Primer is generally one of those products that tend to fall through the cracks – ironic, since they’re supposed to fill cracks – when it comes to general makeup hype. They’re not sexy, but they make a hell of a difference when you use it. Like shapewear underpants. These are, in my opinion, the best stuff out there to tighten and smooth our faces with.
Being that primers can address different needs according to your skin type, I’ve decide to choose the best for dry, oily and normal/combination skin types. I myself have combination skin, and depending on what I’m using and the time of year (and month!), I may use a mix of these.
Best Hydrating Primer: MAC Strobe Cream
MAC came out with several colours for this cult favourite, but have the original with a gold tint because that’s what looks best on my yellow skintone. This applies and feels like a lightweight moisturiser, and leaves a soft luminosity to the skin. A dream for dry, dull complexion. I would say you could wear this even if you’re oily because it’s very light, not greasy at all, and the shine is subtle – it just doesn’t have oil controlling properties if you really need them.
It’s great for winter because it adds that extra moisture, and makes drier foundation glide on and blend more easily. I’ve tried a lot of hydrating primers and generally I am a fan, but if I have to pick just one, this takes the cake (and I like cake, so that’s not easy for me to give it away).
Best Oil Controlling Primer: Smashbox Photo Finish Oil & Shine Control
If oily skin is a drama for you, try this. Seriously. I feel like a lot of mattifying primers create a drying film on the skin that causes balling up of product when you apply foundation on top, which is incredible annoying. Maybe it’s my skin, maybe it’s the moisturiser underneath, but that always happens to me with matte or silicone based primers. The Smashbox Oil & Shine Control primer however has very fluid texture, like a lightweight moisturiser (do you sense a theme here?) and yet, it stops oil in its tracks like it’s trying to save the planet. It’s like magic.
I bought the travel size (12 ml) because I’m not very oily except on the cheek area around my nose, and I tend to use the primer only on that area, but I’ve tried it all over the face and it’s not a product that’s going to make your skin look parched and tight. A good one to have if you ever get annoyed with oiliness.
Overall Best Primer: Guerlain Météorites Base Perfecting Pearls
This is the one I used on my wedding day. This truly is the Spanx of makeup. It’ll work for any skin type, because it makes foundation look smoother and last longer, and it will do so while looking subtly radiant. For something that’s not really targeted for oil control, it does a great job preventing it from breaking down makeup. It minimises the appearance of pores and blurs fine lines without being a silicone based primer, which is a feat. And it’s easy to apply and does not cause makeup to ball up on top of it. Everyone can benefit from it.
Turns out there isn’t any drugstore option in this post. I’m just selecting my favourites, without caring about price point, so I can feature the best of the best. But if you want an inexpensive option, there is one that’s right up there with all of these, but is not technically a primer and I haven’t purchased it recently (so I don’t know if the formula is still the same), and that’s why I didn’t include it: it’s the Nivea Men After Shave Balm. Yep. It’s a relatively known industry “secret”, and if I didn’t have the Guerlain Meteorites primer, it’s what I would have used for my wedding, so that should tell you something. The Nivea Balm makes the face look perfected and foundation lasts on top of it like it’s on a ten year lease.
So there, a bonus favourite! Now go spend money, with my blessing.