What’s Your Current Favorite Primer (or Primers) and Why?

Published in: Just For Fun

Current Favorite Primers

GURL, when it comes to primer, I’m a believer — like hands in the air, testifying with my eyes closed and my head up to the sky, hollering “PRRRRRRIMERRRRRR!” as tears run down my cheeks and a children’s choir sings in the background.


A day rarely passes when I skip it. Primer is as integral to my makeup routine as a lash curler and brow filler.

Face primers

The main reason I love face primer so much is, quite frankly, my damned pores! Primer makes the texture of my cheeks, forehead and nose look smoother, and it’s a pretty noticeable difference in real life and pics.

For face primers, I use two (sounds like overkill, I know, but it works for me). I start by prepping my skin for foundation using MAC Prep + Prime Natural Radiance ($41) all over my face, which makes whichever foundation I layer on top of it “sit” better and last longer.

After giving Prep + Prime a minute or two to sink in, I go back in with Smashbox Pore Minimizing Photo Finish ($39), which I spot apply on the apples of my cheeks, my nose and around my mouth.

Essentially, Photo Finish works like spackling paste or putty, filling any uneven dips and pores on the skin to make foundation, powder and blush appear more smooth and silky.

Eye primers

I’ve got MAD love for eye primers, too, but if we get into the nitty-gritty details of which ones and why, we’ll seriously be here till Tuesday.

So, for my eyes, the short answer is that I usually use some combination of the following: NARS Pro-Prime Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base by itself, or with MAC Paint Pot in Soft Ochre or Painterly buffed on top.

As for those other primers…

Like those primers for lips and primers for lashes — I don’t really use any of them often, but I wonder if I should.

How about you, my friend? Let’s talk primers. What’s your current favorite primer (or primers) and why?

Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,



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  1. Remi says:

    I have super sensitive skin that dries out like whoa. I have a love for mixing Ulta HydroPrime with a more pricey Benefit (Porefessional or ThatGal, depending on the day) or Smashbox (photo finish).

    I have a deeeeep love for Benefit Stay Don’t Stray for concealer and eyelid spot priming.

    (I am always on the lookout for good primers for my finnicky skin)

  2. fancie says:

    My favorite primers right now are Korres Greek Yoghurt Nourishing Primer and Maybelline Baby Skin. Since we’ve been having this cold weather my skin has been crazy dry and both primers really help smooth out my skin while locking in moisture. My favorite eye primers have always been Too Faced Shadow Insurance and Urban Decay Primer Potion. They work so well I haven’t really tried anything else honestly lol
    fancie recently posted … CoverGirl Lava Glow Lip Lava Gloss Review

  3. Eesha says:

    Hi Karen,
    Like you, I also a believer of primers. I used to use MAC’s skin visage for a long time. Then I explored more and started using/liking Chanel Base Lumiere last year. But, very recently I discovered Chanel Le Blanc, which I am loving. It’s not a silicone primer , but , I love the glow that this primer imparts on my skin.

  4. Estefania says:

    I looooooooove to use the MAC Radiance primer on clients, but have never tried it on myself… I must look into that! Haha

    My favorite face primer is the Smashbox Pore Minimizing Primer (same, on mah larger pores), and Benefit Porefessional on my cheeks and forehead.

    For my eyes, I love the NARS Smudgeproof (discovered it this year!), MAC Paint Pots, and Laura Mercier Caviar Sticks.

    For lips, I really do love the MAC Prep+Prime Lip. I always recommend it to people that have issues with their lip color feathering. I don’t think it does much for wear time, but that baby stops feathering like a boss.

    Same with the lashes. Prep+Prime Lash works every time I use it. It’s a small difference, but when someone really has an issue with their lashes being short, the difference matters to them 🙂

  5. Tracy says:

    I am in love with MAC Prep + Prime Lip primer … I use that instead of balm when my lips are being dry and cranky and it works wonders. I slather it on when I start my makeup and smudge most off when it’s time for lip pencil/lipstick.

  6. I swear by MAC Paintpot in Painterly as an eyeshadow primer and religiously use it everyday.
    For my face I have been eyeing the Smashbox More than Primer Blemish Control, but I still am on a shopping ban, so it sits on my Pinterest Beauty-Wishlist, waiting for May to arrive…
    LindaLibraLoca recently posted … Reactivating the youth of my skin? Lancomes Advanced Genifique Youth Activating Concentrate

  7. Sun says:

    I haven’t found any “holy grail” primers yet, but the one that I like the most would have to be the Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer. I have tried just about every “mattifying” primer out there on the market, and Hourglass Veil works the best. I have super-oily skin, with the nose being the worst, particularly the sides of my nose. I carry Clean & Clear blotting papers around and have to frequently blot. Without primer, every time I blot, foundation is lifted off the sides of my nose; primer makes it stick around. The Hourglass gives me maybe an hour more before I get oil breakthrough (I get oil breakthrough in one hour without primer), but that’s it.

  8. Fran says:

    I love Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer — it makes my skin feel good, I appreciate the added sun protection from the zinc, base products go on more smoothly, and it makes my makeup last longer. I’m about to re-order the large size. I tried the IT Cosmetics No. 52 primer, but, as much as I love many of their other products, that one didn’t work for me, and even irritated my skin (not sure if it was the orange oil or some of the anti-aging ingredients — my skin reacts to some of them).

    For eyelids I love MAC Paint Pot in Painterly (I’m between fair and light with cool undertones). It conceals veins and creates a smooth canvas that grabs shadows and makes them stay put. But for cream shadows I prep with either Too Faced Shadow Insurance or Lorac Behind the Scenes Eye Primer, either of which seem to work better than a Paint Pot under cream shadows.

    I would like to find a primer for undereyes that smooths out fine lines.

    I use IT Cosmetics black mascara primer as a lower-lash mascara, I think it’s absolutely fabulous for that, it colors each lash and gives it just a bit of ‘oomph’. I use it as a primer under their regular mascara when I want an especially dramatic look.

  9. Divya says:

    For eyes my Nars Smudgeproof eye shadow base. Always. For the face I love wearing the Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector in Moonstone (right now) the golden glow is unreal! 🙂
    Divya recently posted … The All Purpose Handbag

  10. Indya says:

    Ha! I use two as well. Hourglass Mineral Veil makes my foundation go on so smooth then Becca Ever Matte Poreless Primer keeps me matte. I also only apply this to my cheeks and around my mouth. My face produces more grease than ground beef so this really helps!
    Indya recently posted … Treat Yo’Self!: YSL Chinese New Year Couture Palette, Hearts Profusion Edition

  11. denise says:

    I’ve mostly been using Maybelline Baby Skin lately. I love how it blurs fine lines and keeps my makeup from settling into them. It works really great under my eyes to keep concealer from creasing. My other longtime favorite is Clarins Instant Smooth Perfecting Touch. It evens everything out so well that on a good day I can use it and no foundation! The thing that both of these don’t do that I’d like is add some radiance or brightening to my tired, dull skin.

    For eyes, I usually use UD Primer Potion but lately I’ve been enjoying Benefit Stay Don’t Stray. And nothing for lips…I’m generally a simple lip gloss or sheer lipstick kind of girl. But I’m going to keep the MAC lip primer tip in mind down the road as the feathering thing becomes a problem.

  12. Chelsea says:

    I don’t use a face primer, but I also wear foundation almost never. Love my tinted sunscreen. I bought the Smashbox 24 hour eyeshadow primer last time, and I’m going to have to replace it with my beloved Bars because it is just not up to snuff.

    My skin is super dry, so I moisturize very heavily, but my eyelids just don’t like to hold on to eyeshadow without Bars.

    I’ve used lash primers, but don’t on a regular basis. I remember the DiorShow lash booster being amazeballs.

  13. Vanessa C says:

    Great timing for this post, as I’m currently on a hunt for THE best primer for my oily/combination. I used Too Faced Primed and Poreless Primer for about 2 years with my minimal makeup (just concealer and brows).

    Now that I’m in love with a full face of foundation, it doesn’t keep up. Currently rotating through my primer samples (don’t judge me – I’m a sample hoarder!) and have been liking Smashbox’s Iconic Photo Finish Primer, although I think it’s breaking me out.

  14. Rose says:

    I think Mally poreless prep primer is fantastic! I love its fluffy texture and it works fabulous! It comes in a heavy glass bottle with a pink cap and is gorgeous to touch and feels expensive. It is actually expensive but worth every penny!

  15. Rachel R. says:

    I rarely use face primers, as I don’t like how they feel. My favorite is BareEscentuals Prime Time, as it doesn’t feel thick and silicon-y, and works with their loose mineral foundation. E.l.f. mattefying balm is pretty light and keeps the oil at bay.

    My favorite eye primer is Too Faced Shadow Insurance. Honorable mentions to UD Primer Potion and Wet n Wild Fergie primer.

  16. Beverly says:

    Face primers…I don’t use them…Eye and Lip primers…TWO FACED hands down….

  17. Allison C says:

    For face, I’m using Smashbox Anti-aging (I think) Photo Finish primer, but I misplaced it and I’m going crazy trying to find it. I know the minute I buy a new one I’ll find it. For eyes, I’m with Urban Decay Anti-aging Eye Primer or Milani Eye Primer that I think is a great drugstore option. Too Faced eye primers didn’t work for me unfortunately. But I use Too Faced Lip Insurance for lipstick.
    Allison C recently posted … My Winter Beauty Musts

  18. Nicole says:

    I really tried getting into face primers, but I believe I have yet to find one that really works for my skin. That, or I’m doing something totally wrong. I wasn’t blown away by Hourglass’ Veil Mineral Primer, and Laura Mercier’s Mineral Foundation Primer left me wanting more.

    That said I’ve worn Smashbox’s Photo Finish Color Correcting Foundation Primer, and appreciated its ability to cancel out some of the redness in my cheeks. I think I just talked myself into trying it again.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nicole,

      I’ve noticed that primer also seems to depend on the foundation that you’re using with it. Maybe try your primers with different foundations? You might find that the Hourglass and the Laura one might work better if you switch it up.

      And lol… I talk myself into trying stuff all the time. Like, every time I walk into Sephora.

  19. Carla N. says:

    I’m 50, and still must admit to having fairly good, though VERY oily, skin and I think I’m just too old to fret about the size/visibility of my pores.
    However, I *do* use Hourglass Mineral Veil primer, mostly for the SPF protection.
    I love it because:
    – it’s from a cruelty-free company.
    – it has good SPF.
    – it’s colorless, but doesn’t make my NW15 face any paler than it already is.
    – it helps my makeup/face look smoother, and not get oily *quite* as fast.
    Because of the aforementioned extremely oily skin, I needn’t even bother to apply eye makeup without first using a good primer.
    I’ve tried literally dozens, famous and otherwise, and my Holy Grail is Tarte Clean Slate 360, with a light dusting of Youngblood pressed rice powder on top. This combination keeps my shadows crease-free until at least mid-day, which constitutes a miracle of the magnitude that the Pope should probably be aware of. 🙂

  20. Jennifer says:

    MAC Prep + Prime Moisture Infusion – leaves my skin feeling moisturized and ready for makeup.

    Nuance by Salma Hayek Smooth Start Skin Primer – drugstore price, better-than-drugstore results.

  21. Amy says:

    As an Ulta employee, I get a discount, which has allowed me to try out various products. I recently got, and love, Becca’s EverMat Primer. It saves my makeup from breaking up around my nose and chin. It is awesome if you have oily skin. I also like Maybelline’s Baby Skin and Smashbox Pore Minimizer.

    • Karen says:

      Hey Amy!

      I’m scheduling an Ulta trip soon. What do you recommend I pick up?! I’m looking for a great drugstore foundation, concealer and powder.

      • Amy says:

        Ooh, you know what foundation I LOVE? The dream Wonder Fluid Touch Foundation by Maybelline. I use it over the Becca primer, and I honestly reach for it more than my foundations by Tarte, Bare Minerals, Kat Von D, Marc Jacobs, and my Korean BB creams. I personally love it. Maybelline’s Fit Me Concealer is ALMOST a dupe for the Nars Radiant creamy Concealor (notice I said almost though). NYX makes a good HD Concealor as well.

  22. Maria J. says:

    I asked for a sample of the Smashbox Pore Minimizing primer before I buy it at Sephora and so far I’m only using it on my forehead and nose. I tried using it on my whole face but it’s really drying so it truly is for oily skin. For the rest of my face, I’ve been extremely obsessed with the Hourglass Mineral Veil Face primer travel size because it leaves any foundation I apply over it so flawless and long lasting!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Maria,

      Yeah, I tried putting it all over my face once and felt like it was overkill. As a spot smoother it’s great though. 🙂

      I’ve used that Hourglass primer and it’s amazeballs! Must take it out again and give it some lovin’.

  23. Alison M says:

    I’ve been using Becca Resurfacing Primer because it wears well under my cream foundations (faves in winter!) and increases the wear time. But my nose has been causing major issues — foundation hasn’t been sticking to it even at application! I pulled out Sonia Kashuk Mattifying Primer just for that area and it solved the problem. Huzzah! And major props to Urban Decay All Nighter. I started applying it before and after my makeup now that I’m back to office life. I forgot how much I love that stuff 🙂
    Alison M recently posted … Cover FX Natural Finish Oil Free Foundation Review, Swatches, and Demo

    • Karen says:

      OK, Alison — totally blowing my mind right now. It never occurred to me to spray All Nighter on before applying makeup. HOLY WOW! I’m going to try this tomorrow. 😀

      How’s office life going, by the way? Are you enjoying your new gig?

      • Alison M says:

        WHAAAAT?! Giiiiirrllll….you don’t even know. Prep with UD All Nighter, add primer, let sit a minute or two, do your makeup, set with UD All Nighter (I call it “sandwiching with setting spray”) and you are good. to. go. Let me know how long your makeup lasts!

  24. Genevieve says:

    This post is interesting because I am in the market for a new primer. A lot of the primers mentioned here are either not available in Australia OR they are at a ridiculous price eg the Smashbox primer – which I have read is truly amazing – is $36 or so in the US is more like $70+ here… not sustainable on my budget. I don’t suffer from enlarged pores but do have some fine lines. My skin is on the dry side, but I moisturize well.
    Having used primers, I do find that they keep your foundation looking good for longer and they even out your skin tones. I am a convert.

  25. I’ve been loving the Clinique SuperPrimer in Universal past few months. It’s kind of an all in one primer – hydrates, smoothes and extends the wear of my foundation. My summer favorite was Revlon Photoready – really helps keep oil at bay!
    Ankita@corallista recently posted … Corallista 4 Year Anniversary!

  26. Debra says:

    Does Bobbi Brown SPF 50 Protective Face count as primer? Pricey but wonderful.

    Most primers with heavy “cones” enlarge my pores so I went without a primer for a long time until the product showed up to replace sunscreen as my basic layer.

    For eyes, I use a BB cream eye shadow in a neutral or a shade that is tonally matched to the eye shadow.

    • Karen says:

      Ooh, I haven’t tried that Bobbi product! I will have to check it out next time I’m at the counter. I’m not married to my SPF and am looking for a new one.

      Please tell me you have Bobbi’s cream shadow in Nude Beach. I love that one. Copper is also a go-to!

  27. Erin says:

    I love the NARS eye primer. The Chanel one isn’t bad either. I have yet to find a true primer that I like for my face. Chanel Blanc is about the best one I’ve used but it doesn’t feel like a bunch of silicones on my face.
    Erin recently posted … Review: Cecilia Beretta 2013 Prosecco di Conegliano-Valdobbiadene Brut Millesimato and Secco!

  28. Phyrra says:

    I love illuminating primers like Nyx Angel Veil or Cover FX Illuminating primer for the face. For eyes Too Faced Shadow Insurance is my holy grail. I like the Too Faced Lip Insurance but I also feel like using things like OCC Colour Pencils on the lips helps with wear time for lip products.
    Phyrra recently posted … Melt Cosmetics Dark Matter and Love Sick Eyeshadow Stacks Review

  29. Maria J. says:

    Thanks for replying Karen, I would love to buy the full size of the Hourglass primer someday but even the travel size is somewhat pricey but I’m just glad a little of it goes a long way.

    I also forgot to mention my favorite eye primers and My HG has to be the Too Faced Shadow Insurance, I even use it to primer my eyebrows and it’s just a dream. I also Love the Lorac Behind the Scenes eye shadow primer and Essence I ♡ Stage eye base for their creamy consistency.

    • Karen says:

      That’s one great thing about that Hourglass primer! You barely need any of it. I have a travel size bottle and I’m stretching that sucker out, LOL! 🙂

      Oh, I’ve used Too Faced and liked it a lot. 🙂 I will have to remember to try it in my brows some day.

  30. Maria J. says:

    You should definitely try out the Too Faced Shadow Insurance on your eyebrows, let it set and then use your brow pencil or powder right after. I use the ABH brow wiz in Dark Brown, then define them more with NYX wonder pencil in light and set it with NYX Control Freak eyebrow gel.

  31. Pepper says:

    For face primer I am loving Too Faced Hangover Primer. I have
    Very sensitive skin and it does not irritate, its not drying or overly
    moisterising, and it gives a very smooth look to my skin.
    It is the first primer that I use every single time because it
    makes such a difference.
    For eye primer I use the freebies I get with purchase as I have
    solo many of them. I do like Bars and Urban Decay anti aging primer
    were I to purchase one or two.

  32. Pepper says:

    For face primer I am loving Too Faced Hangover Primer. I have
    Very sensitive skin and it does not irritate, its not drying or overly
    moisterising, and it gives a very smooth look to my skin.
    It is the first primer that I use every single time because it
    makes such a difference.
    For eye primer I use the freebies I get with purchase as I have
    solo many of them. I do like Nars and Urban Decay anti aging primer
    were I to purchase one or two.

  33. I might be the odd one out here..because I rarely use primers.. I have a dry skin and usually primers make the foubdation look patchy on dry spots.. Though lately I have found Revlon photo ready primer whih works beautifully and doesn’t make my skin drier.. :-)..

    For eyes I have loved Nyx HD high definition eye primer.. U must check it out !!..

    I have never considered layering primers but now thinking of trying it.. Starting with eyes
    Poo@beautyandmakeupmatters recently posted … Best Toners For All Skin Types In India

    • Stephanie says:

      That’s interesting, because I think my dry skin “eats” foundation more quickly if I haven’t used a primer beforehand. Like – my foundation was patchy in a couple hours, then I bought a primer to see if that would help and it did. I’m just getting into the world of primers though and am starting with Laura Mercier’s Foundation Primer Protect, since I also need a good sunscreen still.

  34. Christina says:

    MUFE’s eye prime was my gateway drug into primers! I started experimenting, but couldn’t bring myself to spend the big bucks on fancy eye primers like Too Faced or UD. I ended up picking Milani’s eye primer up, which, surprisingly, is a rockstar! It’s cheap, plus it works really well. Even my finicky eyeliner which I stopped using because it got everywhere, sticks like glue and doesn’t move!

    Face primer – I gave up on this. I used Korres’ for a while, but nothing seemed to extend the lifetime. I’ve moved on to the very expensive Hourglass but only break it out for special occasions!

  35. MUFE HD Primer is my go-to face primer. For the lips, it’s MAC Prep+Prime Lip. This is the best, especially when I’m using matte lipsticks.
    Alyssa Melanie recently posted … Etude House Play 101 Pencils 22, 42, 46 Review

  36. My two favorite face primers are Dermalogica’s Skinperfect primer and Dior’s Pore Minimizer. They both keep my face matte and hide my large pores a bit. And my two favorite eye primers are Urban Decay’s Primer Potion and Too Faced’s Shadow Insurance primer. They keep my eyeshadow crease-free all day long.
    Kiss & Make-up recently posted … Portable and affordable: three retractable powder brushes from bornprettystore.com

  37. Kim says:

    I’m a huge fan of Pro Prime, as you know! I received a sample vial of Hourglass Veil that I’ve used a few times on my lids but it’s nowhere as good as PP for that. I’m sure it’s fab when used as a face primer but haven’t tried it. I’m always afraid that primers and medium to full coverage foundations are going to clog my pores like crazy. Someday I’ll get up the courage to try it. 🙂

  38. carm says:

    I love the LORAC mattifying primer for summer. Right now I am loving a drugstore primer: Almay CC Luminous primer. It brightens my face and I don’t get too oily. For eye primers, I use either TheBalm Put a Lid On It or the one from LORAC.

  39. Jess says:

    depends on the day but I actually find myself reaching for laura geller tinted spackle in champagne. I got it in that holiday set from ulta and even though I’m not convinced it makes my makeup last a long time it has a sort of gel formula that feels really nice and lightweight on the skin. it does have some shimmer but with foundation over it it adds just a bit of radiance (personally wouldn’t recommend using it in its own like the bottle suggests…too much sparkle for that!)

  40. Stacey says:

    Right now I’m on my 3rd tube of Rimmel’s Stay Matte primer. It is the only primer I’ve found (so far) that actually keeps me shine free for most of the day. By the end of the day I do have some shine of course but that is to be expected. I only wish it came in a larger tube as I seem to go through it fairly quickly.

  41. Simply Linh says:

    I’m super oily so BECCA’s Ever-Matte Poreless Primer for my face and NARS Pro-Prime Smudge Proof primer for my oily lids! The only ones that I’ve found to work the best!

  42. astou says:

    I’m obsessed with minimize my pores so i use :

    – The LANCOME Visionnaire Advances Skin Corrector,
    – The CLINIQUE Pore Refining Solutions Serum,
    – The MAYBELLINE Baby Skin, very efficient,
    – The GARNIER 5sec Perfect Blur, efficient too…

  43. Charlene says:

    I use three for face. The Bare Minerals Prime Time oil controlling primer, and the Smashbox Photo Finish Oil free primer all over, plus the Smashbox pore minimizing primer in spots with deep acne scarring.

    I find that the Bare Minerals primer really helps to control oil, but the Photo Finish smooths the surface of my face better for application of foundation – I use it in lieu of any traditional moisturizer. I am also considering switching out from the Smashbox Oil Free to Clinique Super City Block because of the spf – my foundation (LM Flawless Fluide, you sold me on that) doesn’t have any spf and I need something more than the Bare Minerals Ready Veil powder I’m using. I’m going to sample the Super City Block and see how I feel.

    I might get a sample and take a look at the Hourglass one but if it doesn’t control oil as well as these do, I will skip it.

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