BestReviews is reader-supported and may earn an affiliate commission. Details

Best Foundation Primer

Updated June 2023
Bottom line
Best of the Best
Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer
Veil Mineral Primer
Check Price
All-Day Wear
Bottom Line

Our tester loved this product thanks to the silky formula that leaves skin smooth and even for a flawless foundation application


Helps keep makeup intact, even after long days. The airy, lightweight formula looks natural yet offers medium-full coverage. Evens skin tone, conceals redness, and minimizes appearance of pores. Makes fine lines and wrinkles less noticeable. Equipped with broad-spectrum SPF 15.


It is rather expensive so our tester recommends only using it for special occasions.

Best Bang for the Buck
Maybelline New York Facestudio Master Prime Primer and Pore Minimizer
Maybelline New York
Facestudio Master Prime Primer and Pore Minimizer
Check Price
Customer Favorite
Bottom Line

A beginner-friendly primer that applies smoothly to your skin for a subtle fit.


Smooths out common imperfections with a single swipe. Water-based, so the primer feels lightweight and moisturizing. Offers full coverage after 1 coat. Protects against long-term makeup wear and UV rays. Available in a subscription service.


Not as long-lasting as some users would have preferred.

Laura Mercier Foundation Primer
Laura Mercier
Foundation Primer
Check Price
For Dry Skin
Bottom Line

Simultaneously moisturizes the skin and protects it against makeup irritants.


Softens the skin by minimizing pores and lines. Creates a relaxed, dewy look and is ideal for those with dryer skin types. Designed with antioxidants to better protect your skin. Wear by itself or use as a base for other products.


Not as thick or noticeable as other primers.

Urban Decay All Nighter Primer
Urban Decay
All Nighter Primer
Check Price

More stores

Trusted Brand
Bottom Line

This choice from Urban Decay is long-lasting and will keep skin looking flawless for hours.


Primer that smooths, hydrates, and prevents foundation from fading for up to 8 hours. Feels soft and lightweight while still adding moisture to skin. Vegan formula is cruelty-free and eco-friendly. Can also be worn alone for a more even and smooth skin appearance without foundation.


Some complaints of product being sticky and "cakey" on skin. Expensive price for a small amount.

Smashbox The Original Photo Finish Smooth & Blur Primer
The Original Photo Finish Smooth & Blur Primer
Check Price
Photographs Well
Bottom Line

This 3-in-1 formula is effective at hydrating, prepping, and refreshing skin.


Creates a great base layer for your makeup. Reduces red spots, dark spots, and wrinkles. Uses natural ingredients like vitamins A & E, lemongrass, aloe, and orchid complex to moisturize and soothe. Silky, lightweight formula is not too thick.


Some customers commented that it only helps to correct minor redness.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. About BestReviews  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. About BestReviews  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.About BestReviews 

After going through an intensive research process to narrow down our short list of top products in this space, we tested Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer to be sure that it’s worthy of our recommendation. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter and test to verify manufacturer claims.

Category cover

Buying guide for Best foundation primer

If you’ve ever wondered why your foundation doesn’t create the flawless, nearly airbrushed look you see on models and beauty influencers, the answer is almost certainly that you’re not using foundation primer. While it’s true that you can get by without this beauty booster, if you’re hoping for a finished appearance that turns heads, it may be time to add foundation primer to your beauty routine.

Just as there are hundreds of foundation makeups available — all targeted to different needs, preferences, and skin types — so too there are many types of foundation primer. Because of this, some overwhelmed shoppers just give up and skip primer altogether. That’s a shame because the right primer can make a huge difference in your complexion.

Content Image
The right foundation primer leaves your skin smooth, healthy looking, and ready for an application of foundation.

Key considerations

Serum, cream, or powder

Primer can take several forms: clear serum in a pump dispenser, light cream in a tube, pressed powder in a compact. As a general rule, you can use any type of primer beneath powder foundation, but it’s best not to use powder primer with gel, liquid, or cream foundation. 

Primer purpose

While many primers offer skincare benefits such as moisturizing or reducing fine lines, the main purpose of any primer is to create a smooth surface that reduces undesirable complexion issues while increasing your foundation’s staying power. With the right primer, your foundation should look even and natural. 

To accomplish these goals, you’ll need to pay attention to the particular features a primer offers. Choose a primer that is designed for your skin type, whether you have an oily, dry, or normal complexion. Take other beauty concerns into account as well, such as large pores and maturing skin.

Skin type

Oily skin: If you have oily skin, look for a foundation primer described with terms like “mattifying,” “shine-reducing,” or “oil-absorbing.” These primers help keep oily shine under control and cut down on the need to reach for blotting sheets or extra powder throughout the day.  

Dry skin: Dry, parched skin calls for a foundation primer that contains moisturizing ingredients, such as hyaluronic acid and glycerin. These primers are often labelled as “replenishing,” “moisturizing,” or “dewy.”

Normal skin: Complexions that are neither too oily nor too dry look great with a primer that leaves a bit of a dewy finish. This creates a youthful, smooth complexion with a naturally healthy appearance. Another good choice for normal or combination skin is a blurring primer. These creamy makeup primers contain dimethicone and other silicones that “blur” the appearance of pores, fine lines, and small imperfections, leaving a flawless canvas for your foundation. These products are sometimes sold as “photo finish” primers, as they are perfect for use before a photo session or any occasion where lots of pictures will be taken, such as a wedding, party, or graduation.

Content Image
Did you know?
There’s a foundation primer for every type of skin, whether your complexion is dry, oily, mature, normal, or combination.

Other skin concerns

You can personalize your primer further by choosing one that addresses other skin concerns you may have.

Mature skin

Aging skin can benefit from primer that contains ingredients to diminish fine lines, such as retinol, collagen, and peptides. Look for a primer that claims to be “anti-aging,” “restorative,” “nourishing,” or “line-reducing.”


If redness is a concern, color-correcting primer is a solution. These creamy primers have a soft green tint that counters skin redness, but don’t worry — the green disappears under your foundation.

Large pores

Many women struggle with large pores that give their complexion a rough appearance and cause their makeup to look uneven. If that’s your concern, a foundation primer with silicone is the answer. The slippery smooth texture of dimethicone and other cosmetic silicones creates a sort of “seal” over large pores to create the illusion of smooth skin.


Once you’ve chosen the perfect foundation primer, you’ll need a way to apply it. While fingers are a fine choice, if you prefer to keep your hands clean, we think you’ll love the following options.

Blender sponge: A blender sponge is an egg-shaped, soft, thick makeup sponge designed to apply most types of cosmetics, including gel, liquid, and cream primer. Use the pointed end to apply primer around your nostrils and eyes, the flattened bottom for your cheeks and forehead, and the curved sides for the bridge of your nose and chin.

Makeup brushQuality makeup brushes help you achieve a smooth, well-contoured finish.

Content Image
Did you know?
Mattifying foundation primers keep oily shine at bay, so you won’t need to reach for blotting sheets as frequently.

Foundation primer prices

A good foundation primer doesn’t have to break your budget.

Under $10

If you’re watching your spending, for less than $10 you’ll find quite a few drugstore-brand foundation primers that get the job done without fancy ingredients or flashy packaging.

Between $10 and $20

You’ll find a wide array of high-end foundation primers in this price range. For the money, you can expect quality ingredients that help improve the condition of your skin while keeping your foundation looking its best.

Over $20

At this price, you’re paying for the brand name as much as the product itself. Attractive packaging, lofty claims, and superior ingredients are common in this range.


Applying foundation primer isn’t complicated, but the right technique yields the best results.

  • Start with clean hands and a freshly washed face.

  • Apply any desired serum or moisturizer. Allow it dry for a couple of minutes.

  • Now it’s time for your primer. Remember not to go overboard; it only takes a pea-sized dab of most primers to cover your face effectively. Using too much wastes product and can leave your skin tacky rather than smooth.

  • Dab a bit of primer to each cheek as well as your forehead, chin, and nose.

  • Using your fingers, brush, or blender sponge, work the primer across your skin, using small, downward strokes to smooth the primer across your complexion without leaving streaks or blotches.

  • Don’t forget to apply primer around your temples, beneath your eyes, and around your nostrils.

  • Let your primer dry for at least two minutes before continuing with your foundation. Otherwise, you could end up with streaks instead of the flawless finish you’re aiming for.

Content Image
Although creamy primers are generally pink, white, or cream in color, don’t worry — the color vanishes on your skin without affecting your appearance.


Q. Can I use foundation primer without foundation?

A. Absolutely. If you don’t need the coverage provided by foundation, you can use a primer on its own to reduce shine, blur fine lines and pores, and provide a smooth, perfect look to your complexion.

Q. Is it okay to apply foundation primer on my eyelids?

A. While it might be tempting to use your foundation primer as an eyelid primer as well, it’s best to avoid doing so. Use eyeshadow primer instead. Eyeshadow primers are generally thicker and a bit tackier than foundation primers, as they are designed to resist eyeshadow creasing when lids get oily. Foundation primers tend to contain silicone, which is too thin and slick to keep eyeshadow in place for long.

Q. How long can I keep an open bottle of foundation primer before it turns bad?

A. Like all cosmetics, foundation primer has an expiration date. As a general rule, it’s best to toss foundation primer, as well as foundation, that’s been open for more than a year. By that point, bacteria or mold spores may well have taken hold in the product, and you might also see a breakdown in the primer’s consistency. Store your primer in a cool, clean, dry spot to keep it from separating or spoiling sooner than you’d like.

Our Top Picks