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best primer for oily skin
Credit: Smashbox, Neutrogena, Cover FX

If you have oily skin and aren’t starting your makeup application with a good primer, well, let us introduce you to what may end up being your new favorite product. First, what’s the point of a primer, you ask? These face-smoothing balms are designed to create an extra layer between your skin and your makeup. They usually fill in pores and grip your foundation, allowing it to last longer. And for people with oily skin, they can provide a matte finish that combats pesky shine.

If you’re prone to oiliness, you probably want to avoid primers that promise dewiness, as this will just end up making your face look slick. Instead, opt for formulas that reduce oil production, have a matte finish, and don’t dry out the skin.

As celebrity makeup artist Robert Sesnek explains, “If you overly dry out the skin, it will produce more oils to overcompensate for dryness. Even oily skin needs light hydration.”

With A-list clients like Lucy Hale and Lili Reinhart, Sesnek knows a thing or two about getting makeup to stay put for long periods of time. He says that when it comes to primer, he prefers liquid formulas since you can use can use your fingers to dab them on and easily touch-up shine on the go. “Many times, I’ll spot-treat primer just in the T-zone, where oil production seems most heavy,” he says. “While sprays go everywhere and fade faster, and putty-like primers have a texture that can be too heavy on oily skin, liquid options give you the control you need.”

To use a primer, simply apply a pearl-sized amount to your fingertips and smooth all over your face. Then, follow with your favorite foundation, or just wear as-is for an instantly smoother complexion.

The best makeup primers for oily skin:

1. Smashbox Photo Finish Oil and Shine Control Primer

Credit: Sephora

Shop It! $39, Sephora.com

This much-loved gel-to-powder face primer is infused with witch hazel, salicylic acid, and zinc, which work together to help reduce the look of pores and keep oil production in check. It’s also made with a time-release formula that controls shine for up to 12 hours.

2. Benefit The POREfessional Primer

Credit: Sephora

Shop It! $54, Sephora.com

Smooth on a bit of this oil-free balm to reduce pores and fine lines while effectively mattifying shine. It’s an OG makeup classic for a reason—just a little of the translucent formula smooths out texture to create the perfect canvas for your makeup. It also contains a vitamin E derivative, which is known to protect skin from free radicals that can contribute to fine lines and age spots. For extra staying power, pat delicately on the T-zone and blend over your foundation, in addition to wearing it as a base layer.

3. Neutrogena Shine Control Primer

Credit: Neutrogena

Shop It! $13.99, Ulta.com

This affordable drugstore buy uses rice protein, an ingredient that acts like a sponge to sop up excess oil, so skin looks fresh and shine-free for hours. It’s lightweight and non-greasy as well as non-comedogenic, meaning it won’t clog your pores.

4. Cover FX Mattifying Primer with Anti-Acne Treatment

Credit: Dermstore

Shop It! $29, Sephora.com

If your oily skin causes you to be concerned about breakouts, this primer is the multifunctional product for you. Created with 1% salicylic acid and African tree bark, it treats acne while simultaneously reducing the appearance of pores and controlling excess shine.

5. First Aid Beauty Hello FAB Pores Be Gone Matte Primer

Credit: Sephora

Shop It! $38, Ulta.com

Designed specifically with sensitive and blemish-prone skin in mind, this matte primer is gentle yet effective. It contains a blend of acids that help control the skin’s sebum production, including salicylic acid, which has been shown to improve texture and minimize the appearance of pores over time. The oil-free blurring balm also contains fig extract, which has antibacterial properties said to help keep breakouts at bay.

6. IT Cosmetics Your Skin But Better Makeup Primer+

Credit: Sephora

Shop It! $39, Sephora.com

This makeup primer is hailed as a favorite among reviewers for its breathable, hydrating, glycerin-infused formula that’s lightweight enough to feel like you’re barely wearing anything on your face. It’s oil-free and made with ginger root extract, which helps refine pores and grip makeup for long-lasting wear.

7. L’Oréal Infallible Pro Matte-Lock Longwear Mattifying Primer

Credit: Target

Shop It! $9.40, Amazon.com

Prep your skin with this non-greasy primer that locks in makeup with a super matte finish. It uses ingredients like silicone polymers and citric acid (an alpha-hydroxy acid) to keep your complexion shine-free all day. Though the packaging might look small, just a little goes a long way with this one.

8. Honest Beauty Everything Primer Matte

Credit: Urban Outfitters

Shop It! $21.99, Amazon.com

Infused with micronized bamboo powder to control oil and provide a long-lasting matte finish, this primer instantly blurs imperfections and diminishes the look of pores and fine lines. Apply a pearl-sized amount all over your face for a smooth, makeup-free complexion, or wear it under foundation for the ultimate matte, made-up look.