The best makeup primers you can buy

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Too faced

  • Makeup primer is one of those steps you might be tempted to skip, but you'll be happier with your foundation application if you don't.
  • Hourglass Mineral Veil Primer is our top pick because it gives skin a velvety smooth finish to help base products glide on and stay in place all day long.

Primer for your face sounds like a gimmick, but I promise it isn't. The step adds a cumulative 30 seconds to your routine but makes a world of difference in your makeup application whether you wear foundation or not.

But there are so many options out there. Choosing a primer can quickly become overwhelming if you're wandering around Sephora unprepared. There are mattifying primers, hydrating primers, illuminating primers, and pore-blurring primers. How can you ever pick just one?

There are two important things to keep in mind when shopping for a primer: your skin type and your base makeup preferences. People with oily skin might gravitate toward mattifying or pore-blurring primers, while those with dry skin will likely prefer hydrating or radiant primers. Even those who don't wear foundation can benefit from primer to keep your other products in place, especially if you struggle with Melty Makeup Syndrome.

This breakdown of the best makeup primers I've personally tested will help you narrow down the sea of options to find your one perfect pick.

Here are the best makeup primers you can buy:

Read on in the slides below to check out our top picks.

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The best makeup primer overall

The best makeup primer overall
Why you'll love it: Hourglass Mineral Veil Primer is a blockbuster beauty product that blurs imperfections and helps you achieve a smooth, long-lasting makeup application.

Have you ever started to blend in your makeup only to find that it is just not sitting right on your face that day? I can't stand when products I normally love pill up because of something I applied underneath, and the cult-favorite Hourglass Mineral Veil Primer is designed to prevent exactly that scenario.

It's a silky smooth white liquid that quickly becomes transparent as you work it into the skin. This primer creates an even base on which to blend your foundation and concealer by minimizing the appearance of redness, pores, and imperfections. The formula contains broad spectrum SPF 15 for some added sun protection, though I and your dermatologist, most likely would caution against using makeup as your primary sunscreen.

My skin feels super soft after applying Hourglass Mineral Veil Primer and I find that my makeup lasts all day without settling into fine lines. It's oil-free, fragrance-free, made without parabens or sulfates, so the formula is not irritating or greasy on my sensitive skin. Thanks to the airy texture, I find it leaves me matte without that dehydrated effect. Hourglass is one of my all-time favorite beauty brands, and every single product I've tried, including this one, blends seamlessly and leaves me looking better but not "makeup-y."

This is one of the most universally beloved primers on the market. It's been mentioned by countless publications including Rank and Style, Allure, and Byrdie, and has more than 6,000 reviews and a 4.4 rating on the platform Influenster and 3,800+ 5-star reviews on Sephora.

Pros: Oil and fragrance-free, suitable for all skin types

Cons: Expensive

Buy Hourglass Mineral Veil Primer at Sephora for $54

The best radiant primer

The best radiant primer
Why you'll love it: Don't let the intense luminosity scare you off — Becca Backlight Priming Filter gives you a gorgeous, natural glow that shines through foundation.

I don't know what kind of fairy dust they're working with at Becca Cosmetics HQ but these people know about glow. The Becca Backlight Priming Filter is the first primer I ever wanted to write poetry about. It makes my complexion look healthy and bright, whether worn alone or under foundation or tinted moisturizer.

I tend to gravitate toward this primer in the winter when my skin is feeling dull or on occasions when I'm wearing fuller coverage foundation. Just one pump blurs imperfections and imparts the most natural champagne-colored luminosity to the skin.

The radiance comes from Filtering Luminescent Pearls that diffuse light and add subtle shimmer — not glitter. The formula also contains nourishing vitamin E.

With a 4.2 star rating on Sephora based on 1,000+ reviews, this is a fan-favorite primer that has been featured in Best Products, Cosmopolitan UK, Vogue UK, and Women's Health, among other publications.

Pros: Beautiful natural glow, can be worn alone or with foundation, cruelty-free, paraben-free

Cons: Has a strong scent, doesn't extend foundation wear time

Buy Becca Backlight Priming Filter at Sephora for $39

The best moisturizing primer

The best moisturizing primer
Why you'll love it: Quench your thirst with the hydrating, coconut water-infused Too Faced Hangover Rx Replenishing Face Primer.

Dry patches and overall dehydration are the bane of any makeup lover's existence. Enter: Too Faced Hangover Rx Replenishing Face Primer — a super light moisturizing primer that plumps skin and keeps makeup looking fresh all day.

I reach for this when I'm doing my makeup several hours after applying skin-care products to give my skin an extra shot of moisture. But if you have dry skin, you'll probably want to use it on the daily. It's hydrating without being greasy, so you can use it under matte base products without disrupting the finish.

Another plus is the travel-friendly packaging. The primer is housed in a flexible tube with a pump on the end. The design prevents spillage in transit and also makes it very difficult to accidentally dispense too much, thus cutting down on waste. The cruelty-free, silicone-free formula is packed with coconut water and probiotics to keep your complexion happy.

"New favorite face primer!" writes one Sephora reviewer. “It is the smoothest thing I have ever put on my skin, feels amazing. It is super hydrating and my makeup goes on beautifully and prolongs it so well!” Still not convinced? There are nearly 3,000 other reviews and mentions in Women's Health, Cosmopolitan UK, Women's World, and Best Products.

Pros: Moisturizing, silicone-free, cruelty-free, travel-friendly pump packaging

Cons: Strong coconut scent, not ideal for oily skin

Buy the Too Faced Hangover Replenishing Face Primer at Sephora for $34

The best blurring primer

The best blurring primer
Why you'll love it: The Milk Makeup Blur Stick is a unique solid primer that minimizes the appearance of pores and mattifies the complexion.

If you want a heavy-duty mattifying primer, look no further than the Milk Makeup Blur Stick. As the name suggests, it blurs pores and imperfections. The solid formula allows for targeted application, so you can place it only where you need it, sorta like a giant glue stick.

For example, I like to use the Milk Makeup Blur Stick on the oily parts of my T-zone and apply a different primer on my drier, rosacea-prone cheeks. The travel-friendly packaging makes it easy to bring on the go for touch-ups — you can even blot it on top of makeup to absorb oil if you get shiny throughout the day.

The Blur Stick is silicone-free, oil-free, talc-free, cruelty-free, and vegan. I love how easy this is to swipe on quickly without making a mess. The instructions recommend warming the product on the back of your hand before you apply to the skin, and I second that because otherwise the product tugs on your skin.

Though the Blur Stick sounded gimmicky at first, I was really impressed with the skin-smoothing results. The Sephora reviews are somewhat mixed, resulting in a 3.5-star rating, but many shoppers rave about the effects.

"It's not a primer that you can feel is there like others (probably because it's silicone free) but it does keep my makeup in place.," writes one reviewer.

As far as professional reviews go, the Blur Stick has been recommended by editors at Glamour, Fashionista, and Nylon.

Pros: Vegan, cruelty-free, silicone-free, oil-free, portable, non-liquid

Cons: Needs to warm up before applying smoothly

Buy the Milk Makeup Blur Stick at Sephora for $36
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