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 a ridiculous number of products, all promising to restore, or at least recreate the look of your once younger skin.
If you have oily or combination skin, 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 primer 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, many of these primers are mattifying, meaning they keep that midday shine at bay. 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 your makeup literally slides off, due to your facial Crisco factory.
My favorite reason to use a makeup primer is that it can minimize the look of pores, fine lines and wrinkles, because it actually fills in those tiny crevices. Indeed, 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 carefully applied makeup looking fresh for a lot longer. 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 can help soothe skin and color correct those ruddy tones.
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 its share of fine lines, and some full on wrinkles, I too want that gorgeous looking complexion that lasts long past my morning coffee.
Used with a light touch, primers can actually create such noticeable results, that you might consider giving up a little more of that shelf space in your already crowded makeup cabinet to make room for one of these 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 might make your skin 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.
- 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 for oily skin 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 control 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 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. Top Rated: Thank Me Later Primer
If you’re ready to take a bold leap into looking better than just good, this mattifying face primer is the perfect first step. Lightweight and waterproof, it creates a flawless canvas that locks in your makeup for the day, and keeps it looking fresh throughout.
It gets our thumbs up as a best primer for oily skin because it keep shine at bay, all day, without leaving you feeling dry or cakey. This non-greasy formula is paraben free, and cruelty free. It’s also pretty reasonably priced, along with wickedly well rated. We also love the fact that it’s unscented, so it won’t compete with your perfume, or be distracting throughout your day.
- Pretty easy on your wallet
- Fills in fine lines and pores
- Leaves skin smooth and velvety
- Very mattifying formula
- Can leave a whitish tint under makeup
- Thicker and harder to rub in than some
- Can pill under makeup if used to heavily
- Texture feels a little bit greasy
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. Colorescience Skin Bronzing SPF 20 Face Primer
We love face products that kill two birds with one stone, but this bronzing face primer from Colorescience does three jobs in one. Sweet. First it acts as a terrific primer for you to use under your foundation. Second, it’s bronzing, so it gives you the perfect summery glow, without wearing foundation. Third, this great primer has SPF 20, which makes us over the moon about it.
You could consider it to replace your tinted moisturizer, because it leaves your skin so silky smooth. Of course it extends the time your makeup looks perfect, but it has a few other cool tricks up its sleeve as well. It helps to resolve dark spots, blurs pores and minimizes redness.
It’s water resistant up to 40 minutes, so it’s the perfect solution to your no makeup beach days. This company is dedicated to “suncare cosmetics”, and we think this is a prime example.
- Gives you a smooth, flawless finish
- Minimizes the look of large pores, fine lines and wrinkles
- Waterproof for up to 40 minutes
- Contains SPF 20
- Costs a pretty penny
- Color might be too dark for some
- Can be somewhat drying
- Kind of thick and hard to spread smoothly
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.
- 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. Philosophy The Present Invisible Skin Perfector & Oil-free Makeup Primer
Your face could have a beautifully airbrushed look with this Philosophy primer for oily skin. This multitasking formula feels lightweight and it can function as your foundation primer, or wear it alone as a colorless skin perfector, skin barrier protector and oil-free moisturizer. It’s a great solution for those with oily skin.
This primer has natural anti-bacterial properties that make it especially helpful for those who suffer from breakouts. It can actually improve your skin. It helps to control shine, without clogging your pores. And because just a little goes a long way, this tube will last a long time. Just remember to let it dry fully before applying makeup, or things could get messy.
It creates a smooth palette for your makeup, and most definitely extends makeup wear, even in sweaty and hot conditions. The fresh smell is a bonus too.
Price: $17.48 (38 percent off MSRP)
- Oil-free formula
- Makes your makeup stick around longer
- Pore and line minimizing
- Keeps the shine at bay
- Has a tendency to separate
- Takes a few minutes to dry
- A bit heavy compared to some
- Can make skin feel tight and dry
Find more Philosophy The Present Invisible Skin Perfector & Oil-free Makeup Primer information and reviews here.