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16 of the Best Hydrating Primers to Perfectly Prep Dry Skin

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A great face primer can be a thing of magic: It keeps your foundation locked in place while also offering additional skincare benefits like blurring fine lines, preventing blemishes, and color correcting. You can even customize your primer based on your skin type. For example, while oily skin types may go for a mattifying primer to keep shine under control, those with dry skin may find that a hydrating primer keeps their skin looking dewy and plump all day long—no more layering foundation over flaky, dry patches. 

If your skin type tends to fall more on the dry side, check out our list of the best makeup primers for dry skin. No matter what skin tone you have, what type of makeup look you're after, or which skincare perks you may be in search of, there's a formula here for every beauty shelf. 

TARTE Base Tape Hydrating Primer

If you like TARTE’s famous Shape Tape Concealer, then you’ll love this foundation primer. It does more than keep your makeup in place—it’s loaded with healthy ingredients, like jojoba and grapeseed extracts, to help keep your skin hydrated for 12 full hours. Coconut oil nourishes, smoothes, and moisturizes skin with a scent that’s fresh, light, slightly tropical, and not at all overpowering.

Ipster Harris53815 left a rave review: “This primer is EVERYTHING. It doesn't leave my skin feeling oily. Actually, it feels very hydrating. And the smell. Omfg, I absolutely love it.”

2. Most Nourishing Primer:

LAURA MERCIER Pure Canvas Primer Perfecting

LAURA MERCIER Pure Canvas Primer Perfecting
Courtesy of LAURA MERCIER

Looking for a clean priming formula that you can feel good about using every single day? This water-based primer is non-greasy, super lightweight, and free of parabens, sulfates, fragrances, and silicones. Instead, it preps your skin with trusted ingredients like vitamin C, green tea extract, and aloe vera gel. The moisturizing primer's smooth texture and your super nourished skin create an ideal combo that can turn any foundation into longwear makeup. 

3. Best Primer for Skincare Obsessives:

MILK MAKEUP Hydro Grip Primer

MILK MAKEUP Hydro Grip Primer
Courtesy of MILK MAKEUP

Love a product that leans heavily on natural ingredients? This award-winning hydrating face primer is 94% natural, steering clear of silicones, parabens, oil, and other common irritants. Instead, it primes and preps with ingredients like hydrating and antioxidant-packed hemp-derived cannabis seed extract as well as anti-aging blue agave extract. And to combat dryness, aloe and hyaluronic acid come to the rescue. 

4. Best Drugstore Primer:

E.L.F. Jelly Pop Dew Face Primer

E.L.F. Jelly Pop Dew Face Primer
Courtesy of E.L.F.

On the hunt for big results on a budget? We got you. This affordable primer is chock-full of ingredients your skin will love: hyaluronic acid plumps and hydrates, niacinamide reduces redness and regulates oil, vitamins A, C, and E nourish and condition, and watermelon extract delivers protective antioxidants. Once applied, there's no sticky or tacky feeling left behind, just skin that looks hydrated, radiant, and dewy. 

5. Best Matte Finish Primer:

NARS Soft Matte Face Primer

NARS Soft Matte Face Primer
Courtesy of NARS

Just because you have dry skin doesn't necessarily mean you also always want a super dewy finish. If you're looking for a way to go matte without making your dry skin look even drier, try starting your makeup routine with this primer. With a soft-focus effect and a subtle matte finish, it helps to keep shine to a minimum. But here's what makes it so great for dry skin: It also features NARS’ exclusive Climate Balancing Technology—a dual-action system that adjusts to your environment to help retain hydration in dry conditions and absorb excess moisture in humid ones. It's just the balancing act your dry skin needs to go matte. 

6. Best for Sensitive Skin:

FIRST AID BEAUTY Hyaluronic Hydrating Primer

FIRST AID BEAUTY Hyaluronic Hydrating Primer

FIRST AID BEAUTY’s hydrating primer is ideal for balancing both dry and combination skin. The paraben and oil-free primer contains hyaluronic acid, so you can say farewell to flaky skin and hello to long-lasting moisture. Colloidal oatmeal calms sensitive skin, while light-scattering micro-pearls give your skin an airbrushed photo finish. Wear on top of your sunscreen (a moisturizing SPF is always important) and with a spritz of setting spray for a makeup look that will last all day.

Ipster blankenshiptraci gave this pick a rave review: “This is a good one! Hydrates well and does not feel thick or sticky. I am pleased with the results! Love this brand!”

7. Best for Ultra-Dry Skin:

TARTE SEA Quench Hydrating Primer

TARTE SEA Quench Hydrating Primer

Ipsters with super dry skin will especially love this moisture-packed primer. It’s proven to keep your skin hydrated for up to 12 hours. Super humectant hyaluronic acid boosts your moisture levels and increases plumpness and smoothness, too. Plus, a combo of amino acids and marine plant extracts help reduce the look of lines and wrinkles so your makeup lays evenly without creasing or looking cakey. Bonus: It smells like coconut—light, tropical (so you can start channeling spring), and so fresh.

Ipster Ksmith4164 agrees: “One of my favorite primers. This goes on so smoothly and gives the most amazing base for all your makeup. Super lightweight and has a nice light scent. Love it.”

8. Most Revitalizing Primer:

TOO FACED COSMETICS Hangover Primer

TOO FACED COSMETICS Hangover Primer

Missed a few hours of that precious beauty sleep? Don't worry–it happens, and luckily this primer is there for you. It combats redness, puffiness, and dehydration, all while boosting the staying power of your makeup. The brightening formula offers a natural dewy finish, courtesy of hydrating coconut water, so even without foundation and concealer, you'll look and feel bright, alert, and ready to take on the day.

Makeup artist and Ipster chaz_donahue even uses it on clients for their big day: “Another really good hydrating primer that I'm obsessed with. I've used this on my wedding clients who have dry or combination skin, and they love it!”

9. BENEFIT COSMETICS The POREfessional: Hydrate Primer

BENEFIT COSMETICS The POREfessional: Hydrate Primer

With your busy life, a good primer like this one is key to a fresh, long-lasting look. It creates a barrier between your skin and your foundation to prevent your makeup from wearing down or product from settling into fine lines. That means no uneven, splotchy areas. This option uses a combo of hydrating hyaluronic acid and moisturizing shea butter to leave skin feeling plump and dewy for up to 12 hours. After your moisturizer has completely absorbed, smooth a thin layer of this primer all over and press it into the skin. You can wear it alone or under foundation.

"My new favorite Benefit primer," says one Ipster. "So gentle on the skin and at the same time makes your skin look flawless."

10. Best Oil-Free Primer:

IT COSMETICS Your Skin But Better Primer

IT COSMETICS Your Skin But Better Primer

While most dry skin types may love nourishing face oils, they don't always agree with everyone. If you have combination skin or you just prefer formulas sans oil, try this oil-free formula that deeply hydrates while still leaving skin feeling light and fresh. Not to mention this formula's makeup-gripping properties are no joke. This primer will keep your foundation locked in place for hours on end. 

Ipster jenjen79915 adds: “Having to wear a mask and sweating makes it difficult to wear makeup (even if it’s on the top half of my face) this made my skin look nice without much makeup. Problem solved!”

11. Best for a Soft-Focus Finish:

DR. BRANDT SKINCARE Pores no More® Luminizer Primer

DR. BRANDT SKINCARE Pores no More® Luminizer Primer

Half skincare, half makeup, 100 percent magic. This skincare-meets-makeup primer from dermatologist-founded skincare powerhouse DR BRANDT SKINCARE gives skin an instant soft-focus effect that reduces the appearance of pores while also improving skin over time. The creamy formula contains illuminating powders that reflect light for a dewy, glowy finish.

Ipster kristinacremeans even loves it alone for a no-makeup makeup option: “This primer is a great stand-alone for hectic days.”

12. Best Balancing Primer:

ILLAMASQUA Hydra Veil Primer

ILLAMASQUA Hydra Veil Primer

Hydra Veil, which is both a hydrator and a primer in one, instantly moisturizes and smoothes your skin in one simple step. The futuristic clear gel formula is oddly satisfying and super addictive. Microalgae, vitamin C, and vitamin B3 work together to help maintain your skin’s hydration levels, so your complexion is perfectly prepped for foundation.

Ipster al3xandraxx is happy with the results: “This primer makes my skin feel really hydrated and a little tacky, which is great for putting on foundation. I've been using it for a while, and I enjoy it very much.”

13. Most Refreshing Primer:

COVER FX Water Cloud Primer

Not only does it prep your skin for makeup, but this feather-light primer also has a cloud-like mousse consistency with an instant cooling effect that will make your skin say “ahh.” Plankton extract helps protect your skin from blue light, which can cause inflammation and weaken your skin barrier (a weak skin barrier is a major cause of dehydration and dryness).

Ipster amberblasco noticed a difference immediately: “Creamy texture and feels cooling when applied. Noticed a subtle smoothing effect from the primer, and it did make my makeup wear longer.”

14. Best for Mature Skin:

JUICE BEAUTY Illuminating Primer 

JUICE BEAUTY Illuminating Primer

Hello, new holy grail product! This lightweight, silky primer helps blur imperfections and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Infused with antioxidant-rich botanical juices and coconut alkanes, it illuminates and soothes your skin. Plus, it’s loaded with vitamins E and C to hydrate and protect.

Ipstetr cfarrginton is a fan of the radiance it gives: “This primer is AMAZING. Makes my skin look like it is GLOWING! 10/10 recommend.”

15. Best Brightening Primer:

KISMET Pure Vitamin C Primer

KISMET Pure Vitamin C Primer

A primer that helps your makeup stay put and brightens you up? Sounds like a dream come true. This baby has skincare benefits thanks to vitamins C and E that help brighten your skin tone, nourish, and soften your skin. The silky-smooth texture instantly smooths pores and roughness so your makeup blends like a dream.

Ipster natashanicholson11 gives this primer the ultimate award: “This primer is the best one offered by IPSY! It leaves my skin super smooth without the heaviness. A perfect canvas for make-up.”

16. Best for Tired Skin:

YENSA BEAUTY TONE UP Essential Glow Primer

YENSA BEAUTY TONE UP Essential Glow Primer

If you've had a long night and your skin needs a major (and instant) pick-me-up, reach for this glow-boosting primer. In just seconds it corrects and blurs fine lines, disguises pores, and smooths uneven skin texture. Plus, the cocktail of nourishing ingredients, like black tea, shiitake mushroom, and chia seed, feeds your skin for long-term skincare benefits.

Ipster yyunuen08 adds: “In love. I love how it sets so smoothly on the skin and gives that extra boost when applying makeup. Helps prevent creases and makes for longer-lasting makeup.”

Want to discover all the best prep products for your skin type? Take our Beauty Quiz now to get started. Already an Ipster? Refer your friends to earn points, which you can use toward products. Either way, don’t forget to check us out on Instagram and Twitter @IPSY.

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About the author
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Cortney Clift
Cortney is a New York-based freelance writer who has written about beauty and wellness for more than six years. She was previously the senior writer and special projects editor at Brit + Co where she covered a wide range of news and lifestyle topics.
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Article Last Updated July 24, 2023 12:00 AM