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15 of the Best Primers for Oily Skin to Keep Makeup Fresh All Day

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Photo by Caroline Tompkins/Getty Images

If you have oily skin, you probably need a primer formula that can effectively control all that excess oil without causing a reaction in your skin (sensitive babes, we’re looking at you!), while also keeping your makeup looking fresh for hours (us oily-prone individuals are all-too familiar with the dreaded makeup meltdown). Typically, a primer should create a flawless-looking base under your makeup, as well as minimize the appearance of pores, and it can sometimes even hydrate your skin, if that’s what you’re looking for. The goal is to achieve a smooth canvas to lay down your makeup application by using a primer that addresses your unique skin type, and the needs that accompany said skin type.

If you’re worried about finding a primer that is perfect for you, don’t fret; we've combed through our extensive primer list to find the 15 best primers for oily skin. Continue reading below to find your perfect primer match.

BENEFIT COSMETICS The POREfessional Face Primer
Courtesy of BENEFIT COSMETICS

This cult-favorite primer has earned a permanent place on our list of faves for being a tried-and-true staple that delivers on its promise to minimize pores. Not only does it create a blurring effect on all your imperfections, fine lines, and wrinkles, the oil-free formula also helps to absorb excess oils—which is a huge win for our oil-prone pretties and even our sensitive-skinned kings and queens. Use it before makeup application or apply it solo for smooth-looking skin with a shine-free, matte finish.

Ipster shellturn7 says, "This primer feels so light on your skin and it really does minimize pores. I love that it’s tinted too."

2. Best Drugstore Primer:

RIMMEL LONDON Stay Matte Primer

RIMMEL LONDON Stay Matte Primer
Courtesy of RIMMEL LONDON

If staying matte all day long is your top priority, this affordable makeup primer should be your new go-to. The oil-free formula feels super light on the skin and minimizes the appearance of large pores and shine for up to 8 hours. Makeup looks flawless and skin never feels greasy or heavy.

"This worked so much better than I anticipated," says Ipster Mmarfilius. "I am truly shocked at how well it keeps my makeup on and keeps me from getting too oily."

3. Best Multitasking Primer:

IT COSMETICS Your Skin But Better Primer

IT COSMETICS Your Skin But Better Primer
Courtesy of IT COSMETICS

This versatile primer keeps your makeup looking fresh and flawless, plus it’s packed with good-for-you ingredients like cinnamon bark and ginger root extract, which help your skin glow, with or without makeup. The oil-free formula also helps to hydrate and refine pores weightlessly—you’ll barely feel it on your skin.

"This primer makes my skin feel amazing and so hydrated," one Ipster says. Another writes, "I love a good all-in-one product!! I save this for days when I don't have time for a full routine and it's perfect."

4. Best For Eliminating Redness:

HOURGLASS Veil Mineral Primer 

HOURGLASS Veil Mineral Primer
Courtesy of HOURGLASS

This primer doubles as skincare, with a formula that works immediately to make skin appear smooth while also helping to even out your skin’s complexion over time. The weightless texture might fool you, but this formula is heavy duty when it comes to reducing redness (even rosacea) and minimizing the look of visible pores, imperfections, and fine lines. 

5. Best Weightless Primer:

LAURA MERCIER Pure Canvas Primer Blurring

LAURA MERCIER Pure Canvas Primer Blurring
Courtesy of LAURA MERCIER

A standard mattifying primer should both look and feel good on your skin, and this formula knocks both of those requirements out of the park. This fast-absorbing, silicone-free formula feels totally weightless once applied, and leaves your skin with a velvety-soft finish. Use it to lock down your foundation for extra long-lasting wear, or apply it solo for a little bit of mattifying magic.

6. Best For Combination Skin:

FENTY BEAUTY Pro Filt'r Mattifying Primer

FENTY BEAUTY Pro Filt'r Mattifying Primer
Courtesy of FENTY BEAUTY

This transformative primer makes oil control a breeze, especially in that finicky T-zone area. It keeps excess greasiness and shine at bay while hydrating your dry spots, and the weightless texture is silky, leaving your skin with a flawlessly matte finish. A blend of blue agave extract and blurring powder pigments keep those oil slicks under control while diffusing the look of pores and fine lines. It's even light enough in weight to wear under your moisturizer without feeling heavy or greasy. Wear it alone for an instantly airbrushed look, or pair it with foundation and concealer for a totally flawless look that lasts all day and night.

7. Best Soothing Primer:

TARTE Timeless Smoothing Primer

TARTE Timeless Smoothing Primer
Courtesy of TARTE

When your skin seems like it could use a moment of zen before your makeup application, try this skincare-infused primer that’s enriched with anti-inflammatory vitamin E, antioxidant-rich vitamin C, pore-minimizing green bean extract, and skin-smoothing mineral pigments. Let the calming ingredients set a smooth and perfectly primed slate for all that makeup magic. 

8. Best Hydrating Primer:

E.L.F. Poreless Putty Primer

E.L.F. Poreless Putty Primer
Courtesy of E.L.F.

Just because your skin is oil-prone doesn't mean you should steer clear of products that are hydrating. In fact, your skin may actually be overproducing oils to compensate for its lack of hydration (this is your cue to get a tall glass of water—pronto!), making a hydrating formula the least of your worries. This primer helps to strike that delicate balance where the skin is well-hydrated but never greasy. The secret? Fortifying squalane expertly blended into this weightless, fast-absorbing formula that deeply locks in moisture without leaving an oily after-feel.

9. Best Primer with SPF: 

MAYBELLINE NEW YORK Fit Me Matte & Poreless Primer with SPF 20 

MAYBELLINE NEW YORK Fit Me Matte & Poreless Primer with SPF 20
Courtesy of MAYBELLINE NEW YORK

A good SPF is always a good idea, whether it’s sunny summer weather or overcast winter greyness. This sunscreen-infused primer controls shine, blurs pores, and extends the wear of makeup —what more can you ask for, and at this price? 

10. Best For Sensitive Skin:

SMASHBOX Photo Finish Foundation Primer

SMASHBOX Photo Finish Foundation Primer
Courtesy of SMASHBOX

Those with sensitive and oil-prone skin are going to love this hypoallergenic, vegan, and cruelty-free primer made without oil or fragrance. All you need is a pea-sized amount to blur out your imperfections and minimize the appearance of pores. This primer also comes with an element of built-in skincare, as it’s enriched with vitamins A and E to help nourish and plump up skin from the inside out.

11. Best For Acne-Prone Skin:

ELF+ Matte Oil-Control Primer

ELF+ Matte Oil-Control Primer
Courtesy of E.L.F.

Create a (virtually) poreless complexion with this non-comedogenic, imperfection-blurring foundation primer that's perfect for acne-prone skin. It minimizes fine lines and the look of pores, thanks to oil-absorbing kaolin clay and acne-fighting tea tree oil. 

12. Best Primer For Mature Skin:

URBAN DECAY COSMETICS All Nighter Face Primer 

URBAN DECAY COSMETICS All Nighter Face Primer
Courtesy of URBAN DECAY COSMETICS

In addition to keeping oil under control, this primer is a great way to prep more mature skin types who are looking to smooth out fine lines and the visible signs of aging, before even bringing makeup into the equation. This silky-smooth primer leaves your skin feeling hydrated, nourished, and plump with a radiant, healthy glow. Aging, who?

13. Best Primer Plus Moisturizer:

THE ORDINARY High-Adherence Silicone Primer

THE ORDINARY High-Adherence Silicone Primer
Courtesy of THE ORDINARY

For the price of a latte, THE ORDINARY’s blurring primer both hydrates and mattifies your skin at the same time, for a shine-free finish with or without makeup. Use it to lock your foundation in place and visibly reduce the look of pores and imperfections. This nourishing formula works as a non-greasy hydrator that’s gentle enough for sensitive skin.

14. Best Silicone-Free Primer:

STUDIOMAKEUP Silk Hydration Face Primer

STUDIOMAKEUP Silk Hydration Face Primer
Courtesy of STUDIOMAKEUP

Check out the label of most priming products and you're likely to spot silicone near the top of the ingredient list, due to its highly effective properties that help you blur out your pores for a smoother complexion. While silicone isn't necessarily bad for skin, certain skin types may not respond to it well. If that's true for you, this option swaps out silicone for a set of gentler alternatives that effectively smooth and prep your skin without adding in the risk of breakouts or irritations.

"This primer replaced my prior primers," one Ipster writes. "It feels like silk when putting it on and a little bit goes a long way!"

15. Best Waterproof Primer:

ELIZABETH MOTT Face Primer

ELIZABETH MOTT Face Primer
Courtesy of ELIZABETH MOTT

This smooth, cruelty-free primer does all the things that a good primer should do (blur and perfect, the whole song and dance), and works overtime to make sure your makeup stays right where it’s meant to. The silky formula includes a luminizing blend of light-reflecting pearl pigments that create a subtle glow without getting shiny, and the sweat-proof and water-proof formula is also free of parabens. Your skin will thank you—now and later.

"OMG this primer is amazing," says Ipster missrita78. "Totally matte and makes pores invisible. Love love love this."

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About the author
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Elizabeth Denton
Elizabeth is a freelance beauty writer. Previously, she was a beauty & fashion editor at Time Out New York, Seventeen, & Allure. She has more than a decade of experience in the beauty and fashion world, writing for Nylon, StyleCaster, Cosmopolitan & more.
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Article Last Updated September 1, 2022 12:00 AM