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Everything You Should Know About Makeup Primer

A photo of Primer from IT Cosmetics

A true “secret weapon” of sorts, adding makeup primer to your beauty regimen can make all the difference between a beauty look that falls short and one that looks flawless and endures through the day. The fact that it only takes an extra minute or two of your time makes it even more of a must-have!

What is a Makeup Primer?

Just like a paint primer preps surfaces for a coat of paint, a makeup primer creates a beautiful base for your foundation, concealer, and color cosmetics. It essentially creates smoother-looking skin so your face makeup can glide on effortlessly and stay flawless-looking throughout the day.

Makeup primers are almost always a liquid formula (gel, cream, serum, or lotion) that you can apply with either clean fingertips or a makeup brush. It should be applied after your moisturizer and before your foundation.

What Does Makeup Primer Do?

As mentioned, the ultimate goal of a makeup primer is to help create a smooth base for your makeup while ensuring your look holds up throughout the day. Many makeup primers are formulated to go above and beyond this call of duty, though!

Depending on the formulation, makeup primers can help large pores look smaller, control oil production throughout the day, blur imperfections, and minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Some are even formulated with skin-nourishing ingredients that help hydrate and protect your skin while prolonging the life of your makeup.

What Happens if You Don’t Use Primer Before Makeup?

We’ll be honest with you: The world isn’t going to come to a screeching halt if you decide to forego your makeup primer. However, a few things can go sideways. Without makeup primer, some foundations and concealers can potentially settle into fine lines and wrinkles, which only draws more attention to them. You might also notice that your pores look more pronounced versus being blurred.

If you have dry skin, your makeup might look a bit flat, or you may even see more noticeable flakes or dry patches on your face. Those with oily skin may experience more of a smearing or unblended effect. And of course, if you forget to apply makeup primer then there’s a good chance your makeup won’t last as long.

Can You Wear Makeup Primer Alone?

Though makeup primer is typically layered underneath makeup, you can absolutely wear it alone. Its diffusing abilities can help create a soft, filtered effect over your skin, which can reduce the look of fine lines, wrinkles, and large pores. When products are formulated with skin-nourishing ingredients—like the ones we’re shouting out below—you can also enjoy their beautifying benefits without actually wearing makeup on top.

Our Favorite Makeup Primers

Have we convinced you to try a makeup primer, yet? If so, check out our favorites.

Your Skin But Better Makeup Primer+ Oil-Free

If you have oily skin, we recommend an oil-free formula such as Your Skin But Better Makeup Primer+ Oil-Free. Once applied, it creates a powerful, makeup-gripping base via IT Cosmetics’ All Day Grip Technology that’ll ensure your makeup stays put throughout the day. It also minimizes the appearance of large pores and boosts hydration for skin that looks soft, radiant, and healthy.

Real World Results: “Best primer I’ve used in a long time. Can be used with or without makeup and even without makeup it provides a polished appearance of skin and pores. Great for no makeup days,” writes an reviewer.

No. 50 Serum Anti-Aging Collagen Veil Primer

Those who want to tackle both anti-aging and makeup prep in one fell swoop should try No. 50 Serum Anti-Aging Collagen Veil Primer. It’s a total beauty breakthrough.

This multi-tasking, hydrating primer and serum in one is packed with a host of skin-loving ingredients that help lock in moisture and prevent dry skin, promote a more youthful appearance, and protect your skin from the elements.

Real World Results: “This is one of the best primers that I have tried. It goes on smooth and makes my face soft,” says one reviewer on

Now that you’re up to speed on makeup primer, read through these 8 Things You Should Never Do when using mascara!

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