Can you use water based primer with silicone based foundation

How to match primer with foundation?

Using a good primer is a crucial step in any makeup routine.

Without finding a primer that’s a good match for your foundation, you may end up with uneven skin tone and a coverage that doesn’t last as long on your complexion!

With so many primers available in the market, finding the perfect one can be tricky.

Can water based primers work with silicone based foundations? Let’s find out!

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primers with silicone based foundation

Can you use a water based primer with a silicone based foundation?

For the most part, water based primers work the best with water based foundations.

Using two different bases can cause your foundation to separate and look uneven by the end of the day.

This isn’t to say that a water based primer could never work with a silicone based foundation, but layering these two products on top of each other might not give you the best long lasting makeup look.

But wait, there’s more!

I tested a lot of water based primers with different silicone based foundations and I noticed that primers having ‘glycerin’ on top of their ingredient list worked the best.

They helped the foundation to stick better to the skin and last for about 4-5 hours without separating.

Yes, there are always exceptions to the rule!

So if you have a water based primer that you’d like to use with a silicone based foundation, test it out to see how it wears throughout the day.


If you’re just getting into makeup or primers in particular, I suggest you use water based with water based and silicone based with silicone based.

This will prevent your foundation from separating on your nose and it will stop it from crumbling on top of a primer.

Silicone primer vs water-based primer

How to Tell If a Primer Is Silicone-Based Or Water-Based?

In order to know whether your primer is silicone or water-based, you can simply check the ingredient list.

Water is usually the first ingredient in silicone or water based primers. In fact, most liquid products have water as a main ingredient.

For silicone based primers, the ingredients to look for are dimethicone, cyclopentasiloxane or anything that ends in -cone or -siloxane.

Basically,the name ‘silicone’ doesn’t have to exist in the ingredient’s list.

Silicone primers usually have these mentionned ingredients listed at the top of their ingredients list:





Water based primers will either have none of the silicone ingredients listed above on top of their ingredient list, or they might have a very small amount of these ingredients down the list.

The second thing to look for is the texture.

Water-based primers have a liquidy texture and a thinner consistency. They give the skin a dewy finish.

Silicone-based primers have a texture similar to vaseline or petroleum jelly. They feel soft and their silky formula spreads easily on the skin. They also help blurring fine lines and wrinkles. 

Tip: Many primers can also be applied on top of makeup. Depending on their type, they help to set the foundation and fix dry makeup looks.
You can also mix your primer and foundation to get a poreless makeup look!

Are water based makeup primers good?

Water based primers have a very lightweight formula. They are easy to blend on the skin and they can look more natural than silicone based primers.

They also feel very hydrating which makes them work well for dry skin. 

If you have acne prone skin or sensitive skin, a water based primer may be better for you than a silicone one.

Silicone based primers don’t rinse away easily so If you use them everyday , make sure to double cleanse your skin at night.

Removing all the makeup residue is very important to avoid breakouts and skin irritation.

TIP: if you have dry skin, you can use a face oil as primer to get a glowy look.

Is water based primer good for oily skin?

There are many water based primer that work great for oily skin. They don’t leave you feeling greasy and they feel very lightweight on the face.

The elf power grip primer is a great example. it has a lightweight but sticky formula infused with hyaluronic acid.

elf power grip primer

Another nice choice is the Honest EVERYTHING PRIMER – MATTE. It’s oil free and it helps blurring the pores while keeping the skin matte.

honest beauty primer

Water based primers with oil absorbing ingredients can work wonders for oily skin. Not only they are oil free, they also help reducing the shine  for a flawless makeup look.

Is water based primer good for dry skin?

There are many water based primers that can work great for dry skin.

Check for primers that are packed with nourishing and hydrating ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, glycerin…..

Their moisturizing texture will help hydrate dry skin for a flawless makeup application.

Keep in mind that preparing the skin before applying primer or foundation is an important step.

Use a moisturizer or an oil that is can provide you with the essential hydration. 

Can you use silicone based primer with water based foundation

Using a silicone based primer with a water based foundation is not recommended.

Silicone repels water and using these two different bases together can cause the foundation to crumble and separate.

In fact, silicone based primers create a barrier that might not let the foundation sit properly on the skin.

A silicone based primer should be used with a silicone based foundation. The perfect way to pair primer and foundation is to choose the same base ingredients.

This combination will give you the best result and it will help your foundation sticking better to the skin.  

Silicone based primers create a smooth canvas for the foundation. Pairing them with a silicone based foundation will give a smooth and flawless look that can last all day.

To pick the right primer for your foundation, make sure the base ingredients match.

Is Smashbox The Original Photo Finish Smooth & Blur Oil-Free Primer water or silicone-based?

The Smashbox The Original Photo Finish Smooth & Blur Oil-Free Primer is silicone based.

It has Cyclopentasiloxane and Dimethicone on the top of the first ingredients.

This primer has a clear gel formula that smoothes the pores. It Reduces the appearance of fine lines while locking the makeup.

It also has vitamins A and E to protect the skin.

Ingredients list: Cyclopentasiloxane, Dimethicone, Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Trisiloxane, Silica, Dimethicone/Vinyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Ethylhexyl Salicylate, Retinyl Palmitate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower) Seed Extract, Propylene Glycol, Water, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Extract, Cola Acuminata (Kola) Seed Extract, Camellia Oleifera Leaf Extract. Source:

Is YSL Touche Eclat Blur Face primer water-based?

The YSL Touche Eclat Blur Face primer is not water based.

The YSL Touche Eclat Blur Face primer has Cyclopentasiloxane as a first ingredient. It also has four nourishing oils: Corn Oil, Apricot Kernel Oil, Passiflora oil, and Rice Bran Oil.

It`s a lightweight primer with light-infused pigments that gives the skin a Radiant Finish. It has a gel formula that smooths over imperfections to allow for a flawless makeup application.

Ingredients: Cyclopentasiloxane, Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Fragrance, Zea Mays Oil/Corn Oil, Prunus Armeniaca, Kernel Oil/Apricot Kernel Oil, Passiflora Edulis Oil/Passiflora Edulis Seed Oil, Oryza Sativa Bran Oil/Rice Bran Oil, Calcium Sodium Borosilicate, Silica, Tin Oxide, [+/- May Contain, Ci 77891/Titanium Dioxide, Ci 77491/Iron Oxides]. Source:

Is Elf Poreless face primer silicone-based?

The Elf Poreless face primer is silicone based.

It has Dimethicone as a first ingredient.

This primer feels lightweight and it goes on easily. It does a good job hiding the pores too.

The CONS is that it has a very strong chemical smell that I think some people might not like.

Ingredients: Dimethicone,Dimethicone Crosspolymer,Tridecyl Trimellitate,Dimethicone/Vinyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer,Phenoxyethanol,Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Leaf Oil,Caprylyl Glycol,Retinyl Palmitate (Va),Tocopheryl Acetate (Ve),SilicaTitanium Dioxide (Ci 77891) Source:

Is MILK MAKEUP Hydro Grip Primer water based?

The MILK MAKEUP Hydro Grip Primer is water based.

It`s a hydrating, makeup-gripping gel primer that is formulated without silicones.

It has aloe water, hyaluronic acid and Hemp-Derived Cannabis Seed Extract to hydrate and soothe the skin.

It also has Blue Agave Extract that smooths skin texture.

I’ve found that the best way to apply this primer is by dabbing it on the skin rather than rub it in. It feels a little bit sticky and it makes the makeup grip to it perfectly. It’s a perfect primer especially for the summer so the makeup doesn’t move or badge all day long.

Final thoughts on what kind of primer to use

If you’re looking for a primer that’s lightweight, hydrating and perfect for dry and sensitive skin types then water based primers are the way to go. They’re also great for people who want to avoid silicone or oil in their makeup products.

Use them with water based foundations to get the best long lasting results and avoid foundation separating on your face.

People with oily skin can use mattfying silicone based primers with silicone based foundations. They help control oil throughout the day which helps the makeup last longer on the skin.

Related Articles

how to match primer and foundation? What primer to use with silicone foundations?

Claire is a beauty enthusiast and lover of all things makeup. Her blog is a resource for makeup tips and tricks, product reviews and beauty tutorials.

8 thoughts on “Can you use water based primer with silicone based foundation”

  1. Hello, I would like to ask if the separating makeup also have something to do with skincare products? Does my skincare have to be water based for water based primer and foundation, or does the skincare not matter? I do experience separating foundation, but only on my chin, and I can’t figure it out. I don’t want to change my skincare since it helps me with my acne.

    • Sometimes a water-based foundation can separate if it’s applied on top of a heavy skin care product. After applying your skincare products, give them some time to get absorbed into the skin before applying makeup. This can prevent the makeup from separating on top. If the foundation is still separating on your chin, it could be because of many reasons. Try to apply less foundation to this problematic area and build up the foundation if needed. Dab it gently into the skin instead of rubbing it so that it sits well on top of your skincare products. If nothing seems to work, you can use a primer underneath and set your foundation with a setting powder.

  2. Hey, I think you might’ve made a mistake. The elf hydrating primer you mentioned and linked as a water based primer has dimethicone. I think that would make it silicone based. Maybe you meant the elf hydro grip instead (the one that recently came out and is similar to the milk makeup one)?

    • Yes thank you for your comment! You are right. I replaced the elf hydrating primer by the elf hydro grip.

  3. Is Rare Beauty’s Pore Diffusing Primer water or silicone based? I’ve used it with Estee Lauder’s Double Wear Foundation and it just breaks apart at the end of the day. Should I pair Estee Lauder’s Double Wear Foundation with ELF’s Power Grip Primer instead? Please let me know

    • The Rare beauty’s Pore Diffusing Primer and Estee Lauder’s Double Wear Foundation are both silicone-based, so they could perform well together. For better results, apply a small amount of the Rare Beauty’s Pore Diffusing Primer and press it into the skin instead of rubbing it in. Allow it to sit for a couple of minutes until it gets absorbed, and then apply your foundation. If it still doesn’t work well for you, there are better primers for your skin type. Your natural oils break the foundation apart after a few hours, so you must try another mattifying primer.
      The ELF’s Power Grip Primer is water-based, so it might not perform well with the Estee Lauder Foundation. Experimenting is the key to knowing if it will work or not. The Elf primer is a gel that provides a good grip and has hyaluronic acid to hydrate the skin. It’s not very mattifying, but it gives a good base for the makeup to cling to. I hope this helps.

  4. Can you recommend some good water based foundations?


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