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Best Foundation Primers

Best Foundation Primers

For the last few years I’ve had a product obsession that I haven’t really discussed much here on the blog, which is a bit surprising. I’ve been trying foundation primers left and right! I just can’t help myself!

We all have changes in our skin’s needs throughout the year, and I’ve been changing up my primer to help deal with the changes as well. A more hydrating primer during the super cold winter? Sounds great! A mattifying foundation primer to deal with a shinier t-zone during the summer? Great idea!

Today I’m finally sharing my favorite primers. Eventually I’ll write more detailed reviews, but in the meantime here are my favorites!

Classic Primers

If you’re not certain where to start, these face primers are cult classics for a reason. They’ll work for everyone! My personal favorite is the Laura Mercier, but I have good results with Hourglass as well. Smashbox is also very good, but be careful to let your moisturizer fully sink in to your skin and then only use a small amount of primer. If you apply the Smashbox primer too soon (or use too much) the silicone tends to pill up on your skin.

Laura Mercier Foundation Primer
Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer
Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer Collection

Dry Skin

I usually use a pretty hydrating moisturizer under my foundation, but if I have any dry patches then a hydrating primer is also a must. They don’t add as much moisture as a moisturizer, but they’re more hydrating than the classic foundation primers. They also help foundation glide over any dry spots, creating a much smoother appearance.

Make Up For Ever Step 1 Skin Equalizer Primer
Laura Mercier Foundation Primer in Hydrating
Maybelline Facestudio Master Prime Primer in Hydrate + Smooth

Dull Skin

When I’ve had a sleepless night or my skin is a bit less than glowy, a luminous foundation primer can really make me look lit from within! But, that’s the problem… if you over do it with some of these primers you’ll turn yourself into a disco ball. Of these primers, I think the Becca is my favorite overall. The Laura Mercier has more “wiggle room”, meaning it is harder to make yourself unnaturally shiny. The L’Oreal should be used with a light hand, but I think it works best when mixed directly into a liquid foundation.

Becca Backlight Priming Filter Face Primer
Laura Mercier Foundation Primer in Radiance
L’Oreal Magic Lumi Primer

Oily Skin

I have combination skin, but depending on what is going on with the weather (especially during the hot and humid days of July) I can be super shiny all over! That’s when I reach for a mattifying primer.

I admit I used to use Milk of Magnesia for a mattifying foundation primer, and my skin seemed to tolerate this very well. However it did feel a little powdery on my face and as I’ve gotten older I thought this made it a bit harder to blend my foundation for a smoother look. All three of these primers are great, I don’t really have a favorite.

Becca Ever-Matte Poreless Priming Perfector
Cover FX Mattifying Primer With Anti-Acne Treatment
L’Oreal Paris Cosmetics Infallible Pro Matte Lock Primer

Note that in the winter I don’t have shine all over, so I’ll use a face primer for my main skin issue (usually the hydrating primer or dull skin), but I always have some shine in my t-zone. The Cover FX Custom Blot Drops are meant to be mixed into your foundation (similar to Hard Candy Turn Me Matte), but I take a few drops and apply them with my fingertips to my t-zone. The drops needs just a few minutes to dry, then I can’t even feel them on my face and they don’t interfere with my makeup application at all.


I have rosacea, and even when I’m diligent about my skin care sometimes I have quite a bit of redness in the middle of my face. A spot corrector like the green YSL Touche Eclat Neutralizer is great for small areas around my nose, but if the redness is more widespread (and a bit intense) then the NYX is much better suited. The Stila helps all sorts of discoloration, but is better if the redness isn’t as intense. The Smashbox is somewhat in between.

NYX Cosmetics Color Correcting Liquid Primer Green
Stila One Step Correct
Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer Collection in Adjust Green

Foundation Guide with Tips and Tricks
Check out more tips, hacks and product reviews in the Foundation Guide!

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About Me

I’m a doctor, a mommy and a bit of a beauty addict. If you let me, I can take 2 hours to get ready in the morning. Really. I'm on a quest for faster beauty that works!

Leave a Comment


  1. 2.14.19
    Ann said:

    Are these safe?

    Water, Cyclopentasiloxane, Cyclohexasiloxane, Neopentyl Glycol Diethylhexanoate, Butylene Glycol, Peg-10 Dimethicone,Synthetic Fluorphlogopite, Glycerin, Dipropylene Glycol, Titanium Dioxide(Ci 77891), Magnesium Sulfate, Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Sorbitan Sesquiisostearate, Panthenol, Disteardimonium Hectorite, Phenoxyethanol,1, 2-Hexanediol, Distearyldimonium Chloride, Fragrance, Tocopheryl Acetate,Stearic Acid, Tin Oxide

    • 2.14.19
      15mins said:

      Looks ok

  2. 8.6.19
    SR said:


    Is the Laura Mercier radiance primer okay to use while pregnant?


    Water, Hydrogenated Didecene, Glycerin, Pvp, Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed Oil, Sorbitan Stearate, Mica (Ci 77019), Cetyl Alcohol, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Glyceryl Stearate, Propylene Glycol Stearate, Phenoxyethanol, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/ Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Propylene Glycol Isostearate, Glyceryl Isostearate, 1,2-Hexanediol, Boron Nitride, Squalane, Caprylyl Glycol, Oleth-25, Ceteth-25, Tocopherol Acetate, Polysorbate 60, Retinyl Palmitate, Tin Oxide, Triethoxycaprylylsilane, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Triethanolamine, Tropolone, Butylene Glycol, Plankton Extract. May Contain (+/-): Ci 77891 (Titanium Dioxide), Ci 77491 (Iron Oxide).

    Thank you!