Choosing YOUR Best Face Primer

 

With all the many options out there, it’s no wonder we scream inside our head “Which one should I get?!”  So, here are my suggestions for face primers no matter what skin type you are.

Clinique Pore Minimizer Instant Perfector

This product provides a matte finish to the face while creating a smooth finish to put foundation on. It comes in 2 different colors:  Invisible Light and Invisible Deep which is great for different skin tones.  Because it provides a matte finish, it is perfect for those with slightly oily skin or combination skin.

Average Price:  $17.50
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Mary Kay Oil Mattifier

If you have fairly oily skin, this product is best as it provides a barrier between your skin and foundation.  Since it helps keep the oil under control, your foundation will last longer and will not “melt” so quickly.

Average Price:  $15.00
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Clarins Instant Smooth Perfecting Touch

This one is my favorite primers as it is a creamy yet non-oily product.  It fills in pores, fine lines, and leaves an even finish to the skin. Because it is a cream, this will be best for combination to dry skin. (Read my full review)

Average Price:  $29.00
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Smashbox Photofinish Foundation Primer

If your skin is combination to dry, this primer works well as it leaves a silky almost silicone feeling to the skin.  This product comes in 2 formulas- “Original” and “Light” which makes it more versatile for various skin types. It also comes in different colors that correct skin issues such as redness, circles under the eyes, and sallow complexions.

Average Price:  $38
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Monistat Chafing Gel

Yes, this can be used in other areas besides well… you know ;)  This product is a great primer for those with dry skin as it is a bit thicker formula.  It helps smooth over the dry patches on your skin and is much more affordable than the Smashbox Photofinish.  This could be used on oily to combination skin types if a bit of oil mattifier was applied underneath, or if mineral foundations are used.

Average Price:  $8.00
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67 Comments

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thank you so much for posting this. I am fairly new to the site. I used to have very oily skin and then took acutane to clear up my acne. Now my skin is normal to dry. Except my nostrils and chin are a bit dry. Would Clarins, Smashbox or Monistat be best? or are they about the same? Thanks Marlena

Hi… I really hope your store can carry the MARY KAy set which is for the lips…. One to exfoliate the other for moisturising… Cuz its not available in my country which is all the way in asia, Singapore… THanks lots… Hope you can consider this request….

hello :] i work on a daily makeup blog on myspace. and so many of my people ask me about makeup forevers!!! and i dont know what to tell them becuase i used a brand called vital radiance, that is no longer around. and benefits. but this really does help but can anyone tell me anything about Makeup forevers primer?

Thanks for the article!! I recently was at sephora and I was going between the Smashbox photofinish Light or the Clarins Instant Smooth Perfecting Touch. In the end I went with Clarins because I saved 9 bucks. It works great! I have noticed quite a difference. It is the first foundation primer I have used and I will never go without it again.

I think another good primer is Makeup Forver’s All Mat it is $45 which is a bit pricy, but it works really well.

Hello everyone,

I used to not to wear a primer but since Marlena recommended the one by Clarins I gave it a try and I’m getting amazing results. My make up lasts al day long and looks smoother.

Great article by the way.

XOXO form Monterrey, México

There is another great product, Spackle by Lori Geller. Can be found on QVC website or Sephora stores. I thin kit runs in the low $20 range for 2 oz bottle. Way cheaper than Smashbox. I have very dry skin and found no results with Smashbox except a high price.

I have tried both, the Clinique and Clarins’ primers and I absolutely favor Clarins! Clinique’s Pore Perfector covers pores and imperfections well but It gave me a cakey look once my foundation was applied and I found it not to be very blendable on my skin, I just didn’t love it . In the other hand, I tried Clarins after watching Marlena’s review on it and it really does an amazing job at creating a smooth perfect canvas for foundation application, it doesn’t cover much but it serves as a great base for makeup and you can just use concealer to hide imperfections. Highly recommend Clarins S. P. Touch!!

i have never thought of getting a face primer before because i have the most extreme combination skin [super oily T-zone, and extremely dry cheeks and jaw line] that most products either dry me out too much, or cause an oil slick look on my face. but with these, i feel a little open to trying some to see what happens.

Hi
I have a dark skin (biracial ) which primer is better for this type of skin Urban decay primer potion or too faced shadow insurance??
THANKS !LOVE YOUR WORK !

Hey,
What’s about the Mac Prep and Prime?
I don’t try some other primer, because in germany it’s not sooooo much popular…
When I use some eyeshadow, do I use the primer over the eye foundation,or simular?
because I have to put on some concealer and pownder over my eye.

I use studio tech NW45 makeup by mac. I am an african american who has some blemishes on her neck, from taking hair off. My skin is probaly normal to oily, I’m not sure. It is not a lot of dark blemishes but its enough, What primer could I use under my makeup that is the best?

another cheapie alternative I found is avon magic x…usually its 10 dollars but you can get it onsale in some catalogs…it works pretty good and I cant complain about the price ^.^

I absolutely agree with Clarins also. Another tip. You can use it over your makeup also to smoothe lines, pores.
I have used Makeup Forever HD Primer. I love that as well. The one i don’t like is Smashbox. If you use to much it flakes off- and disrupts the makeup application. I also feel that it is also a good idea to use Makeup Forever HD Primer with the HD Foundation- Ect. It seems to work best because they are made to work in combination with each other.
Except Clarins- I can use that with any line and I LOVE IT…
Happy experimenting
Natalie

My favorite primer is Philosophy’s “the present”. they call it a clear makeup, and it definitely minimized pores somehow and helps my acne look less (no idea how)… my sister and i both use it, but we have completely different skin. hers is oily and very acne prone, and mine is very dry and acne prone. it isnt officially called “primer”, but it has the dimethicone in it and does exactly the same thing, except it also has antibacterial properties due to lavender essential oil etc. it feels thick and silky but not slippery or oily, but it smooths on really nicely and locks in my thick face cream and then it “sets” after a couple minutes. it is freaking amazing. I tried smashbox and MAC primers and laura mercier, and the list goes on. The Present is the only primer i ever used that i could tell there was a difference. Now if I forget to put it on, I realllly know it and will wash my face and start over again. I wish SOMEONE on youtube would actually try Philosophy.. because i see so many people commenting on videos over problems with their skin that i’ve had and they are being told to use lines ive tried that didnt work.

maybe i should start making videos on my channel again… and try to get the word out. seems like oprah and i are in a club on our own on this.

Mary Kay Oil Mattifier I have a oily skin putt I life in The Netherlands… Do you think I can find it here? I have been to some shops and asking about it.. but they don’t know it.. Can you give me some advise??

Hi marlena
I love your make up tips, especially your eye makeup clinics! I am a mary kay beauty consultant and I love that you gave one of our products a recommendation (oil mattifier), it is a really good product.

To Sahar, you can probably go to marykay.com and use the consultant locator to help find a consultant in your country.
I can only sell to those in the United States since this is where I live. But if anyone else is looking for products in the states you can find me at http://www.marykay.com/cmack

Luv the site Marlena and keep up the good work!

I love your site…and refer back to it constantly. I went to Sephora the other day for the first time and they were out of the Smashbox Primer. The guy gave me a sample of it to use and I’ve been using it for days. I don’t see any difference in my makeup staying on longer or looking better. I use Bare Escentuals Makeup (although in this economy, my aunt recently recommended buying the Kirkland BORGHESE Minerals Makeup for 1/2 the price of Bare Escentuals and I really like it (Kirkland is Costco). Anyway….my problem isn’t necessarily OIL but rather SWEAT. All the heat escapes out of my HEAD and it’s very frustrating. I do jewelry shows and as I’m setting up all my jewelry I’m moving around a lot and I get hot…then next thing you know my makeup is sweating off. Do you have any recommendation for something like this? P-L-E-A-S-E??????????? I’m going to see my cousin today and she’s a Mary Kay Rep so I was thinking of buying the Mattifier from her but would that be all I use? Not a primer on top?

PLEASE HELP!

Blessing to you ;-)

Wow, it’s almost as if you were reading my mind. I’ve been stressssing over which foundation primer to buy. Love you Marlena!

****** REPEAT POSTING….AWAITING RESPONSE!! ******

I love your site…and refer back to it constantly. I went to Sephora the other day for the first time and they were out of the Smashbox Primer. The guy gave me a sample of it to use and I’ve been using it for days. I don’t see any difference in my makeup staying on longer or looking better. I use Bare Escentuals Makeup (although in this economy, my aunt recently recommended buying the Kirkland BORGHESE Minerals Makeup for 1/2 the price of Bare Escentuals and I really like it (Kirkland is Costco). Anyway….my problem isn’t necessarily OIL but rather SWEAT. All the heat escapes out of my HEAD and it’s very frustrating. I do jewelry shows and as I’m setting up all my jewelry I’m moving around a lot and I get hot…then next thing you know my makeup is sweating off. Do you have any recommendation for something like this? P-L-E-A-S-E??????????? I’m going to see my cousin today and she’s a Mary Kay Rep so I was thinking of buying the Mattifier from her but would that be all I use? Not a primer on top?

PLEASE HELP!

Blessing to you ;-)

****** REPEAT POSTING….AWAITING RESPONSE!! ******

it’s not listed, but i swear by lorac’s aquaPRIME. it’s great for combination skin because it’s oil-free and silicone-free so it doesn’t irritate your skin, but it also has a really nice hydrating feel. it keeps foundation on all day and is lightweight.

I’ve been using Rimmel primer – it runs like $5.97. Great stuff, has an apricot color to it. I like it best next to Smashbox. Tried Spackle and it’s just not thick enough for my liking.

Hi girls!

I haven’t tried any of the primers listed, but I do use Studio Gear Prime Objective. Overall it’s not bad, especially when worn over a lightweight moisturizer as they recommend. However, it can be a little drying for my combination skin, but it keeps my oily forhead matte all day and prevents makeup meltdown. Because of that, it’d be a great choice for girls with oily skin, and it only runs about 25 bucks.

Thanks for all the great advice, Marlena! Keep these reviews coming!

HI,

WHILE SHOPPING AT SEPHORA FOR FACE PRIMER, I MENTIONED TO THE COSMETIC SALES SPECIALIST THAT I READ THAT MONISTAT COULD BE USED AS A FACEPRIMER. HER RESPONSE TO ME WAS THAT IT CAUSES THE SKIN TO CONTRACT AND OVER TIME WOULD CAUSE WRINKLES.
COULD ANYONE BACK THIS STATEMENT, EITHER FOR OR AGAINST?

THANKS!

Hello
I have a question, I really don’t like using foundation and I’ve always used powder but my question is would I have to use a face primer if I use powder?

Love the site! Just wondering if you have an opinion on the new (at least in Canada!) Philosophy primer, Never Let Them See You Shine? I’ve had mixed results so far (read: weird breakouts, which may or may not be related to this product), and I’m wondering if it’s just me? :)

Omg, thank you so much for posting all these options and explanations, this helped me more than you know!!
Love your videos <3

Hi Marlena and to all of you make up junkies:)

Well I have been going crazy trying to get the best primer and foundation to make my face look flawless!!! But anyways, I was previously using MAC moisturizer then MAC sculpt foundation. Then I took Ms. Marlena’s review on clarins. Tried it but I still have an oily tzone problem. No I hve the makeup forever face primer and makeup forever matte foundation. I LOVED IT but I think both primer and foundation is just too matte that it doesnt blesnd in my skin good enough….so here I am still in my search to get the perfect combination to get a flawless look…please help!!!

I have a light medium complexion—asian, oily tzone and normal skin, medium size pores that I need to get a good coverage without looking like I have tons of make up…

BTW…thanks to all the tips and loved the videos Ms. Marlena…they are very helpful and informational!!!! THANKS!

I JUST bought Rimmel’s primer and I agree with the person above, it’s really good. I know when I put it on before my foundation I seem to notice the foundation sticks instantly. I personally like it and it seems to make my makeup appear smoother and my skin more even. I think everyone should check it out

I’ve been told that Cover FX’s face primer is one of the best, for all the beneficial ingredients and benefits. Have you already tried this? I’d love to see what you have to say about it and I’d be really interested in reading a review :)

there is a lot of option if you go to sephora. check online forst to get an idea of what would work best for your sking type

mimi,
i love the cover fx primer, its amazing! if anyone has large pores,its a godsend in my opinion. if u apply that to half of your face and put some foundation on both sides, a client is almost always garunteed to buy it!
missyreject,
the makeup forever primers work well, the only problem ive noticed is the foundation coverage, the green is pretty intesnce, it works well. however you have to put a little amount on and blend well, then use a descent coverage of foundation over it.

Thanks for this information, Marlena! I’ve been researching primers all day on Sephora’s website and actually started leaning toward MAC’s or Prescriptives’ primer. Have you heard anything about either of these? I have oily skin and live in the south (humid) where it has become more of a problem. Thanks again for posting this. Very informative! :)

Hi Alexis,

I too have an oily skin mostly tzone area….I am using the brand COSMEDICINE at sephora. Its not a primer but you can use this before you put on a primer then foundation. It works great. A little pricy but worth it. It has a lot of purposes such as protects from sun, cleans pores, reduces pore size, absorbs oil and hydrates your skin! or the other one I tried also is TEASEZONE (Sephora). …but please dont go back to MAC cause I heard and experienced as I was a MAC user for awhile and just recently converted (LOL…what a word!) to sephora store…well MAC has too much oil so not good for someone that has oily skin plus it will clog your pores…I hope this help.

CLARINS PRIMER…used it & I think its a great product but not for oily skin. I tried it cause Ms.Marlena has a great review on this but I think from what I recall Ms. Marlena has a dry or conbo skin…but totally up to you…but those items above I had treid out….try makeup forever matt primer or the vake up forever velvet foundation but dont use in combo…too matty!
I am still experimeting on other brands … will update you on what I found that is worth it:)

hello Marlena i’m a midium skin tone, and my face is really oily what kind of primer you recommend? i love your videos my husband hides the computer from me hahahhah but i still get to see your videos. THANK YOU

Oh another thing can you do a tutoriala on a medium skin tone person? because ia try doing St Pattys make up and it did’nt like how it look is’t because of my skin tone that the colors dont go with me? i will apreciate if you did, or post pic of other people with your work. thank you

Bella-
I personally think primers are really only beneficial to those with large pores or oily skin- I have dry skin and primer actually emphasizes the flakiness. As far as sweating, the only thing I have heard of that will help this issue is Botox injections. Invasive, yes, but it seems to be very effective and, other than the injection itself, it’s effortless. If it’s a major issue in your life it may be an option to consider.

I also wanted to comment on the MONISTAT issue. There is nothing but silicone derivatives and skin conditioners in this gel. At their base, all makeup primers (except the very few that are silica free) are the same. Yes, some have added moisturizers or anti-aging ingredients, but if you’re just looking for something to smooth, fill in pores and help to control oil- well, they pretty much all do that, even Monistat.

The Sephora girl was, at best, confused at which product you were talking about and, at worst, lying to save a potential sale.

I also would like to comment on the Monistat issue. Although many primers might have the same active ingredients, that does not imply that they all can do the work or that they are multi use.

One thing to consider is pH. pH in the face is higher than the pH in the vaginal area. Products for vaginal use are expected to be more acidic (lower pH)- which is the natural state of a healthy vagina. I used to sell a pharmaceutical product for a condition called Vaginitis, and another company sold the same product, with the same active ingredient-metronidazole, but this one was for the face. They both had the same names, and the only differentiation was that mine t had -Vaginal after the main name. They both even had the same amount of metronidazole!!!! Lots of doctors lived by the fact that they could use the vaginal prep in their faces (for rosacea). It was then, when both companies had to step up to avoid the interchanging of products.

As for the primers, the first one I ever used was Smashbox. The results were not astonishing. Then I tried Laura Mercier Hydrating Primer. I have dry/comb skin, and I must say that it is a great, great option. Just recently, I went on to try the Clarins product- based on your recommendations. I just love it and I learned that it can even be worn without make up, to fill lines, etc., also protecting the skin from the evironment. The lady at the Clarins counter kindly answered many of the questions I had about the product, and I also got a great deal – 2 full size jars of Clarins product with a generous percent off!

i sell mary kay so if anyone needs anything from mary kay lemme know and i will have it shipped right to you email is Jessicashanay@marykay.com. However i havent tried any of these primers although i have heard from other MUA’s that MUFEs is great as well as their hd foundation. Ill be purchasing all of these today to see whats what….ill be back for an update LoLa

Hi Marlena, I was wondering if you or anyone have tried the MAC Prep Primer, since you use a lot of the MAC products? I have very oily skin and I just started using it. It seems to work well but this is also the first time I have ever tried a primer.

What about the Per-fekt primer????? I l<3ve this primer and it also doubles as a light foundation…. serious the BEST I have ever used and it is worth ever penny!!!

I FEEL THE BEST FACE PRIMER IS MAC PREP+PRIME I LOVE IT BECAUSE IT ABSORBS QUICKLY AND ALSO GIVES A LITTLE ILLUMINATION AND THE FOUNDATION GOES OVER IT SO SMOOTH AND IT HAS REALLY HELPED THE WEAR OF MY FOUNDATION !!! THEY ALSO JUST CAME OUT WITH 3 NEW PRIMERS … REFINED ZONE (MY FAVE) TO MATTE THE SKIN AND ALSO DIMINISH THE SIZE OF PORES… I JUST PUT IT RIGHT ON MY T ZONE!!! AND ALSO REFINED LINE TO SMOOTH OUT AND PLUMP THE WRINKLES!!!! AND LAST BUT TRANSLUCENT PRIMER POWDER THAT IS AMAZING IT KIND OF REMINDS ME OF THE INVISIBLE SET POWDER THEY HAVE U CAN PUT THIS ON BF OR AFTER MAKE-UP (REALLY GOOD TO HAVE IN YOUR MAKE-UP KITS) AND I BELIEVE THAT GOES FOR THE OTHER 2 AS WELL !!! SO MAC HAS A PRIMER FOR ALL SKIN TYPES SO DEF CHECK THEM OUT BECAUSE USING A PRIMER REALLY HELPS!!!

AND TAMMY IF YOU HAVE MORE OILY SKIN TRY THE MAC PREP+PRIME W/ SPF 50 BECAUSE THE HIGHER THE SPF THE HIGHER AMOUNT OF TITANIUM AND TITANIUM REALLY HOLDS UP WELL AGAINST OIL … AND ALSO TRYTHE REFINED ZONE AND PUT IT WEAR U FEEL U GET THE MOST SHINY AND THAT WILL HELP KEEP IT MATTE AND ACTUALLY IMPROVE THE SIZE OF YOUR PORES I LOVE IT!!! THE REFINED ZONE IS LIMITED EDITION SO PIC UP A COUPLE SOON!!!

I just found an awesome primer!
It’s Feel Good by Benefit, I have oily skin and I love it because it helps lock down my make up and it also makes my make up go on much smoother.
Anyway…….I love it!

Hello,

One of my biggest issues is that I have very sensitive skin. Dry in certain areas and oily on other areas. What do you recommend?

Thanks!

BTW, keep up the good work Marlena. Hope to see you again in Vacaville!!!

hi
i saw all ur vedio in u tube and i am really happy with wht i saw.
Also i need to ask u that how u keep ur skin clear.
because my skin had spots and acne i don’t know wht to do for this.
so if u know anyting about this how to clear them, plz help.
thank u.
xxxxx

I tried Monistat as a primer and I do gotta say that I really like the results. It has the same look and feel as Smashbox’ Photofinish – which is the second primer I tried (first one was PREP + PRIME). With today’s troubled economy and trying to save as much as I can I wanted a cheaper alternative. SO – went to Target two weeks ago and tried Monistat.
I am just weary about what that one gal said about it causing wrinkles in the long run; I’ve also been using anti-wrinkle cream for the eye area. I just hope it doesn’t counteract that.
I

Hey,
well i have a question, if you are using powder for your face do you have to use a primer or no?

My favorite is Avons MagiX, face perfector. Around 10.00 dollars or less. That’s why it’s my favorite. Thanks for all of your great info!

There’s nothing in the Monistat that would give you wrinkles, although it has no sunscreen, so you have to wear a separate one. People seem a bit confused on this product, it’s not meant for vaginas AT ALL. It’s purpose is to prevent chafing, so it’s meant to be applied to the thighs if they rub together when walking or possibly to the breasts (I’m really not sure, I don’t have this problem). It was not designed specifically for vaginas, and it’s ingredients are incredibly benign. If you like it, please don’t worry about using it, it’s not harming you. I suspect the confused salesgirl at Sephora thought the commenter was asking about Preparation H, which is hemorrhoid cream that some people recommend to shrink under-eye bags. That product does contain some active ingredients, so she might have had a point if we were talking about that. We’re not.

Wrinkling in the skin is caused by habitual facial expressions, sun damage, poor hydration, aging, smoking, and various other factors. The best for preventing wrinkles is drinking a lot of water. Then use a quality cream as this.

I’d really like to try the clinique one or mary kay,im currently using macs prep and prime it leaves a gorgeous smooth surface to work with but really need something for my pores. Ive heard okay things about cliniques pore minimiser so i might give it a try. thank you x