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Most Overrated & Underrated Face Primer

Over & Under: Most Overrated & Underrated Face Primer

There are always products that receive endless raves, but they don’t always live up to our expectations or work out as well as they do for others.  Share your picks for most overrated and underrated FACE PRIMERS.  Don’t forget to share your whats and whys as to your choices!

  • Most Overrated: [answer]
  • Most Underrated: [answer]

My Picks

  • Most Overrated: Smashbox Photo Finish, but it kind of broke me out like you wouldn’t believe!
  • Most Underrated: Eve Pearl’s or Hourglass Mineral Veil – both top notch! Eve’s is really great if you have drier skin.


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Paola Avatar

I think Smashbox is overrated when you look at the ingredients and the price you pay for it.

You can use Monistat gel (which leaves my face just as flawless) or Rimmel Fix and perfect is great too.

I also hear Avon Magix is a good one…why pay more money

Faith Avatar

Monistat is a brand name, not a product. They make an anti-chafing gel that’s very similar to “official” face primers. You don’t want to put anything for feminine itch on your face!

Mariella Avatar

I’d forgotten about Avon Magix! I bought it a few years ago and was amazed by how good it was and what a good value. And it has an SPF of 15, if I recall correctly. I used it for a while and then got lured away by the urge to try “something new”. It’s a great product and the price is so good and it’s often on sale in the Avon catalogue.

Dominique Avatar

Most overrated : The Pore Professional from Benefit
Most underrated : The Sephora primer which is quite good ( not high end )and only 10 €.

Evelyn Avatar

I agree, Smashbox was a disaster for my skin. I like the Hourglass one but only on my oily areas, it’s not quite perfect for other spots on me.

becca Avatar

I totally agree with you on the smashbox photo finish being overrated, it broke me out too and felt heavy. an amazing one that’s underrated is the hourglass veil mineral primer, i use it everyday. it feels like pearls on my skin, its very lightweight, it brightens, makes pores dissapear, helps control oil better that anything i’ve tried, makeup stays fresh all day. the best thing is that it doesn’t irritate my skin or cause breakouts.

Jane Avatar

Underated: Cover Girl and olay Simply Ageless Serum Primer. This is my budget buster for around 16 dollars and I try to find coupons too. It doesn’t bother my rosecea. It’s ok for moisture and plumps out wrinkles for about two hours after application. It works well as a primer but it’s not perfect, it does leave a small white veil so over doing doesnt work.

Over: Hourglass but Christine made a good point by offering a dry skin option because the Hourglass just didn’t work with my dry skin.

Angela Avatar

I usually hate primers! Smashbox is the worst. I just got a sample of the new Chantecaille Anti-glycation Primer, Ultra Sun Protection SPF 50 PA and I freakin’ loved it! Water and humidity resistant, controls oil, ultra-light, super smooth, sinks in fast, totally non-greasy. Feels absolutely amazing!! I’m replacing my Nia 24 sunscreen & Skinceuticals Sheer Physical with the new Chantecaille. It worked that well for me. I’m so impressed. Any one else try it yet?

Kas Avatar

I know a lot of people hate smashbox – but it works fantastic for me. I’m oily skinned (even on my cheeks) and I live in a very humid country. The Smashbox Hydrating Primer (blue) is the best I’ve used – it keeps my foundation fresh and intact for the longest period of time. Other primers that work well for me are the Estee Lauder matte primer and the RMK Creamy Polished Base.
I was the most disappointed with the Illamasqua Matte Primer – it really didnt do anything for me, felt sticky and the worst – they shipped one that was expiring in 2 months. Boo.

NeenaJ Avatar

Overrated: Hourglass Mineral Veil. This does not work well on my dry skin. It ends up emphasizing dry patches and just does not provide for smooth coverage.

Underrated: Paula’s Choice RESIST Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum. I recently started using this under makeup as I don’t like using it at night when I don’t do a super cleanse in the morning. Since it’s full of silicones, it needs to be thoroughly removed so it doesn’t cause congestion. It really smooths over even the flakiest patches on my face and gives a skincare boost, too.

Floz Avatar

Most overrated – Laura Mercier didn’t really blow me away. I generally love LM, but none of her primers give me a better finish or help my foundation last longer. They feel nice, but that’s about it.

Most underrated – NARS Multi-Protect primer. I never hear that much love for it, but it’s honestly amazing. SPF30 is handy for every day use, plus it doesn’t irritate my skin. It makes my foundation last way longer and is good winter and summer. For dry and/or sensitive (or even combo) skin, it’s fantastic.

Susan Nevling Avatar

Most overrated Primer: For me, It would be Smashbox. I used it sometime in my late 50’s or early 60’s and broke out in acne. Went away when I stopped.

The most underrated Primer: Laura Mercier-oil free.

I do have finicky skin though.

Summer Avatar

Overrated: I’m sorry, but Hourglass’s primer is really nothing special. Girls on MUA talk about it like it’s the second coming of Christ, and I feel like it’s nice but not deserving of the hype. I adore Hourglass’s lipsticks and eyeshadow duos, but I’m waiting to fall in love with any of their face makeup. So far, no dice.

Underrated: Korres Face Primer! The original one. It’s moisturizing, smells a tad bit lemony, and is all natural. It doesn’t clog my skin with silicones or parabens, and it really does extend the life of my makeup. It also smooths out and helps disguise the pores on the sides of my nose.

Mariella Avatar

Over-rated: Smashbox (in its various formulations – I’ve tried the original, the light and the green – they are all bad but the green was the worst primer I’d ever tried)

Under-rated: Lise Watier (a Canadian company) Base Miracle – it is wonderful and really blurs the look of pores; Hourglass – no question that it’s pretty insanely expensive but it works so well and keep my foundation perfect all day long and into the evening and it’s hard to put a price on that!

GlowMyWay Avatar

I agree with Smashbox for most overrated. It worked fine for me, but not better than a lot of other primers.

I don’t know if it’s underrated per se, but I’ve just discovered Urban Decay’s Pore Tightening Primer. My skin is normal/dry, but I wear SPF under my makeup so it glows like very oily skin – not always a good glow. The UD primer mattifies that so much more than anything else I’ve tried. The result is really nice – a soft, velvety look.

kate Avatar

Overrated- I just tried a new one from Cover FX that did absolutely nothing. My skin felt greasy for a few minutes and then it was like I wasn’t even wearing it. Didn’t change the look, feel or wear of my makeup.

Underrated- Armani’s Fluid Master blew me away. The first time I put it on, I was greatly confused, because it made me look like I was wearing foundation even though it’s not tinted. It just immediately evened out my skin tone and made everything smooth and perfect.
Since I need a more budget-friendly option, though, I tend to buy Gosh’s Velvet Touch primer, which I like quite a bit. I was unimpressed at first, until I realised that it’s very important to wait a few minutes between applying it and applying the rest of my makeup.

18thCenturyFox Avatar

Overrated: almost all of them- DEFinately Smashbox and also the Hourglass one ( and at that price point I couldn’t believe my face), NARS, Mac Prep & Prime.

Underrated: No primer I have ever tried kept my MU on longer or improved its appearance, although BeneFit’s POREfessional was helpful in the appearance of pores . I like redundancy 😉

Cait Avatar

I have super annoying combination skin with a mega oily t-zone that is sensitive to change and products like your wouldn’t believe and I love the Smashbox Light Primer. It is what has changed me from a messy greaseball to a normal matte face. The light is oil free and it keeps my face from being an oily mess like nothing else on the face of the planet.

Since I have started using it my breakouts have gone down and my blackheads are much smaller and lesser in number and size too.

Where I am not a lot of girls know about it so I consider it my most underrated.

casey23 Avatar

@cait omg I have kind of similar skin type I would like to try this!! I believe the most overrated primer is Benefit Porefessional. It doesn’t cover up enough and after one or two hours my t-zone is even an oilier mess (and I thought it wasn’t possible!). Also I didn’t get any good effect from TheBalm’s primer and TooFaced’s primed and pore something something… They did less than anything for my skin and make it oilier. Clarins Beauty Flash Balm is my last hope, let’s see what will it bring!

Kristabelle Avatar

Most Overrated: Definitely smashbox. It’s ok, but I don’t think it’s worth the price.

Most Underrated: Too Faced Primed and Poreless- seriously incredible. Makes my foundation look soo much better.

Dominique Avatar

Overrated: Smashbox’s Photo Finish Original. I like the light and hydrating formula’s better but they still aren’t the best.

Underrated: MAC Prep + Prime Skin. My HG primer that I keep going back for, I just started on my 3rd bottle! Sephora’s Perfection Primer was excellent as well, but they discontinued it late last year 🙁

queenfrostine Avatar

Overrated: Smashbox for sure. It’s not awful, but I was never tempted to buy a full size bottle after using up a sample.

Underrated: MAC Prep + Prime SPF 50. I love this stuff to pieces. It offers potent sun protection, makes my skin look and feel smoother, AND does a bang up job at keeping my oiliness at bay. I just wish it weren’t quite so pricy and came in bigger tubes. 1oz may seem like plenty for some primers where you just use a dab, but if you want to take advantage of the SPF in this you have to use a generous amount which means the tube won’t last long.

MonicaP Avatar

Over: MAC Prep + Prime, I swear this causes cystic acne.
Under: Korres Face Primer, very nice primer, I believe it’s a non-silicone base.

Lauryn Nolan Avatar

Overrated: Smashbox- Definately not worth the money.

Underrated: Sue Devit Microquatic Primer: the beige one, not the blue one. Love this stuff, goes on great, moisturizes and makeup does not budge! But a bit on the pricey side, even though you use so little.

Kristina Avatar

Over- Smashbox. It broke me out too. And I don’t usually have acenaic issues at 35 anymore. But smashbox seems to do it for me.

Under- Becca Hydrating Primer. I understand they have just reformulated this product and named it something similar but what I loved about it is that it works as skincare and a primer in one. So I would use a serum underneath skip a moisturizer and then use this. My skin is combo dry and in the canadian winter Very dry but this hydrated well and locked foundation into place.

LK Avatar

Overrated: Hourglass (does nothing, costs a fortune), Laura Mercier (too thin & sticky, does nothing), Too Faced (made my skin burn).

Underrated (based on the number of negative reviews here): my favorite Smashbox

Diane Avatar

Most Overrated: Smashbox. Was very slick and sticky feeling on my face and caused breakouts for me, too.
Most Underrated: Paula Dorf Perfect Primer for Normal/Oily skin. Perfection in a tube! Doesn’t break me out, and helps my foundation apply smoothly with no streaking or dragging. Excellent product!!!

Natalie Avatar

Most Overrated: Man, where do I start? So many primers have disappointed me beyond belief after a bunch of hype. Smashbox Photofinish (broke me out like you wouldn’t believe), Cover FX Clearprep FX Matte Foundation Primer and Anti-Acne Treatment (anti acne treatment? Didn’t do anything for me or keep my makeup on for any longer), Benefit Bad Gal (literally didn’t do anything), Benefit Dr. Feelgood (another one, Benefit? This one did nothing for me, felt greasy, didn’t keep makeup on, clogged pores and broke me out), L’Oreal Studio Secrets Perfecting Base (felt nice, but didn’t keep my makeup on any longer, and the pot it comes in is so unsanitary), the list goes on and on, unfortunately!

Most Underrated: After a bunch of failed attempts with silicone primers, I only wear silicone free now. But finding good ones is hard. My personal HG is Lorac Aquaprime which is a water based primer that I rarely hear anyone talk about. I also don’t hear a lot about Fresh Rose Freshface Primer, which is also fabulous and silicone free. The Korres Face Primer is excellent too, which I know is a favorite of Christine’s 🙂

gabriella Avatar

Overrated: Benefit that gal. I had a little sample tube of it and it just didn’t really do much as a primer
for me. I’m going to use up what I have, but not as a primer. I like to pat a little on my skin over foundation if my skin is looking a little dry to brighten my complexion!

Underrated: I really like lancome la base and I never really hear anyone talk about it. It makes my skin look flawless and you need so little of it! I’ve been using mine for 6 months all over my face at least 5 times a week and I have at least 60% still left! A bargain IMO. A bottle is around $40

Bunny Avatar

Most Overrated: Smashbox Photo finish

I have both the original and the color correcting primer (it’s green colored). They both smell like gasoline, and come out kind of watery. The original did come out like water, and then I had to squish it around. It didn’t break my skin out, but I didn’t notice any difference when applying it under foundation. I used the HD smashbox foundation (I regret buying) and there was no long lasting effect or even finish.

Most Underrated: Stila One Step Correct

This really helps with redness and it goes so well with any foundation applied on top. There’s no scent, and it feels like it’s helping my skin. My makeup lasts all day and it helps achieve a full coverage with foundation.

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