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
Best Pore Minimizing Primer for Oily Skin
A cult choice that gives an airbrushed look
Best mattifying primer for oily skin
A primer that stops oil in its tracks
Best base for oily, acne-prone skin
An anti-blemish formula
Best illuminating primer for oily skin
An oil-absorbing base that leaves you looking radiant
Best smoothing primer for oily skin
The Holy Grail of Makeup Primers
Best silicone-free primer for oily skin
A top choice for a smooth, matte finish
Best Oil Free Primer
A primer that holds makeup in place
Best Drugstore Primer for Oily Skin
A fast-acting skin-perfecting primer
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.”