Best primer makeup for face featured

Best primer makeup: Our fave face primers for all skin types

2nd March 2020 | Author: Amira Arasteh

If you’re at a loss when it comes to choosing the best primer, we’ve got you covered. Maybe you forget about using primer, or it’s a step in your makeup routine you’ve never really bothered with before. When you’re a budget, particularly, it can be tempting to skip primer, thinking it’s not a necessity.

READ NEXT: How to get flawless skin

Yet, in the same way toner can make a huge difference to not only what your skin looks like, but how well your other products work, primer does the same for makeup. 

Using the best primer can be the difference between flawless skin and cakey, uneven makeup so we’ve handpicked our favourites and will be adding to this list as we test more.

Best primer makeup

  1. Editor’s Pick: IT Cosmetics CC Cream £32
  2. Bargain Buy: Milk Makeup Hydro Grip£13
  3. Luxury Buy: Charlotte Tilbury Wonder Glow£39
  4. Best primer for a flawless finish: Smashbox Photo Finish Primer£28 
  5. Best all-round primer for your skin: Glossier Futuredew£23
  6. Best primer for oily skin: Sleek Mattifying primer – £7.99

1. Editor’s Pick: IT Cosmetics CC Cream

£32 | Buy now from IT Cosmetics

Why we love it: This is an absolute dream product. No, seriously. This tube of magic sorts any skin woes we’ve had and we love it so much, this is the third of our Best Buy articles that feature IT Cosmetics CC Cream. 

As this is a CC (colour-correcting) cream, it does more than the average primer; working wonders on your skin tone and texture. It offers full-coverage and can be used in place of your foundation because of its flawless delivery. This goes some way towards justifying its high price. 

For day-to-day use, you can use this great primer with a light coating of tinted moisturiser, to give yourself a bit of colour, but otherwise, you’re sorted, coverage-wise. It’s so popular because it’s also really hydrating – this is why it features in our best foundation for dry skin round-up – and anti-ageing. It even carries SPF50 which solves the hassle of making sure your foundation protects your skin from the sun (or even better if you’re flying solo with this CC cream). 


Buy now from IT Cosmetics

2. Bargain Buy: Milk Hydro Grip primer

£13 | Buy now from Cult Beauty

Why we love it: Milk’s Hydro Grip is our best primer on a budget because it hydrates the skin more than any primer we’ve used, and is a little more than a tenner.  It contains aloe water, cherry blossom, hyaluronic acid and vitamin B. What’s more, you’re not left waiting for it to sink in before you continue your makeup routine. It takes less than a minute to be absorbed into your skin and you’re good to go. 

READ NEXT: The truth about the acids in your skincare

Our skin certainly went on a trip with this primer, as it nourished it in preparation for holding up a whole day and night’s worth of makeup. Its water base ensures maximum hydration but also inspires a healthy glow to the skin, as our face seemingly fully absorbed all of the plant-derived oils and vitamins, delivering a flawless look to the skin.

Buy now from Cult Beauty

3. Luxury Buy: Charlotte Tilbury Wonder Glow

£39 | Buy now from Charlotte Tilbury

Why we love it: Charlotte Tilbury strikes again. In the brand’s iconic, pretty-as-ever packaging, this primer is another that will be your skin’s best friend. 

A lighter primer than the CC cream from IT Cosmetics, this Wonder Glow creates a soft, dewy look and helps you achieve smoother-looking skin, creating a blank, fresh canvas on which to apply your makeup. Even though it has a thin consistency, it can still be used as a light, glowy cover-up on its – depending on how confident you’re feeling with your skin – and this makes it ideal for mature skin. 

A slightly pricey option (considering IT Cosmetics’ CC cream offers a fuller coverage) but it does really leave you skin looking radiant and is a fantastic everyday product. You can read more about our Charlotte Tilbury skincare and makeup faves in the best moisturiser and best foundation pages. 

Buy now from Charlotte Tilbury

4. Smashbox Photo Finish

£28 | Buy now from Smashbox


If you’re not sure if the Smashbox primer is for you, pop to a Smashbox counter in Boots and ask for a sample.

When we went in, we walked away with five samples and were able to pick the one that worked best.

Smashbox also sells a travel version for £15 that will at least give you a chance to test it first.

Why we love it: No roundup of the best primers would be complete without giving a nod to Smashbox, a company considered to have invented the idea of priming your skin before applying makeup.

It offers a staggering 11 different primers to suit different skin types and solve different makeup and skin problems. And our pick of the bunch is the Photo Finish primer is also vegan and cruelty-free.

READ NEXT: Vegan vs cruelty-free: What’s the difference?

We’re a huge fan of this primer as it takes ‘blurring flaws’ and ‘smoothing skin’ to a whole new level.

After applying it, our foundation needed far fewer touchups later on in the day and you can get this formula in skin-specific versions, such as ‘shine control’ and ‘reduce redness’ if you need something a little more. 

The primer is lightweight, oil-free and not only makes pores appear smaller, and in some cases vanish completely, it has the added benefit of mattifying the skin. This makes it perfect if your skin errs on the oily side.

It’s less costly than most of the best primers on this list but bear in mind, it’s just a primer and won’t be able to act as your foundation.

Buy now from Smashbox

5. Glossier Futuredew

£23 | Buy now from Glossier

Why we love it: Due to the fact this has a hybrid serum-primer formula, you feel like you’re doing improving your skincare and makeup routine all in one with the brilliant Futuredew primer from Glossier.

Almost like a shortcut for your skin, it nourishes, as well as brightens and smooths thanks to its non-comedogenic oils, fruit extracts and squalane (from sugarcane) which all work to hydrate and moisturise the skin.

Then there’s the glow. It’s immediate – but not shimmery – and it really lasts. This brightened look lasts a long time; the website says up to 12 hours and we can confirm we still had compliments on the dewiness of our skin a solid five hours into our day. We love it as a primer but also could have easily kept it applied without putting makeup on afterwards too.

Buy now from Glossier

5. Sleek Mattifying Primer

£7.99 | Buy now from Look Fantastic

Despite its bargain price, Sleek makeup more than holds its own against high-end and designer brands. Not only is its range fantastic, but we would also struggle to tell its primer only costs £7.99 if we were testing it blindly.

Its primers come in two flavours – mattifying and hydrating. The former is the best primer for oily skin, the latter is best for dry skin.

If you have combination skin, at this price you can simply buy both and use the most appropriate. Its consistency is creamy, not as thick as Smashbox’s and it doesn’t leave as much of a velvet finish but it’s not far off which was a pleasant surprise considering the price.

Buy now from Look Fantastic

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