The 8 best makeup primers for a flawless complexion
Let’s start things off on the right foot
By Briar Clark
BEAUTYcrew Beauty Editor / March 13 2023
Want to create the kind of makeup looks that rival the professionals? An airbrushed flawless finish? Makeup that lasts well past application? A beat that somehow manages to balance a natural dewy finish without looking like an oil slick?
Yep, us too. And the secret to creating these looks is actually surprisingly simple – makeup primer.
It may seem like a massive oversell, but without a sturdy foundation for (ironically enough) your foundation, concealer, bronzer and the rest of it all to sit on, all those precious dollary-doos and hours spent on makeup become obsolete.
Here, we’ve collated eight of the best primers money can buy so you can finally paint the face of your dreams.
MILK MAKEUP Hydro Grip Primer
Love the promise of long-lasting makeup primers but don’t love the drying effect traditional formulas have on skin? Yep, neither do we. That’s why when it comes to slapping on a full face we’re reaching for this ultra-grippy pick from Milk Makeup. Formulated with hemp-derived cannabis seed extract, blue agave extract, aloe water, hyaluronic acid, sweet cherry, and vitamins B3 and B5, this is basically just an additional step to your skin care routine. Except better, because what skin-loving serum is also going to ensure that your makeup stays put all damn day?
$52 at Sephora
Naked Sundays SPF50+ Collagen Glow 100% Mineral Perfecting Priming Lotion
Over here at Beauty Crew, we can’t get enough SPF. No seriously; put it in our moisturisers, our body hydrators, and even our makeup primers, because we want it all. Thankfully, the folks over at Naked Sundays are quite adept at packing the stuff into literally anything they can get their hands on, including this hydrating and collagen-boosting primer formula. Safe enough for sensitive skin and a no white cast promise, this multipurpose pick adds a subtle glow to skin, while smoothing any imperfections. A must for the summer months.
$39.95 at MECCA
Ciaté London Watermelon Burst Primer
Skin feeling a little dehydrated and dull? This watermelon-infused formula incorporates skin-plumping hyaluronic acid and vitamin E to minimise the appearance of pores, promote hydration and improve the longevity of makeup for up to 24-hours after application.
$35 at MECCA
FENTY BEAUTY Pro Filt'r Hydrating Primer
Honestly, all of the Fenty Beauty primers have a special place in our hearts and makeup collections, but there’s something universally lovely about the hydrating variation. Suitable for all skin types (not just those of us suffering with a thirsty complexion), this silky, pore-smoothing formula utilises grape seed oil and sodium hyaluronate to keep skin hydrated and comfortable, and ensure makeup stays put all day. And really, why shouldn’t softening skin, smoothing over dry patches and blurring imperfections be this easy-peasy, lemon-squeezy?
$49 at Sephora
Charlotte Tilbury HOLLYWOOD FLAWLESS FILTER
Part primer and part complexion-perfecting BB cream, Charlotte Tilbury’s Flawless Filter has been an undercover love of ours for some time now. Whether you need to look like you have model-like glass skin in a flash or are trying to imbue skin with a subtle colour-correcting radiance prior to makeup application, this glowy formula is a sure bet on all fronts. Blur, smooth and illuminate your complexion with a cocktail of smoothing airbrush polymers, finely milled powders, brightening porcelain flower extract and moisturising glossy oil.
$65 at Charlotte Tilbury
MAKE UP FOR EVER Redness Corrector
As anyone who suffers from facial redness will be able to tell you, there is no concealer or foundation flawless enough to colour correct. That’s where this smart primer pick comes in, neutralising redness and evening out skin tone for up to 24-hours post-application. Sensitive-skin friendly, this redness-reducing formula is even safe to use on rosacea and particularly angry-looking blemishes.
$62 at Sephora
Tatcha The Silk Canvas Protective Primer
The Tatcha silk canvas primer caused quite a stir when it landed a few years ago. For those of you with a love for OG silicone primers, may we redirect you to this little beauty. Formulated to smooth the heck out of skin, you can say sayonara to skin woes such as enlarged pores, uneven skin texture, fine lines and discolouration. Plus, thanks to the inclusion of Tatacha’s signature superfood blend Hadasei-3TM, this impressive pick also helps to ward off environmental pollutants, keep pores free from makeup and minimises excess oil.
$78 at MECCA
HOURGLASS Veil Mineral Primer SPF 15
Lightweight, oil-free and with just a touch of SPF for those days when you feel like you need a little extra something-something in your routine, the veil primer from Hourglass is a mainstay for your everyday face of makeup. The super-silky humidity-resistant formula smooths over skin with ease, blurring the appearance of fine lines, pores and imperfections, and even neutralising redness for reliable makeup looks that’ll last from the office to the gym.
$84 at MECCA
Briar is the Beauty Editor at BEAUTYcrew. Her 'down for anything' attitude has resulted in more than a handful of hair transformations, and she doesn't mind being used as a guinea pig for the industry's most unusual products and treatments. Her work has also appeared on Refinery29, Girlfriend and beautyheaven.