I Swapped My $52 Primer for One That's $14, and This Is How It Went

This is the story of a girl… who saw the price of her favorite primer and drowned the whole world—just kidding. Kind of. "Absolutely" reference aside, this is the story of a girl who shed some tears. Although, for very different reasons than John Hampson wrote about back in 2000. But actually, the plot of my own song is rather ironic.

For years, I abhorred primer. It was one of the few beauty products I just couldn't convince myself to like. And if after one or two tries I decided I might be able to casually date a certain formula, after just a few more, I'd decide it was time to run for the getaway car. (Yes, I realize I am fully riding the angsty musical reference train today—forgive me.) Anyway, to cut to the chase, every single primer I experimented with, be it budget-friendly or budget-breaking, left me salty and my complexion tacky. Or slippery or greasy or pill-y or countless other unmentionable combinations I've tried to repress over the years. So after years of trial and error, I decided to quit the stuff flat. And I was happy. I've had a deep-seated obsession with my favorite moisturizer for years, and frankly, it does better than most primers at prepping, maintaining, and enhancing my foundation application.

Of course, that was until I found The One. Yes, a couple of months ago, I found a primer that finally clued me into what my makeup routine had been missing. Enter Koh Gen Do Maifanshi Makeup Color Base ($52). The one problem? It's pricey. So I decided to try a little experiment which in no way was designed to dismiss my love for the primer (it will always be my number one) but to see if I couldn't find something that would yield similar results at a fraction of the price. And—drumroll please—I was successful. Keep reading for the best primer dupe I've been able to find, according to the pickiest primer consumer of all womankind. (And if you should be so lucky, I'll continue to rhyme and make random musical references from the early 2000s.)