Here Are the Exact Ingredients to Look for in an Acne-Fighting Primer

Once you've completed the steps in your morning skincare routine, primers are your first defense against acne, blemishes, and oily skin. Applied before your foundation, powders, and any other makeup, primers are on the frontline, so their formulations are especially pertinent if you have troubled skin. We called upon Ted Lain, MD, board-certified dermatologist, to weigh in on what goes into the best primers for acne. He broke down exactly what to look for on the ingredient list so we could determine the best-performing acne-fighting primers on the market right now.

"Primers are used to help cover blemishes and prepare the skin for moisturizers and makeup," explains Lain. "Since they are the first layer of a beauty regimen, using a primer with acne-fighting and mattifying ingredients is very helpful for those with oily and acne-prone skin." Lain identified the key ingredients to look for in a primer if acne is a concern. "Usually acneiform skin has an oily complexion, therefore capturing the oil and avoiding the midday shine is important," he notes. "Look for dimethicone on the ingredient list, since this helps to mattify the complexion and fights the accumulation of oil." Additional ingredients are probably ones that ring a bell and already exist in your skincare regimen. "Salicylic acid, sulfur, benzoyl peroxide, and resorcinol are all approved, over-the-counter ingredients that products contain to help combat acne," lists Lain. "Any one of these should be included in a primer that purports to fight acne."

As Lain observes, it isn't just enough that your primer helps to reduce the number of acne bumps and blemishes—we want products that also alleviate redness and inflammation. While acne-fighting ingredients are important, it is wise to also look for ingredients that help soothe skin and reduce the look of irritation. "Look for soothing ingredients such as aloe, allantoin, and antioxidants (vitamins E, C, and ferulic acid, among others) to make sure that the primer is doing double duty," advises Lain. "Regarding formulation, most acne sufferers will find the best coverage with a liquid or powder rather than a gel or spray," recommends Lain. "Of course, make sure that the primer is also oil-free, to ensure that it won't clog pores." Here are the best primers for acne with dermatologist-approved ingredients.

Once you've found the primer that best suits your needs, you can apply a smooth canvas for makeup while knowing ingredients are hard at work to better your skin.