Primers I’m loving

Basic t-shirts and tanks

Just like hair, the products you use to prep the “canvas” make an enormous impact on the final result. If I use smoothing, deeply hydrating shampoo when I wash my hair, I’m going to have a harder time trying to get an airy, bouncy lift to it when I style. In the same way, using a primer to help keep skin issues in check and help your makeup live up to its highest potential is key for a flawless finish, whether you are using a full coverage foundation or not.

Andreea told me that she uses primer as the last part of her skincare routine and I’ve developed that routine as well. I keep my primer by my other skincare, instead of keeping it by my makeup. And if for some reason I’m interrupted and do not do my makeup right away, it doesn’t hurt to have applied primer but then go without foundation.

My skin is more on the dry side so any hydrating primer is the first choice for me. I’ve really loved Laura Mercier Pure Canvas Foundation Hydrating Primer. Also, their newer Pure Canvas Illuminating Primer is a fantastic option for adding luminosity and subtle glow to the skin. It’s my top choice if I’m wearing a medium coverage foundation, which I am more often than not!

Sometimes primers can feel like the unsung hero of your skincare/makeup routine, but Laneige has developed an incredibly hydrating and glowy primer that makes a very, very noticeable difference in how my makeup looks and wears. The Glowy Makeup Serum is slowly becoming one of those products I must have on my “re-purchase” list. And as a beauty blogger who loves to try new things, re-purchases mean that product is at the tip-top of the favorites list. Ironically, it’s not getting glowing (see what I did there) reviews on Sephora’s website. But like any cosmetic or skincare purchase, some things work for me that don’t work for others and vice versa. Like Tarte ShapeTape for example. It seems like every woman on Instagram is obsessed and I found it to be kind of “meh”.

I tried The Liquid Silk Canvas: Featherweight Protective Primer from Tatcha but ended up returning it. It was nice, for sure, but it didn’t make enough of an impact on my skin and makeup longevity to justify the price, in my opinion.

Obviously, the primers I tend to gravitate towards are hydrating and glowy, but if you are trying to combat excess shine or oil, look into Smashbox. Smashbox may have the largest array of different primers based on a number of different factors. The Photo Finish Oil & Shine Control primer is well-loved via the comments on Sephora’s website and would be what I would try first if I was fighting oil!

Is a makeup primer a part of your regular routine? 


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Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog says · 05.18.20

Packaging on point! Thanks for the recommendations! ❤️✨

Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

Bethany says · 05.18.20

I have really oily skin with large pore and the absolute 2 best primers I have found (and I’ve tried so many) are the erborian matter primer and the new Laura Mercier matte primer. These both are absolutely amazing!!

Amy says · 05.18.20

Is there a “drugstore” primer that you feel is equivalent to the Laneige? Not sure a glowy look is what I would like here in TX in summer so I’d like to experiment first before a higher price purchase. Tia

Kate says · 05.18.20 Reply
Felicia says · 05.18.20

I’m in Texas too and the Laura Mercier illuminating primer is a very soft natural glow! Simply beautiful indoors and out all day even in the summer!

Catherine R. says · 05.18.20

If you like a nice glowy primer try Rodial Glow Drops. I have been a matte, full coverage girl my entire makeup life but I’ve really focusing on my skin the past several months. As a result I have moved towards a glowy, sheer makeup look preference. The Rodial drops are absolutely gorgeous!

Linda says · 05.18.20

Do you apply the primer around your eyes and on your eyelid as well?

Kate says · 05.18.20

No, not around the eyes!

Deborah says · 05.18.20

Thanks so much for the review! I love Laura Mercier. Wondering if you might try the one from Tula any time soon and let us know what you think?

Audra says · 05.18.20

I have mild rosacea and dry skin so Im looking for a neutralizing primer that hydrates. I havent been impressed with the ‘green’ ones Ive used.

Ashley Zustovich says · 05.18.20

Hi! I love a primer and I flip between Laura Mercer’s Hydrating Primer and Bobbi Brown’s Face Base — I am assuming both together would be not a good idea?

Also, I have rather large pores and I am finding that my makeup settles SO BAD in my pores where I can see little dots on my face. Any recommendations on how to prevent that? Thanks!

Kate says · 05.18.20

You can definitely use both, you’re skin will be super hydrated! Also, try the Porefessional primer by Benefit–it’s specifically made to help hide pores!

Devin says · 05.18.20

Dr. Brandt Pores No More primer is amazing! I actually just tried it based on a recommendation and it truly does help pores!

Kristin says · 05.18.20

Are there any drugstore primers you would suggest?

Felicia W. says · 05.18.20

Thanks to everything Kate has taught me, my favorite combo these days is the Laura Mercier Illuminating primer and a dust of Charlotte Tilbury airbrush powder. Gives me a beautiful glow and sheer coverage all day! Would love to find a CREAM primer with SPF that doesn’t cause breakouts. I saw Biossance has a new one!! I hate the velvet feel some primers have.

Jill says · 05.18.20

There is a Neutrogena product almost hidden behind the luxury brands in the photo (not sure why the only two photos in the post are the same?). Review of that? I noticed some commenters are asking for drugstore recommendations.

Kear Anne Simmons says · 05.18.20

Are any of these non-comedogenic, and/or generally seen as safe for acne-prone skin? I’ve had terribe luck with primers breaking me out in the past!

Thanks for all the info you share… I love the tone of your blog and IG! It’s very relaxed and welcoming, which is something I appreciate in these crazy times. And as someone looking to start a blog, you’re a great inspiration. So thank you!!

Kate says · 05.18.20

Any silicone free primers to suggest? So many irritate my skin. There was one by Korres awhile back but hard to find.

Nicole | Kiidonic says · 05.19.20

I’m really keen to try La Neige! But my go-to primer is the Smashbox Primerizer. I also have dry skin and it feels just like a moisturiser.

Kate says · 05.19.20

Thanks for these recs! Do you have an eye primer you recommend?? I can’t find one that really holds the eye makeup in place all day.

Ghulam Mohyudin says · 05.19.20

Good to know that works too! It was perfect the first time. I learn so much from you as well! Wow great post.

Ashley says · 05.21.20

I agree that primer is so important! My complaint is that often make my skin feel really greasy. I just started using ULTRALIGHT DAILY SPF30 BROAD-SPECTRUM SUNSCREEN from Beauty Pie which also says it blurring primer. So far so good!

Genevieve Cordery says · 05.21.20

Laura Mercier makes amazing primer! It’s my fav.

Genevieve |

Jessica says · 05.23.20

I have recently been struggling with adding primer after my last skincare step (sunscreen). It kinda disappears. It sticks so much better to “clean” skin. It could just be my sunscreen is on the heavier side (Elta MD). I’ve seen skin care professionals that recommend letting sunscreen “dry” for 20 min – but I just don’t have that kind of time in my day! Any thoughts on when to apply primer?

Anna says · 05.23.20

Laura Mercier Primers are on top of my buying list. I absolutely love illuminating primers. My favourite so far is the Juice Beauty Phyto Pigment Illuminating Primer 01 Luminous. This one gives a nice glow and its and it’s a clean beauty product.

heather Nooe says · 05.29.20

Do you use still use the Bobbi Brown vitamin enriched face base priming moisturizer and a primer?

Kate says · 05.30.20

I still do, yes! It’s a great rich moisturizer and primer!

Erin Kritenbrink says · 07.17.20

What is the best primer for a radiant “shine/shimmer”? I love a glowy look.
Also- If I use a primer and then pressed powder, I feel like it defeats some of the purpose. Should I be using a translucent powder instead?

Karen says · 03.02.21

Hi Kate!
I am a novice when it comes to makeup. I have very fair skin with some redness spots. Do you suggest using a “green” primer to help reduce redness or do you find primers without the green tint still achieve this? I got sold on an IT cosmetics green primer at Ulta, and I felt it dried my skin quickly upon application. Looking for another option to try. Thanks!

Danielle Troxel says · 01.06.22

I purchased the Armani foundation and Armani highlighter enhancer to add in like you do. What primer did you find works best with these? Thanks Kate!

Kate says · 01.07.22

I haven’t been using a primer lately, but in the past I’ve really loved the Laura Mercier primers!