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9 Face Primers That Makeup Artists Swear By

by Martha Adams

After moisturizer and sunscreen, face primer is typically used as the first line of defense to keep your makeup look locked and loaded , without any smudging or slippage. “Makeup primers are a fantastic layer between your skin and your makeup,” makeup artist Angel Gabriel tells SELF. “When it comes to your foundation, [primers] can [help] make your skin more look radiant, fill in scars and blemishes, and keep your makeup long-lasting and fresh.”

Don’t discount the importance of throwing a little primer on your eyelids, too. According to Gabriel, using an eye primer can intensify the pigmentation of shadows , and keep them from moving around and creasing (forming tiny lines in the product after it sets). A smooth eye base with a little hold can help make your cut crease or cat-eye last from the work day through happy hour, just like your favorite face primer.

Since primers are such an important step in a makeup routine, we went straight to the pros to find out which ones they swear by. From brands like Becca and Dermalogica, here are the effective primers that five makeup artists always keep in their bags to create a makeup masterpiece that stays in place.

All products featured on SELF are independently selected by our editors. If you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Primer for Oily Skin: Becca's Ever Matte Poreless Perfecting Primer, $39

“This primer works really well with a lot of different formulations of makeup, particularly oily skin types. I find that it gives the skin a smooth and dry surface for the makeup to stick to and the benefit is a longer wear with less touch-ups.“ — Delina Medhin , celebrity makeup artist

Buy it: $39, ulta.com

Primer for Oily Skin: Dermalogica Hydrablur Primer, $49

“For my clients with more textured and oily skin , I love the Dermalogica Hydrablur Primer. This non-greasy and lightweight primer blurs fine lines and pores while hydrating and brightening for naturally beautiful looking skin with minimal shine.” —Angel Gabriel

Buy it: $49, amazon.com

Primer for Eyes: MAC Pro Longwear Paint Pot, $19

“For eyes, I absolutely love MAC paint pots. They come in a huge range of colors that you can wear by themselves, or add shadow on top of. They’ll definitely bring out the colors in your shadows without any creasing or flaking.” —Angel Gabriel

Buy it: $19 (originally $22), shop.nordstrom.com

Primer for All Skin Types: Peter Thomas Roth Skin to Die For, $32

“This flesh tone universal tint instantly reduces the appearance of any fine lines, pores and imperfections for a flawless application. It can be worn under makeup or alone for a no-filter finish.” — Dominique Lerma , Moda brush executive artist

Buy it: $32, ulta.com

Primer for All Skin Types: Benefit Porefessional Primer, $32

“I love using this primer on all skin types. It reduces the appearance of fine lines and pores, and smooths out the skin for a baby smooth complexion. Itʼs lightweight enough to use under or on top of your makeup.” —Angel Gabriel

Buy it: $32, ulta.com

Tinted Primer: Beauty Blender The Leveler Pore Minimizing Primer, $32

“While I’m not usually a fan of primers (I’m a believer in ‘less is more’ when it comes to adding products to the skin), I recently discovered a product that I can actually co-sign on to add to foundation prep. Beauty Blender recently released The Leveler Pore Minimizing Primer, a lightweight, almost BB-cream like prep product. It helps to minimize redness and pore size while smoothing uneven texture. The key here isn’t to put it all over the face. I target the T-zone and find that it doesn’t add bulk to the skin but it controls shine, keeping me from over-powdering. Also, it’s tinted, so you could even use it by itself on lazy makeup days.” — Ashleigh Ciucci , makeup artist

Buy it: $32, sephora.com

Primer for Dry Skin: FarmHouse Fresh Three Milk Moisturizer, $34

“For those with dry skin who want a matte look with long-lasting finish, I apply FarmHouse Fresh’s Three Milk Moisturizer all over the face. Then, while they’re still dewy, I apply matte foundation, essentially making the drier formula foundation a pigment-packed tinted moisturizer. Starting with a solid base at the start keeps the look fresher, longer!” — Brett Freedman , celebrity makeup artist

Buy it: $34, dermstore.com

Primer for Dry Skin: Sisley-Paris Double Tenseur Primer, $192

“Double Tenseur does double duty as serious skin-care and a primer. The formula lifts, tightens, and smooths the skin while helping foundation and concealer stay put all day. It is one of my favorite products to apply under makeup.” — Robin Black , celebrity makeup artist

Buy it: $192, violetgrey.com

Primer for Dry/Combination Skin: Charlotte Tilbury Wonder Glow Face Primer, $55

“I love using this primer on dry and combination skin types. Its formula hydrates and blurs for a dewy finish, and adds a soft focus effect to the complexion. Bonus: It’s also available in travel-size for those on the go.” —Dominique Lerma

Buy it: $55, shop.nordstrom.com


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