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11 Best Primers for a Flawless Makeup Look

Reader's Digest Logo By Bethany Heitman of Reader's Digest | Slide 1 of 12: We've all been there: A few hours after putting on a face full of makeup, we catch a glimpse of ourselves in a mirror and discover our formally flawless face is flaky, cakey, and smeared. It's certainly less than ideal. After all, if you've gone to the trouble of learning how to apply foundation, the last thing you want is for it to look cakey or to slide right off your skin. That's where primer comes in. The best primer can seriously change your makeup game. Applying this miracle product before you put on one of the best foundations and best concealers can ensure your makeup glides on smoothly and stays put. "Primer can help even out the texture of your skin, control oil or dryness, and help makeup grip to the skin so it lasts all day," says Jamie Greenberg, a Los Angeles–based celebrity makeup artist. Sounds pretty great, right? You can wear primer every day under your makeup, but you may not need to. "I do not think a traditional primer is necessary for everyday use. If your skin is hydrated, exfoliated, and your products are packed with nourishing, skin-loving ingredients, then you most likely will not need one because your products will sit well on the skin," says Stevie Rose, a professional makeup artist and the director of education for beauty brand Saie. "With that said, I definitely do recommend a primer for special occasions where you have more time to spend on your routine and you need your makeup to last longer." Tips for applying primer Before you can apply primer, you need to find the best primer for your skin. "Look for one that addresses your skin issues," says Beck Wainner, a celebrity makeup artist in Nashville. "If you're oily in the T–zone, you may look for a mattifying primer. Or there are options that can address large pores, textured skin, and redness." So, what's the best way to apply it? You'll want to smooth primer onto your skin after your normal skin care routine but before you apply face makeup," says Manuel Espinoza, a makeup artist with StyleSeat, a website for booking a local makeup artist. You need about a dime-sized amount for your entire face and can either use your fingers or a makeup sponge to spread it. Armed with that info, you're now ready for the fun part: shopping. Whether you like to buy products one at a time or make a big list for savings events (we're looking at you, spring Sephora sale), a primer is definitely something worth adding to your cart. We've done the hard work for you, consulting with top makeup artists and sorting through hundreds of products to find the ones with lots of five-star ratings and amazing user reviews. Scroll through to check out the best primers on the market. The best primer for you Best overall: Milk Makeup Hydro Grip Hydrating Makeup Primer Best multitasker: MAC Prep and Prime Fix+ Primer and Setting Spray Best for blurring pores: Rare Beauty Pore Diffusing Primer Best value: Elf Hydrating Face Primer Best for oily skin: It Cosmetics Your Skin but Better Makeup Primer+ Best for staying power: Dior Backstage Face and Body Primer Best lightweight formula: Tatcha the Liquid Silk Canvas Featherweight Protective Primer Best editor-tested: Elf Poreless Putty Primer Best dewy finish: Saie Glowy Super Gel Lightweight Dewy Highlighter Best matte finish: Smashbox Photo Finish Control Mattifying Face Primer Best for dry skin: Laura Mercier Pure Canvas Primer Hydrating

The key to flawless makeup

We've all been there: A few hours after putting on a face full of makeup, we catch a glimpse of ourselves in a mirror and discover our formally flawless face is flaky, cakey, and smeared. It's certainly less than ideal. After all, if you've gone to the trouble of learning how to apply foundation, the last thing you want is for it to look cakey or to slide right off your skin. That's where primer comes in. The best primer can seriously change your makeup game.

Applying this miracle product before you put on one of the best foundations and best concealers can ensure your makeup glides on smoothly and stays put. "Primer can help even out the texture of your skin, control oil or dryness, and help makeup grip to the skin so it lasts all day," says Jamie Greenberg, a Los Angeles–based celebrity makeup artist. Sounds pretty great, right?

You can wear primer every day under your makeup, but you may not need to. "I do not think a traditional primer is necessary for everyday use. If your skin is hydrated, exfoliated, and your products are packed with nourishing, skin-loving ingredients, then you most likely will not need one because your products will sit well on the skin," says Stevie Rose, a professional makeup artist and the director of education for beauty brand Saie. "With that said, I definitely do recommend a primer for special occasions where you have more time to spend on your routine and you need your makeup to last longer."

Tips for applying primer

Before you can apply primer, you need to find the best primer for your skin. "Look for one that addresses your skin issues," says Beck Wainner, a celebrity makeup artist in Nashville. "If you're oily in the T–zone, you may look for a mattifying primer. Or there are options that can address large pores, textured skin, and redness."

So, what's the best way to apply it? You'll want to smooth primer onto your skin after your normal skin care routine but before you apply face makeup," says Manuel Espinoza, a makeup artist with StyleSeat, a website for booking a local makeup artist. You need about a dime-sized amount for your entire face and can either use your fingers or a makeup sponge to spread it.

Armed with that info, you're now ready for the fun part: shopping. Whether you like to buy products one at a time or make a big list for savings events (we're looking at you, spring Sephora sale), a primer is definitely something worth adding to your cart. We've done the hard work for you, consulting with top makeup artists and sorting through hundreds of products to find the ones with lots of five-star ratings and amazing user reviews. Scroll through to check out the best primers on the market.

The best primer for you

Best overall: Milk Makeup Hydro Grip Hydrating Makeup Primer

Best multitasker: MAC Prep and Prime Fix+ Primer and Setting Spray

Best for blurring pores: Rare Beauty Pore Diffusing Primer

Best value: Elf Hydrating Face Primer

Best for oily skin: It Cosmetics Your Skin but Better Makeup Primer+

Best for staying power: Dior Backstage Face and Body Primer

Best lightweight formula: Tatcha the Liquid Silk Canvas Featherweight Protective Primer

Best editor-tested: Elf Poreless Putty Primer

Best dewy finish: Saie Glowy Super Gel Lightweight Dewy Highlighter

Best matte finish: Smashbox Photo Finish Control Mattifying Face Primer

Best for dry skin: Laura Mercier Pure Canvas Primer Hydrating

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