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The 15 Best Pore-Minimizing Primers for Super Smooth Skin

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Friendly reminder: Everyone has pores—and for a good reason. We need them to produce sebum, the natural oil our skin produces to keep it healthy and moisturized. But as necessary as they are, pores can admittedly also often be the culprit of a few major skincare woes, such as excess oil and breakouts. And if you're after a super smooth makeup look, large pores can also make it challenging to achieve a flawless finish with foundation.

While we can't actually shrink our pores (pore size is, after all, genetically determined), we can use certain products to minimize their appearance. One of the best go-to for this job: pore-minimizing primers. Like primers for oily skin or primers for dry skin, these formulas are made with two specific tasks in mind: to blur the appearance of large pores and create a smooth canvas for your go-to makeup routine.

Ready to discover the best pore-minimizing primer for you? Continue reading below to discover 15 of our favorite formulas—a few of which have been featured in past Glam Bags.

1. Best for a True Matte Finish:

BENEFIT COSMETICS The POREfessional Face Primer

BENEFIT COSMETICS The POREfessional Face Primer

If your skin falls more on the oily side, causing most foundation formulas to slide around and look extra shiny, this oil-free formula might be a gamechanger. Not only will it blur large pores and fine lines, but it also creates a barrier between your skin and your foundation to prevent oils from wearing down your makeup. Finally, achieving a true matte finish may actually be within reach.

"I have enlarged pores no matter what I do, and this helps," says Ipster @Alciedalcie. Another says this is "hands down one of the best I've ever used!"

2. Best for Oily Skin:

DR. BRANDT SKINCARE pores no more® Pore Refiner Primer

DR. BRANDT SKINCARE pores no more® Pore Refiner Primer
Courtesy of DR. BRANDT SKINCARE

This lightweight, multipurpose formula blurs pores while also controlling excess oil, making it a great go-to for those with oil-prone skin. Whether you use to lightly perfect a bare face or as step number one in your makeup routine, the non-comedogenic primer effortlessly mattifies your T-zone, smooths skin without looking cakey, and can even minimize the appearance of your pores over time.

3. Best Longwear Primer:

SMASHBOX Photo Finish Pore Minimizing Primer

SMASHBOX Photo Finish Pore Minimizing Primer

If you've got a busy day ahead and you can't be bothered with touch-ups, reach for this water-resistant, blurring primer that's designed to last up to eight hours. The oil-free, mattifying primer is a favorite amongst everyone from makeup artists to oily skin types to those with acne-prone skin. Use it to create a super smooth canvas for makeup application or try applying it on makeup-free days to control shine and lightly disguise the look of large pores.

"One of the best products I have ever received and which I continue to buy," one Ipster raves.

4. Best for Dry Skin:

TOUCH IN SOL No Poreblem Priming Water

TOUCH IN SOL No Poreblem Priming Water

Lock in flawless skin and keep it super hydrated with this primer that comes infused with moisturizing and balancing rose water and rose oil. As it creates a protective barrier against pollution, dirt, and debris, it also helps your makeup stay shine-free—and, of course, it minimizes the look of pores for an airbrushed finish.

"Love this," one Ipster writes. "[It] has changed my makeup routine. It makes my skin look so plump and moisturized." Another Ipster adds, "This stuff is great. Unlike other primers which dry your skin out and make you look 10 years older, this stuff works as a great base without the cakiness."

5. Best Color-Correcting Primer:

MAYBELLINE Facestudio® Master Prime® Primer Makeup

MAYBELLINE Facestudio® Master Prime® Primer Makeup
Courtesy of MAYBELLINE

If you're looking to conceal both visible pores and discoloration, reach for this affordable drugstore primer. The green-hued formula expertly neutralizes redness while also blurring pores for a smooth, luminous finish that lasts all day.

6. Best Gel Primer:

RARE BEAUTY Always an Optimist Pore Diffusing Primer

RARE BEAUTY Always an Optimist Pore Diffusing Primer
Courtesy of RARE BEAUTY

With a unique, ultra-lightweight gel texture, this diffusing primer effortlessly minimizes the look of pores and fine lines, extends the longevity of makeup wear, and hydrates skin while keeping shine at bay. Plus, if you have sensitive skin, this primer has a number of perks: It's cruelty-free, vegan, paraben-free, non-comedogenic, and dermatologist-tested.

7. Best Drugstore Primer:

NYX Pore Filler Smoothing Face Primer

NYX Pore Filler Smoothing Face Primer
Courtesy of NYX

If you're new to using makeup primer and you're looking for an affordable, versatile formula that you can use daily, this one from NYX is a top contender. The lightweight, non-drying, blurring primer instantly minimizes the appearance of pores and fine lines while providing an all-over soft-focus filter effect that stays true all day long.

8. Best for Acne-Prone Skin:

FIRST AID BEAUTY Pores Be Gone Matte Primer with Fig Extract

FIRST AID BEAUTY Pores Be Gone Matte Primer with Fig Extract
Courtesy of FIRST AID BEAUTY

There's a common misconception that primers will clog pores and contribute to an uptick in blemishes. While it's certainly true that all primers may not be the best fit for acne-prone skin types, this formula is designed just for you. It features renowned acne-fighter salicylic acid, as well as inflammation-reducing oleanolic acid, and antibacterial fig extract. This primer even features optical diffusers that blur large pores to create a soft-focus, matte finish.

9. Best for Ultra-Longwear:

TARTE Poreless Mattifying Primer

TARTE Poreless Mattifying Primer
Courtesy of TARTE

If the SMASHBOX primer's eight hours of wear time still isn't quite long enough for you, we’ve got another option that can go the extra mile—er, hours, if you will. Made to last for up to 12 hours, this vegan, waterproof, and dermatologist-tested primer is designed to help you go touch-up-free from morning until you remove all your makeup at night. Not to mention the silky invisible gel texture that feels super smooth on the skin and the optical matte-blur technology that sends large pores packing.

10. Best for Combination Skin:

NARS Pore & Shine Control Primer

NARS Pore & Shine Control Primer
Courtesy of NARS

Looking for that Goldie Locks primer that's not too heavy but not too light? Here's your gal. With a nourishing gel-cream texture, the formula balances oil (thanks to African Whitewood, Oleanolic, and peptides) while also offering a light boost of hydration.

If your combination skin typically means you have a super oily t-zone and dry cheeks, you might even think about applying this primer to your t-zone and opting for an even richer primer for any super dry areas. It's all about finding what works for you.

11. Best Primer with SPF:

HOURGLASS Veil™ Mineral Primer

HOURGLASS Veil™ Mineral Primer
Courtesy of HOURGLASS

A favorite of makeup artists, this silky, oil-free primer has a lotion-like texture that glides over pores fine lines, and uneven texture. To top it off, it’s also free of parabens and phthalates, and boasts SPF 15 made with mineral sunscreen to protect your skin for the day ahead.

12. Best Primer for Mature Skin:

CIATÉ LONDON Watermelon Burst Hydrating Primer

CIATÉ LONDON Watermelon Burst Hydrating Primer
Courtesy of CIATÉ LONDON

Watermelon's been popping up in skincare like crazy lately and it's not hard to understand why. This antioxidant-rich ingredient fights off free radicals, reduces inflammation, and is incredibly moisturizing. Add sebum-balancing niacinamide, pore-minimizing witch hazel, and plumping hyaluronic acid, and continuing vitamin E, and you've got a primer that can promote a more youthful-looking skin texture before you've even applied foundation and concealer.

13. Best Primer for Skincare Lovers:

ORIGINS Original Skin™ Pore-Perfecting Cooling Primer with Willowherb

ORIGINS Original Skin™ Pore-Perfecting Cooling Primer with Willowherb
Courtesy of ORIGINS

Sounds pretty soothing and skin-smoothing from the title alone, right? Well, it gets better: this primer actually features a unique foam texture! It comes out frothy and chilly, snapping your pores tightly shut—putting a modern-day twist on the age-old beauty hack of washing your face with ice-cold water to minimize pores. Use it between moisturizer and foundation to give your oily, dry, or normal skin a refreshed and radiant glow.

14. Best Primer for Dewy Skin:

KALEIDO COSMETICS Dreamlust Pore-Refining Dewy Primer

KALEIDO COSMETICS Dreamlust Pore-Refining Dewy Primer
Courtesy of KALEIDO COSMETICS

Sometimes your skin becomes oily because it's actually dehydrated, which can, in turn, make your makeup look cakey. Avoid that thick, sticky effect by using a water-based primer to give your skin a boost of hydration, without unintentionally clogging pores. This one's made with nourishing pro-vitamin B5, jambu flower extract, and sea kelp, so it's great for sensitive skin types as well. As your pores become less visible, your radiant skin is able to shine through creating a dewy, hydrated (but not greasy!) glow.

15. Best Primer for Busy Mornings:

MILANI COSMETICS Prime Perfection Hydrating + Pore-Minimizing Face Primer

MILANI COSMETICS Prime Perfection Hydrating + Pore-Minimizing Face Primer
Courtesy of MILANI COSMETICS

This invisible primer is the ultimate time-saver for those days when you don’t have time to do a full skincare routine. With hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and aloe vera to hydrate, you may be able to skip moisturizer altogether. The fact that it also smooths out the complexion—we’re talking pores, fine lines, blemishes—is just the cherry on top.

Want to discover all the best products for makeup prep? 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.
About the author
Seetha Sankaranarayan
Ipster, gym rat, highlighter obsessed
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Article Last Updated July 24, 2023 12:00 AM