As someone with oily skin and large pores, the right primer can truly transform an entire makeup look. A good base is the proper foundation for any beauty look. In today’s post, I’m ranking face primers for oily skin.
My Skin Story
Although primer is not technically considered skincare, such primers blur the line between makeup and skincare. Moreover, different formulas will work work differently depending on a consumer’s skin type, sensitivities, and preferences. Therefore, before we proceed into this post ranking primers for oily skin, it is important to understand my skin story.
Not only do I have oily skin and large pores, but I have a history of cystic acne. While I no longer have cystic acne, certain ingredients or thick formulas can lead to breakouts.
For a long time, the harsh medications and skin regimen I followed enabled me to try a wide variety of products that some might consider ‘harsh’ (such as retinol-based products or chemical exfoliants). However, as I’ve gotten older, my skin developed sensitivities related to eczema. Fun fact, certain forms of eczema plague oily-skinned guys and gals like myself.
Typically, I look for primers that will minimize the appearance of pores or maximize the longevity of my makeup. However, I’ve come to love and appreciate glowy primers, too.
Ranking Face Primers for Oily Skin
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A primer for every skin need
Since initially sharing my post ranking face primers for oily skin, I made an adjustment. Not only have new primers been added to the ranking, but I am ranking primers by their type – Illuminating, Gripping & Mattifying, and Moisturizing & Pore-filling.
4 | BECCA – Backlight Priming Filter ($21.00, CF)
When I first received the mini version of the BECCA Backlight Priming Filter* in my Beautycon LA bag I was skeptical that I’d ever use this primer. As someone with oily skin, I’ve always been told that illuminating primers weren’t for me. But EFF that.
This is a beautiful, illuminating primer that makes the skin look ultra-radiant. However, it is almost *too* radiant. As such, I love pairing this primer with very full coverage or very matte foundations. This primer adds life back to skin that is masked under full coverage makeup.
I received a deluxe sample of the True Skin Radiant Priming Serum* from Ilia and I fell in love with it. This is a super glossy primer that feels less like a typical primer and more like skincare. Similar to the next primer included in this ranking, the Ilia Priming Serum provides a super natural glow to the skin.
However, this primer can feel like a heavy oily when first applied. Moreover, it does not extend the wear-time of products. For this to work on oily skin, wearers should opt for lighter coverage foundations or pair with a gripping primer.
2 | Ole Henriksen – Banana Bright Primer ($36.00, CF)
The Banana Bright Primer* from Ole Henriksen is a hyped up primer for good reason. This skincare infused brightening primer adds a natural glow without making the skin look shiny or metallic.
Of the brightening primers included in this roundup, this is the most natural radiant primer. For this reason, I love wearing this primer on no makeup makeup days or skin care only days. That being said, fans of full coverage foundation will likely need more intense brightening primer.
1 | Charlotte Tilbury – Hollywood Flawless Filter in 2 Light ($44.00, CF)
The Charlotte Tilbury Hollywood Flawless Filter* is a truly unique, 3-in product. Part highlighter, part primer, and part foundation – this luminous primer ads a radiant glow to the skin that makes the skin look blurred and perfected.
As someone with oily skin, my preferred way to wear this primer is to multi-prime. In other words, I apply this primer as a base and then a gripping primer where needed. Another way to make this primer work for oily skin is to apply a matte foundation on top.
Gripping & Mattifying Primers
4 | Milk Makeup – Mini Blur Stick Matte Primer ($18.00, CF)
I have a love-hate relationship with the Milk Makeup Blur Stick.* Initially, I struggled to make this work on my skin. Despite being a stick primer, this formula needs requires heat activation from swirling your fingers over the top.
Ultimately, the results from Blur Stick were very subtle and barely noticeable. As a result, this primer is best for individuals who prefer light makeup or who just want their natural skin to look slightly airbrushed. Read my full Milk Makeup brand review for my full thoughts.
P.S. The price of the mini increased from $14.00 to $18.00 since I tried it initially. As such, I think it is too expensive for what it is.
3 | Korres – Pomegranate Mattifying Primer ($33.00, CF)
Korres is a brand that people are sleeping on. First, I love that Korres is a clean makeup brand. Second, I love how the brand’s mattifying primer keeps oil at bay without sucking the life out of my skin. Sadly, this primer looks as if it was discontinued.
2 | Smashbox – Photo Finish Oil & Shine Control Primer ($39.00, CF)
Overall, this Smashbox Primer provides a beautiful soft-matte finish that extends the life of my makeup without drying my skin or making makeup look too-matte and lifeless. For my full thoughts, please read my review on the Oil & Shine Control Primer.
1 | Milk Makeup – Mini Hydro Grip Primer ($15.00, CF)
The Milk Makeup Hydro Grip Primer* was another favorite find in 2019. The primer is very tacky. In fact, it reminds me a lot of the J.One Jelly Pack Skin Firming Primer. For best application, tap this primer into place and let it set for at least a minute before applying complexion products over top.
After using up my mini version of this primer, I fully intend to purchase a full-size. However, I want to note that some reviewers with extra sensitive skin experienced an allergic reaction.
Pore-Filling & Moisturizing Primers
3 | Bobbi Brown – Vitamin Enriched Face Base ($60.00)
The Bobbi Brown Vitamin Enriched Face Base* provides a luxurious, comforting hydrating finish to the skin. However, this cream is a little too thick for my oily skin. Individuals with ultra-dry skin may prefer using this rich cream-base.
2 | Glossier – Priming Moisturizer ($22.00, CF)
Obviously, moisturizing primers will not do as much to improve wear-time of makeup for oily-skinned individuals. However, a moisturizing primer can extend the wear-time of makeup for individuals with dry skin that is prone to flaking throughout the day.
1 | Tatcha – Silk Canvas Protective Primer ($20.00, CF)
Tatcha’s Silk Canvas Primer is a well-loved product in the beauty community for good reason. This skincare infused primer helps to protect the skin, as well as serve as a pore-filling, wrinkle-minimizing base.
Unlike the silicone-based pore-filling primers that blur pores and imperfections, the Silk Canvas Primer doesn’t add any slip to the skin. Additionally, it is more versatile and works with most foundations. Read my full Silk Canvas Primer review for my full thoughts.
Final Thoughts on Ranking Face Primers for Oily Skin
As someone with oily, acne-prone skin, I am so tired of being told generalized statements what will or won’t work for my skin type. My aim with sharing this post ranking face primers for oily skin is to show that oily-skinned individuals can use a wide range primers beyond just gripping or mattifying primers.
Ultimately, I choose my primer for the day based on the makeup look I want to create. Also, I’m a huge fan of multi-priming. In other words, I love to pair multiple primers together depending on my skin’s need at that time. In fact, multi-priming is the main way that I make brightening primers work for me. More specifically, my favorite priming combination is to pair an illuminating primer with a gripping or blurring primer. By doing pairing primers, my skin looks naturally radiant and less textured, but my makeup still lasts all day.
Finally, I clearly own too many primers for one face. However, it is worth noting that I do not currently own all of the aforementioned primers. (That being said for them to be included in this roundup, I clearly owned them in 2019.) Ultimately, my goal is to reduce the size of my collection so that I own no more than 2 primers within each category.