IF someone told you that there was a cream that made your make-up flawless and long-lasting, would you try it? We know that's a stupid question, because of course you would.
Smoothing out your complexion, leaving it with a dewy base that brings the best out of your make-up, the best primers become a main-stay in your beauty routine.
Whether you're after a high-shine glow or a more subtle, smooth canvas, there are so many primers that offer different purposes, but the best ones tick multiple boxes.
Primer usually slots in-between your moisturiser and foundation, helping to give you an even complexion and keep your make-up in-tact throughout the day.
However, some people even use primer on no make-up days as they can help reduce blemishes, evening out your skin tone to give you natural radiance.
In short, there are so many reasons that you need one of the best primers in your life. And that's why we've – honestly – reviewed beauty's best-sellers to see if they live up to the hype. Let's find your prime.
1. Smashbox Photo Finish Super Light Smooth and Blur Primer
- Smashbox Photo Finish Super Light Smooth and Blur Primer 12ml, £16 from LookFantastic – buy here
If you haven't heard of Smashbox's Photo Finish primer range, then you're probably not that into beauty. Sorry, we called it.
The Smashbox Photo Finish Super Light Smooth and Blur Primer combines anti-oxidant rich Vitamin C and peptide to create an oil-free, water-based formula that's suitable for all skin types.
We put that to the test. First off, you should know that our skin is dry which is why we generally prefer shinier primers which give you a glow.
Smashbox's Light Smooth and Blur Primer is instantly hydrating with a cream texture that feels even softer than moisturiser. It comes in a 12ml bottle but you only need a small amount to feel as though you have a base for your make-up.
Our concealer and foundation sat smoothly on top of it, although the effects were so subtle because it is a really lightweight primer.
It leaves your skin looking clearer in a natural way, making this a top buy for someone looking for something to enhance their day-to-day look.
However, if you suffer from dry skin like us, you might find this primer a bit too matte – it's ideal for those with oily, acne-prone or combination skin.
2. The Ordinary High-Adherence Silicone Primer
- The Ordinary High Adherence Silicone Primer, £3.90 from CultBeauty – buy here
Another famous primer is The Ordinary's High Adherence Silicone Primer, boasting a staggeringly low price.
Promising to minimise pores, mattify and hydrate your face, this primer is apparently non-greasy and leaves you shine-free. Let's see.
After cleansing and moisturising, we took The Ordinary High Adherence Silicone Primer for a test run, instantly obsessed with its softer-than-soft texture.
The cream is thicker than you expect it to be, giving you a firmly smooth surface that sticks to your make-up in a way that looks well-blended.
As someone with dry skin, this was an instant love affair. The gentle layer of moisture makes the perfect base for foundation, plus it helped our makeup stay on all day (even after a blustery dog walk).
Our only fault is that again, the results aren't dramatic, it just helps your make-up sit nicely and ensures a flawless, long-lasting finish.
Top tip: don't apply too much because this is a thicker primer that might clog your pores if you over-apply.
3. ELEMIS Pro-Collagen Insta-Smooth Primer
- ELEMIS Pro-Collagen Insta-Smooth Primer, £58 from FeelUnique – buy here
Loved by stars from Victoria Beckham to Cara Delevingne, Elemis products have a strong reputation on the beauty scene.
At a higher price point of £58, the Pro-Collagen Insta-Smooth Primer is a blend of natural marine extracts of Alteromonas and Bacillus Ferment, promising to smooth, tighten and reduce wrinkles.
That's a whole lot of promises, so we, naturally, had stellar expectations. Before even trying it, the beautiful floral scent had us obsessed – we'd wear it as perfume if we could.
Besides giving you a gorgeously perfumed face, this is a show-stopping primer for providing that golden hour glow. We immediately felt fresher faced, our skin felt firmer and it gave our make-up a golden, dewy effect.
The results last all day too, leaving you with a hydrated face of well blended make-up – we're yet to see the anti-ageing effects but we have faith.
At first, we were apprehensive about forking out almost 60 quid for a primer, however the Pro-Collagen Insta-Smooth Primer exceeds everything you thought you knew about primers. Trust us on this one.
4. Glossier Priming Moisturizer
- Priming Moisturizer, £18 from Glossier – buy here
Is there any beauty brand as hyped by Gen Z and millennials as much as Glossier? We had to try out their Priming Moisturizer.
Glossier's formula features an anti-redness complex aiming to soothe your skin whilst simultaneously reinvigorating it with an oxygenating agent, for a balanced finish.
Although it's a moisturiser, it can be used as a primer which is why it's made our list. It feels like a moisturiser when you apply it, although it's slightly thicker, quenching your skin's thirst with hydration.
We found that it smelt a little bit weird, slightly of plastic? But after reading reviews on the Glossier website, no one else reported a funny smell which means it might just be our sensitive nostrils…
Used as a primer, it formed a wonderfully moisturised base which meant that our foundation and concealer sat on top without drying out or going crusty.
Our complexion felt more evened out, but we'd probably just recommend this one as a moisturiser and primer for someone trying to save some money by having two in one, or if you have ultra-sensitive skin and want to use as little products as possible.
5. e.l.f. Hydrating Face Primer
- e.l.f. Hydrating Face Primer, £7.50 from FeelUnique – buy here
An affordable but popular primer: e.l.f.'s Hydrating Face Primer is less than £8.
Combining an infusion of grape with Vitamins A, C and E, the Hydrating Face Primer does what it says in the name, working to give your skin a boost of moisture.
Unlike other creaming hydration-focused primers, e.l.f.'s is a bizarre, thick gel-like formula that feels matte, and ridiculously soft on your face.
It's scent-free too, ideal for dry, sensitive skin-types, although it can feel too much if you've just piled on your face moisturiser, so make sure you only apply a small amount.
Our make-up sat well enough on top of e.l.f.'s primer, particularly as it's such a steal for £7.50, although we weren't blown away with this as a firm or long-lasting option.
If your skin's oily, you might want to steer clear of this one. This is prime time for our dry-skin sisters out there.
6. Laura Mercier Pure Canvas Primer Illuminating
- Laura Mercier Pure Canvas Primer Illuminating, £34 from CultBeauty – buy here
If Laura Mercier's famed translucent powder is anything to go by, the Pure Canvas Prier Illuminating could be the one to get you glowing.
Infused with porcelain flower extract, this primer is a blend of micronised pearls, aiming to rejuvenate tired skin with a healthy shine.
Coming in a generous 50ml bottle, Laura Mercier's Illuminating primer sure looks illuminating from first glance: it's a rose gold, metallic cream that could definitely pass as highlighter.
As lovers of high-shine primers, we were really excited to see the results, and they're definitely sparkling. As in, our skin looked slightly shimmery with this on over our moisturiser.
Although it's not extremely moisturising, it does give you that golden hour glow that everyone talks about and your make-up goes on nicely over the top.
It's illuminating enough to give you a healthy-looking shine but not as OTT as you'd expect from the shimmering formula.
7. Milk Makeup Hydro Grip Primer
- Milk Makeup Hydro Grip Primer, £27 from CultBeauty – buy here
Beauty best-seller: Milk Makeup's Hydro Grip Primer boasts a hydrating grip of all grips for your make-up.
Using hemp-derived cannabis seed extract and blue agave extract, aloe water, Hyaluronic Acid, B vitamins and cherry blossoms, this priming formula has a solid fanbase.
And when it says it hydrates, it definitely does that 10 times over. The wet, gel-like formula leaves your skin looking low-key oiled up at first, but it soaks into your skin quickly leaving a sticky base for your make-up.
Our full face of make-up sat well on top of this primer as it leaves your skin looking dewy as ever, maybe a little too much if your skin is oily or acne-prone.
As it's neither firming nor shiny, this is more of a primer made for people who want a healthy-looking complexion and makeup that won't budge throughout the day.
Don't worry if £27 is too pricey for you, it also comes in a 10ml bottle for just £13. Bargain.
Whilst you're here, check out our reviews of the best hand creams to shop now.
Oh, and we've found the best cleansers around.
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