Better Than Facetune: These 13 Blurring Primers Are Basically Filters IRL

Updated 09/19/18
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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 (translation: whenever we're mildly or not so mildly hungover). However, in 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 24/7 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 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 are A) the best and B) worthy of your time, money, and stunning makeup job. Ahead, 13 of the best blurring primers that have converted Team Byrdie to Team Primer and simultaneously made us less dependent on our Facetune smoothing technique.

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Best Drugstore

Nyx Professional Makeup #NoFilter Blurring Primer $15
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As if the this primer's very appropriate name doesn't say it all, its fabulous collection of customer reviews does. 

"This is one of the best primers I've ever used, and I've tried both pricey and cheap ones," says one happy Ulta customer. "I'm 46, and started to struggle with the appearance of large pores on my cheeks, and across my nose and forehead. This primer is amazing at helping to diminish the look of my pores, it also does a good job keeping shine minimal. This is one of my holy grail products."

Wet n Wild Photo Focus Dewy Face Primer $5
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For just under $5, nit-picky makeup junkies say it doesn't get much better than this beloved blurring primer from Wet n Wild.

"If you have dry skin you will LOVE this!! I've been dying to find a primer that feels hydrating, but not at all greasy, and this is definitely it," explains a glowing reviewer on Ulta's website. "You will look like a glazed donut at first since it's sooo beautifully illuminating, and after you put concealer and foundation on, it's stunning!!"

Pixi By Petra Flawless & Poreless Primer $22
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"I love this primer because it really makes my skin look so soft," explains one five-star review we found on Target's website. "It gives you that 'baby-soft' touch finish and is perfect for my combination skin. 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 Organic

Vapour Beauty Stratus Soft Focus Skin Perfector $60
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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's an investment, but a litany of praise-rich reviews deem it 100% worthwhile. 

"This primer is definitely worth the cost," swears one review on The Detox Market website. "I have splotchy cheeks that make it difficult to apply foundation evenly, but Vapour’s primer helps to even out my skin tone and make my powder foundation adhere (and stay) all the more. Plus, all I need is a small amount to cover my cheeks, nose, and chin."

Best Editor Picks

Koh Gen Do Maifanshi Makeup Color Base in Pearl White $55
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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 splotchiness, 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.

Tarte Quench Hydrating Primer Rainforest of the Sea Collection $32
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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.

Urban Decay Urban Defense Complexion Primer Broad Spectrum SPF 30 $36
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Just because summer Fridays have officially fallen from grace, it doesn't mean we should be any less vigilant about sun protection. If you're looking for one of the best blurring primers that's a mega multitasker to boot, look no further than this sleek tube from Urban Decay. It's packed with SPF 30 and other pore-minimizing hydrators like sesame oil, tomato fruit extract, and squalane. Just be sure to pair it with your normal SPF as well, since two-for-one hybrids don't pack as much protection—studies say so.

Farsáli Skintune Blur $54
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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. When you try hundreds of beauty products per week, you quickly become the most suspicious of consumers.

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.

Perfect Canvas Skin Finishing Serum 1.02 oz/ 30 mL
Ren Perfect Canvas Skin Finishing Serum $55
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"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."

Becca First Light Priming Filter Face Primer $38
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"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.

A'Pieu Start-up Cushion Primer $17
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"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."

Benefit Cosmetics The PoreFessional Face Primer $32
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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.

Ish Velvet Primer $26
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Flawlessly created by celebrity beauty guru Joey Maalouf, our resident features editor, Amanda Montell, tells me this is one of the only primers she willingly puts all over her face. In fact, she likes to. It's lightweight, silicone-free, and the perfect blurring elixir if you seek a featherweight infusion of velvety-smooth radiance. Your complexion and newly filter-less selfies will love it. 

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