The 5 Best Primers for Oily Skin a Makeup Artist Recommends

Photo: Stocksy/Alberto Bogo
I remember the first time I tried using a primer underneath my foundation; it was almost a religious experience, like the first time I actually got my cauliflower gnocchi crispy or saw a goldendoodle IRL. Primer for oily skin is one of my favorite makeup products, and I think it's seriously underrated.

I've encountered many people who hate on primer because to them it seems like an unnecessary step, but after listening to my sermon most of them are convinced to at least try one. (Or maybe they just want me to stop talking, which, fair.) Makeup artist Jenna Menard agrees with me. "Primers sound like a hassle and extra step but really you can choose one that helps your routine on so many levels," she says. Total vindication. "A primer can help keep your oily skin under control. There are primers that hydrate while mattifying. So, if you have oily skin, a primer does not have to be drying and you can pick a primer designed specifically for oily skin."  When choosing a primer for oily skin, steer clear of anything that focuses on "illuminating," she says.

"And the best part about primers, yes the can extend foundation wear, but they can also be worn on their own almost like a clear foundation to help reduce the appearance of pores, shine, fine lines, and control oil without adding pigment on your skin," she says.

The best primer for oily skin recommended by a makeup artist

primer for oily skin

1. Benefit Cosmetics The Porefessional Face Primer, $32

This primer is also a cult-favorite, and has nearly 4,000 five-star reviews on Sephora. It helps blur pores and control shine without making skin look cakey.

2. NARS Pore and Shine Control, $36

This primer has a gel-cream texture that doesn't have the "slippery" texture of some primers. It applies more like a lotion, and is non-comedogenic.

primer for oily skin

3. Bobbi Brown Primer Plus Mattifier, $40

This primer is especially good at blurring pores. It feels slightly tacky after application, but dries down to a mattifying makeup base.

4. Heir Atelier Face Primer, $42

The vegan formula of this skincare-primer combo contains hydrating sodium hyaluronate (similar to hyaluronic acid); skin is left shine-free but glowy.primer for oily skin


5. Smashbox Photo Finish Oil and Shine Control, $39

"Mattifying but not '80s pancake makeup" is the goal when choosing a primer for oily skin. The texture of this one from Smashbox is soft and easy to blend into skin, so you only need a small amount. It nixes shine and doesn't feel heavy on your skin.

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