Here's a fast fact: Wearing a primer is the most crucial step in applying makeup. Yes, it's an extra 20-second step, but it's truly the difference between your makeup still looking fresh and smooth by 6 p.m., and your makeup looking like a hot garbage fire by noon.
Because the right primer—which creates a smooth, grip-able base for makeup to adhere to—will prevent your eyeliner from smudging, your eyeshadow from creasing, and your foundation from sliding into your creases and crevices. It is, in a word, magic. And to help you be your best makeup-loving self, we handpicked the best of the best drugstore options, ahead, for your special little skin type.
Essence Fresh & Fit Awake Primer, $6
Most primers fall into two categories: water-based and silicone-based. Silicone-based primers feel like a layer of silk on your skin, while water-based primers feel like a super lightweight lotion that dries down to nothing. If you hate the feeling of anything on your face, and if your skin is super dry, try this cranberry water and vitamin E-infused primer, which softens and hydrates skin fast.
Maybelline FaceStudio Master Prime Blur + Redness Control Primer, $10
If you remember anything from elementary school art class, you know that colors on the opposite side of the color wheel cancel each other out. Which is why this hydrating primer is tinted green: The minty hue works to minimize the redness in your skin, giving even the most blotchy, ruddy, and uneven skin tones a neutral finish.
NYX Hydra Touch Oil Primer, $14
I know, I know, I KNOW—an oil primer, or an oil anything, sounds like the kiss of death for your makeup. But that’s why this little bottle is so magical: It not only moisturizes hella dry skin with lightweight jojoba and rice oils, but it actually keeps makeup from caking up in fine lines or rough patches, which means you get a smooth, natural-looking glow, all day long, without turning into an oil slick by noon.
Monistat Chafing Relief Powder Gel, $9
“But wait, isn’t this for your vagina?!” No. Nope. Not even a little. This powder-soft gel—which runners or regular humans use to prevent rubbing and chafing between their thighs or arms—is the ultimate cult-favorite dupe in the beauty world (it has more than 1,000 five-star reviews on Amazon, and is also the favorite of this beauty editor).
Why? Because it’s formulated with only the good stuff found in primers (i.e. silicones), with none of the weird junk, and it truly turns your skin into a pore-free sheet of silk in seconds.
Revlon PhotoReady Perfecting Primer, $9
You know that Instagram filter that makes your face look magically…better? You know—smoother, brighter, and glow-ier? Welp, meet the real-life version of that. This primer is loaded with light-reflecting ingredients that super-subtly give your skin a lit-from-within haze, without looking like you dipped your face in glitter.
Ulta Beauty Matte Face Primer, $18
Shiny-skin folks, meet your savior. This oil-free primer is not only loaded with mattifying powders to keep your skin slick-free past lunch, but it’s also formulated with a dose of salicylic acid to gently treat blackheads, rough skin, and clogged pores. Oh, and did we mention it keeps your makeup from sliding off even the oiliest of faces? Please, form an orderly line, here.