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Updated December 2021
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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. Read more  
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. Read more  
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.Read more 
Bottom line
Pros
Cons
Best of the Best
ILIA True Skin Radiant Priming Serum
ILIA
True Skin Radiant Priming Serum
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Makeup Prep
Bottom Line

A vegan, skin-tightening primer for use before applying and after removing makeup.

Pros

A 1-fluid-ounce bottle with a dropper cap. Made with hibiscus extract, aloe, and beta-glucan. Tightens the skin, renews moisture, and reduces lines and pores. Prepares the skin for makeup and refreshes the skin after makeup is removed.

Cons

May not apply as a smooth, even layer.

Best Bang for the Buck
Too Faced Hangover Replenishing Face Primer
Too Faced
Hangover Replenishing Face Primer
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Very Moisturizing
Bottom Line

An extremely moisturizing formula that absorbs quickly into the skin.

Pros

Features coconut water and probiotics to hydrate skin and increase elasticity. Contains no silicone and is cruelty-free. Very moisturizing without being greasy. Absorbs well.

Cons

Doesn't really fill in or minimize pores.

MILK Makeup Hydro Grip Primer
MILK Makeup
Hydro Grip Primer
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Long Lasting Results
Bottom Line

This primer truly grips onto you makeup and doesn't let go so you can look fresh all day long.

Pros

Hemp seed, cactus extract, and aloe water hydrate skin and provide helpful antioxidants. Thick gel-like primer is easy to apply and adheres to all skin types. Slight green tint reduces redness. Skin appears dewy without letting oil shine through. Foundation looks freshly applied for hours.

Cons

Primer is quite tacky and takes a while to dry.

Smashbox Photo Finish Primer Water
Smashbox
Photo Finish Primer Water
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Most Versatile
Bottom Line

Prime it, set it, and forget it with this multipurpose priming water.

Pros

Hydrating mist works as a primer and a setting spray. Lightweight formula leaves skin soft and doesn’t pill under foundation. Keeps makeup in place for hours. Reasonably priced. Cruelty-free formula.

Cons

Primer has a strong fragrance that may not appeal to everyone.

REN Clean Skincare Perfect Canvas Clean Primer
REN Clean Skincare
Perfect Canvas Clean Primer
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Great for Oily Skin
Bottom Line

A lightweight, smoothing primer that's adored by those with oily or combination skin.

Pros

Goes on smoothly, with a feel and texture similar to a serum. Minimizes the appearance of pores and fine lines. Sightly tacky texture helps makeup stay on all day. Great results for those with oily or combination skin.

Cons

The primer may pill or flake when used in combination with color correcting tints. Those with dry skin may want to avoid this primer.

HOW WE TESTED

We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.

30
Models
Considered
170
Consumers
Consulted
26
Hours
Researched
Category cover

Silicone based primers work well for just about everyone, and every skin type. They are easy to apply and effectively smooth out fine lines. They are free from harsh chemicals many people prefer to avoid. Despite their silky smooth texture, silicone based primers sometimes appear flaky on dry skin as well, so pay close attention if you need a hydrating, silicone-free formula if this might be an issue for your skin. Typically, these alternative primers are water-based. Water-based primers feel lighter on the skin and provide a mattifying effect. They are the perfect oil-free way to smooth out fine lines without clogging your pores, either as a base for makeup or worn alone.

Our Top Picks