The 7 Best Primers for Every Skin Type

For my first few years as a beauty editor, primer was a makeup category I just didn't understand. What was this slimy invisible goo that promised to make your makeup look smoother and stay on longer? It sounded like a gimmick. But in time, I realized that my primer perplexity was simply because I hadn't found the right one for my skin type. Primer, as it turns out, doesn't do just one thing. Yes, there are primers that fill your pores and improve your foundation's staying power, but there are also ones that hydrate, color-correct, or add glow. There are myriad textures and formulations to choose from. To reap the benefits, you simply have to find the right primer for your skin type.

Fortunately, there are editors on Team Byrdie representing oily, combination, dry, and sensitive skin types. We have all tried a host of different primers over the years and have nailed down the single best one for our individual concerns. Want to find the best primer for every skin type, according to Team Byrdie? Keep on scrolling.

Skin Type: Oily

Koh Gen Do Maifanshi Makeup Color Base in Yellow $65

"The pale-yellow tint is specifically designed to diffuse and brighten dark spots and discoloration, which, as someone who is in the process of tending to post-breakout inflammation and acne scarring, is key. It melts and blends beautifully into the skin, and my makeup always sits on top of it evenly and without the dreaded pilling, blotches, or overall unevenness I've experienced with other primers. 

"It also boasts light-reflecting pigments and a host of skin-improving ingredients like mulberry root and rose extract, so I always feel like I'm doing my skin a favor in the long run (versus incurring an inevitable breakout)." — Erin Jahns, assistant editor

Faith Xue
Marc Jacobs Beauty Under(cover) Perfecting Coconut Face Primer $45

"This primer feels super refreshing and hydrating but also smoothing without feeling too slick and pore-clogging, which is a top priority for me, especially during the summer in New York." — Faith Xue, editorial director


Skin Type: Combination

Becca First Light Priming Filter Face Primer $39

"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 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." — Hallie Gould, senior editor

Tarte Rainforest of the Sea Radiance Drops $32

"As a combo skin type, I have clogged pores that are definitely a concern, but so is dryness, and I haven't had much luck with most pore-filling primers, which often make my skin look duller and flakier and my makeup bunchier than it looks without. But Tarte's versatile Radiance Drops, which come in dry-oil form, always make my foundation and concealer look super dewy and hydrated (either when applied beforehand or mixed into the products). They don't cause my makeup to slide off or make me break out. If you're a primer-phobe who wants a super-glowy look, I totally recommend." — Amanda Montell, features editor

Skin Type: Dry

Maya Allen
Becca Backlight Priming Filter Face Primer $39

"I'm on a mission to glow up all summer, so I absolutely love priming my skin with products that promise radiance. I go all in with this stuff. My favorite order to follow is to lather on my holy grail, Drunk Elephant Marula Oil, mixed with this priming face filter. Then, I'll add a pump of it to a drop of my foundation. You honestly can't ever have too much of this." — Maya Alan, assistant editor

Lindsey Metrus
Son & Park Beauty Filter Cream Glow $32

"This 'filter cream' doesn't make sense. It defies science, gravity, and all the odds. I'm definitely sensationalizing it, but in all honesty, after I apply it to clean skin, I feel as though my eyes are playing tricks on me. It's got the consistency of a lotion, so it's not your typical putty-like primer, but when the light hits it just right, it gives off an opalescent glow that blurs imperfections and makes you look like an ethereal angel. I'll use a light hand to apply foundation afterward so the glow can permeate, and for the rest of the day, there's a pep to my skin." — Lindsey Metrus, managing editor

Skin Type: Sensitive

Kaitlyn McLintock
A'Pieu Start-Up Cushion Primer $17

"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. It boosts the saturation and staying power of my makeup while keeping my sensitive, oily skin looking fresh, matte, and calm." — Kaitlyn McLintock, news writer

Want to find more products that work best for you? Take a look through these daily skincare routines for every skin type.

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