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Primers are often dismissed as just another useless product, but we can guarantee that they offer way more skincare and makeup benefits than you could ever imagine.
Not only are they meant to keep your makeup in place all day long, but the latest formulas have been updated to blur out imperfections, fill in gaps between pores and fine lines, control oil and deliver brightening skin properties.
We’ve rounded up the best primers we (and shoppers) swear by.
A hydrating, makeup-gripping primer formulated with hemp-derived cannabis seed extract and blue agave extract. We’ll admit, it takes some time getting used to its sticky texture and feel (which goes away within a couple of minutes)‚ but it’s probably the best primer we’ve ever used.
Customer review: “If you are a girl who likes that dewy finish, this is for you. I feel like my makeup is part of my actual skin and not just paint when I use this. Beware, it IS extremely sticky, almost like aloe vera or hair gel, but what I like is that it doesn't use silicones like most primers do. Personally, I like the tacky feel on my skin because it rids me of dry patches that my makeup would typically cling to.”
SHOP IT: Sephora, $40
This liquid formula, a new version of Tacha’s bestselling original Silk Canvas Primer, protects the skin from pollutants and makeup, minimizing clogged pores while keeping your look set. It’s also made with Hadasei-3, a trinity of Japanese superfoods, green tea, rice and algae, that works to restore radiance.
Customer review: “Great product! After applying my skincare routine, I applied Tatcha Liquid Silk Primer to begin my makeup application. I have a bit of hyperpigmentation and immediately after applying this primer, I was able to notice a huge difference in the appearance of my skin. It completely evened out my skin tone, minimized the appearance of enlarged pores and smoothed the lines around my eyes. The product is creamy and hydrating but absorbs into your skin with a fresh matte finish, which makes a great canvas for your makeup application.”
SHOP IT: Tatcha, $70 ($52 USD)
This moisturizer claims to even out skin texture and minimizes the look of pores while its Anti-Redness Complex restores life into stressed skin, giving it a clean, dewy and balanced finish.
Customer review: “I've slowly worked my way through most of Glossier's products, and most I don't really like enough to buy again. But this one has become my favourite moisturizer. I use it just about every day and it's lasted for about 5 months. It's lightweight and isn't oily. If my face is extra dry (I live in a humid climate and when I travel to drier places my skin goes nuts) I can add more without issue since it's buildable. It's also an easy and convenient size for travel. I don't have a problem with the smell. It goes really well under makeup. I've tried more expensive moisturizes that I didn't like as much as this one.”
SHOP IT: Glossier, $27
This two-in-one primer is infused with vitamin C and illuminating pigments to deliver instant radiance to the skin while also extending the wear of makeup.
Customer review: “Best primer ever! It lifts and plumps my skin leaving my skin looking clean with a glow. It has truly helped even out my skin tone (takes away any redness). This product does NOT make my makeup cake or flake. It also wears very well when I don’t wear makeup. It actually makes me look like I have foundation on even giving me a finished glow. This is a must-have, never-run-out product! It’s worth every penny!”
SHOP IT: Sephora, $50
Known as a “priming phenomenon” among beauty lovers, this silky, lightweight balm contains a vitamin E derivative, which is known to protect skin from free radicals and gives it a smooth, soft-matte finish.
Customer review: “I have quite problematic skin and my pores are really noticeable under my makeup. I purchased this product in mini size as a trial but I’m absolutely going to purchase its full size. My foundation stays all day with this primer and my skin seems like it doesn’t even have pores. So, the primer is great and definitely worth its price.”
SHOP IT: Sephora, $43
This affordably-priced primer is formulated with a water-soluble base and active ingredients to blur imperfections to refine the look and feel of skin — and reviewers say it’s just as good as high-end products.
Customer review: “I have been desperately searching for a primer that would perform the way I wanted to. After trying several different brands, I decided to try Maybelline's New York face. The primer goes on easily and smoothly, giving my face an even canvas. I also noticed that the redness in my face faded to a point where you couldn't even notice. My foundation and powder went on more smoothly and I didn't look like I had taken a paintbrush and applied my makeup. I am SO happy that I finally found a primer that works for my skin tone.”
SHOP IT: Amazon, $13
The Brightening Youth Glow is a colour-correcting, moisturizing primer with Pearlescent Pigments, Green Algae Extract and Vitamin B3 to even the appearance of skin tone, blur the look of imperfections and enhance your natural glow.
Customer review: “I adore Brightening Youth Glow primer for the smooth, light, bright look it gives my made-up face — adding a pretty glow to my cheeks and forehead that gives me, at 62, a lovely skin tone. I use it daily and receive many compliments on my skin. I recommended it to a friend who remarked that my skin looked fresh.”
SHOP IT: Charlotte Tilbury, $65
This hydrating, colour-neutralizing primer is designed with cool light technology and a lavender pearl complex to minimize the look of dullness and imperfections.
Customer review: “Adds a beautiful glow to my skin. I just throw it on without foundation and it still looks amazing. I get compliments every time I wear it! It’s my favourite thing in my makeup bag.”
SHOP IT: Sephora, $51
Available in a variety of ranges to cater to your skin type and concerns, including redness and colour-correcting, it creates an ideal canvas for a long-lasting look.
Customer review: “This is a new product for me. I’ve not used a primer in the past. In the last few years, I have developed rosacea around my nose and cheeks. I did some reading online and applied this primer and I can’t believe the difference it made. It literally erased any redness on my face.”
SHOP IT: Amazon, $12
The reviews quoted above reflect the most recent versions at the time of publication.