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This Is the One Product Your Makeup Routine Is Missing

Primer—the often overlooked makeup product that is more or less invisible yet plays a major role in your makeup's end result.

One simple addition to your beauty regimen can boost glow, smooth wrinkles, mattify oily skin, soothe sensitivity, and blur pores.

Nothing can divide a room of makeup enthusiasts quite like primer. You either consider applying foundation without a primer to be a cardinal sin or you just cannot be bothered with adding yet another step to your already extensive routine. To be honest, for a long time, I too believed primers were nothing more than a gimmick. Instead, I invested my money in skincare or expensive long-lasting foundation because for all its claims—like making foundation go on smooth and stay put for hours—few primers actually gave results. 

Thankfully, primers have come a long way. And, within the mountains of options, there are a handful that actually do what they say on the bottle. While, yes, they may be an extra step in the morning, the right primer could actually save you time by helping your makeup look fresher for longer (meaning no afternoon touch-ups). Plus, primer can be especially useful for preventing your foundation from transferring onto your mask. What's more, with many of us ditching full faces for a lighter, WFH-friendly alternative, you could even find a primer that offers you the face-perfecting action which could lead to skipping foundation altogether. A good primer basically serves the same purpose as a photo-editing app, but in-real-life. Nail the right foundation and primer combination, and you won’t need to use Instagram’s baby face filter to perk up your complexion ever again.

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That said, all face primers are not created equal. Think of priming as the last step in your skincare routine rather than the first step in your makeup application. Meaning, you should pay particular attention to your skin concerns when picking the right formula for you, just as you would when purchasing a new serum or day cream. The best makeup primers are packed with good-for-your-skin ingredients, like hyaluronic acid, vitamins, and oils. They should also offer complexion benefits, like smoothing, hydrating, and brightening—just like your other skincare products.

There’s a formula out there for everyone and every skin type, so to make things easy for you, we rounded up the best face primers that will keep your foundation in place all day long. Trust us, we know because we tested them all. 


There's a reason beauty insiders swear by this primer, with aloe water, cherry blossom, hyaluronic acid and B vitamins, it's a godsend for thirsty skin. Not to forget the hemp-derived cannabis seed extracts for a plumper and smoother finish, holding onto your makeup all day. If you’re after the post-gym glow (minus the gym, of course) the silicone-and-oil-free formula works for all skin types. Apply, wait a minute for it to sink in before applying foundation or concealer, and prepare to glow.

MILK Makeup Hydro Grip Primer, €15, SHOP

If you struggle with shine, this primer has got your back. Rihanna wanted a primer that felt soft and hydrating, whilst actually keeping hold of your makeup. So, Rihanna did what Rihanna does best and made it happen for all of us. Way more than just a basic mattifying primer, this also hides pores, soaks up oil and refines skin texture, you’ll only need a tiny amount on your t-zone and chin (or anywhere else you find super-oily) as otherwise it may be a little too drying. Once applied, expect your foundation to last all day and night.

FENTY Beauty Pro Filt'r Instant Retouch Primer, €31, SHOP

Glossier really does it all. The lightweight formula is perfect for anyone who wants hydration, without feeling like there’s anything on their face. It looks like a moisturiser; feels like a moisturiser but offers a little extra grip to build your makeup upon. The anti-redness complex is the helping hand a lot of us need for de-stressing. And being Glossier, you can be sure it’s suitable for all skin types and hypoallergenic.

Glossier Priming Moisturiser, €21, SHOP

People not super into beauty might question why a primer would be purple, but the purple in this primer is part of what makes it so special. The primer itself applies sheer, but the purple tones in it help the primer neutralize any unwanted discolouration. The tone keeps the skin from losing its lustre. Becca's formula also utilises prickly pear and sodium hyaluronate to keep skin plumped and hydrated, without overhydrating so much as to cause acne. Dry and oily people alike love this primer for its ability to make skin look glowy, without making it look slick.

Becca First Light Priming Lotion, €18, SHOP

Still not sold on the fact that you need a face primer? Nab this budget favourite and prepare to be convinced otherwise. While the texture goes on creamy, it dries down to a beautiful matte finish, all while delivering good-for-your-skin vitamins A, C, and E. It too leaves your complexion nice and smooth and is also vegan and cruelty-free.

e.l.f. Hydrating Primer, €9.99, SHOP

Laura Mercier’s primers are kind of legendary, so when she reformulated them earlier this year we wondered: how they could possibly get any better? But, of course, they did. There are now more options available meaning the primer range really does have something for everyone. From toning down pink patches to reducing shine, there's not a lot they can't do. This one does double duty as a makeup-extender and a sunscreen, shielding skin from beauty-sabotaging UV with broad-spectrum SPF 30 fortified with extra-protective antioxidants.

Laura Mercier Pure Canvas Primer Protecting Broad Spectrum SPF 30, €37, SHOP

Main image by @danielle.browne on Instagram

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