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For a while, it seemed like primers were becoming a thing of the past. But watch any TikToker’s beauty tutorials and you’ll find that the key to a perfectly blended, selfie-worthy beat is largely down to the prep they do beforehand. With products like Charlotte Tilbury’s Hollywood Flawless Filter and Milk Makeup’s Hydro Grip Primer becoming viral sensations, primers have become as essential to a beautiful base as contour or foundation brushes. But what exactly are primers and how do you know which one you need? We turned to Smashbox Global lead artist and makeup artist Lori Taylor Davis to answer some of our burning questions.
What exactly East a primer for the face?
“Primers prepare your skin to receive makeup, depending on the primer formula, they can add moisture, smooth texture, control oil, and in some cases, brighten the skin,” says Davis. They should be used after your skincare, just before makeup. “Facial primers are best used or applied after moisturizer and are the last step before applying all types of foundation.”
How can someone find the best primer for their skin type?
As with skincare, finding the right primer means determining what your beauty goals are. “Most primers can be mixed or layered, so creating your own cocktails of primers helps you customize and create your perfect skin finish,” says Davis. There are primers that work to control oiliness, add shine or brighten dull skin. They can even treat skin problems. “Primers that double as skincare work both to perfect skin immediately and over time.”
How to use a face primer?
You don’t have to be a makeup artist in training to get the most out of primers. “Primers really add to any makeup — they prep the skin so your skin and the makeup you apply look better for longer,” Davis says. “Facial primers apply best with fingers, like moisturizers. Feeling how much and where the primers go reduces overuse.”
Here, find 17 of our all-time favorite face primers that will get your skin ready for Instagram, without the filters.
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Ideal for smooth skin
The Original Photo Finish Smooth & Blur Oil-Free Primer
A perfectly smooth base will make anyone think your skin is flawless. With antioxidants and line-filling technology, you’ll barely notice your pores or wrinkles when you apply this primer.
Ideal for long-lasting make-up
Hydro Grip Primer
Sweat, humidity, and the daily wear and tear of everyday life can degrade your makeup throughout the day. This primer ensures that after you apply your base, it won’t move an inch.
Ideal for radiant skin
Hollywood Flawless Filter
There’s a reason this product is selling out so fast. Although it looks like a foundation, it’s actually a subtly tinted primer that adds a healthy dose of glow to the skin. You can also use it as a highlighter on top of your makeup or mix it with your favorite foundation for a cooler look.
Ideal for large pores
POREfessional foundation primer
One of the most popular primers on the market is still the most effective. This product makes pores almost invisible when you apply it. It has a matte finish, but stays comfortable on the skin and gives a soft, super smooth look.
Ideal for dry skin
Moisturizing base for the face
People with dry skin know that it can be difficult to put on makeup to look perfectly dewy all day. This primer contains vitamins C, A, and E for a brightened, hydrated, and overall shinier finish.
Ideal for beginners
High adhesion silicone primer
If you have a long list of skin care wishes, this low-cost product can meet most of your needs. It has a matte finish, but still delivers hydration, blurs imperfections, and ensures your makeup lasts all day.
Ideal for dewy skin
Yummy Skin Glow Primer Serum
If you want a glazed donut shine, this primer is just shiny enough to make it happen. It uses fan-favorite skincare ingredients like pore-blurring niacinamide, hydrating hyaluronic acid, and vitamin C for luminous, glowing skin.
Ideal for inflamed skin
Face Filter Blurring and Moisturizing Primer
If you’re a skincare junkie, this product is as much a skincare product as it is a makeup primer. Not only does it ensure your foundation looks blurry and smooth throughout the day, but while it sits on your skin, it targets inflammation, redness and dehydration for skin that looks great with or without makeup.
Ideal for maximalists
Thank Me Later Illuminating Face Primer
This base is so beautiful that you can wear it alone, and your skin always look flawless. It blends, leaves your makeup looking fresh for hours, and smoothes imperfections. Behind the scenes, the ingredients also help treat hyperpigmentation while you wear it.
Ideal for a subtle glow
Glowy Super Gel Highlighter Light Pink
If your goal is healthy and luminous looking skin, this primer can achieve it. It doubles as a highlighter, but under makeup it will keep your skin looking radiant, dewy and beautiful.
Ideal for uneven skin
Fabulous Face Priming Serum
With niacinamide and shea butter, this primer delivers intense hydration to dry skin without clogging pores. Her goal is to give the gift of radiant skin, even when you’re not wearing makeup.
Ideal for intense shine
Spackle Skin Perfecting Sheer Rose Glow Primer
If you want to shine like a diamond, you’ll need an equally brilliant primer. This product has a glow that is anything but subtle. Layered under makeup, you’ll be shocked at how radiant your skin looks.
Ideal for redness
Veil Mineral Primer
You don’t need to apply multiple layers of foundation to hide redness when your primer does half the job. This mineral-rich, vegan formula ensures your glam really lasts.
Ideal for silky skin
The protective primer for silk canvas
For a face so soft you could touch it for hours, this cult base from Tatcha is your best bet. It blurs pores and protects skin from breakouts with a combination of silk and natural extracts.
Ideal for fine lines
Studio Perfect Primer
If your foundation ends up settling in your laugh lines at the end of the day, this primer will make sure that never happens again. By filling in these lines before applying your base, you can be sure that when it’s time for your nightly routine, your foundation will still be in place.
Ideal for skin prepared for the holidays
All Nighter Face Makeup Primer
When dancing is the order of the day at a party, you need a primer that will ensure that a little sweat won’t melt your makeup. This primer fills in fine lines, hydrates, and ensures your foundation will last from morning to night, or vice versa.
Ideal for protection
Milk Primer SPF 35 Daily Defense 2-in-1 Sunscreen & Makeup Perfector
If you find it difficult to apply sunscreen daily, a primer like this will help you get the job done. It’s hydrating and lightweight, but also contains SPF 25 for all-day protected skin.
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