Thursday, June 30th, 2011

The Hit List

What’s the Best Face Primer…?

What brand/products win this category? What makes it so great?

Thanks to Jenny for today’s topic!

Discussion and debate are highly encouraged, and we expect community members to participate respectfully. When asking a question, please check the FAQ section (above) for information about purchasing, price, dupes, and the like. If you have general feedback or need technical support, please contact us.

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92 thoughts on “Hit List: Best Face Primer

  1. Meerschweinchen

    I haven’t found a holy grail yet. The best I used so far is Benefits Porefessional.

  2. I like MAC’s Face Protect. It’s a great primer with SPF that doesn’t give me a whitecast when I’m trying to take pictures for my blog. Love it!

    • The Beauty Queen from Mars

      I used MAC’s Face Protect, too, with Pro Longwear as foundation, set with MSF natural.
      Weird thing is though, with Face Protect underneath, my foundation lasts LESS than usual. I have normal to oily skin and Face Protect looks matte when dried down. But after 6 hours or so my foundation seems to crack around my chin and the lines running from nose to mouth. I mean, it looks like the cracks mud gets when it dries down. The overall effect looks as if my skin is flaking. Really small flakes, but still.
      Has anyone else made the same experience or is my Face Protect just kind of broken? It’s not THAT old actually, bought it about 3 months ago.

      Oh, and I think Laura Mercier oil free is the best primer! No flakes there.

      • Matty Makeup

        I work for MAC, and I find that Pro Longwear Foundation cracks regardless of the primer used.

  3. I don’t find that primers do anything for making my makeup last longer and I’ve tried ones with silcone and ones without. They feel nice, but I just find that they’re an extra step that doesn’t benefit me at all.

    • divinem (Melissa)

      I find this to be true myself. I have MUFE’s primer, and I just don’t see the need for the step. I do, however, LOVE MAC’s Strobe Cream under my foundation that gives me a nice glow and (most importantly), it doesn’t irritate my skin.

    • Monika-Luiza

      I find this too. it just a extra product companies want to sell us

  4. Sarah

    Napoleon Perdis Auto Pilot! It’s perfect for oily/acne prone skin because there’s no silicon in it :)

  5. Mariella

    Still looking for “the best” (and planning to try Too Faced’s Primed and Poreless next week, if I can get to Sephora). I’ve got: Avon Majix, Clarins Instant Smooth Perfecting Touch, Benefit’s The Porefessional, MAC Matte and Lise Watier and while I go back and forth a LOT with all of them, I think my overall favourite has to be Lise Watier’s Base Miracle. It hides pores better than all the others, in my experience, and leaves a wonderful velvety surface for foundation, powder or for going bare faced.

    • Sheena F

      meh…TFP&P (loose powder) works for about 3-4hrs on me until i start seeing my pores through my foundation and blush. i have a combination skin type so, not sure if your skin might grab on to this better than mine did.

    • Nancy

      Too Faced Primed and poreless wears off too quickly and easily. I have normal to dry combination skin and after 4 hours max my foundation starts to fade and wear off and it doesn’t work in hot humid condition either. I think Smashbox photo finish and photofinish Light work the best!

  6. alicia

    I like Smashbox!

  7. Juicy

    My #1 face Primer is by Smashbox. Its called Photfinish Foundation Primer. This stuff is a miracle. I love it b/c it is light as a featehr yet works like a charm. I put it on before I put my concealer on and my foundation does crease under my eyes and it looks fab ALL day long.

    My #2 is by M.A.C. I am not sure what it is called and I actually don’t see it on the site anymore. It works okay, but it is a little greasy to me.

  8. lexi

    I’ve tried many. I have issues with the cones primers. The one I’ve found that works for me so far is the MUFE HD primer (#0 – the clear one).

  9. candice

    I really like palladio’s face primer.

  10. Hope

    This is going to sound crazy, but has anyone tried using Monistat as a face primer? Apparently it works like that really famous Smashbox one.

    haha Christine you should test it out

    • Erin

      I have!!! The anti-chafing gel contains all the same ingredients as the Smashbox Photo Finish primer and works just as well for a much smaller price tag!

    • Monica

      I do! After buying the Smashbox Photofinish Primer, I was so curious to see how it compared. $6 later, I was walking out of CVS with the Monistat Chafing Relief Powder Gel. It’s literally the same substance. I can do half my face with Smashbox, half with Monistat. No difference! Both phenomenal, but I’ll never go back to Smashbox after finding the six-buck dupe.

    • laura r

      …specifically, you want the Monistat Anti-Chafing Gel, not the medicinal kind.
      Hard Candy makes a good Smashbox dupe for $6. I also like L’Oreal’s Magic Perfecting Base, which doesn’t claim to extend the life of foundation but when using lightly is an amazing prep for liquid foundations.

    • I have and it works quite well!

    • maryann

      as a matter of fact i have. it does appear to work the same

  11. Megan

    I uses MAC prep and prime or Laura Mercier Oil Free. I find I use the Laura Mercier more often.

    • I have both too… and I actually use LM oil-free on a regular basis, I miss it when I don’t.

      I’ve tried that Gal and The Porefessional, but I didn’t find much difference using them with not using them :(

  12. My #1 is BH Cosmetics foundation primer. It’s inexpensive, it keeps my foundation on ALL DAY and it’s not greasy or oily.

    My #2 is my Bare Escentuals Prime Time foundation primer.

  13. Amanda

    I like the Too Faced Primed and poreless for my very oily/acne prone skin.

  14. I’m having issues right now with primers. My MUFE HD makeup looks great with or without primer, so I’m rethinking this primer thing. The ones with silicone break me out and the break outs take a really long time to clear up. This really disturbs me. I usually get about 1 pimple a year. With primers, I seem to get 1 every other month. So I’m really interested in seeing what other folks have to say. Thanks!!

  15. Natalie

    I’m still looking for my HG, but right now I rotate between MAC Matte & Prep + Prime, Smashbox Photo Finish, and a NARS one I got as a sample.

  16. Lemish

    Too Faced Primed and Poreless!

  17. Rengirl

    When you raved about the Korres primer, I got it straight away. I love it because it isn’t a silicone-filled gel and feels so good going on. It’s more like a moisturizer that also readies the skin for foundation.

  18. heidi

    The only one I’ve tried is smashbox photo finish original but I’m almost out. I love it but I think I’m going to try hard candy next as I hear they’re similiar quality and the HC one is cheaper

  19. z

    ysl matt touch oil-free primer! love it

  20. Allison

    I love , for my oh-so-oily skin, urban decay de-slick spray. I use it under my foundation and again when I’m done with my makeup. My makeup stays put all day and I’m not super oily.
    I also use MAC matte gel under my foundation along with the de-slick for days where my skin is super oily.

  21. Pawsha


  22. I love Hourglass Veil Primer :)

  23. Natasha

    YSLs Matte one, or Le Blanc De Chanel. Both amazing for oily skin, the YSL one actually controls oil and the Chanel one makes your skin look incredible even with out foundation.

  24. Brie

    I actually really liked the Loreal Paris Magic Perfecting Base, but I couldn’t stand how it’s packaged in a jar! So annoying to dig product out with my fingers…Needless to say I haven’t repurchased it. I’d definitely reconsider if they changed the packaging! I’m using the color correcting Smashbox primer right now and have no complaints so far.

  25. Miss_Dust

    benefit’s dr. feelgood 4 summer pared with clinique’s city block & benefit’s that gal for the colder seasons :)

  26. Marissa

    I love benefit’s porefessional and smashbox’s photo finish primer!

  27. Jill

    I’ve tried a bunch – UD’s, smashbox, Hard Candy, and our of all of them, the Loreal Magic Perfectign base seems to control the oil the best!

  28. Jennifer

    Smashbox 5 n 1 Bb Cream :)

  29. I know it’s not very popular (yet) but IMO the best face primer is OCC Skin Primer. Yes, Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics! I decided to give it a try although I only found a couple of reviews online, and let me tell you, it is FANTASTIC. You get 74ml (2.5oz) for like $20. It’s a clear gel, it feels super light on skin (and I mean you literally cannot feel it, sometimes I even forget if I’m wearing it or not). It has mild mattifying properties, locks the moisture in without oiliness at all, and it also evens out skintone. Foundations lasts much longer and it photographs BEAUTIFULLY. Plus it’s vegan. I should write a review on that soon on my blog.
    My other favourite is MAC Prep+Prime spf50, a little thicker than the OCC one but it’s very smoothing and the spf is great.
    I don’t like the texture of super-silicones ones like the Smashbox.

    • Julia

      I love OCC primer! I have oily skin, and use this– it’s kind of moisturizing, but not at all greasy!

  30. Marian

    I rarely use a primer but on the rare occasion that I do, I prefer Bare Escentuals Prime Time.

  31. Embryolisse Lait Creme Concentre. It’s actually a moisturizer, but it works like a two-in-one primer. I put it on with a brush. Feels good and light on the skin.

  32. Kylie

    Not the most popular, but I’m a fan of MUFE HD Microperfecting. I haven’t had it very long, but it doesn’t break me out (knock on wood!), and it keeps my foundation on all day.

  33. Dorna

    Monistat! Not sure if it’s HG but it gets the job done and it’s definitely not worth splurging for anything more. I thought it was better than Hourglass, while Porefessional did keep oil at bay for a bit longer.

  34. Melinda

    Haven’t found a hg yet either. I, like others, have issues with “cones” in primers. I have mature/slightly dry skin and I love how the silicone based ones make my skin look and feel but I get hard cysts under the skin, painful. I’ve been using the Ulta brand water based primer, it’s okay.

  35. Pamela

    Bare Escentual’s Prime Time Oil Control Primer is the only one that worked for my super-oily, super-sensitive, super acne-prone skin because it doesn’t have silicones

  36. Adee

    I’ve always been partial to MAC Prep & Prime Skin. It gives it moisture and a silky smooth texture that make it easier for my studio fix powder to stick without absorbing into my face.

  37. I Googled Monistate face primer and found “Big important F.Y.I.: This is not the Monistat yeast-infection cream; please don’t go rubbing that stuff on your face. This anti-chafing balm’s main ingredient is the same as many foundation primers': dimethicone. It also contains Vitamin E and aloe, and it’s fragrance-free and formulated to let skin “breathe”.

    • Niki

      We should all note that dimethicone is the main ingredient in most facial primers that are not water-based like Smashbox, NASRS and Hourglass primers to a name a few.

  38. Swimsalot

    Too Faced’s Primed and Poreless
    It helps my makeup slide over my wrinkles

  39. Helen

    I love Illamasqua’s matte primer. It really does seem to make my pores disappear, plus it has an SPF of 20, I think. It IS expensive – over $30. In drugstore brands, I like Physician’s Formula’s.

  40. My favorite is Sue Devitt ‘s Microquatic Fortifying Primer, it gives the hydration to the skin yet has silicon base that smooths out the lines and pores. I feel it help my foundation last longer as well!

    Another top item I like is Cle De Peau pore smoothing primer, you only need a little bit for the whole face, it smooths the pores and do the oil-control job. You might want to be aware that if your skin tone is not fair, this might pale the skin a bit.

  41. Diana

    MUFE HD Primer and Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer.

  42. Sharron

    Depending on the weather and which foundation I’m wearing that day, I alternate between Too Faced Primed & Poreless and Urban Decay Pore Perfecting Primer Potion.

  43. Jill

    I wouldn’t call it a holy grail, but I got a sample of Too Faced Top Secret primer with bronze tint and I really like it (at least that’s what I think it’s called). I think I’m going to buy the full size as soon as I finish the sample, it has a really nice feel to it and my foundation stays put for hours.

  44. Bean

    I’ve been using illamasqua’s satin primer for around a year now it’s the first and only face primer i have used and i love it its not drying doesn’t make my face look oily gives me a nice glowy look which i can tone down if i want to i dont wear foundation i have issues applying it and have given up for now

  45. Urban Decay Pore Perfecting. Omg it makes my face look like it’s been photoshopped with the blur effect. It’s amazing.

  46. Bianca

    I love Smashbox Photo Finish, but now I am curious to try this whole monistat thing some people mentioned.

  47. Michelle

    I have tried sooo many primers and I thought that NARS was my holy grail until I tried the Stila color correcting primer (the one that looks like a double helix in the bottle) omg amazing! (and I have combo skin) it glides on and feels so smooth and nourishing. It sets into the skin and holds my make up on all day while evening out my skin tone and controlling oil….Love it!

  48. Amy

    Primer is pointless for me. They always seem to have the opposite effect of making my pores look BIGGER than they already are, no matter which one or how I apply it. A good setting powder is enough to make my makeup last.

    I will say, though, Too Faced Primed and Poreless helps to make cheap drug store brands last longer for me, but really doesn’t have any kind of effect on my Double Wear Light.

  49. Claudia

    Hourglass Mineral Veil all the way!!!! I have extremely oily skin and this keeps my makeup on all day and keeps the oils from breaking through during a normal workday and as a plus it has SPF 15. All my friends who have tried it have bought it and love it as well and that’s saying a lot for a product that costs $59 a pop here in Canada. If you have really oily skin or just like your makeup to last all day you can always get a sample at Sephora and give it a try.

  50. Miss Brooke

    I love the Hourglass Mineral Veil. I spent alot of time trying out all the others- as this was the priciest aside from Guerlain D’or, and Rouge Bunny Rouge, but I still find myself reaching for Hourglass everyday!

  51. Tina

    I really like e.l.f. Studio Mineral Face Primer. It’s only $6, it’s in a pump, and it really makes for a smoother application.

  52. I’m 49 with super oily skin…. Won’t leave the house without using primer otherwise my foundation would melt into my skin. I didn’t have good results using Smashbox Photofinish, Laura Geller Spackle or BE Prime Time. I love Mally Beauty Face Primer! Can’t see my large, ugly pores & foundation stays on all day. Second fav is MUFE HD Primer in green to cut the redness in my skin. Very curoius about Monistat now… might give that a try next. Thanks for the 411!

  53. Lauren

    I’m so surprised nobody has said Laura Geller’s Spackle!!! She was one of the first to come out with a primer. Her champagne spackle is even gorgeous to wear on its own.
    My #2 is Smashbox Photofinish, clear one only.

  54. Face Of Australia Face Base is my face. It is soooo good for dry skin.

  55. Another vote for Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer. It’s pricey, so I bought the smaller size for $17 at Sephora. I’m projecting it will last me a year because you need so little.

  56. Oil of Olay serum! It’s moisturizing but not at all greasy. It fills in fine lines as well as preps for foundation! Unfortunately once you add sunscreen it doesn’t work as well, so I use the serum only for nights.

  57. lauren

    Tarte’s Clean Slate I have cystic acne and its the only one that doesn’t break me out

  58. Karen

    Kanebo water primer. Excellent for dry sensitive skin.

  59. emily

    Becca Radiance Primer

  60. I dunno about the best, but when I remember, I just use MAC’s Matte. Whenever I put it on, I think, Mmm, pure silicone… But whatever, I like matte skin.

  61. danette

    i swear by bare minerals prime time its amazing absorbs quicky and my foundation stays for about 12-15hrs

  62. Lots of interesting Primer discussion in this thread. If I’m using makeup I like really well, I don’t find primer makes a big difference- but, I had a Physician’s Choice mineral loose powder foundation that oxydizes real bad when I wear it, I will say that it’s usable if I put on primer (lasts a lot longer before turning orange). Also, maybe it’s just the ritual of using it, but I am happier with stage makeup if I put primer on first (shrugg).

    Right now I’m using the primer by mark. (Avon), I like it quite well, and my mum’s enjoying GOSH’s primer which she got in a holiday kit on clearance after the holidays.

  63. Diane

    I’ve tried many (Smashbox, Cat Cosmetics, Makeup Forever, MAC, Laura Mercier, etc.), but the one I’ve stuck with for the past 3 years is Paula Dorf’s Perfect Primer for Normal/Oily skin. Nobody sells Paula Dorf products in my area, so I have to order from the Paula Dorf website, but that’s not a problem for me. This is the primer that makes my MAC Studio Fix Fluid foundation glide on my skin and stay on all day. *Love it*

  64. For a while, mine was Benefit That Gal – as I loved that it evened out my complexion… but its so tiny, for a such a large amount of money. But now.. my HG would have to be Rimmel Fix & Perfect :)

  65. Jocelyn

    Lancome la base!!!

  66. Julie

    Giorgio Armani fluid master primer

  67. Chelsie Griffin

    I am new to this website but I have to say I love it. I have told my sis about it and now I’m going to post it on my facebook page. I have combination skin; oily in my t-zones and I have large pores. I was going to try the urban decay complexion primer and get the monstat chafing gel. I think Urban decay has a 20% off sale coming up soon or its on right now

  68. sleeping beauty

    i use elf transparent primer and its really too good.

  69. I recently bought the Instant Age Refresh Makeup Primer by Visagederma and I love it, stays on long and makes my skin look really smooth. It’s my favv so far.

  70. diamond_8806

    Black Radiance Complexion Perfection Shine Control Primer! I’ve tried high end and low end products and this primer is by far my favorite.  It has the consistency of a lotion, goes on smoothly, and absorbs quickly.  It definitely does it’s job of keeping oil at bay.  This past weekend, I was doing my make up in a hurry and forgot to put this on.  Halfway during the day, I had to touch up with powder because my oil was breaking through. When I am wearing this primer, I have no need to touch up my makeup all day.  It’s the best!