The 5 Best Drugstore Primers

By Marissa DeSantis
Bustle/Amazon

When it comes to smoother, longer-lasting, and more even-looking makeup, primer is essential. But not all primers are created equally, and you have to be sure you're using the right formula for your skin type. Ahead, this handy guide breaks down the best drugstore primers, each of which targets a variety of different skin concerns.

A makeup primer's main objective has always been to create a smoother, more even canvas for your foundation, concealer, and other makeup to adhere to. But many primers go way beyond that. You can go the classic pore-blurring route, choose a hydrating option for dry skin, or even find a mattifying formula that helps fight acne.

Whichever primer you choose, application is simple. After any skin-care steps that might be part of your morning routine (serum, moisturizer, sunscreen, et cetera), take a small amount of primer and use your fingers to evenly blend it over your face. If you have certain areas that need more help, such as dry patches you want to hydrate or an oily T-zone you're trying to mattify, you can concentrate the primer exactly where you need it. Then, let your primer dry for about one minute before applying anything else on top.

Scroll on for five of the best drugstore primers to help perfect your complexion and keep your makeup in place all day long.

1. The Best Drugstore Primer For Large Pores

All primers help camouflage pores to a certain extent, but few do it better than the cult-favorite Maybelline Baby Skin Instant Pore Eraser. This lightweight primer is noncomedogenic (so it won't clog your pores and make things worse in the long run), and while you wear it, it smooths out your skin and reflects light to make even the biggest pores virtually undetectable. It's also a solid choice for a variety of skin types because Maybelline notes that it keeps skin moisturized but still has a matte finish to keep shine away. Over 1,800 Amazon reviewers gave this drugstore classic primer a perfect five-star rating.

2. The Best Drugstore Primer For Dry Skin

For anyone who has ever had dry skin (so, almost all of us), you know how annoying trying to apply makeup over flaky patches can be. While you'll definitely want to apply moisturizer every morning to help combat persistent dryness, a hydrating primer like NYX Professional Makeup's Hydra Touch Primer, is also key. The formula combines traditional moisturizing ingredients, like glycerin and niacinamide, with other nutrient-packed extracts like centella asiatica, licorice root, and chamomile. These antioxidant-rich ingredients can help brighten skin and calm inflammation, resulting in a healthy, even-looking complexion that's perfectly prepped for makeup.

3. The Best Drugstore Primer For Oily Skin

If your skin turns shiny just a few hours after applying makeup, using a mattifying primer in the morning, like Rimmel London Stay Matte, can make all the difference. The formula controls oil production for 8 hours and helps prevent makeup from caking, thanks to a blend of ingredients like dimethicone, silica, and talc. In addition to keeping shine at bay, these oil-controlling abilities will help prevent your makeup from moving around and sliding off your face. The primer is also lightweight and oil-free, promising not to clog pores in the process of evening out your skin.

4. The Best Drugstore Primer For Acne-Prone Skin

For a rare primer that's suitable (and even good for) acne-prone skin, vegan and cruelty-free drugstore brand E.L.F. created its Blemish Control Face Primer. It leaves behind a matte finish if oily skin is an issue (though not as powerfully as the Rimmel primer does), but it really cracks down on treating and preventing acne while creating a smooth base for makeup application. 2% salicylic acid is the primer's active acne-fighting ingredient, which helps unclog pores of the blemish-causing dead skin and sebum that's trapped inside. The formula also contains tea tree extract, which has natural anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, which can help calm and heal acne.

5. The Best Drugstore Primer With SPF

This drugstore primer is pricier than the others on the list, but because it includes proper sun protection as well, it's more of a two-in-one product. The La Roche-Posay Anthelios primer with SPF 50 works on a variety of skin types because it's fragrance-free, noncomedogenic, and nonacnegenic. The multitasking formula provides UVA and UVB protection as it performs like a blurring primer to give you smooth, plumped-up skin and less noticeable pores. Because it replaces the need for your morning SPF, you'll want to apply this more generously than your average primer to ensure you're fully protected from the sun.

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