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There's an app for almost everything these days, though we play favorites for whichever will deliver piping hot Thai or Italian food right to our door in an hour. However, in a not-so-far-off second, we appreciate any app that will make our 4:30 p.m. under-eyes look a little less crease-like and our pores look a little less crater-like (translation: the godsend that is Facetune). Now, if only there were a way to bring that same instantaneous blurring magic to our phone-tapping and brush-holding, makeup-applying fingertips. Oh wait, we can.
While makeup lovers everywhere tend to be aggressively divided on the topic of primers and whether or not they are, in fact, worth the time and money, we'd like to think it all comes down to the formula. A tricky endeavor indeed. First, there's skin type and texture to take into account (what works for a friend might be disastrous on us), the rest of our makeup (powders? liquids? gels?), and last but not least, our end goal (mattifying, blurring, hydrating—the list goes on).
Not surprisingly, things can go awry relatively quickly, and pretty soon the quest for a complexion-changing primer can turn into a nightmare fit for Elm Street. So we thought we'd do some of the dirty work for you—undertaking the essential nit-picky product testing and photo-taking fire drills necessary to deem which blurring primers really work.
What to Look For in a Blurring Primer
Consider Your Individual Needs
Like any skincare product, choose your blurring primer based on your unique skin concerns. For example, if you’re oily and acne-prone, opt for a lightweight, water-based primer with non-comedogenic and even blemish-fighting ingredients. Conversely, if you’re dry or combination, adding a blurring primer with hydrating and moisturizing benefits to your routine can help up those essential moisture levels while imparting its pore-perfecting magic.
If you’re looking to address more than just pores, say under-eye discoloration or a general sallowness to your skin, opt for a blurring primer that contains color-correcting pigments to offset any unwelcome hues and even-out skin tone. Mix and match where required.
While a great many of today’s top blurring primers are one-trick ponies, in that they perform the simple function of blurring imperfections, a growing number of options now include myriad skincare ingredients, from vitamin C to probiotics, for an added boost to your skincare routine.
With blurring primers, it’s all about versatility. You’ll find a lot of the products we mention below can be applied either as a separate step after your skincare and before your makeup, or blended with your foundation to add a specific benefit, from extra pore-smoothing to a matte finish.
Ahead, the best blurring primers that have converted Team Byrdie to Team Primer. Keep scrolling!
Best Overall: Benefit Cosmetics The POREfessional Face Primer
This cult-loved primer from Benefit Cosmetics is a classic for a reason. It just works. Plus, Byrdie's managing editor, Lindsey Metrus (who walks the world as if she has a personal, perfect-lighting angel atop her shoulder), says it's her favorite. My takeaway: It's one of the industry's absolute best OG blurring primers. In Lindsey's exact words, it has "inimitable pore-blurring capabilities." Just proceed at your own risk: Inundations of compliments will be inescapable.
Best Budget: Wet n Wild Photo Focus Dewy Face Primer
For under $10, nit-picky makeup junkies say it doesn't get much better than this beloved blurring primer from Wet n Wild.
Best Organic: Vapour Beauty Essential Daily Primer
In the world of clean and organic skincare, there isn't a lot to choose from when it comes to the best blurring primers. However, this one from Vapour Beauty is truly a diamond in the glow-enhancing rough—it soothes, moisturizes, and clarifies the skin while providing a flawless canvas for makeup.
Best Shade Range: Koh Gen Do Maifanshi Makeup Color Base
I'm actually obsessed with Koh Gen Do's entire line of makeup bases since they allow me to customize my primer to whatever kind of mood my skin is in on any particular day. Oftentimes, I reach for the light yellow to help correct my dark circles and sporadic red splotches, but when I'm in the mood for a blurred, luminous, filter-esque finish, the inherent perfection of the pearl white is my top go-to.
Best Dewy Finish: Tarte Rainforest Of The Sea Quench Hydrating Primer
Usually, I steer clear of any product labeled "hydrating" or "moisturizing," as said adjectives quickly translate "greasy" or "oil-slicked" on my acne-prone face. However, this option from Tarte seems to be the magical exception. It blurs pores, blemishes, and uneven skin tone exceptionally well while also keeping my skin at an optimum level of hydration—not too matte and not too wet. I'm obsessed and have been using it almost every day after my moisturizer and before my foundation.
Best Matte Finish: REN Clean Skincare Perfect Canvas Clean Primer
"At first touch, the formula feels luxurious but ultra-lightweight—like your skin can breathe beneath it," explains senior editor Hallie Gould. "I put a few drops in my hands and then pat it around my skin. It gives a really lovely matte finish, but I like to mix it with a bit of moisturizer to add some shine back in.
"The serum is a cocktail of bioactives that naturally lift your skin, boost its defense barrier, and restore its moisture balance. Probiotics support the production of essential proteins and enzymes to improve the barrier function of your skin while hyaluronans increase its hydration and elasticity as well as reduce the look of fine lines and wrinkles. Agave tequilana extract (yes, really) provides an instant filling effect and mattifies to create that blurring, smoothing canvas for makeup."
Best Serum Primer: FARSÁLI Skintune Blur Perfecting Primer Serum
I'll admit that I was initially skeptical of Farsáli's latest, ultra-buzzy product launch. I'm notoriously picky about primers to begin with (few make it into my everyday repertoire), and thanks to Murphy and his laws, if a product says it boasts Facetune-esque finesse, it probably does the opposite. That being said, this aquamarine bottle managed to flip all my doubts completely upside down.
One part skincare, one part makeup, this brand-proclaimed "hybrid primer serum" words to brighten, de-pore, and mask any imperfections immediately post-application. The ingredients are A-list, with lightweight additions like vitamin C, mushroom-derived poria cocos, and cucumber extract leading the frontier in the name of filter-like results. I've been using this best-of-the-best blurring primer right before foundation, but you can also mix it in with your favorite base or pat it on as the last step in your skincare routine.
Best Hydrating: Pixi Beauty Flawless & Poreless Primer
Reviewers love this primer because it hydrates and smooths the skin. "It gives you that 'baby-soft' touch finish and is perfect for my combination skin," wrote one reviewer. "I've given this to many of my friends as a gift because I love it so much, and I know they will too once they try it."
Best Innovative: Becca Cosmetics First Light Priming Filter Instant Complexion Refresh
"I use Becca's First Light Filter Face Primer, a product our editorial director, Faith, gave me to prove I can't possibly hate all conventional primers. She was right. It's tinted purple to scatter translucent, cool violet light, which basically means it blurs, covers imperfections, and gives my face this nice, dewy quality without looking overly slick," says Hallie.
Best for Evening Skin Tone: A'PIEU Start Up Pore Primer
"Even though this primer isn't technically advertised as blurring, every time I use it, I swear it blurs the appearance of my pores and any other imperfections, including the dark blue tones of my dark circles," says contributing writer Kaitlyn McLintock. "I've honestly never been a big fan of primers since I like to wear as little product on my skin as possible after completing my morning skincare routine, but this one changed my mind. It's designed to be used alongside a cushion foundation, but I use it under any and all makeup I wear—including eye shadow."
What is a blurring primer?
A makeup primer that’s applied after skincare and before foundation which contains specific ingredients to create the appearance of a more even texture and an overall flawless complexion.
How do you apply a blur primer?
Using your fingers or a foundation brush, massage the primer onto your skin, being sure to cover your entire face, including your eyelids. You can follow up with a second layer on those particularly problematic areas, such as the T-zone, gently tapping a little extra product to help blur the look of pores.
Does primer fill in wrinkles?
Although each formulation of blurring primer will differ, the basic gist of the product is to help “fill in” any kind of imperfection—this includes both pores and fine lines—thus helping to create a smoother look.