What do you like about face primer? What don't you like?

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Face Primer

I so rarely wear it that I don’t really have any major dislikes! I think it can be a useful step for anyone who has skin that seems to break down foundation quickly or needs extra-long wear.

— Christine


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Celesta Avatar

There’s nothing so revolutionary out there that doesn’t do what a good moisturizer or oil can’t do, at least for me. I have personally never found a face primer that did all it claimed to do. The one I like the most is Smashbox Primerizer because it does prep my face well for foundation, but I don’t think that it prolongs the wear of my makeup significantly. Pore filling primers have never really worked for me. I do like glowy primers, but again, they don’t prolong the wear of my makeup.

Ana Maria Avatar

For me face primer is a must, but I’m not saying it necessarily in a conventional way; I believe that it doesn’t have to be a product labeled `primer` to do the job, it can be an moisturizer (hopefully with SPF during the day) or a serum. It’s all about prepping the skin before foundation.
While I do think that longevity should come from the foundation and setting powder (at least for me), I love that a good primer can give me extra hours of wear (especially since I don’t like to touch-up).
I like more silicone based primers (or serums used as primers) because they make my foundation apply easier, while smoothing the face; I do have big pores and I like that some primers make them appear less noticeable.
My skin chemistry is odd, any foundation oxidizes on me (not only upon application, but hours in of wear); face primers help the foundation stay true to color.

I don’t have a specific rant towards face primers in general… I just have tons of rants for some products that didn’t worked for me in particular. 😆 I personally dislike any primer that it’s dewy, too hydrating… and especially anything with shimmer. And I don’t like tinted primers, they tend to change the color of my foundation, even if the tint matches me.

Note: My favorite primers are (in this particular order) Hourglass Mineral Veil, Paula’s Choice Smoothing Serum, Estee Lauder The Mattifier; but otherwise, anything with Cyclopentasiloxane, Dimethicone and/or Isododecane works well for the type of foundations I like.
I also loved the Becca Velvet Blurring Primer (which seems not to be available anymore on Sephora), loved to liquid to powder experience.

Wednesday Avatar

I do not use primer for the most part. I rely on a skincare product or pressing a bit of powder in trouble spots before foundation for added longevity: Sisley Double Tenseur is my best ‘primer’. I’ve probably tried at least two dozen others, or more, most thankfully in trial/mini format, and sadly, I’m not enthusiastic about any. Maybe my expectations are too high. I quite dislike the feel of anything with very heavy silicone which brings out a compulsion to touch and scratch my face.

Lesley Avatar

I never ever ever skip primer. It is an essential part of my makeover. I love how it blurs my pores and fine lines and generally makes my skin look smoother. There is nothing I dislike about a good blurring primer. But not everyone needs primer. I think a good moisturizer, allowed to sink in, is a better option than so-called hydrating primers.

Ariel Riley Avatar

I also rarely wear it! I have some of the Monistat chafing gel which is a dupe for the Smashbox and sometimes if I’m in the mood to change things up, I’ll put some on, but in reality, it’s always seemed like a wasted step for me

Eileen Avatar

I really don’t have any strong feelings about primers one way or the other. If you have oily skin and need extra help holding your makeup in place, they can be a godsend. Otherwise, they’re just an extra layer that really isn’t necessary.

I used to like Guerlain’s primers for special occasions because they did the job of keeping my makeup in place without feeling heavy or occlusive. As I’ve aged, though, my skin has become so dry that a primer is totally unnecessary. I can put my makeup on early in the morning and it is still there late at night. Even though I prep my skin very well with moisture, moisture, and more moisture, I just don’t have oil breaking through the way I did when I was much younger.

thirteenthirteen Avatar

I didn’t use primer for years but I recently started. I don’t think it makes an amazing difference but I do like it. I started feeling like my skin looked really dry and just blah, and around the same time I began to notice that foundation was sinking into the pores on my nose, appearing as tiny spots of lighter pigment all over my nose. (Probably not really noticeable to anyone else at normal conversation distance, but definitely noticeable to me in my makeup mirror.) I got some samples of glowy primers at Sephora and ended up getting a Charlotte Tillbury product. Like I said, it’s not an enormous change, but it does help the foundation from sinking into pores and it adds a bit of life and glow to my skin.

I haven’t noticed that it prolongs the life of my foundation. Since my skin is dry, I am not really interested in oil control or other things that primer is supposed to do.

Genevieve Avatar

I really like face primer as it enables my foundation (and I use the same primer for eyeshadows) to last longer.
I have been using the same face primer for years – Nude by Nature Airbrush primer. My skin is not irritated by it.
I guess the only negatives about using primers is finding one that suits you. Quite often a really good day moisturising cream can do the job too.

WildDove Avatar

I was enamored of the idea of primers a few years ago, but now I don’t use a primer. I lay down Clinique DDML as a moisturizer. Then I mix foundation with another pump of DDML and sometimes a drop of EL Advanced Night Repair serum.


I find that most primers do not do what they claim and unfortunately many can actually increase the appearance of my pores which honestly are not large. I do enjoy a luminous look and the luminous foundations are to thick creamy or dewy for my skin so I use the Laura Mercier Luminizer Primer an Armani Maestro over it. I don’t really need much powder/ concealer after that. My next combo that I really love is the Pat McGrath system… it works beautifully all together.

Heather Avatar

I find that a smoothing primer (especially the silicone ones) tend to keep makeup from settling into my large pores and generally do a good job helping foundation apply more smoothly from the get-go.

I haven’t found that any moisturizing primers do much that a regular old moisturizer can’t, as far as achieving the goals primers are supposed to achieve (improve application, smooth/blur skin, extend wear) — that said, I do like several of the ones that have built-in glow, and find it personally easier to grab one of those than to deal with the hassle of mixing something like strobe cream into my morning lotion and hoping I get the glow:moisturizer proportions right. (I really like the First Aid Beauty coconut one for this.)

Rachel R. Avatar

When face primer came on the market, it was literally a life-changer. I’ve always had really oily skin that would oxidize and/or melt off any creams or liquids within an hour. Even now, at age 50, primer is an absolute necessity for me as both a barrier to prevent oxidization and a wear time extender. Believe me that I tried every other solution, and primer works the best for me with both issues.

There’s not much I don’t like. Sometimes it’s tricky to find the right match of face primer and foundation. My sensitive skin doesn’t get along with heavily scented primers. Heavier silicone primers sometimes make my skin break out.

Jill Avatar

I don’t wear foundation but I surprisingly do wear a blur primer, I definitely notice when I don’t wear it vs when I do. I use it around my eyes and t-zone, and my concealer and cream shadows definitely perform better over it. I also had a little sample of a glow primer which I find I quite like dabbed around my face instead of highlighter, do I need that one? Probably not, but I’m enjoying it.

Jeanine Avatar

A face primer is an essential part of my daily routine. I love the way it blurs my pores and fine lines. I apply it heavier in the places I have rough patches, especially in winter and it smooths the surfaces before my concealer. I wear powder foundation. A primer (along with a setting spray) keeps it in place. I own a garden center and work in the heat all day during the summer. I credit primer and setting spray for keeping everything in place through the end of the day. My favorite is CoTz.

Lauren Avatar

I hate how my makeup looks without my Smashbox Photo Finish. I’ve tried other types and finishes, I’ve tried just lotion, I’ve tried foundation just on its own. Nope nope nope I need my Photo Finish. I know there is a lot of hate for the silicone primer, but it does what I need – makes my makeup go on and look super smooth (without it my skin gets weird flaky bits and foundation tends to separate no matter what one I use), makes it last, and I’ve never had a reaction from it. I don’t have big pores at all so filling them is a non issue, but ease of application and lasting of makeup is. If I’m not wearing a tinted moisturizer or going bare faced you bet I’m wearing my trusty primer.

Quark Avatar

My skin gets insanely oily throughout the day. I always use a primer, but I actually don’t use a product that’s marketed as a primer. I like to use the Etude House Sunprise Sunblock as an oil control primer. That stuff is super matte and my makeup stays put 12 hours compared to the measly 2 hours I usually get without priming.

CatG Avatar

I have giant pores and an oily t-zone, so primers definitely make a difference for me. A lot of them unfortunately break me out! And I haven’t been able to find one I love as much as I loved the one by Sunday Riley! Right now my favorite is the Korres pomegranate primer which I guess is also discontinued 🙁

Veronica_1017 Avatar

I have oily skin and believe in using a primer although as I’ve learned more and more what works for me; I’ve noticed that I get the best results when I use a minimal amount / thinnest layer. I use to layer on kind of heavy and I wouldn’t get the longevity I was looking for until I used the thinnest amount.

moimoi Avatar

I tried a bunch of different formulas and so far the only one I’ve liked is Pacifica’s Alight BB Cream/Primer. The rest I’ve relegated to keeping my legs from looking ashy in the summer or polishing shoes (silicone primers work nicely for this).

Jane Avatar

those that hydrates I really don’t notice much else they claim to do. I haven’t tried the new Milk one that everyone is raving about, so maybe it’s a game changer. The one I like best and that works for me is VDL’s Luminlayer (very smooth, hydrating and ever so slightly illuminating).

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