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Best Primer Oil (review) in 2020

Last Updated on by Leanne Perilly

Primer oils are lightweight oil-based products designed to hydrate the skin in preparation for base layers of makeup, such as foundation and concealer. It is common for many makeup lovers to skip this crucial step in their makeup routine, however, this is perhaps one of the most essential products for prepping the skin prior to makeup application. Their use alone provides a dewy, supple surface to the skin for natural no-makeup days, in addition to providing a moisturising layer for smooth, flawless makeup application. These primers ultimately produce an airbrushed finish to the face, concealing prominent pores and blemishes, all while preventing clogged pores.

Best primer oil

1
 NYX Professional Makeup Honey Dew Me Up Primer
(My Choice)

NYX are an up-and-coming beauty brand, specialising in high quality makeup products. Their Professional Makeup Honey Dew primer is a must-have essential for reducing prominent discolouration of the skin, including redness. This is a gel-based primer, containing golden flecks and elements of honey to produce a radiant and reflective underlayer to both natural and heavy makeup. This primer also contains skin-soothing ingredients, such as jasmine and lavender, acne-busting hyaluronic acid, and skin-firming natural collagen. These aim to boost the skin’s natural elasticity to reduce fine lines and wrinkles. This product is applied over cleansed, moisturised skin, 2 minutes prior to foundation application.

Pros
R

Tackles acne-prone skin

R

Improved skin elasticity

R

Reduces redness and discolouration

R

Affordable

Cons
Q

Can appear sticky before absorption

Latest Deal: NYX Professional Makeup Honey Dew Me Up Primer

2
Smashbox Photo Finish Oil Primer
(prime pick)

The Smashbox Photo Finish Oil Primer is a sought-after favourite of celebrities and makeup artists, such as Maddie North. This primer is a must-have for makeup lovers with particularly dry skin, as its oil-based formula aims to lock hydration and moisture into the skin all day long. This product aims to brighten complexion of the skin with just 2-3 drops per use, making skin appear more youthful and glowy. For best results, this primer should be used both morning and night, and is applied by massaging into the face and neck with your fingertips until fully absorbed.

Pros
R

Instantly tightens and brightens skin

R

Youthful glow

R

Provides all-day hydration

R

Useful for dry skin types

Cons
Q

Not suitable for oily skin

Latest Deal: Smashbox Photo Finish Oil Primer

3
Benefit The Porefessional Primer
(Best value)

The Porefessional Primer by Benefit is a highly popular primer for smoothing out noticeable pores and imperfections, prior to makeup application. Highly popular with many A-list celebrities, this primer oil is more of a cream-based product, providing hydration and high-coverage to particularly greasy and oily skin. Not only does this primer help to provide an airbrushed complexion, its uses stretch further, with consumers finding its use alone smooths out blemishes and other imperfections without the need for makeup. Two sizes of this product are available, so a smaller test size can be trialled before committing to buying the larger version.

Pros
R

Beneficial for oily skin types

R

Matte finish

R

Blurs noticeable pores

R

Slight tint, providing a natural glow

Cons
Q

Silicone-based, so not suited to acne-prone skin

Latest Deal: Benefit The Porefessional Primer

4
24K Gold Essence Collagen Skin Face Moisturizing Hyaluronic Acid Anti-Ageing Primer

This product is considered the underdog of the beauty world, providing a range of skincare and makeup application benefits. This is a multipurpose primer that can be used beneath makeup or alone, with a luxurious feel due to its embedded gold flecks and luxury packaging. Its ingredients allow for locked-in moisture, anti-radiation, anti-aging, pore minimising and anti-acne benefits. Its gold foil essence and hyaluronic acid together help to remove dirt and maintain healthy skin, doubling up as a skincare regime as well as a primer. Its collagen base allows for improved elasticity, making skin appear more youthful.

Pros
R

Non-sticky

R

Fast absorption

R

Anti-aging, anti-radiation and anti-acne benefits

R

Collagen provides skin elasticity and strength

Cons
Q

Slight fragrance (less suitable for sensitive skin)

Latest Deal: 24K Gold Essence Collagen Skin Face Moisturizing Hyaluronic Acid Anti-Ageing Primer

5

MAC Prep + Prime Skin

This primer is scientifically designed to target and improve oily skin types, which are often subject to poor makeup longevity throughout the course of the day. Its gel-based formula comprises antioxidants, caffeine and green tea extract, to both maintain skin health and boost its natural elasticity. This primer can be applied to bare skin for a natural no-makeup look, or can equally be applied as a base to foundation. Its soothing properties also aim to cool the skin, making pores appear tighter, smaller and therefore less prominent. Additionally, this primer effectively evens out skin tone, providing an all-over dewy glow.

Pros
R

Antioxidant agents soothe sensitive skin

R

Caffeine awakens and brightens skin

R

Dewy, glass-skin complexion

R

Beneficial for oily skin

Cons
Q

Best utilised on oily skin, rather than dry

Latest Deal: MAC Prep + Prime Skin

6

Nars Cosmetics Pore & Shine Control Primer

This primer comprises a lightweight oil-free formula, which aims to provide hydration to the skin while keeping excess oil and natural sebum at bay. Its soft-focus finish gives the skin an airbrushed complexion, free of large imperfections and prominent pores. This primer provides a particularly smooth and organic second layer to the skin, appearing dewy and naturally glowing. This product can be used alone or as an underlying base to additional makeup products.

Pros
R

Oil-free formula

R

Semi-matte finish

R

Airbrushed complexion

R

Minimises appearance of pores

Cons
Q

Best for oily skin types, rather than dry

Latest Deal: Nars Cosmetics Pore & Shine Control Primer

7

Becca Ever Matte Poreless Priming Perfector

This primer is a must-have essential for particularly oily skin. Its silicone and oil-free formula allows the oiliest of skin to become seamlessly mattified, appearing smooth and poreless. This product aims to reduce shine and provide an instant tightening effect to the skin, resulting in a matte-finished youthful complexion. Additionally, this primer is free from all alcohol, phthalates, fragrance and silicone agents, making this a suitable product for more sensitive skin types.

Pros
R

Fragrance free (suitable for sensitive skin)

R

Tightens the skin

R

Matte finish

R

Silicone and alcohol-free (non-drying formula)

Cons
Q

Best results when used with makeup, rather than alone

Latest Deal: Becca Ever Matte Poreless Priming Perfector

Best Primer Oil Buyers Guide 

When comparing primer oils currently on the market, it is important to consider the most important characteristics of a good primer:

  • Highly moisturising and hydrating
  • Non pore-clogging
  • Blurs pores and imperfections
  • Not drying

The primers discussed here all demonstrate these qualities, each with additional unique benefits. These products vary in terms of price, customer reviews and overall quality, and it is important to consider these features when choosing the primer oil best suited to your particular skin type.

Different primer oils are suited to different functions and consumers. Some are more suitable for dry skin, some for oily or acne-prone skin, and some produce either dewy or mattified finishes. Additionally, some may provide extra hydration, while others provide more of a drier, gel-like base for makeup. It is crucial to decide upon the primer best applicable for your individual skin type.

Recurring best features

The following points are some of the best recurring features of the products mentioned above: 

Moisturising and hydrating – all primer oils have varying degrees of hydration and moisturising capabilities. Some are designed to lock-in moisture, to maintain the suppleness and plumpness of the skin, while others are designed to sit atop the skin’s surface, providing a protective, but breathable, barrier against excess oil production and accumulation. 

Matte or dewy finish – some primers are designed to provide a dewy, sleek finish to the skin, whereas others aim to mattify the surface of the skin. Which primer to choose generally depends on your personal preference – some prefer the wet look, while others prefer a more simple, plain base for further makeup application. Neither feature is inherently right or wrong, but instead relies on the desired look you are trying to achieve. 

Blurs pores and imperfections – When looking to purchase a primer, it is first important to ask whether a particular brand will perform as you want it to. Primers are generally used to fill and blur prominent imperfections, such as redness, scarring or pores. With regards to the products mentioned in this article, each of the primers offers this feature.

Fragrance free – another important feature of primers to consider is their fragrance. It has been suggested that products comprising a strong scent are often less sensitive on the skin, sometimes capable of causing irritation on damaged or broken areas of skin.

When considering which primer to buy, this is important to weigh-up. If your skin is particularly robust and you have a well-defined skin routine, trading an expensive primer for a less expensive primer which features a fragrance may work for you. However, this may not apply for those with more sensitive skin types.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

The following questions are commonly asked regarding primer oils:

Are primer oils an essential step of any makeup routine?
Many makeup lovers question whether primer oils are an essential step for makeup application. Their use provides a noticeable difference in the longevity and overall complexion of a makeup look. In their absence, makeup can appear patchy and dry overtime, with many products beginning to wear-off after several hours.

With primer use, makeup (particularly foundation) will stay in place for the majority of the day, with little need for regular touch-ups. It has been said that makeup with a primer base can last between 12-16 hours, whereas this reduces to approximately 5 hours in its absence.

So while primer oils are not inherently essential to achieve a makeup look, they are key to maintaining that desired look for longer periods of time.

Are primer oils good for the skin?
Many consumers question whether a primer’s high oil-content has difficulty absorbing into the skin. The ingredients they contain are often a combination of rose, lavender, and raspberry seed oils. These have vastly different properties from many of the oils we handle in everyday life. Those contained within primers are absorbed into the skin more rapidly, without leaving behind a slippery residue, making them suitable for providing a smooth, sleek base for foundation application. 

That being said, it can be difficult for primer oils to perfect the balance between maintaining hydration while also avoiding sitting on the surface of the skin for longer than necessary. It is important to determine your specific skin type, to allow you to buy the primer best suited to your skin (ie. some oil-based products have different functions and roles in skincare).

Summary

Primer oils are a useful step for all makeup routines – whether you are aiming to achieve a natural, or a dramatic evening look. Not only is primer oil a particularly crucial step, its application is also seemingly simple and affordable, with the majority available at a price between £8 – £40.

Inbuilt with a range of beneficial skincare ingredients, primer oils can change a makeup look from drab to fab, by taking just an extra 2 minutes out of your day. There are a range of primer oils available for all skin types, meaning people facing all sorts of skin difficulties (acne, wrinkles, fine lines, discolouration, scarring) could benefit from their use.

The products listed here provide a good starting point to improving these skin struggles. With both day and night application, anyone’s skin can be glowing with these products.

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