If you’re like me, you’re always in search of the next beauty product that will keep your skin looking younger, smoother and more radiant. That probably means you’ve got a cosmetics cupboard (and maybe a couple of bathroom drawers) dedicated to moisturizers, eye creams, wrinkle creams, tinted moisturizers, facial spritzers, neck creams and goodness knows what else, all in a valiant attempt to restore, or at least recreate the look of your younger skin. If you have oily or combination skin, the list of products you’re willing to try can grow exponentially, because lots of things make you break out, look super shiny or just feel heavy when you put them on. That’s why my search for the best primers for oily skin had me looking at those which were oil free, water based or had ingredients that would actually improve my skin in both the short and long term.
Why would you want to use a primer in the first place? Well, there are lots of good reasons they make sense. First, primers for oily skin are mattifying, meaning they keep that mid-day shine at bay for a much longer time. Some are formulated with micro-fine powders that actually help sop up the oil or even control sebum production, which is a big deal if you constantly find yourself using blotting paper or have discovered that you literally can’t keep your makeup in place, due to excessive oil production.
Another excellent reason to use a face primer or makeup primer is that it tends to minimize the look of pores, fine lines and wrinkles because it actually fills in those tiny crevices, meaning your face will automatically look younger. In my case, with somewhat older skin, that’s a huge benefit. If you’re specifically looking for that attribute, make sure your primer choice states that it has a blurring or pore minimizing effect.
The real reason most of us try our first primers is that they keep our BB cream, CC Cream or foundation looking fresh for a lot longer than if you simply used moisturizer and serum. Most of those we’ll look at here are silicone, dimethicone or water based, and they create an invisible layer that your makeup can actually hold onto, so it holds up throughout the day. Since many people with oily skin also fight acne, and its associated redness, green primers like those from SMASHBOX, e.l.f., and NYX can help soothe skin and color correct those red tones.
To me, primers once seemed like just one more layer of stuff that might clog my pores, so I was a little resistant to try them. But now that my once-smooth skin is showing more than my share of fine lines, some full on wrinkles, and even a few of those darned enlarged pores, I decided to experiment with some primers for oily skin. What I discovered is a fresher, more gorgeous looking complexion that stays looking that way long past my morning coffee. Used with a light touch, they can actually create such noticeable results, that you might consider giving a little of that shelf space in your already crowded makeup cabinet to make room for one of these Top 10 Best Primers for Oily Skin.
1. Best Buy: e.l.f Studio Mineral Infused Face Primer
If you’re looking to transform your oily skin into a flawless and smooth canvas for foundation, the e.l.f. Mineral Infused Face Primer could be a solution to a more beautiful you. It was specially developed to combat against excess oil, flaky dryness, enlarged pores and fine lines. This clear, multipurpose skin primer helps to prepare your skin so makeup goes on evenly for long lasting, and a matte finish. Even if you do have oily skin, you’ll do well to use a moisturizer with this primer or it could feel a little too dry. Consider using a moisturizer specifically made for oily skin. If you are prone to breakouts or ruddy, redness, the you might want to try e.l.f. Tone Adjusting Green Face Primer. To reduce the appearance of enlarged pores and fine lines, e.l.f. Poreless Face Primer uses tea tree oil and vitamins A and E to deliver anti-aging and restorative benefits to your skin.
- Amazon’s Choice
- Downright cheap
- Feels very silky and light
- Creates a smooth canvas for foundation
- Can leave skin feeling a bit tight
- May cause breakouts
- Very thin liquid
- Bottle size is deceiving as the product volume is pretty tiny
2. Maybelline New York Baby Skin Instant Pore Eraser Primer
If you’re looking for a perfectly primed and practically poreless complexion, this could be your choice, especially at this amazingly cheap price. This lightweight and breathable pore-blurring makeup primer leaves your skin with a smooth matte finish. This clear gel primer is non-comedogenic, which is super important for those of us with a tendency toward breakouts. You’ll also love the fact that it’s fragrance-free. Use a light touch with this primer if you don’t want it to feel too heavy or make your skin feel oily. Your pores are minimized and you can use a lot less foundation, if you want minimal coverage and taut looking skin. If your skin is feeling and looking fatigued after too many late nights, Maybelline Baby Skin Instant Fatigue Blur Primer can refresh and revitalize the look of your face. For issues around the sensitive eye area, Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Eraser Dark Circles Treatment Concealer also lightens and brightens to give you a more wide-eyed and awake look.
Price: $5.03 (5 percent off MSRP)
- Super affordable
- Effectively blurs your pores
- Silky and smooth feeling
- You can use it alone or with foundation
- Can feel a bit heavy when you first put it on
- Not as mattifying a some
- Doesn’t create long term effects
- May clog pores
3. Aritaum Pore Master Sebum Control Primer
At a surprisingly affordable price, the Pore Master Sebum Control Primer stands up to the competition of more well known, and much more expensive primers. This face primer is a breathable mineral polymer gel, that goes on light and smoothly covers pores and uneven skin. Infused with fine micro powder, it provides oil contol and a long lasting matte finish under makeup. Green tea extract makes this primer skin soothing as well as smoothing, and it effectively blurs pores for a flawless finish. While many Korean beauty products are heavily scented, this face primer for oily skin is more lightly scented than expected.
- Stands up well against more expensive primers
- Breathable mineral polymer gel helps to even your skin tone
- Lasts well throughout the day
- Helps to control oil and shine
- Not as pore minimizing as others
- Smells oddly sweet
- Not as effective under mineral makeup as some
- Can dry a bit patchy if patted on per the instructions
4. No Pore Blem Primer
This soft and silky gel primer goes on soft and silky, and gives your skin a lovely hint of pink color too. Made with proprietary Pore Cover Complex, it helps to diminish the look of large pores, lines and wrinkles and acts to even out your skin tone to give you a smooth surface upon which to apply your foundation. It has amazing lasting power, and at the affordable price, it performs as well as some brands costing five times as much. Formulated with sebum catching powder, it helps to fight that shiny, end of day (or midday in my case) look. This powder helps to control excess sebum. While this primer is a bit heavier than some, you’ll just need a light touch to keep your skin breathing, and to avoid issues with your foundation caking, pilling or failing to adhere. To brighten and moisturize your skin prior to makeup, Toc Toc Toning Capsule Base also helps to conceal pores and fine lines. To improve discolored skin, while boosting natural radiance, Touch in Sol Feel Like Honey Moon Skin Base is infused with hyaluronic acid, honey extract and hydrolyzed collagen to improve elasticity and firm.
- Performs much like far more expensive brands
- Very affordable
- Goes on smooth and silky
- A little goes a long way
- Can feel heavy if you use too much
- Not as pore minimizing as some
- Fragrance can be off-putting
5. L’Oreal Paris Studio Secrets Professional Magic Perfecting Base
Another primer with a pale blush pink tone is this one from L’Oreal Paris. First, it’s a great buy at just a bit over ten bucks. Second, it’s a silky, lightweight formula, but while they say it glides onto skin it’s actually a bit tacky. When it comes to putting on your foundation, that’s actually a good thing, and once you’ve rubbed it until you feel the product disappear, it definitely minimizes the look of pores and fine lines. Your skin will look and feel like it’s actually been smoothed and resurfaced. Because it’s great for all skin types, it’s a great primer for oily skin, and you can use it alone for a no makeup day or under your foundation on a regular day. This primer lasts well throughout the day, so your face can keep that flawless look from morning to evening. It effectively minimizes the look of fine lines, wrinkles and pores, but use it with a light touch or you might look cakey. If you have red or ruddy skin, or suffer from rosacea, the L’Oréal Paris Studio Secrets Professional Anti-Redness Correcting Primer is green toned to reduce the redness before applying your makeup.
- Very easy on your wallet
- Fills in fine lines and pores
- Leaves skin smooth and velvety
- Has an illuminating quality to it
- Feels pretty tacky until it’s dry
- Thicker and harder to apply than some
- Small amount of product in a big jar
- Texture feels waxy
Find more L’Oreal Paris Studio Secrets Professional Magic Perfecting Base information and reviews here.
Best Luxury Face Primers
6. Top Rated: SMASHBOX Photo Finish Foundation Primer
6. Top Rated: SMASHBOX Photo Finish Foundation Primer
This transparent, creamy gel primer for oily skin leaves your face with a smooth finish, while it blurs flaws. It extends your makeup, keeping it looking great throughout the day, with a more natural looking, versus dry finish. It definitely helps to minimize fine lines and wrinkles and mask the look of enlarged pores. The oil free formula is especially great for acne prone skin, and it helps your foundation glide on smoothly and look flawless. The fact that it’s fragrance free is a bonus for those of us who don’t like conflicting makeup scents. The lightweight formula works great, whether you use it under mineral powder or liquid foundation. If you’re looking for a similar product with a much smaller price tag, the NYX Studio Perfect Primer has similar qualities, but at less than a third of the price. If you love to go with the high end brand you know, this SMASHBOX primer is a terrific product.
- Oil free formula
- Super smoothing
- Fragrance free
- Very lightweight
- Darned spendy
- Similar to less expensive products
- Not as mattifying as some
- A bit watery
7. LORAC POREfection Mattifying Face Primer
If you watch enough YouTube videos about face primers, one thing you’ll notice is how many reviewers compare whatever primer product with LORAC POREfection. It’s often touted as their “favorite”, even though they keep trying others. I can see why. With this primer for oily skin or any other skin type, you can prime, prep and perfect your skin. With a mattifying result, this oil, fragrance and paraben-free primer is infused with salicylic acid and antioxidants of vitamins A, C and E to help skin appear healthier, and more youthful and radiant. The skin-perfecting formula helps to minimize the appearance of pores and fine lines for a silky-smooth, poreless-looking, matte finish. It also helps give you long-lasting makeup wear and achieve what looks like a flawless face all day. We all want that, right? To have an amazing set of eyes to go with your flawless face, try LORAC Behind The Scenes Eye Shadow Primer. Its anti-crease formula helps to correct imperfections on the eyelid and allows for smooth application of eyeshadows and liners.
- Mattifying formula leaves a smooth, flawless finish
- Minimizes the look of large pores, fine lines and wrinkles
- Oil and fragrance free
- Salicylic acid formula improves skin texture
- Costs a pretty penny
- Can feel heavier than some
- May cause irritation or breakouts
- Takes awhile to dry
8. jane iredale Smooth Affair for Oily Skin Facial Primer
This primer for oily skin increases your natural radiance and evens out skin tone, while you minimize the appearance of pores and fine lines and wrinkles. It’s a winner if you are looking for a primer that gives you a smooth matte finish. Jane iredale’s proprietary PoreAway™ technology, combined with state-of-the-art mineral science, helps you to create a flawless makeup canvas, and because of the advanced mineral technology, this face primer actually color-adjusts to your skin. Because it was developed especially for oily skin, it also soothes blemishes and visibly reduces shine with hydrated silica. Grapefruit extract in this face primer increases your skin’s luminosity, while green and white tea extracts deliver anti-aging goodness. For a great, matte foundation, try jane iredale PurePressed Base foundation infused with powerful antioxidants like pine bark extract and pomegranate extract. A spritz of jane iredale Balance Hydration Spray can help balance your skin’s oil production and leaves your face feeling and looking super refreshed.
- Leaves you with a smooth canvas to apply makeup
- Helps reduce shine and leaves a matte finish
- Mineral formula color-adjusts to your skin
- Soothes blemishes and skin irritations
- Super spendy
- Feels greasy to some users
- Effects don’t last all day
- May irritate skin
9. Dr. Brandt Skincare Pores No More Pore Refiner Primer
Those of us with oily skin often suffer from enlarged pores as well. Dr. Brandt Pores No More can definitely give you a quick fix for flawless, photo-ready skin. It instantly hides the appearance of pores and minimizes shine. The silky, smooth formula glides onto clean skin, under or on top of makeup, to leave an untinted, powdery finish. It also helps to regulate oil production, so your makeup looks fresh longer. Use it as a base to create the perfect skin canvas for your foundation and more. This velvety formula absorbs excess oil, minimizes pores, has serious blurring super powers to diminish the look of fine lines, and is resistant to sweat and humidity. Use it to prime, touch-up and treat your skin, while making your makeup look gorgeous. To deeply cleanse is key to any makeup routine. For a non-drying, pore refining cleanser, Dr. Brandt Pores No More Cleanser combines tea tree oil, willow bark and salicylic acid to dissolve impurities and decongest pores, leaving your skin feeling super clean. For a nighttime treatment, try the Pores No More Pore Thing with Evermat, a pore-tightening memory gel that’s perfect for stubborn t-zone pores.
- Does a great job of minimizing the look of pores
- Helps curb excess oil production
- Effectively blurs fine lines
- Reduces shine well
- Cost a lot of money for just a little product
- Doesn’t last as long as some
- Smells kind of odd
- Worsens the look of dry skin or blemishes
10. glo Minerals Mattifying Primer
You can instantly de-shine, refine and target areas of excess oil production with this silky, oil free primer. It preps and perfects your skin giving you a smooth, invisible matte finish. Not only does it help to eliminate shine, it also fills in fine lines and minimizes the appearance of pores while extending the wear of your makeup. This water-based formula is a great primer choice (as well as a foundation-extender) for anyone who is prone to an oily shine during the day. Oil-absorbing Kaolin clay is combined with line-filling silicone and water-binding glycerin to perfect your skin’s appearance. In addition, the water in this face primer formula provides a cooling sensation that instantly refreshes your skin. For coverage that nourishes, corrects and protects your skin, Glo Minerals Pressed Base Make-up is a skin nurturing, talc-free formula that is great for oily skin because it’s noncomedogenic and provides broad spectrum UV protection. And since blemishes are often a problem for people with oily skin, minimize the look of them, as well as acne scarring, hyperpigmentation or other visible skin conditions with glo Minerals Camouflage oil-free mineral makeup concealer.
- Light water based formula
- Absorbs oil and fills in fine lines
- Pore minimizing
- Extends your makeup
- It’s expensive
- Silicone can clog pores
- Tiny amount of product for the price