with skin-loving ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, vitamin C, and of course, SPF50, to protect against UV.
BEST FOR: Reducing redness
Smashbox know a great primer. This one is green to cancel out any signs of redness. Those with redness might also be prone to sensitivity, so this one features a skin-soothing blend of ingredients like algae and mushrooms to calm and mollify.
BEST FOR: Minimising enlarged pores
A new, more lightweight iteration of the original, Benefit's newest primer still makes pores look non-existent (especially around the chin and cheeks) and helps skin feel airbrushed. Apply the product onto clean skin, patting it into the problem areas to see the full benefit. It is also oil-free and can be used on top of your makeup without disturbing it. Keep the product in your bag to touch up when needed throughout the day.
BEST FOR: Dry, flaky skin
Is it a moisturiser? Is it a primer? Bobbi Brown's cult favourite works hard as both. It's beautifully rich and balmy, packed full of shea butter and vitamin E to hydrate and brighten. It'll flood the skin with moisture, and prevent make-up from clinging to dry patches throughout the day. As such, it works perfectly as a primer for those with drier skin (Molly Mae is also a fan).
BEST FOR: Smoothing texture
A skincare /make-up hybrid? Yes, please. The Superfruit primer features AHAs (gently exfoliating acids) to smooth and even the texture of the skin over time. It has a gel-like texture that melts into the skin with real ease, leaving a base that feels fresh and ready for foundation. Oilier skin types will also appreciate its oil-absorbing properties, too.