The Best Face Primers Ever! (and how to use them)

Primers are something that has gained popularity over the last year.  Still, not everyone uses one and the benefits from using a good one are too many to count!  Primers can help by reducing the look of large pores, filling in fine lines, and preventing foundation from looking cakey.  They also help with evening out the skin tone and making your makeup last much longer throughout the day!

I told you primers were good to use ;)

How to Use Face Primers

  • Use them after you apply your moisturizer, allowing at least 5 minutes for the moisturizer to settle into the skin.
  • Using a pea size amount of the primer and apply gently to the skin, paying attention to the under eye area.  This will allow any under eye concealer to glide on smoothly.
  • Then apply your concealer, foundation, or face powder as you normally would

 Benefit the POREfessional Face Primer

Proving that there is a primer for every person, here’s one perfect for camouflaging large pores and fine lines.  Suitable for any skin type, this seems to provide the effect of having a soft focus lens over your skin. Slightly pigmented and very smooth, this primer does have a slight odor, but helps fill in large pores, keeping foundation from settling into them. This translucent balm won’t make pores disappear completely, but this will help in minimizing the appearance of them.  Benefit POREfessional retails for $29.99 USD for .75 ounces

Best for:  Combination skin

Price:  $29   (.75 oz)

Where to Buy:   Sephora  .  Amazon  .  eBay

Clinique Pore Minimizer Instant Perfector

Minimizing pores can be tricky. This primer can help solve that dilemma. This primer is soft and dries to a matte finish. Its lightweight formula is odorless and will disappear into your skin. As with most primers, a little goes a long way. This doesn’t seem to be as smooth as some of the other primers, however there is no odor. Clinique’s primer will best suit people with combination to oily skin and sells for $18.00 USD for .5 ounces.

Best for:  Combination to oily skin;   Those with large pores

Price:  $18  (.5 oz)

Where to Buy:    Amazon  .  eBay .  Some department stores

MAC Mattifying Gel

Most gel consistency primers have a tendency to slide, but this is the exception to the rule.  This gel absolutely stays put and therefore is great for people with oily and combination skin. It glides on smooth and dries to a smooth matte finish helping to reduce and control the amount of oil on the face.   This remarkable serum transforms your skin into a perfect canvas for your foundation. MAC Mattifying Gel sells for $19.00 USD for .75 ounces.

Best for:  Any skin type looking for matte finish

Price:  $19  (.75 oz)

Where to Buy:   MAC

Palladio Herbal Face Primer

Palladio primer comes in a gel form, and not only prepares the skin for foundation but helps moisturize it as well.  It has a velvety feel that helps treat the skin, fills in fine lines and reduces the look of pores.  One of the best selling points of this product is its price.  It retails for $11.99 USD at both Sally’s Beauty Supply and ULTA for .68 ounces.  Since this is a gel formula it can glide on slick so it is probably best for those with dry or combination skin.

Best for:  Combination to Dry Skin;  Mature Skin

Price:  $12  (.68 oz)

Where to Buy:   Makeup Geek Store

Too Faced Primed and Poreless Skin Smoothing Face Primer

OK, so that’s a long name for a primer, but its well worth it!  If I had to choose just one primer to wear daily, it would be this one. This primer has been revamped and no longer comes in the flesh color that the original did, it is now a clear color. It has a powdery, velvet finish and glides on smoothly. It is silicon based which is perfect for people with more sensitive skin. It creates an even layer for foundation to adhere to causing your foundation to last longer and wear better. This retails for $30.00 USD.

Best for:  All skin types

Price:  $30  (1 oz)

Where to Buy:    Amazon  .  Sephora . eBay


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CEO of Makeup Geek and Makeup Educator


Comments are now closed on this article.

what do you think about the smash box and MUFE ones? i’m using the smash box one right now but, when i run out, might switch to the too faced one after your review. thanks really helpful!! :-)

Hello… 1st of all i admire u so much, u have help me very much in my life thank u. But any way I use the mac primer in the black pump is that any good? I all have very large pores will this help me? Plz help thank u. Marisol

Yes i really think i’m going to change to Too Face primer.. Im using Mac’s primer but i been wanted to use a new one so im going to try Too Face.. Thanks… One question what is the best MOISTURIZER i can use? My face is dry skin not oily…I use the Mac one… Another thing i really like your makeup on this tutorial :). I you should do a tutorial of it.. I would like to see it so i can wear it :).. Thanks you Marlene…

Great review! I love a good primer and tried the chafing gel after your recommendation! We (the bridal party) even used it for a friends wedding! Worked great on all skin types!
Some primers I find a bit hit and miss, so it’s nice to have a review that tells the pros and cons and different uses for each.
I also love your make up and hair in this video Marlena!! You look flawless!! Would love to see a tutorial for both!!
Thanks again for this review! I was actually only just looking at a smashbox primer…now I may have to try the too faced one as well!!!

The clinique pore minimizer instant perfector should be applied before or after applying foundation?
Please Marlena, respond :)
Thank you and congratulations for your work.

I’m not Marlena, but primer should be applied before applying foundation because it basically helps keep your foundation on all day. I personally use my primer after moisturising my skin and before applying my foundation so that there’s a nice barrier between my skin cream and foundation.

Hope this helps!

Hi Marlena, could you please tell me your opinion about the Inglot face primer? I am from Europe so most of these products can’t be found here. I went to Inglot the other day and saw that they have a face primer but I really don’t know if it is a good one?
Thanks Katarina :)

Is it much better then the Too faced shadow insurance? What do you think of the Too Faced Shadow Insurance primer?

I believe Shadow insurance is for eyes only? Is it worth it ? does the primed and pore less work the same on the eyes?

Shadow Insurance is made for the eyes, Primed and Poreless for the face… Eye primers and face primers have much different textures and are formulated specifically to work for different purposes

I personally love the Too Faced Shadow Insurance Eye Primer more than the Urban Decay. But can’t say I can compare this with the other face primers. I will say that it is worth getting or worth getting samples to try for the next few days.

I believe the basic routine is: cleanse face, moisturize/sunscreen, wait a couple mins ( so that moisturizer has the time to absorb and wont slick off), apply primer to face, then apply foundation. Also, less than a pea sized amount of primer is only what the face needs…not even a pea size amt!. A little goes a long way.

Great review!!! I need your help,Marlena

1.What are your favorite matte bronzers for fair skin?

2.Do you like Shiseido loose powders for combination skin?


Depending on your skin type you could try L’Oreal’s studio secrets primer.; it comes in a glass jar and it’s a pink color. I’ve got normal to oily skin and it’s worked really well on controlling my oil during the day and hiding my imperfections. It’s even safe to put under your eyes so it helps with my concealer too. Hope this helps.

Marlena, I used the Benefit Porefessional until I found Hourglass Mineral Veil. Pricey, but I LOVE it.
If you haven’t tried it yet, get a sample from Sephora and try it out!

Thanks for this, I’m getting low on my POREfessional and was thinking about trying something new… I agree that it’s expensive for how much you get, so I might go for Too Faced this time… Think I’ll get the MAC one for the summer when I get really oily!

Hi Marlena

Are there any drug store primers that you would recommend?
I live in Canada, so all of these are only available online to me.

Thanks!! Blessings!


I know you’re waiting for a response from Marlena but I’ve tried the l’oreal studio secrets magic perfecting base for about a month now and I really like it. It’s very smooth and lasts all day. It also improved my skin, even after taking off my makeup my skin feels nice. Here it’s about 13 bucks at any pharmacy. The plus to this product is that it contains no harming ingredients and for that price it’s def worth it

Hi, I use the magic perfecting base primer as well. From my experience it’s an over all good primer but it definitely wont keep your face matte all day, so if you have really oily skin I wouldn’t suggest this one.

I am surprised not to see the MUFE or Urban Decay primer on here! The MUFE one makes your skin look amazing in pictures and the UD one is just too good to be true I can actually use it by itself on my face with no makeup and get beautiful perfect looking skin and no one can tell!

Pam- there is a page on here which lists her top drugstore brand products! I personally prefer the Rimmel London face primer out of any drug store brand because it is a cheap price and works just as good as the name brand ones!

I’m surprised Hourglass Mineral Veil isn’t on here!! Expensive but I haven’t found one that works better yet :)

I’m surprised no one has mentioned the bareMinerals Prime Time Oil Control Foundation Primer. If you have VERY oily skin like I do, it works miracles. I’ve heard it can dry out even normal (not dry) skin, so use only if you need serious shine control.

I keeps me matte all day, and that is no small feat. It is a little on the expensive side, but it’s the best I’ve found. I think it’s also SPF 15 or something like that.

I believe bareMinerals also has a regular foundation primer with no insane oil control.

Just a thought!

Hey Marlena ive heard that ppl can make their own face primers. Since you always make tutorials about face primers i was wondering if you could make a tutorial of how to make a face primer.

Is the makeup your wearing for this the remake of the gold raspberries look? It is super pretty. also thank you so much for the video. What do you think of the lancome la base primer?

I’ve been using Bare Escentuals foundation, but haven’t been crazy about their primer. Do you know how these primers work with the powder mineral makeup? Is there one that might work better?

I really like the Too Faced Prime and Poreless for Bare Minerals. It’s similar like their primer (silicone base) but holds the foundation better.

The Clinique instant perfecter was discontinued a while ago, so I would check ebay if you’re really interested in that one. Clinique does have a new line of pore minimizing products though, I haven’t tried them but I’ve seen some good reviews.

Hi Marlena,

Since you’re a frequent Target shopper, have you ever tried the Pixi primers? My favorite for a while has been the Flawless & Poreless primer. I can’t find it on the Target website right now (I hope they’re not discontinuing it), but it’s a staple on Pixi’s home website. It’s $28, but they almost always have a 20% off online code for everyone.

I’ve also tried their Flawless Beauty Primer, and while it’s not for me, I think it would be great for mature skin. It has a nice peachy tone to it that brightens up the complexion.

Anyway, just curious if you have ever tried them.

Take care!

When you’re over 50 your entire primer outlook changes. You get more into Anti-aging primers. One that I absolutely love and have been wearing regularly is by Skin Prep FX called “Nourishing Foundation Primer & Anti-Aging Serum”

Unfortunately, the Clinique primer has been discontinued and replaced with a new, runnier formula. If you look at the reviews on the Clinique website, you’ll see users of the older product (in pink tube) mention that it’s better than the newer version of the product (in a green tube)…

I use the Nars oil-free Pore Refining Primer. I have dry/combination skin and this is the best under my Nars Sheer Glow foundation. It feels really light and doesn’t make my skin oilier.

I use Benefit Porefessional all the time and it’s great! It work wonders on both my large pores and fine lines. The color to it also helps even out skin tone. I have the Clinique one too but I hardly never uses it any more. It kind of gave me a white cast but it sure fills in pores great! will try the Too faced one next time. Just because it’s a bit less expensive than Benefit..

I have been using Hard Candy’s face primer…I have combination skin and I feel like it really smooths out my foundation without having it be too smeared. I want to try out the Benefit Porefessional however. Thanks for the comparisons. :)

Great video!

I was wondering what you think about the Clarins one, as well as the Urban Decay primer?

Thank you so so soo much for this video!! I suffer from super oily skin, it’s horrible. At school, during the day i become self concious of the shine on my face. It only takes a very short time until the oil starts coming through my makeup. What is the BEST primer for oily skin!?!?!? ANYONES help would be much appreciated :D Thank you so so so much <3
P.S Any tips for oily skin would be soooo good, i've been searching for solutions and products for oily skin but am never satisfied completely

Make UP Forever’s Mat Primer works heavenly on my oily skin. I was shocked by how much it retained the oil. I mean, at the end of the day, I will look a little shiny but it just looks more “dewy” then shiny. And a little powder fixes it up (i only have to do it once). Ask for samples at sephora :)

Have you ever tried philosophy’s The present? I have heard mixed reviews about it because it contains lavender oil. I have really dry skin but it’s not sensitive skin and wanted to try this.

Ok girlie maybe this might help me. Not sure but I think that I am going to try the one for very dry skin! I am really sick and have to have lots of medical treatments (I have Lupus and it sucks the life out of me) now my skin is a total mess! My skin has tons of flakes, the dark rings around my eyes are just awful (hint hint tell me what I need to do about that please LOL) and now I am getting red spots. I am a mess and I really don’t want to look sick! I always feel so yucky and then looking at myself the way that I am right now really does not give me much drive to keep on kickin…thank goodness that I have my babies to do that for me. Anyway Do you think this would help me and if so then what? What kind of makeup should I use or anything that you would think would help! I found your site about 3 weeks ago and I love it! You are wonderful…it’s funny because my kids even say “Mommy are you watching Makeup Geek again?” hahaha Thanks so much for all that you do for us ladies out there that really do need your help!

As always this was great to watch and very very healful as I just stop using the benifit Primer and switched to the urben decay 16 hour spray. I am Oily to combination and I never touch up. What do you think of this choice or this product?

Thank you Marlena for the information!! I was wondering what can I do for my skin, because I put my liquid foundation and then my powder foundation but at the middle of my day, I look at my face and it seems that I didn’t put anything on it. I think this is going to work to keep my foundation in place. Thank you, thank you!! Also show your cursl more often, they are beautiful and you look younger. As always great job!! : )

She told a few times about a fix spray that holds your foundation on all day! I know that she said MAC has one and I think that UD does as well. Hope that helps! : )

I wish this video was out a few months ago. I just bought my first primer Benefit Porefessional Primer a month ago. It works great, but i’m wondering now if I should have gotted the MAC one since i tend to have any oily skin. Oh well… now i know what to try next. Thanks for the video Marlena!

Hi Marlena,
What are your thoughts on Smashbox Photo Finish Primer? I just started using it and I really like it. How do you think it compares to these others?

I got some as well off of ebay (and it may not be the real thing or it may just be old due to the fact that it came from there) but the stuff broke me out BIG TIME!! I really wanted it to work and it did for about a week and then the bad stuff started to come! I would love to know if it does the same to you as well so that I can see if I just got a bad tube or it it really is the primer! Thanks so much and I pray that it does better for you! : )

Hi……i am sooo stuck…….i have got dry/mature skin…….i am using these water based foundations, and so confused what primer should I use now????

I have both oily skin and visible pores. I’m not sure which is best for both between the MAC matifying one and the Clinique pore minimizer one? please help.

Have you ever tried Korres Primer¿? I’ve got it and I personally would recommend it, since it doesn’t contain silicons that are known for increasing pores dilation. CONS: it’s quite rich so I wouldn’t recommend it for oily skins, but for other skin types can also be used in substitution of day moisturizer.
Kali Jay

Hi marlena!

I have both large pores and oily skin. Can I use the too faced and Clinique primer together? If yes which one should I use first? Thank you very much!

I just posted DERMAdoctor’s Picture Porefect, I love it! It corrects the problem and looks great under my makeup. My pores are all but invisible after only 2 weeks with this product. TRY IT!!

I have been using DERMAdoctor’s Picture Porefect, it’s a serum that you use on cleansed skin, it not only reduces my pores but works all day to correct them!! It works beautifully under makeup too!!

The Rimmel Fix & Perfect Pro (blue and white tube) is a good drugstore primer for combo-oily skin. Under $10 and readily available.

It’s amazing how primers can enhance the dullest eyeshadow shades. Which of your top 5 do you recommend best? Have you tried the ELF primer? It’s not the best but what can you say about the quality for the price it’s being sold?

Hi, I trully luv your educational, fun, tutorials and 101’s… I do want to know the whole 9-yards of toners… I want to take care more of my face than before and a toner caugh my attention but I trully dont know much about them.. Plz help. Which toner is better, when to use them, how often, and the who thing about them.. I will trully appreciate it if you make a video for toners. Thank You!

2 questions; first did the MAC primer change names? I can’t find the matte gel anywhere. And, second, what do you think of the NYX primers? I like the matte finish (I’m currently using bare escentuals primer, but am running low).