It’s no secret that good makeup starts with good skin—but it also should go without saying that good makeup truly begins with a good face primer. But finding a primer that works for you and your skin type? That can feel nearly as challenging as finding your favorite moisturizer or foundation. Why? Because there are a ton of primers on the market at nearly every single price point—and they all promise to do different things. Some formulas swear that they will keep your makeup on for 24-plus hours. Others claim that they will minimize your pores in an instant. Some add glow, others keep oil at bay.
In the end, it all comes down to one thing: Does the primer you choose actually make your makeup look better throughout the day? To make sure that your hard-earned shopping time doesn’t go to waste, we scoped out the top-rated face primers that you can buy right now, from the classic cult primers to the brand-new products taking over the internet.
This Putty Primer comes in three different formulations so you can find the one that perfectly meets your skin's needs. There's a Poreless option that will leave skin looking blurred, an Illuminating option that gives skin a naturally radiant finish, and a Matte option that will keep oil at bay. Whichever option you choose, know that the silky formula smoothes over imperfections and promises to keep your makeup in place.
Beauty gurus on YouTube have sworn by Tatcha's Silk Canvas Protective Primer for years now, and it's 100 percent worth the splurge. This primer acts as a literal barrier between your skin and the rest of your makeup to keep clogged pores at bay and to smooth over imperfections before you even have to apply any foundation.
This one's a classic face primer from one of the drugstore's most tried-and-true brands. This Magic Perfecting Base from L'Oreal Paris has a velvety texture that leaves your face feeling smooth and matte all day long.
If you need a product that adds moisture as well as primes the skin, then you need to try out Smashbox's Photo Finish Primerizer Moisturizing Primer. It's both a moisturizer and a primer in one single product, and it promises up to 24 hours (!) of hydration. It's sulfate and paraben-free, and actually contains 762 sextillion (!!) molecules of water per bottle.
Milk Makeup's Hydro Grip Primer has a sticky gel texture that keeps your makeup locked in place all day long. It's formulated with hemp-derived cannabis seed extract, which is jam-packed with antioxidants and leaves skin feeling hydrated. This primer is sticky (in a good way!) so makeup literally latches onto it.
This option from NYX has gone viral on TikTok thanks to its—you guessed it—smoothing properties. The hero ingredient here is marshmallow root extract, which leaves skin feeling soft. This primer also promises to extend the life of your makeup for up to 16 hours, hydrate, blur lines and imperfections, even your skin's tone, and add a soft-focus finish.
Fenty's Pro Filt'r Instant Retouch Primer acts like Photoshop for your skin. It creates a filter-like finish before you apply makeup so that your pores look practically invisible.
Dior's BACKSTAGE line was created with makeup artists in mind. This lightweight primer leaves skin looking luminous and even, and delivers up to 24 hours of continuous hydration. Wear it alone for a natural-looking blurred effect or layer it under makeup for a truly flawless base.
This gel primer from Rare Beauty is great for combination skin because it both keeps the skin hydrated thanks to the inclusion of hyaluronic acid and keeps your skin looking matte thanks to its shine-absorbing properties.