Lisa’s top 10 primers

I became obsessed with face primers several years ago.  I’ve always had strange skin, products don’t last long on me at all – I put blush on and an hour later, it’s completely gone.  For a long time I thought there was nothing I could do about it – until I found a primer that actually made my makeup (and most happily my blush)  last a whole day.  After that, my obsession began, and I have owned and used over 50 primers.  This list details my top ten primers – each one is unique, they all have their advantages, and they are all excellent.  Which primer I choose is determined by the condition of my skin that day, my skin tone, and the foundation I am going to use.

My top ten list is not in any particular order – these are my top favorites, but they are all equal in terms of play time they get.

1.  Kevyn Aucoin The Sensual Skin Primer ($42):

This is actually the primer that began my obsession.  I used this primer one day and could not believe how vibrant and fresh my makeup was 10 hours later.

The texture has slip but it doesn’t feel extremely silicone heavy.  It dries quickly to a satin finish.  It keeps your makeup on like no other.  There are some drawbacks, though – it is VERY expensive for a small amount of product – less than an ounce.  I tend to use this on special occasions only to try to make it last as long as possible.  And while I love the hygienic pump bottle, it drives me crazy that I never know how much I have left.  Regardless, I will never be without a bottle – and a back up.

2.  Lips2Kiss Face2Flaunt Fabulous Facial Primer ($29):

Now here’s a nice, large bottle of primer for a reasonable price.  I love this primer, especially with aerosol foundations like ERA.

It has a thick texture and goes on dry.  It does contain silicones, so be aware if your skin reacts to them.  I love the way it keeps makeup looking fresh for a very long time.  I just have to be careful not to use it too many days in a row because I can have skin issues with silicones if I use them too often.

3.  Hard Candy Sheer Envy Primer ($8.00):

I love how this one has an SPF of 15 – multi-taskers are always a bonus.  I definitely notice a reduction in shine with this primer, and it doesn’t dry out my skin.

This is probably the thickest primer I have in terms of consistency, it smooths on and absorbs like a dream.  It’s a dry primer so it does not take long to absorb at all.  It’s great to use with mineral makeup because it’s not the least bit wet.  It also is fabulous to use if your concealer is on the dry side – this primer makes your skin so smooth everything applies easier.  It’s amazingly affordable, and easy to find – this is sold at Walmart.

4.  Pur Minerals Correcting Primer in Neutral ($31):

This is a really great primer, especially under liquid foundations.  I find that it evens out skin tone, even though it doesn’t really have a ‘color’ to it.

It has a thin, liquid consistency, and takes a few minutes to dry down.  Once it does, your skin is extremely soft and silky, not sticky at all.  It does contain silicones, but doesn’t have that super slick feel.

5.  Pur Minerals Colour Correcting Foundation Primer in Green ($31):

This is the primer I reach for when I’m broken out – the green color balances out redness from acne, broken capillaries, and rosacea.  It doesn’t make you look like an alien – the green transforms into a beautiful, even skin tone color.

The consistency is a little thicker than the Correcting Primer in Neutral, but it’s also fantastic under liquid foundations.  Less is more with this primer – you  don’t need much to neutralize redness and create a perfect canvas for foundation.

6.  OCC Skin Primer ($20):

This is a really cool primer.  Not only is it great for the face, but you can also use it as a lid primer for mineral eyeshadows.

It’s unlike most primers.  You HAVE to shake the bottle before squeezing some out – and then be careful when you do, because it has a very liquid, thin consistency.  Once you apply it to your skin, WAIT until it dries – it applies quite wet, but does dry down to a super smooth, satiny finish.  And boy does makeup stick to this stuff!

7.  Murad Skin Perfecting Primer ($35):

Murad is probably better known for its skin care, but this line has some pretty amazing primers.  Marcia reviewed her favorite here – and my favorite is the Skin Perfecting Primer.  This primer gives a matte finish which is perfect for my oily t-zone.

This is the only tinted primer on my list (well, except for the Pur Minerals green-tinted primer).  Because of the tint, I find it works extremely well with lighter coverage foundations and tinted moisturizers.  It evens out skin tone beautifully, and truly inhibits oil production in those difficult areas like the nose, forehead, and chin.

8.  Covermark Hydrating Base ($16):

This primer was formulated to be used with heavier coverage foundations.  As such, it’s a moisturizer as well as a primer, which helps eliminate dry patches that can be accentuated with a heavier foundation.  I am fascinated by how this primer actually does moisturize as well as help makeup last longer.

The consistency is very wet, so be sure to allow for a few minutes of dry down time.  Somehow this primer kind of sinks into your pores, so the full coverage foundations don’t become little dots all over your face. And you get a huge amount for a terrific price.

9.  Paul and Joe Protective Foundation Primer ($30)

This is, by far, the strangest primer I have ever used.  And I love it.  It has an SPF of 30.  It’s also super watery – you MUST shake it before squeezing the product out.  By the way, the packaging has changed since I bought this – now it’s in what looks like a squeeze tube.

It has a very thin consistency that dries down to a satiny finish.  And, it has super fine, really tiny microshimmers in it, which give your skin the best, natural looking glow.  The primer looks really yellow, but it goes on colorless – aside from the glow.  Your makeup lasts and lasts with this primer.  I find that I reach for it when I am using very matte, oil-inhibiting foundations like Clarins Truly Matte Foundation, because the microshimmers counteract the flatness one can get from very matte foundations.

10.  Cle de Peau Gentle  Smoothing Base for Pores ($75)

I have a love-hate relationship with Cle de Peau.  Some products I adore, and will buy despite the exorbitant price tag.  Other products I can’t stand, and I get offended at the price of items that do absolutely nothing for you.  This primer, however, is well worth the price.  At the same time, I get the sample sizes at the counter when I can – what I have pictured is a sample tube, which is great for travel and gives you several weeks of use.

This primer is a thick, creamy lotion.  You don’t need a lot of it – a little goes a very long way.  In fact, if you use too much you will get a distinctly white cast to your skin.  Use the right amount and it sinks into your skin nicely, leaving no white or greyish cast.  Your skin is super smooth, lines are filled in, and makeup goes on beautifully.  It also lasts all day.  Your pores look smaller, and it lessens oil production throughout the day.  Get a sample at the counter before investing, but I’ll bet once you try it, you’ll want the full size version.  I love this under cream foundation.

Most people probably only need or want one, maybe two different primers.  I happen to be just a *little* obsessive about makeup, so my collection is extreme – but if you are looking for a primer, I am sure you can find something perfect for your needs on this list.

Ok ladies, what is your favorite primer?  Is there another amazing primer out there that I just have to try??  There’s always room for one more!  – Lisa

Disclosure:  some products were PR samples, see our disclosure statement for more information


  1. I “DO” love using a face primer! I’ve never tried any of the ones you previewed however, based on the reviews and the cost I will be sure to try several, =)
    I have been using Make-Up forever in a green tint, love it. goes on dry and I’ve had great results.
    thanks for the detailed 411 and pics to boot!

  2. Laura Mercier makes a nice one!


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