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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 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.
Ahead, the best blurring primers that have converted Team Byrdie to Team Primer. Keep scrolling!
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.
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.
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.
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.
"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."
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.
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."
"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.
"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."