What Is Makeup Primer and Is It Necessary?

Does Makeup Need Primer?

We’ve all had to deal with smudged makeup, and you know how frustrating it is when your foundation starts to separate.

To keep your makeup flawless for longer, you need to apply a primer.

With so many benefits, it’s no wonder why this product has become such an important step in any beauty routine.

What does a primer do, and why is it necessary?

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What Is A Makeup Primer?

Makeup primer is a base product applied before foundation and after skin care.

It creates a barrier between your skin and makeup, helping it stay in place longer and look more flawless.

It also creates a smooth surface for the foundation to adhere to.

Primers are lightweight and come in a cream or gel formula.

Depending on your skin type, you can choose a mattifying primer to combat oiliness or a moisturizing one for dry skin.

There are also primers specifically formulated to target many skin issues, such as large pores or texture.

What Does Primer Do?

Here are some of the benefits of wearing a makeup primer:

It Minimizes Large Pores

pore minimizing primer

Foundation can settle into your large pores, making them more visible.

To get a smooth base, apply a smoothing silicone-based primer that helps fill in and minimize the look of pores.

These primers have a silky texture that spreads easily over the skin. It blends seamlessly and creates a barrier that prevents makeup from sinking into the pores.

Best Pore-Minimizing Primers

Benefit Cosmetics The POREfessional Pore Minimizing Primer

Benefit Cosmetics The POREfessional Pore Minimizing Primer

This primer has a silky texture 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 also silicone-based and 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.

Rimmel Stay Matte Primer

Rimmel Stay Matte Primer

This primer is one of the best mattifying primers at the drugstore. It’s affordable and 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 prolongs your makeup’s wear.

It’s a great primer for oily skin because it helps to reduce shine, and it doesn’t make the skin look greasy.

It Helps Mattifying Oily Skin

nyx shine killer primer

If you have oily skin, 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 all day, but if your skin produces too much oil, then even the best foundation formulas will start to break down after an hour or two.

mattifying primer with oil-absorbing ingredients can help absorb any excess oil. It gives the skin a matte finish and keeps your makeup in place much longer.

It Helps Hydrate Dry Skin

hydrating primer

Applying makeup on dry, flaky skin can be a nightmare. The foundation can stick to dry patches, leaving an uneven finish.

A hydrating primer helps boost hydration, so your foundation doesn’t look cakey. It also helps prevent the foundation from accentuating fine lines or wrinkles.

Choose a primer with hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid or glycerin to get a smooth base that doesn’t feel greasy.

If your skin is extremely dry, use face oil instead of primer to nourish and hydrate your skin before applying foundation.

Best Hydrating Primers

e.l.f. Hydrating Face Primer

e.l.f. Hydrating Face Primer

This primer is infused with grapes, 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 smoothly and evens 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 hydrate 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 and won’t feel heavy on your face. It makes the skin look fresh and hydrated instead of dry, which is important when putting a layer of foundation over your skin.

It Smooths Mature Skin

If you have mature skin, you know the struggle of applying makeup on top of wrinkles and fine lines.

Foundation can sometimes settle into these lines and leave your face looking older.

The right primer can help smooth the skin, so the foundation goes on evenly.

Many primers are 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.

Related: Best Primers For Aging Skin

It Helps Illuminate Dull Skin

illuminating primer

Dull skin is also a problem for many people. Applying an illuminating makeup primer before your foundation will give you a 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.

TIP: Applying a glowy primer before your matte foundation can give you a smooth finish and a brighter-looking complexion.

Some makeup primers can be applied over the foundation. They help to set the makeup and smooth the look of the pores. For example, you can use a mattifying or smoothing primer to touch up your makeup during the day.

You can also mix your primer and liquid foundation for a long-lasting look.

Is Primer Necessary?

You’ve probably heard that you need a makeup primer before applying your foundation, but do you need one?

The short answer is it depends.

If your foundation sits well on your skin without creasing or separating, you probably don’t need a primer.

However, if you have 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.

For special occasions or when you need your makeup to last all day, using a primer will help keep your foundation looking flawless.

I believe less is more, so I skip the primer in my daily routine and save it for special occasions.

While makeup primers can provide a smooth base for your foundation, they can’t replace a good skincare routine, which is the key to maintaining a flawless complexion and keeping your makeup looking its best.

How Do I Choose a Primer?

There are different primers, such as mattifying, illuminating, and hydrating primers.

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 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 incompatible 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 the wrong primer ruin your perfect foundation.

The best way to determine if your primer and foundation work well 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 necessary to keep your makeup looking good throughout the day.

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.

The warmth of your hands can help the product melt into your skin which allows the product to blend easily.

Make sure your hands are clean before you start.

Take a small amount of primer on your fingertip, rub the product gently between your fingers, and dab it onto your problem areas.

Avoid rubbing the product into the skin, as it might not apply as evenly.

Once you’ve applied the primer, let it sit for a few moments before applying your foundation.

Primer or Moisturizer First?

The difference between a primer and a moisturizer is that a primer is designed to create a smooth base for your makeup, while moisturizers nourish and hydrate the skin.

Moisturizer is the last step of your skincare routine, and primer should be the first step of your makeup routine.

You should apply your moisturizer first, allowing the skin to receive the hydration it needs.

Primer creates a protective layer between your skin and makeup, so it should be applied after moisturizer. If you apply primer before moisturizer, your skin won’t be able to absorb the moisturizer.

Let your skincare soak into your skin for a few minutes before applying primer. Everything will blend perfectly, leaving you with a flawless, long-lasting makeup look.

Can You Wear Primer Without Makeup?

Many primers are designed so 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.

If you are using a silicone-based primer, it’ll leave behind an invisible layer that blurs the pores and smooths your skin.

If you are using a water-based primer, it will help your skin stay hydrated and smooth.

So using your favorite primer as a standalone product is possible if you choose the right one.

How Long Should You Let the Primer Dry Before Foundation?

When you’re in a rush, waiting for your primer to dry before applying foundation can be hard.
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.

You can check the ingredient list to know whether your primer is silicone or water-based.

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:





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. 

What Is Makeup Primer Spray?

A makeup primer spray is a light mist that helps to create a smooth base for your foundation.

It is supposed to act as a primer in spray packaging, so it helps keep your makeup in place and last longer without any creasing.

Although primer spray seems easy to apply, getting the right amount on the skin can be challenging.

Some mists are too fine, but others spray too much product, leaving your face greasy.

To apply a primer spray correctly, hold the bottle about six inches away from your face and mist it lightly.

Ensure you distribute the product evenly into the skin and wait a few seconds before applying your foundation.

Face Primer vs. Eye Primer

The difference between face primer and eye primer is that a face primer is used to smooth out the skin’s texture, while an eye primer helps prevent eyeshadow from creasing or fading.

Face primers come in a large tube, so you should use them on the entire face, while eye primers come in a small tube and should be applied to the eyelid area.

For a long-lasting makeup look, it’s important to use face and eye primers.

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.

If your foundation sits 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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what is primer and do you need it

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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