What is Makeup Primer and is it Necessary?

Does makeup need primer?

Makeup primer is one of those beauty products that seem like a good idea, but you’re not sure if it works.I’m sure we’ve all had to deal with smudging makeup. If you are obsessed with beauty, you know how frustrating it is when your foundation starts to separate!

When you’re getting ready for work, a night out with friends, or even just an afternoon at the beach, you want your makeup to look flawless and last all day. What is the purpose of makeup primer and do you need a primer before foundation?

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What is makeup primer used for?

With so many different types of primers out there it’s hard to know which one is right for you. Choosing the right primer depends on your skin type.

To minimize large pores

If you have big pores, you need a pore-minimizing and smoothing primer that helps to blur the skin. Pores are the worst! They make your skin look uneven and it can be frustrating to put on makeup if you have large pores. The way to solve this problem is by using a smoothing primer before applying your foundation.

Best pore-minimizing primers

Benefit Cosmetics The POREfessional Pore Minimizing Primer

Benefit Cosmetics The POREfessional Pore Minimizing Primer

This primer has a silky formula that blends easily into the skin. It has an oil-free, light formula that creates a smooth canvas on your skin and helps mattify shine. It’s a silicone-based primer that works great for oily or combination skin. For better results, apply a thin layer to moisturized skin and wait a few seconds before applying makeup.

Smashbox Mini Photo Finish Oil & Shine Control Primer

Smashbox Mini Photo Finish Oil & Shine Control Primer

This primer is infused with salicylic acid to help reduce the look of pores. It feels so smooth to apply and it blurs the pores instantly. It helps to keep the face matte all day and it does a really good job of controlling the oil. It’s also not drying and it works great for oily and combination skin. A little bit goes a long way with this primer so you only need a tiny amount. You can apply it under makeup or use it on its own for a blurred look.

Rimmel Stay Matte Primer

Rimmel Stay Matte Primer

This primer is one of the best mattifying primers at the drugstore. It’s very affordable and it has a thin formula that blends easily into the skin.  It sets quickly on the skin and smooths the look of pores. It makes the foundation apply more smoothly and it prolongs the wear of your makeup. It’s a great primer for oily skin because it helps to reduce shine and it doesn’t make the skin look greasy.

To help Mattifying oily skin

If you have oily skin, then you know the struggle of foundation that looks great for about an hour before it starts to separate on your nose and face. Foundation is supposed to last on your face all day, but if your skin produces too much oil, then even the best foundation formulas will start to break down after just an hour or two. This can make makeup look cakey rather than flawless. A mattifying primer with oil absorbing ingredients like silica powder can help absorb any excess oil on the surface of your skin. The result? Your foundation will last longer because it won’t slide off as quickly!

what is makeup primer

To help hydrating dry skin

If you have dry skin, you know that makeup can never look good on top of it. A hydrating primer helps boost hydration before makeup application so that your foundation doesn’t look cakey on top of dry patches or accentuate fine lines. Choosing a primer with hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid or glycerin will give you a smooth base without feeling greasy or oily. People who have very dry skin can use a face oil instead of primer or an oil primer to hydrate their skin so that they look radiant all day long.

Best hydrating primers

e.l.f. Hydrating Face Primer

e.l.f. Hydrating Face Primer

This primer is infused with grape, Vitamins A, C, & E to help hydrate the skin. It’s one of the best affordable primers and it’s also cruelty-free and vegan. A great tip is to apply a tiny amount so that it doesn’t make your face greasy. It goes on smoothly and it evens out the skin tone for an easy foundation application.

Too Faced Hangover Replenishing Face Primer

too faced hangover primer

This primer contains Coconut Water which helps to hydrates the skin. It works great for people with dry skin and it sits well under makeup. It helps to smooth out the skin and make it feel less tight. Foundation is now easier to apply without getting blotchy dry patches! The formula is lightweight so it won’t feel heavy on your face. It makes the skin look fresh and hydrated instead of dry, which is so important when you’re putting a layer of foundation over your skin.

To smooth mature skin

If you have mature skin then you know the struggle of applying makeup on top of wrinkles and fine lines. This makes it hard to wear a foundation without looking older than you are. A primer can help make your face look younger by smoothing the surface of the skin so that foundation goes on evenly. There are many primers formulated with dimethicone and other silicones to give the skin an ultra-smooth finish. We love this oil-free primer for reducing the appearance of fine lines. It has a clear gel formula that smooths the skin for a blurred look.

powder foundations for mature skin

To help illuminating dull skin

Dull skin is also a problem for many people. Applying an illuminating makeup primer before your foundation will give you a more radiant glow and make your skin look fresh and healthy. These primers contain subtle luminescent particles that help to brighten dull or aging skin. They can be used as a perfect base for any makeup look from day-to-day makeup to special occasions like weddings or proms. We love this water-based primer for a glowy look. It contains micronized pearls which brighten the skin giving the complexion a luminous glow. Applying a glowy primer before your matte foundation can give you a smooth finish and brighter looking complexion.

l'oreal lumi lotion

Makeup primers are supposed to create a silky smooth surface on your face so makeup applies evenly and looks more vibrant without creasing or fading away! They create a barrier between your foundation and your face so that makeup doesn’t settle into wrinkles or creases!

Some makeup primers can be applied over foundation. They help to set the makeup and smooth the look of the pores.

You can also mix your primer and liquid foundation to get a long lasting look.

Related: Should you apply primer before or after sunscreen?

Do you need primer before foundation?

You’ve probably heard that you need to use a makeup primer before applying your foundation, but is primer necessary? What if you don’t have any problems with the way your foundation looks on its own?
The truth is, if your foundation sits well on your skin without creasing or separating, you probably don’t need a primer! Primers are expensive and who wants to spend $30 on something they may not need?
The best way to keep your makeup looking smooth is by following a good skincare routine. if you still have some skin issues such as big pores, oily skin, dry skin, or dullness, you can use a primer to prepare your skin for the makeup application.

mario badescu skincare

Related: primer VS moisturizer

How do I choose a primer?

Choosing the right makeup primer can be tricky because there are so many different types and brands available on the market. There are mattifying primers, hydrating primers, smoothing primers, and much more.

Choosing the best primer depends on your skin type and the look you are going for. If you have oily skin, pick a mattifying primer with oil-absorbing ingredients. For dry skin, a hydrating primer works the best. These primers contain hyaluronic acid, glycerin, or any moisturizing ingredients that help to boost the skin’s hydration level. Oil primers are also a great option for people with extremely dry skin.

nyx primer

For mature skin, smoothing primers with silicone-based ingredients are a great choice.

Be sure to choose a primer that is compatible with your foundation. If you are wondering why primer is peeling your makeup, it might be because it’s not compatible with your foundation. Water-based primers can’t work with the silicone-based foundation. They might cause your foundation to separate and crumble. Don’t let your perfect foundation be ruined by the wrong primer. The best way to find out if your primer and foundation work well together is by testing them at home with a sample. That way you can save yourself the cost of an expensive product that doesn’t meet expectations!

How do you apply primer?

Applying your primer correctly is a necessary step to keep your makeup looking good throughout the day.

By using your fingertips, you can get all those hard-to-reach spots and apply primer like a pro! Yes, you heard it right! The best way to apply primer is by using your fingers! This allows you to work the product into your skin, and it’ll help create a smoother base for applying foundation! The warmth of your hands can help the product melt into your skin. As long as hands are clean, applying primer to your skin this way can work great!

Can you wear primer without makeup?

Many people don’t like to wear makeup, but they want to look their best. A lot of primers are designed so that you can apply them alone for a smooth, even complexion. They have a lightweight formula that blends easily into the skin without leaving it feeling greasy or oily. You don’t need makeup to wear primer, and you can use many primers on their own.

makeup brushes


If you are using a silicone-based primer, it’ll leave behind an invisible layer that blurs the pores and smooth your skin.
If you are using a water-based primer, it will help your skin stay hydrated and smooth.
If you’re not comfortable wearing makeup yet, then why bother? Just apply a primer and get all the benefits that it has to offer like making your skin more even-toned and blurred. Using your favorite primer as a standalone product is possible!

How long should you let the primer dry before foundation?

When you’re in a rush, it can be hard to wait for your primer to dry before applying foundation.
The problem is that when you apply foundation over wet primer, the makeup can slide off and look patchy. To avoid this from happening, give the primer a minute or so to dry so that it’s completely absorbed into your skin before moving on with your foundation. This extra time is worth spending because the result will be flawless. Otherwise, the makeup will be uneven and streaky.

What is makeup primer made of?

Silicone-based primers may include Cyclomethicone and dimethicone, which are silicone-based ingredients that help smooth the skin and create a barrier to prolong the wear time of your makeup.

Water is usually the first ingredient in silicone or water-based primers.

To know whether your primer is silicone or water-based, you can check the ingredient list.

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

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

Dimethicone

Cyclohexasiloxane

Cyclopentasiloxane

Cyclomethicone

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

Some primers also have SPF to protect your skin from harmful sun rays. 

Final thoughts

You’ve probably heard about the wonders of a makeup primer but you’re not sure if you need it in your makeup routine. We all know that primers are supposed to make your makeup last longer and look better.

If your foundation is sitting well on top of your skin, you don’t need a primer. However, if you have oily skin or big pores, you can use a mattifying primer to help smooth out the skin. If you have dry skin, you can use a hydrating primer. For dull skin, a luminizing primer is a great option.

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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.

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