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Before you apply your foundation, take the time to prime. We promise it’s worth the investment. Primer is the best way to fake smooth, glowing skin with its blurring magic—your foundation will look so much better with it on and it will last much longer too, without caking or cracking. Depending on the primer you opt for, it can zap shine, minimize the appearance of pores, hydrate, and brighten. Overall, they deliver an airbrushed look. In other words, finding the right primer is just as important as wearing the best foundation for your skin type.
When primers first hit the market, they were more limited to the prestige market. But now, thanks to affordable brands with luxurious formulas, like Soap & Glory, L'Oréal Paris and e.l.f., you can find one of the best drugstore makeup primers without breaking the bank. Just like their pricier peers, they offer targeted skincare perks as well. Save big bucks and shop these top drugstore makeup primers.
Best Overall: Soap & Glory One Heck of a Blot Power Primer
This primer is just as clever as its name. It does it all: If you tend to get shiny as the day goes on, it absorbs oil to keep your T-zone in check, if you’re on the dry side it has vitamin E to keep you hydrated, and it features pore-shrink technology to minimize their appearance. We’re not done yet. This multitasker also reduces redness, evens skin tone, masks flaws, and helps your makeup last much longer.
Best Budget: e.l.f. Hydrating Face Primer
e.l.f. always delivers great products that won’t put a dent in your wallet, and their Hydrating Face Primer lives up to their reputation. You can shell out less than six bucks for this primer with a natural matte finish that smooths your skin and extends the wear of your makeup. Infused with grape and vitamins A, C, and E, it will leave your skin moisturized.
Best for Dry Skin: Hard Candy Sheer Envy Coconut Water Cooling Primer Stick
At this point we’re all aware of the hydrating powers of coconut water, and Hard Candy’s Sheer Envy Coconut Water Cooling Primer Stick is packed with the stuff. The stick packaging makes it ideal for on the go and a cinch to apply, while the cooling formula feels fantastic on your skin. It preps skin for makeup application by creating a flawless base with its blurring effect, and it will help makeup last longer.
Best for Oily Skin: L'Oréal Paris Studio Secrets Magic Perfecting Base
If an oily T-zone gets you down on the regular, reach for this shine zapper from L'Oréal Paris. The pink paste is heavier than most primers, but it’s worth its weight. Just apply it to wherever you tend to get shiny and it will keep your skin smooth and matte, and your makeup looking as fresh as when you first applied it. To get the cleanest, most even application, use a sponge to pat it on in a thin layer. It will also create a filter to smooth lines, shrink pores, and create a clean canvas. The silky smooth base can also be worn solo.
Best Matte: Neutrogena Shine Control Primer
Transform your oily spots into mattified, smooth skin with Neutrogena’s Shine Control Primer. Rice protein technology soaks up excess oil to keep skin shine-free all day long without drying it out. The primer also minimizes the appearance of pores and evens skin tone, so you can actually get away with skipping foundation. But if you do apply makeup, this will help it last much longer.
Best for Large Pores: NYX Pore Filler Primer
Though you can’t technically shrink pores, NYX’s Pore Filler Primer can certainly help you fake it. It fills those pores up with vitamin E, which does double duty to hydrate and feed skin. The primer works like a veil over the skin to give you a clear, even complexion and provide a great base for makeup. The formula is talc- and oil-free, making it safe for sensitive skin.
Best Natural: Honest Beauty Everything Primer
Jessica Alba has really nailed the clean beauty space with her Honest Beauty line. The award-winning Everything Primer is packed with hyaluronic acid and naturally derived peony root extract to deeply moisturize, and it also contains mica to give off a subtle golden glow. You can wear the primer under makeup or alone for a filter for your skin. Best of all, since it’s sheer, you don’t have to worry about that mask-like white face some primers can leave behind.
Our writers spent 3.5 hours researching the most popular drugstore makeup primers on the market. Before making their final recommendations, they considered 25 different drugstore makeup primers overall, screened options from 22 different brands and manufacturers, read over 35 user reviews (both positive and negative) and tested 5 of the drugstore makeup primers themselves. All of this research adds up to recommendations you can trust.