If you want your foundation and other makeup to look better and last longer, primers are the way to go. As the name suggests, a makeup primer “primes” your skin by smoothing it out and creating a base for foundation and color. This improves the appearance and performance of any makeup you choose to use since makeup generally does not adhere well or look good on dry and rough skin.
Primers are available for all skin types, including skin that could use some extra hydration. You can choose serum, gel, cream, or mousse-like formulations. Dry skin usually does best with cream or mousse, while combination skin might prefer gel or serum. While the primers below do hydrate the skin, they are not a substitute for a quality moisturizer.
Primers are made with beneficial ingredients and features, including sun protection, botanicals, natural oils, shea butter, aloe vera, hyaluronic acid, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Some also contain pigments or other ingredients to make the skin glow. While all of these are good for skin in general, this doesn’t necessarily mean that they are good for your own personal skin, so choose carefully based on your own needs and wants.
- Kiehl’s Micro-Blur Skin Protector: Best Hydrating Primer That Minimizes Pores
This moisturizing primer is loaded with lipo hydroxy acid as well as bark and lentil extracts. It is designed to refine the texture of your skin and minimize the appearance of pores and improve the overall quality of the skin. It feels rich but lightweight.
It has been scientifically tested with the Good Housekeeping Lab’s Visia Complexion Analyzer, which showed that it instantly improved skin texture by 25% as soon as it was applied. The Micro-Blur Skin Protector primer feels smooth and silky, and it does minimize pores nicely. Expect to pay in the neighborhood of $50 and look for it in better cosmetics departments and beauty boutiques.
- e.l.f. Cosmetics Hydrating Face Primer: Best Budget Hydrating Primer
This e.l.f Cosmetics primer is formulated with natural grapeseed oil and vitamins A, C, and E to hydrate and refresh your facial skin. Grapeseed oil is also known to reduce redness, lighten the appearance of scars, and prevent free radical damage. The primer is heavy and feels somewhat oily when applied but dries to a natural matte finish. Testers report that it does increase makeup wear time.
This primer is extremely budget-friendly at around $6 at most retailers. It is also easy to find since it is sold in many drugstores and big-box department stores. Even better, since you only use a tiny bit at a time, the bottle will last for a long time. This makes it even more budget-friendly than it seems at first glance.
- Neutrogena Hydro Boost Glow Booster Primer + Serum: Best Hydrating Primer with Serum
Neutrogena has earned a solid reputation in the skincare space because they consistently provide innovative skin-friendly products at accessible price points. This primer plus serum is no exception. It is made with hyaluronic acid that immediately hydrates the skin and plumps it up to reduce lines and wrinkles.
It is lightweight and non-greasy, and it dries to a matte finish so that you can wear it on its own without foundation or other makeup if you want. It retails around $15 for a generously sized bottle, which can be found at many mass-market retailers.
- Laniege Glowy Makeup Serum: Best Hydrating Primer for Luminous Skin
Your skin must be properly hydrated to get a good glow going, but it needs more than that. Here’s where this luxurious Laniege serum comes in. It is formulated with ceramide hydration gel to moisturize your skin without making it look or feel greasy (shiny is not the same as glowy!). The glow comes from unique ingredients such as diamond mineral powder to smooth out your skin and proprietary Light Fit Prep Technology to make your makeup last longer.
You can find this serum-style primer at beauty boutiques and higher-end skincare departments. It costs around $30 for a bottle, but the bottle should last a long time since you only use a little bit of the primer each time.
- Olay Sun 35 Sun Face Lotion + Makeup Primer: Best Hydrating Primer with SPF
The Olay brand has been a skincare powerhouse for decades, but they have never stopped innovating. This hydrating primer with sun protection is a great example of that. It goes on like a light lotion, and it’s loaded with beneficial ingredients such as fatty acids and vitamin E. It also has a broad-spectrum SPF of 35 to protect your skin.
The Olay Sun 35 primer has earned the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval. When evaluated in the GH Beauty Lab, testers found that it prevented the foundation from creasing or cracking even after eight hours of wear. In addition, this is an accessible product since it can be bought at mass-market retailers, usually for around $12 per bottle.
- Laura Mercier Hydrating Pure Canvas Primer: Best Generalist Hydrating Primer
This hydrating primer is well-known and well-loved in the beauty industry, and there is little wonder why. It is exceptionally good at what it does. The Hydrating Pure Canvas Primer boosts moisture while instantly smoothing out the skin and, true to its name, creating a canvas for makeup artistry. It is loaded with ingredients such as glycerin, squalene, and olive extract.
This is a professional-grade primer, and as such, you’ll need to shop the way that professionals do. It is available in beauty boutiques and better department stores. Expect to pay about $40 for a smallish tube, but remember that you only use a little at a time, so even a small tube goes a long way.
- Tarte Sea Quench Hydrating Primer: Hydrating Primer with the Best Ingredients
This all-natural Sea Quench Hydrating Primer from Tarte is loaded with unique beneficial ingredients, including algae, marine plant extracts, hyaluronic acid, turmeric, and kefir extract. It is formulated to balance the skin and nourish it, and it leaves the skin feeling moist but not greasy. It also evens out skin texture and reduces the appearance of lines and pores.
You can enjoy this primer in any season, of course, but it is especially well suited for use in the winter when most people suffer from dry, lifeless-looking skin. This is an upscale skincare product, and you can find it in boutiques and department stores. The price is around $30 for a relatively small tube that lasts a long time.
- Maybelline FaceStudio Master Prime Primer Hydrate + Smooth: Most Soothing Hydrating Primer
This Maybelline FaceStudio Master Prime Primer gets rave reviews from users. It is easy to use and leaves skin feeling clean, hydrated, and smooth. The impressive ingredient list includes shea butter, glycerin, and botanicals such as apricot and rice bran. However, it can feel a bit heavy, so it is best suited for winter use, although people with dehydrated skin may appreciate it all year round.
Maybelline has been a mass-market mainstay for decades, which means that this popular product is easily accessible. It is sold at many drugstores and big-box department stores, and it usually costs under $10 for a tube.
- Victoria Beckham Beauty x Augustinus Bader Cell Rejuvenating Priming Moisturizer: Best Luxury-Level Hydrating Primer
This collaboration between beauty industry superstars is noteworthy in many ways, and this includes the price tag. The Cell Rejuvenating Priming Moisturizer feels more like a moisturizer than a primer since it does not have the characteristic silicone feel and chalky finish that most primers do. However, it still succeeds at priming the skin to make the foundation look better and last longer.
It is engineered with Bader’s trademark TFC8 technology to help skin regenerate, accelerate the natural repair process, and reduce signs of aging such as wrinkles, lines, and reduced elasticity. This is a pricey product at nearly $150 for a small pump bottle, and it can be bought at beauty boutiques and department stores that cater to this price point.
- Hello Fab Coconut Skin Smoothie Priming Moisturizer: Best Hydrating Primer for Sensitive Skin
If your skin is sensitive, dry, or rough, you can still get the beauty benefits of a great primer. This Hello Fab Coconut Skin Smoothie Priming Moisturizer is oil-free so that it does not clog pores. It still delivers a healthy dose of hydration, thanks to ingredients that include coconut water to hydrate, quinoa protein to protect, and a mineral blend for skin health. It feels light but brightens your skin noticeably.
Both consumers and beauty industry insiders give rave reviews to this priming moisturizer. It is available at skincare boutiques and department stores, and the suggested price is in the range of $30 for a small tube. As with other primers, you use only a tiny bit every day, so your investment will pay off for some time.