Best primers for oily skin 2022

Prepping your skin with a primer before applying makeup is optional, but many consider it an essential step in keeping oily skin at bay. In addition to absorbing excess oil, this key product helps solve many complexion problems. “The primer helps reduce the appearance of pores and on some occasions provides color correction to balance redness or any other issues you may wish to address,” says makeup artist Jaleesa Jaikaran.

The best primers for oily skin also tend to smooth and fill in texture irregularities such as fine lines, creating a smooth base for makeup application and thus extending the longevity of your look. “If you want makeup to last, primer is the best option to achieve that,” says Jaikaran.

Ahead, we break down the nine best primers for oily skin, including options for a matte finish and one with ingredients to help control acne. Keep in mind that primer should be applied after all skincare products (including sunscreen) to be most effective.

Best overall primer for oily skin

A lightweight foundation that does it all

THE MOST POPULAR

In addition to controlling excess oil, Hourglass’ high-performance primer corrects redness, blurs pores and fine lines, and provides SPF 15 mineral protection, without weighing skin down or making it sticky.


Best Pore Minimizing Primer for Oily Skin

A cult choice that gives an airbrushed look

This cult primer minimizes the appearance of large pores in seconds. The lightweight, clear gel leaves skin smooth and airbrushed all day, whether worn alone or under foundation makeup.


Best mattifying primer for oily skin

A primer that stops oil in its tracks

By absorbing excess sebum, Fenty’s liquid primer keeps skin oily and shine-free without making it dry and tight. Instead of priming your entire face, it can also be used as a spot treatment to target extra fatty areas around the T-zone.


Best base for oily, acne-prone skin

An anti-blemish formula

If you have acne-prone skin, this multitasking primer is for you. It’s powered with Salicylic Acid, Tea Tree, and Vitamin E to treat and prevent breakouts while simultaneously transforming your face into a smooth, even makeup base. Reviewers rave about its long-wearing abilities and skin improvements after use.


Best illuminating primer for oily skin

An oil-absorbing base that leaves you looking radiant

BareMinerals Prime Time Brightening Primer


This primer makes a noticeable difference: when worn alone or with makeup, it makes skin look much more radiant, regardless of your skin type or skin tone. Plus, it’s infused with silica, an ingredient that helps absorb excess oil and blur the appearance of larger pores and wrinkles.


Best smoothing primer for oily skin

The Holy Grail of Makeup Primers

Oily skin types are ideal candidates for Tatcha’s fan-favorite Silk Canvas Primer, which has over 1,100 five-star reviews. The balm’s pressed silk smooths and blurs pores for an even foundation application that stays put all day, while the botanicals in the formula prevent makeup from clogging pores and causing breakouts. Pro tip: Use the round spatula instead of sticking your fingertips into the balm to keep it clean.


Best silicone-free primer for oily skin

A top choice for a smooth, matte finish

With blending powders and microalgae, this silicone-free primer gives skin a smooth, matte finish. The result? Makeup glides on perfectly.


Best Oil Free Primer

A primer that holds makeup in place

Lancôme La Base Pro Oil-Free Longwear Makeup Primer


Lancôme’s fast-absorbing primer gives skin a faded, satiny finish by diffusing light. In addition to setting makeup in place, this formula ensures colors stay true and vibrant.


Best Drugstore Primer for Oily Skin

A fast-acting skin-perfecting primer

This primer applies like a cream but sets makeup like a powder. It’s made with micronized bamboo powder to absorb excess shine and mattify skin upon application.


Frequently Asked Questions About Oily Skin Primers

What type of primer is best for oily skin?

If your skin tends to be normal to dry, Jaikaran says both water-based and gel-based primers will work well for you. On the other hand, if your skin is oily, gel-based primers may be even more effective, as they tend to adhere to makeup better.

Is the primer necessary for oily skin?

Although priming isn’t always necessary, it can be especially helpful in prepping the skin, whether it’s all over or in places that get particularly oily. “If you find that you tend to get oily, you can apply primer only to the areas where you need it,” says Jaikaran.

Is primer bad for oily skin?

Primers aren’t bad for oily skin, but some are better than others, especially when they have added skincare ingredients. Some formulations contain complexion boosters like hyaluronic acid and niacinamide, which help soothe and hydrate the skin. In addition, water-based and gel-based primers are gaining popularity. Additionally, Jaikaran says, “We find that many brands are excluding silicone from their primers.”

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