How To Know What Primer Is Right For Your Foundation

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Image: Olga Ekaterincheva/Shutterstock

Finding the right primer for your skin isn’t just about your skin tone or type. It also has to do with what kind of foundation you’re using. We don’t blame you for not knowing what kind of primer to use—it may seem as complicated as some kind of scientific experiment, woof. Knowing what primer is right for your foundation may come down to the science of your unique skin type and the components of your foundation, but it doesn’t have to be complex. Here, we break down how to know what primer is right for your foundation.

For starters, you should always think through the lens of your skin type. Do you have dry or oily skin? If you’re somewhere in between or a combination type, then experiment with a variety of the options below and see what works best for you, or stick to priming sprays.

Dry skin

Have a dry skin type? You can rock glowy looks more easily because you don’t produce a lot of excess oil. If you have a glowy foundation, you’ll want to use a glowy primer—makes sense, right? A matte primer with a glowy foundation won’t blend well, and vice versa. If you’re using a glowy primer and glowy foundation, you’ll just want to be careful of having too much shine. The solution? Use a setting powder to dim the shine a bit, or simply use a little bit less product on your skin. Try Studio Secrets Magic Lumi Light Infusing Primer from L’OREAL.

For dry skin types, you’re no stranger to moisturizer. Lucky for you, a light moisturizer can work well as a primer under your foundation. You can save money and use your products for multiple purposes. However, if you want a primer, look for a moisturizing primer. Try Glossier’s Priming Moisturizer.

You can also use a light oil for a primer. Let the facial oil sink in for 10 minutes or so before applying your foundation.

Oily skin

Silicone-based primers are great for oily skin types, but you have to do some skin prep first so that the primer doesn’t pill on the skin. You’ll want to have a clean face and moisturize it before applying the silicone-based primer. Try Instant Age Rewind Primer Skin Transformer.

Oily skin types, if you dare use a dewy foundation, you must use a mattifying or pore-filling primer underneath to balance it out. Try Tarte Poreless Mattifying Primer.


Priming sprays work for mostly everyone, and they work with just about any type of foundation. They’re easy to use, and they are light on the skin while getting the job done. Use a priming spray before and after applying your foundation. Try Colourpop’s Rose Quartz Crystal Priming Spray.

Kate Wilke is a freelancer in the midst of health coach and yoga training, as well as a certified meditation instructor. When she's not paddle boarding or skiing, she's informing someone about global warming (or cats) over a local double IPA. Follow her on Instagram — @meditatekate