The Best Makeup Primers For Glow, Grip, and Glide

From Armani to Milk Makeup.

best makeup primers
(Image credit: Future)

If you sit down and go straight for your foundation—you’re doing it wrong. Sure, your makeup probably looks fine, but adding one of the best primers to your routine will make your coverage look better and last longer. “The primary function of a primer is to correct an issue,” says celebrity makeup artist Jennifer Fleming. “It can reduce redness, mattify, and improve the texture of the skin. Some primers will hydrate, some will color correct, and some act as an oil absorbing barrier between skin and foundation.” There truly is something out there for everyone and while an excess of options is a good problem to have, I’m the first to admit that the surplus can be a bit overwhelming. 

To streamline your shopping, I've scoped out the top-rate face primers that money can buy and slathered them on my face. From cult-classic drugstore options that blur pores better than anything else out there to makeup artist-approved luxury buys that give an insane glow, here are the best makeup primers on the market.

What to Look For


“Identifying the purpose for your primer is the easiest way to narrow down the bevy of options on the market,” says Fleming. For example, if you’re looking for a shine control primer, seek out mattifying formulas that include oil-absorbing ingredients like salicylic acid. Want extra luminosity? Opt for uber-hydrating options, or even a moisturizer-primer duo that will give your complexion some added glow. 


“I prefer a primer with a creamy texture that dries and sets quickly, leaving a smooth, silky finish to the touch,” says Fleming. “This feature helps create a seamless foundation application by creating a smooth surface for skin products to adhere.” On the other end of the spectrum, you have primers that lean on the “sticky” or “tacky” side. They’re more of an acquired taste in the primer realm, but they can be effective at absorbing oil or creating a long-wear canvas. 


The line between skincare and makeup is increasingly blurred—and primers are perhaps the most multi-purpose product out there. That in mind, most makeup primers are going to contain loads of skincare-like ingredients. “I often search for hyaluronic acid which helps skin retain moisture, resulting in skin producing less sebum, or oil. The great news is hyaluronic acid is friendly to all skin types so a primer emphasizing this ingredient will likely be universal,” says Fleming. After that, you’ll probably find a mix of hydrating, oil-absorbing, or radiance-boosting ingredients depending on the primer’s purpose. 

The Best Makeup Primers

Meet the Expert

Jennifer Fleming
Texas-bred, Jennifer Fleming’s passion for makeup began with the red painted lips of her family’s matriarchs, igniting an appreciation for the power and ability of makeup to enhance and transform. Years later in a packed Mustang, she made the leap to the lights of New York City. Working backstage assisting on fashion shows, photo shoots, and celebrity red carpet helped inform her foundation for makeup. She found her niche in advertising and men’s grooming for several brands including Maybelline Chase, and the National Basketball Association. Fifteen years later and her timeless approach to glamour is defined by clean refined skin, while enhancing her client’s natural beauty. Today, she continues to draw inspiration from art, travel, nature, and history- while being inspired by current digital beauty trends. Jennifer currently splits her time between New Y
Julia Marzovilla
Fashion E-Commerce Editor

Julia Marzovilla is the Fashion E-Commerce Editor at Marie Claire, where she reviews the latest launches from fashion and beauty brands, finds the best on-sale items around the internet, and interviews experts to find the best products in any category to share with her readers. She also creates shopping guides that span every vertical on the site as an expert in everything from the best laptop bags to the best laser hair removal devices.

In her near decade of experience, Julia has both written for several top outlets in the E-Commerce space and worked at major fashion labels. Prior to joining the Marie Claire team, she contributed similar shopping stories to sites such as Bustle, InStyle, The Zoe Report, Who What Wear, and worked as the Trending Fashion and News Writer STYLECASTER. You can find her across the internet at @JuliaMarzovilla. In real life, you can find her creating shopping guides for her friends, cooking or baking in her too-small kitchen, or buying tickets for the next time Harry Styles is in town.

Julia has a Bachelor’s degree in English with a minor in Journalism from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, California. She lives in New York City, her hometown.