Top 10

The best make up primers for every scenario

One of the first things one learns when painting with oils is to treat the canvas with Gesso first. This protects the precious fabric as it covers any cracks providing a nice even surface for subsequent colour. Masterpieces that haven’t been through this process don’t last as long a theory that extends to painting with {make up} which is why we’ve rounded up the perfect {primers} for a swathe of different skin types (and scenarios).

Backstage at fashion shows and shoots, Embryolisse {Lait-Crème Concentre} has historically been the primer of choice as it perks up and moisturises the face for a lovely even make up application; but the needs of a model for a shoot or show are rather different from say, a first date. The latest primers not only prep the skin, they also answer a wide variation of skin types and needs.


It’s virtually impossible not to think of Benefit’s {The POREfessional Primer} when primers enter the chat – the pore-fecting base is quite literally a Cult classic. Enter {The POREfessional: Pearl Primer} – a snazzy upgrade for those who are looking for added brightening power as well as the same silky-smooth, lightweight, oil-free formula. With all of the pore-punishing properties of the original, The POREfessional: Pearl Primer gives a soft-focus finish, diminishes the look of pores and locks in make up, all while boasting a brightening effect that boosts the complexion with a whisper of soft, pearly pink. It’s time to get LIT from within!


For the oil-slick among us, the {Your Skin But Better Oil Free Makeup Primer} reduces shine (no more glare from your forehead distracting you during video calls…) while hydrating and creating a perfected, velveteen base for make up – no filter necessary. Try this featherweight base if you want to extend the wear of your make up while keeping your face comfortably plump (there’s no tightness or dryness), shine-free and smooth – with ‘All Day Grip’ technology grabbing onto make up and ensuring you look Zoom-ready aaall day long.


When we think about trustworthy primers, we think of {Smashbox} and their {The Original Photo Finish Smooth & Blur Primer} in particular. World-renowned for their range of primers that were created to not only withstand the hard lighting, residual heat and high-definition cameras from a photo studio but deliver the same results in everyday life too, you can trust this bestselling formula to blurs imperfections, cast a smooth canvas and protect your skin from damaging free radicals, thanks to antioxidants vitamin A and E! Oil-free and lightweight, this vegan and cruelty-free formula is perfect for all skin types.


The perfect post-night-out pick-me-up, the Urban Decay {Quick Fix Hydra-Charged Complexion Prep Spray} is ideal for those lazy days where you’d like your make up to look just as banging as your head… is. Simply spritz this onto skin for a refreshed, awake and nourished look post-party or sleepless night. Fuelled with vitamin B3, Sepitonic M3 and coconut water, the Quick Fix Hydra-Charged Complexion Prep Spray boosts the complexion with moisture, for a visage that’s perfectly primed and balanced.


For those who tend to shine for the wrong reasons, opt for a blurring and matiffying formula. Perfect for oily and blemish-prone skin types, NARS {Pore & Shine Control Primer} is oil-free and brimming with soft-focus powders to counteract sheen while a cocktail of antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and oil-absorbent extracts – including African whitewood and oleanolic acid – keep skin looking matte (but not flat) and diminish the look of enlarged pores or breakouts (while helping to speed their demise).


As we age, the terrain of our face creates ways for make up to crease, cake and migrate but thankfully, {Victoria Beckham Beauty} has something to meet your skin’s needs: the {Cell Rejuvenating Priming Moisturizer} not only looks exquisite, but is formulated in collaboration with the time-defying pioneer, Augustinus Bader, whose TFC8 Complex helps cells to keep making all of the collagen needed to maintain (and even recover!) your skin’s former firmness. With light-scattering pigments to lend a soft, luminous look, this is great on its own, or to lend your foundation a flatter ‘soft focus’ finish.


Oily skin types do age well, but make up placed on top of them does not. Huda Beauty’s {Matte Perfection Pre-Makeup Base} is like velcro for your make up, and keeps it looking velvety ’til bedtime… whensoever that may be. A bit like a sponge, this featherlight formula mops up the sebum that causes foundation to slip so you don’t need to reach for the mirror to see where your make up’s migrated to – it’s still exactly where you left it (hallelujah!).


Primer and finishing mist, Charlotte Tilbury’s {Airbrush Flawless Setting Spray} is a multitasking maverick. The newest member of the famous ‘Airbrush’ family, this mythical spritz keeps your base looking freshly applied for up to 16 hours, thanks to its film-forming polymers, dew-boosting aloe vera and an aromatic resin which protects and blurs while ‘gripping’ your foundation like its life depends upon it. Delicately scented to refresh your face and headspace, it’s prime you were acquainted with this cooling, fixing formula…


With a heavy hit of plant-derived oils, as well as moisturising, soothing and balancing aloe water, cherry blossom, hyaluronic acid and B vitamins, Milk Makeup’s {Hydro Grip Primer} hydrates for a smooth, blissed-out finish. The addition of blue agave extract forms an invisible layer to ‘grip’ make up for 12-hour hold, and in consumer studies, 100% of subjects said their skin was more hydrated with a healthy-looking glow.


If you have uneven skin tone or hyper-pigmentation and don’t want to wear a thick foundation, Pixi’s {+C VIT Brightening Corrector} can be worn under a tinted moisturiser for a brighter, longer-lasting look. With vitamin C to diminish dark spots, alongside antioxidant ferulic acid to protect against the damaging effects of pollution, and liquorice extract to fade pigmentation, this has quick and cumulative benefit – unifying skin tone and ‘undoing’ signs of sun damage.


Cult Beauty

Cult Beauty

Writer and expert