Perfect, stunning makeup requires a bit of work, and the right tools. Because, let’s be honest, everyone is dealing with some skin issue or another, right? Acne, redness, dullness, uneven skin tone, etc. — everyone has something that needs to be covered or corrected before a look can be created. Beauty masterpieces require the right products to refine and balance the skin, preparing it for some makeup magic--even those natural perfect skin unicorns know that. And it all starts with a little miracle potion we like to call primer.
We consider face primer foundation’s ultimate sidekick. The Robin to its Batman, it works behind the scenes to ensure that all goes smoothly (pun intended). With secret powers of its own, it can fill fine lines, make pores disappear and even diffuse light to make skin look more glowing and radiant. In other words, it’s a must when it comes to your face makeup routine. To get the scoop on the best face primers in the industry, we consulted with a few top makeup artists for their go-to picks. Read on to see if your favorites made the list.
The Praise: On its own, this fantastic priming formula creates a flawlessly radiant canvas on which to create a makeup masterpiece. Featuring a proprietary Micro-fil technology, this primer contains pearls that lend the face a soft glow and bring out the natural curves and contours of the face. It also helps even out skin tone.
Professional makeup artist Ashley Rebecca says the light-reflecting properties of primer make it her go-to, especially for clients who are looking to balance their complexions: “With crushed mother of pearl and hydrating components, it's the perfect accent product for any foundation,” she says.
2. The Pick: Smashbox Photo Finish Primer
The Praise: You know those Instagram filters that make your skin look wrinkle-free and poreless? Well, this primer is designed to be just like that. Featuring natural plant extracts, this formula helps soften fine lines and blur the appearance of pores on the face. It’s also designed to diffuse light, so your skin gets that soft-focus, filtered look. Eat your heart out, Juno filter.
If you don’t believe us, take it from professional makeup artist Emma Willis, who swears by the primer. “It helps foundation glide on smoothly, it’s made of yummy ingredients and it reduces all of the little imperfections like pores and fine lines – plus it gives skin that silky texture that really does help makeup stay put for those long hours of photo shoots,” she says.
3. The Pick: Laura Mercier Foundation Primer - Radiance
The Praise: Are you looking to get that dewy skin look for spring? Start with this primer. Formulated to blur imperfections and lend skin a soft, radiant finish, you can wear this bad boy on its own! And the lightweight formula feels soft and silky and won’t weigh your skin down. Oh, and the best part? It’s packed with nutrients so it’s working to improve your skin’s overall health as well as its appearance.
“I use Laura Mercier Radiance Primer on all my ladies, whatever their age or skin type” says professional makeup artist Tara Shakespeare. Because of the slight pearl tint, she says that it gives everyone’s skin a radiant glow when layered under foundation. Glow on!
The Praise: The easy glide texture allows for quick and seamless application and the formula helps your makeup stay as bright and colorful as can be. It also features a patented Elasto-Smooth technology that refines the texture of skin and leaves the complexion feeling satiny smooth. Yes, please!
The oil-free formula not only makes imperfections disappear, but also allows your foundation to stay on longer, according to Lancôme national makeup artist Ricardo Costales. He even suggests wearing it alone on the weekends for a lighter look: “Your skin will feel even and soft – you’ll fall in love with it,” says Costales.
The Praise: Fluid indeed. There’s a reason this primer is described as weightless--it feels lighter than air. The formula goes on like a second skin, buffing out blemishes, refining pores and mattifing the skin perfectly. In fact, this fab product is a fave with just about everyone.
“Armani Fluid Master Primer is honestly my go-to,” says celebrity makeup artist Emily Oliver. “A pea-sized amount covers the whole face.” Here’s her pro tip: “Blend a tiny bit of primer into a thicker concealer, cream-to-powder formula or other foundations to make it feel more sheer on the skin and to de-texturize the surface of the complexion.” And for a perfect canvas every time, celebrity makeup artist Rhona Samuels reaches for it, too. “It’s silicone based,” she says, “so it smooths fine lines and imperfections for a perfect glow to the skin.”
The Praise: All the things we love about the iconic Touché Éclat Highlighting Concealer is literally bottled up in primer form. Featuring four skin-softening oils and subtle sparkles of golden light, this primer works to improve your skin before it even gets into contact with foundation. “This primer is like a selfie filter in a pump,” says Pamela Morgan, national makeup artist for YSL. “Not only does it blur pores and lines and smooth the texture of the skin, but it makes your foundation withstand all weather conditions. Weightless and silky, it's your foundation’s best friend.”
The Praise: This non-oily primer goes on smooth and clean and minimizes lines and wrinkles perfectly. “Most of the time we are so focused on the right foundation to achieve gorgeous skin, that we forget about products like Master Prime Blur + Smooth that can do all of the hard work,” says Maybelline New York global makeup artist, Gato. “I love when the skin looks perfect — as if there is barely any makeup. Thick foundations are not for me even when I know the skin needs extra coverage. When applying Master Prime Blur+ Smooth, I know that just a tiny amount of foundation will be enough.”
Want to learn up on more primer info? From the difference between mattifiers and primers to the best drugstore primer picks to the lowdown on eye primer, we’ve got it all for ya. Check out the list of primer-specific articles below and consider yourself a primer expert.