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What is a makeup primer? How do makeup primers work? What is the best makeup primer? How do you choose a makeup primer for your skin type? Can you DIY a makeup primer?

If you want to find out any of these answers, look no further! Keep reading to find a bunch of information on makeup primers, right here.

Makeup Glossary

Should you be using a primer before you apply the rest of your makeup?

Yes! Primer is designed to be applied after completing your skincare routine as the first step of your makeup process. Makeup primer acts as a base for the rest of your makeup.

What is the purpose of makeup primer?

Different primers fulfill slightly different purposes, but in general the purpose is twofold:

  • even out any of your skin’s imperfections
  • help your makeup last longer

Primers are applied to the skin after you complete any and all skincare, and before you apply any makeup. They often act as a barrier between your skin and makeup, which can benefit both by keeping your skin’s natural oils under control and keeping some bacteria from makeup out of your pores.

Many primers include silicone ingredients or are silicone-based, which helps them fill in imperfections in your skin such as lines, wrinkles, pores, and scarring. While primers cannot “fix” any problem areas you may have with your skin, they can provide a blurring appearance whether they are used under makeup or on their own.

Primers often become slightly tacky a minute or two after you apply them to your face. This texture helps your next makeup step, which is likely foundation, concealer, or powder, “stick” better to your skin. Most people find that their makeup lasts longer when paired with the right primer.

Using a primer can help your makeup look better and last longer than it normally would.

What types of makeup primer are there?

There are two main types of primer that are on the market, face primer and eye primer.

Like the name suggests, face primer is used on the entire face to help with your base makeup, while eye primer is only used on your eyelids and can help with eyeshadow application, pigmentation, and longevity. For this post, we will be focusing on face primer.

Primer comes in many forms, including silicone-based, moisturizers, sprays, and more. These different methods of priming don’t all work in the same way, and it is important to identify your skin type and what you are looking to get out of a primer in order to choose the right type for you.

  • Silicone-based primers will help even out your skin’s texture and leaves your face feeling super smooth. This is a good type of primer for you if you have oily or average skin.
  • Moisturizing primers are kind of a mix between skincare and makeup. This is a great type of primer to use if you have dry or mature skin.
  • Primer sprays don’t really provide as much help with your skin’s imperfections, but often create the best tacky texture to help your makeup last the longest it can. Sprays are typically good for all skin types.

Primers are broken up into even more categories based on the goal of the particular product. Common types of primers, regardless of their form, include:

  • Pore filling primers
  • Mattifying primers
  • Illuminating or dewy primers
  • Color correcting primers

Let’s go through each of these individually.

Related: Ultimate Guide to Concealer

Pore Filling Primers

Typically silicone-based, the goal of pore filling primers is to even out your skin’s texture and make it appear flawless (and poreless!) by creating a smooth layer on top of your skin. These types of primers are often great for all skin types, especially oily and normal. If they aren’t applied to the entire face, they are usually applied to at least the T-Zone of your face.

Mattifying Primers

Recommended for people with oily or normal skin, mattifying primers tone down the shininess by preventing your skin’s oil from sitting on top of your skin. This helps you look less like an oil slick and can keep your makeup lasting longer. Mattifying primers may feel too drying for people with dry skin.

Illuminating and Dewy Primers

This is the type of primer you use if you want to appear naturally glowing from within! When used normally, dewy primers can look the most natural when worn under makeup, because it mimics your skin’s sheen. If you use more than the normal amount (or a VERY illuminating formula), you can look extremely glowy and even shiny.

This look is great if you love a very highlighted appearance, but can be very bad for people who have oily skin and struggle with looking shiny from natural oils. I would recommend dewy primers to people with normal and dry skin. People with oily skin could use a dewy primer in places where they produce less oil, but I would NOT recommend using a dewy primer on your T-Zone.

Color Correcting Primer

While most primers are clear or white and leave no color residue on your skin, color correcting primers are tinted a different color, such as green, yellow, or purple. The idea behind color correcting primers is to use color theory to counteract unwanted discoloration in your skin. For example, if you want your skin to be less red, you would apply a green primer to balance the colors out.

Color correcting primers can be used on any skin type. I personally have not seen any difference in my skin after using them, but others find them very helpful.

Can you DIY a makeup primer?

The internet is full of DIY makeup primer instructions, which often combine moisturizers, foundations, powders, serums, and other ingredients.

Unfortunately, few people have success with these DIY primer formulas.

I would recommend buying a primer instead of trying to make one. Here’s why:

  • You’ll spend more money buying the materials to make your own than it costs to buy a decent drugstore primer
  • DIY primers do not have preservatives, so they will not last long before spoiling
  • Store-bought primer will most likely work better than a DIY version
  • Convenience

If you were planning on making a DIY primer due to concerns about natural or vegan ingredients, I suggest searching your local makeup stores and the internet – many brands are using healthier ingredients than they used to, and you may be surprised at what you can find!

Which makeup primer should I get?

Based on my own experience, products I own, and the reviews from thousands of makeup-loves online, these are the products I recommend (As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.):

Budget Buys (Drugstore Primers!)

E.l.f. Cosmetics Primers

This is one of the most popular drugstore primers, for good reason. It is low cost, lasts a long time, and works well. There are many versions of this primer, including mineral infused, poreless, and color correcting. Personally, I haven’t noticed any difference between any of them, and the hydrating one can be found a ton of places! This is a good place to start no matter what your skin type is.

Milani Prime Shield

This is another good drugstore primer that has mattifying properties. This would be ideal for people with oily or normal skin who want to control oil and mattify their skin.

Milani Prime Light

If you are looking for a good, drugstore illuminating primer, here you go! This packs some serious glow, and I love using this on my cheeks to create an inner glow under my foundation. Perfect for normal and dry skin. Can be used on oily skin if you only put it in areas you will highlight later in your makeup routine.

Splurges (High end primers!)

Benefit Cosmetics POREfessional Primer

This is a cult favorite. Designed for all skin types, a little goes a long way, and great to cover large pores – especially for your T-Zone! Most people love this and think that it is worth the price.

Touch in Sol No Pore-blem Primer

I love this primer! I got this in a Boxycharm and have loved it since. It fills in pores nicely, and the bottle is honestly HUGE. Well worth the price!

MAC Prep + Prime, Fix+

If you often watch beauty videos, you probably see a lot of people using Fix+! This is an AWESOME buy, because it works so great for many different uses. You can use it as a primer spray, which will help your makeup last longer. It helps glitter and pigment eyeshadows apply more easily and vibrantly. You can also use Fix+ as a setting spray at the end of your makeup routine! While it is a bit more expensive than the drugstore options, this is a great choice if you will use it for multiple purposes.

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Makeup Primer 101

Okay, folks! I hope this was informative and helpful. If there is anything else about makeup primers you want me to cover in the future, leave me a comment.

Let me know what your favorite makeup primer is below in the comments!

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