How Do I Choose the Best Foundation Primer?

Kaiser Castro

Makeup primers are manufactured to create a protective barrier between the skin and any makeup applied, allowing the makeup to adhere better to the skin. Selecting the best foundation primer will depend on the type of skin to which it will be applied and any pre-existing conditions that may be affecting the skin. Be mindful of the formulation of the primer, as some will be able to combat the dryness that is usually associated with mature skin and others will be able to control sebum production in oilier skin types. Different packaging will also have pros and cons.

Skin care and makeup products should be matched to your skin type, whether it's oily, normal, or dry.
Skin care and makeup products should be matched to your skin type, whether it's oily, normal, or dry.

Gel-based primers are usually beneficial against combating excessive sebum on the surface of the skin. Selecting the best foundation primer for oily skin can be tricky; if the primer is too emollient, then it will only contribute to the oily look. Primers that are not hydrating enough, however, will only cause the body to create more sebum. Those that are gel-based will offer comprehensive coverage while still allowing the skin to breathe through. Some formulations will sometimes have light exfoliating ingredients like salicylic acid to help normalize the pH level on the skin, subsequently controlling the oil that is produced.

Foundation primer may be applied with a brush.
Foundation primer may be applied with a brush.

A cream will be the best foundation primer base for dry skin. If dryness is a concern, make sure that the ingredients listed on the back include glycerin, hydrolyzed proteins, or some sort of a natural emollient like cocoa butter or jojoba oil. When electing the best foundation primer for dry skin, the product should have humectant properties, which bind onto ambient moisture, subsequently increasing the moisture content on the skin's surface.

A foundation primer can help to create a smooth canvas for other makeup products.
A foundation primer can help to create a smooth canvas for other makeup products.

Some makeup primers will come in corrective colors. If battling hyperpigmentation or scarring on the face, then selecting a neutralizing color can be an answer. Red, irritated pimples can be neutralized with a green-tinted primer, while yellow-tinted primers neutralize the purple hues that are commonly associated with under-eye circles. Pinks and iridescent shades can highlight areas of the face to offset tired shadows.

Some types of foundation primer may help reduce oily skin, which is a common condition among teenagers.
Some types of foundation primer may help reduce oily skin, which is a common condition among teenagers.

Selecting the best foundation primer will also require careful consideration of the packaging. Some will come in a spray form, allowing for convenient application. Makeup primers that come in a pallet will usually come with many corrective colors, allowing for more comprehensive coverage. Also consider your method of application, as fingers can be used for some primers, but a makeup sponge or brush works well for others.

Foundation primer.
Foundation primer.
A foundation primer with yellowish undertones is best for hiding dark circles.
A foundation primer with yellowish undertones is best for hiding dark circles.
Foundation primer must be chosen based on an individual's skin tone.
Foundation primer must be chosen based on an individual's skin tone.

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Discussion Comments


@speechie - I don't know what is the best foundation, I am not that well versed in makeup, but I do know of a way to find a foundation that looks great.

If you are a for special occasions once or twice a month makeup kind a gal like me, then this may not sound like the most fun idea but I bet it will work, it did for me with finding the right colors for me.

I actually went to the makeup counter at a department store in the mall. It was intimidating, all that makeup, expensive makeup and I was afraid that the people that were helping me would just try and sell me everything.

They did not and they picked out just what I wanted (I was looking for eye shadow and a bold lipstick) and found great colors for me.


I am quite happy with the primer that I got to go under my eye shadow. It does a real good job of keeping my eye shadow on all day.

After reading this article, I will be looking for a primer to wear under my foundation. Now, by the middle of the day, you couldn't tell that I had applied a foundation at all - it had mostly worn or rubbed off.


I did not even know that this stuff existed. I always wondered how in the world people's makeup stayed on as long as it did. Now I see it is not the makeup but what they put on under the makeup.

But even more than that - how do people actually get a good foundation that does not look overdone or matches their skin tone? I know now that the foundation for me would probably be a cream foundation, so I guess the question would be what is the best cream foundation and primer?


There is a lot of things that you have to consider when shopping for the best foundation primer for your particular skin type.

My skin is getting drier and so after reading this article, I know what chemicals and oils to look for on the label. Also, my skin is red on some parts of my face. I have already found one product that covers up the red quite well. There are so many products out there, I think you have to go by trial and error to find the best one. Obtaining samples is a good way to try different products without spending a dime.

Remember the main purpose of a primer is to help keep your foundation from coming off during the day.


The only primer I really use is foundation primer for my eyelids. Luckily, my skin is fairly clear, so I can get away with just using powder on the rest of my face.

However, I've found that using primer on my eyelids helps my eye make up last way, way longer. This way I can buy drug store eyeshadow instead of the expensive stuff. And it lasts just as long!

And, awhile ago I found the best foundation for sensitive skin to use on my eyelids. Although the rest of my face isn't too sensitive, I like to give a little bit of extra care to the skin around my eyes. It's thinner than the rest of the skin on your face, so it has a tendency to be a bit more sensitive.


When I was younger I never understood the need for a foundation primer. I just used a good foundation, some powder and figured I was good to go.

It wasn't until my skin began to get drier, that I realized I needed to do something different. I also have some old acne scars that I want to cover up, and many times even a good foundation doesn't do it adequately enough.

The first time I used a primer for dry skin before putting on my foundation, I was sold. I loved the smooth finish it created, and my makeup seemed to stay on all day long without needing to be refreshed.

I use the best matte foundation I can find, but always make sure I apply a primer first. It also helps make my skin feel more moisturized and hydrated.


I actually make my own primer at home. The point of using a foundation primer is to make a perfect canvas out of the face so that the foundation and makeup will go on easily, smoothly and will last longer. I think we can do the same thing with some products we already use.

There are different variations on homemade primer recipes. What I did was to combine a gel moisturizer with some translucent face powder and a little bit of my SPF moisturizer. The ratios for these are 3-3-1, but you can change it based on your skin type.

The moisturizer hydrates the skin and provides sun protection, whereas the gel moisturizer evens out the skin and the powder absorbs oil. I think this basic recipe does what a primer is supposed to do and is very easy and affordable.


I use a corrective foundation primer in green to cover the redness on my cheeks. Corrective primer is great, but you kind of have to be careful about how much and where you use it. If I had eczema or a similar condition where my entire face was red, I would apply it everywhere. But I only have redness on my cheeks, so I apply the green corrective primer on those areas only.

I use another colorless primer for the rest of my face. Applying corrective primer on areas that don't need it would look bad otherwise.

I think when it comes to consistency, I prefer cream primers because it gets absorbed by the skin more easily. I also make sure that it's suitable for sensitive skin because I apply primer on my eyelids and under my eyes too. That way, I don't need to buy an additional primer for eyes.


Has anyone tried the photo finish foundation primer that is being advertised by various companies?

I really want a smooth look and am worried that the photo finish thing is just another marketing gimmick. I really want a make-up primer that neutralizes the dark circles under my eyes, while creating a great finish for my foundation.

Also, I am wondering what the best powder foundation would be to use with my primer. Do you think that I should by the same brand of make-up across the board, or should I mix it up a bit? I don't have to worry about sensitive skin, so I can really just focus on the end look.


I found that reading foundation primer reviews really helped me choose a product for my oily skin. While I am not a big fan of beauty magazine reviews there are some blogs that I follow and they usually offer really good advice. I like hearing from real women.

After I found a few recommended foundation primers I ended up going to the store and trying them out. Just like regular liquid foundation, there should be a sample available, even if you have to ask the sales clerk. If there isn't a sample in the store, you can always write to the company and ask for one to be sent to you.


I don't think that all gel foundation primers are always suitable for oily skin. I used a gel primer from a top brand that was not marked for any particular type of skin. It had silk proteins in it that made the face even softer and smoother than most primers. It worked well, but I felt that it was a bit too greasy for me. It was probably because of the silk proteins. I just didn't like the slippery feel of it on my skin.

I realized later that the same exact primer also has different types for dry and oily skin. So just because the primer is gel and not cream, don't assume that it's for oily skin. I'm sure the same could be said for cream primers being for dry skin.

I think unmarked primers are best for people with normal skin. If you have dry or oily skin, you should get a primer that's specifically made for you and that mentions it in the label.

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