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Best 12 Drugstore Primers for Flawless Makeup All Day Long

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A trusty primer can take a makeup look from good to great. Choosing the right primer for your skin can reduce the visibility of pores, illuminate your skin, moisturize it, and even out your complexion.

And better news — you don’t have to spend big to get an excellent primer. Plenty of the best drugstore primers offer options that provide a great base for your foundation. Here are our top picks for the best affordable drugstore makeup primers. 

Best primer overview:

How we chose the best drugstore primers

To compile this list, we researched manufacturer specifications, including ingredients, finishes, shades, and more, to create a short list of the top drugstore primers. Then, we combed through detailed product descriptions, ratings, and reviews to find the best primer for each category.

Our picks for the best drugstore primers

Best overall
NYX The Marshmellow Smoothing Primer

What we love

  • Hydrating
  • Smooths skin texture
  • Long-lasting

What we don’t love

  • No color control
  • No oil control
  • Scented

Get ready to achieve a flawless base with this multitasking primer from NYX. This vegan and cruelty-free primer contains marshmallow root extract, which provides a soothing effect on the skin. Its soft, whipped texture dries down completely, making it suitable for all skin tones. 

In addition to its marshmallow root extract, the primer is water-based, making it safe for all skin types. With 10 different benefits, this primer helps smooth lines, minimize texture, and blur lines, all while hydrating and softening the skin. It also comes with a cute marshmallow-shaped sponge and keeps your makeup fresh for up to 16 hours.

Skin type: All | Finish: Satin | Benefits: Hydrating, smoothing, blurring | Main ingredients: Marshmallow root extract

Best for dry skin
E.l.f Hydrating Face Primer

What we love

  • Hydrating
  • Creamy texture
  • Vegan and cruelty free

What we don’t love

  • No brightening ingredients
  • Can be oily
  • Potentially strange smell

Even the best makeup products will flake and show texture when applied over dry skin. This E.l.f. primer transforms dry skin into a smooth canvas. The formula is enriched with grapes and vitamins A, C, and E that help enhance your complexion and provide hydration to your skin. 

Even better, E.l.f. products are known for vegan and cruelty free and free from harmful chemicals such as phthalates, parabens, and sulfates. Can’t get much better than that!

Skin type: Dry | Finish: Natural-matte | Benefits: Smoothing, hydrating | Main ingredients: Grape, vitamins A, C, E

Best for textured skin
E.l.f. Poreless Putty Primer

What we love

  • Fills in skin imperfections
  • Hydrates
  • Smoothing, blurring effect

What we don’t love

  • Texture can be too thick
  • No color correction

There’s a reason the E.l.f. Poreless Putty Face Primer putty went viral: It’s the ultimate base for people with acne scars, large pores, or otherwise textured skin. The primer fills in pores and other imperfections so that makeup has a smooth surface to sit atop.

At the same time, the primer is full of other benefits for your skin. Infused with hydrating squalane, it protects skin from moisture loss while gripping your makeup for all-day wear. The velvety texture helps the primer glide over the skin during application.

Skin type: Textured, dry | Finish: Matte | Benefits: Blurring, smoothing | Main ingredients: Sqalane

Best longwear
E.l.f. Power Grip Primer

What we love

  • Long-lasting
  • For all skin types and tones
  • Hyaluronic acid

What we don’t love

  • Can be sticky
  • Potential chemical smell

This gel-based, hydrating primer is a TikTok influencer favorite for several reasons, primarily for its long-lasting nature. Many consider it an inexpensive dupe for the Milk Makeup Hydro Grip Primer.

The gel formula is enriched with hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid, which helps skin retain moisture for a plump and healthy complexion. The translucent finish works on all skin types and tones, providing a soft-matte effect for a smoother complexion. It’s also non-comedogenic, meaning it won’t clog pores.

Skin type: All | Finish: Tacky | Benefits: Hydrating, smoothing | Main ingredients: Hyaluronic acid

Best everyday
Facestudio Maybelline Master Prime Primer Makeup

What we love

  • Lightweight
  • Comes in several shades
  • Hydrating

What we don’t love

  • No brightening ingredients
  • Not longwearing

This is a great pick if you’re looking for a primer to use every day and have few skin challenges. Many compare it to the more expensive Smashbox Photo Finish Primer. It’s hydrating and smoothing like nearly all primers, filling in the skin’s divots to provide a solid base for foundation. 

That said, the standard version of this primer is simple. If you’re looking to address any skin concerns, you might turn to the Master Blue Stick Primer, which can minimize the look of pores, too.

Skin type: All | Finish: Matte | Benefits: Hydrating, blurring | Main ingredients: Water, dimethicone

Best brightening
Milani Bright Side Illuminating Primer

What we love

  • Creamy texture
  • Illuminating
  • Hydrating

What we don’t love

  • Not longwearing
  • Yellow tone
  • Thick texture isn’t for everyone

If you’re looking for an illuminated complexion, the Milani Bright Side Primer is the perfect way to start your makeup routine. This primer brightens the skin while nourishing it with antioxidant-rich vitamin C, provitamin B5, squalane, and jojoba oil. 

It features brightening pigments within a creamy lotion that help blur imperfections and extend makeup wear for a radiant finish. The primer is great for all skin tones and is vegan and cruelty-free.

Skin type: All, dull | Finish: Shimmering | Benefits: Radiant, hydrating | Main ingredients: Vitamin C, provitamin B5, squalane, jojoba oil

Best SPF
Milani SPF BFF SPF 30 Primer

What we love

  • SPF 30
  • Moisturizing
  • Lightweight

What we don’t love

  • Not for oil control
  • SPF may sting the eyes
  • No blurring effect

Choosing a good primer can help you look good day-to-day, but choosing a reliable, everyday SPF can help your skin thrive for years to come. SPF BFF is the perfect 2-in-1 that does both.

This lightweight lotion formula with broad spectrum SPF 30 sunscreen protects the skin while keeping it smooth and extending makeup wear. This fast-absorbing formula is enriched with moisturizing glycerin and vitamin E and is the perfect base for everyday wear.

Skin type: All, fair | Finish: Dewy | Benefits: Sun-protecting, moisturizing | Main ingredients: Glycerin, vitamin E

Best complexion smoothing
Revolution Pro Blur Stick Bright

What we love

  • Stick applicator
  • Illuminating
  • Blurring

What we don’t love

  • Not longwearing
  • Just 1 shade
  • Too shimmery for some

The Blur Stick Bright is a great first step if you’re going for an airbrushed skin look. This lightweight primer stick is infused with light-reflecting particles that brighten and blur complexion while minimizing the appearance of pores and reducing excess shine. 

Thanks to ingredients such as moisturizing shea butter and vitamin E, the blur-bright formula preps your skin for makeup application and offers a layer of subtle brightness that’ll last all day.

Skin type: All, uneven complexion | Finish: Dewy | Benefits: Brightening, blurring | Main ingredients: Vitamin E, shea butter

Best illuminating
L’Oreal Glotion Natural Glow Enhancer

What we love

  • Brightening
  • Multiple shades
  • Can be worn alone

What we don’t love

  • Not longwearing
  • May be drying

This highlighting lotion is infused with hydrating glycerin and nourishing shea butter to instantly illuminate and hydrate your skin for a fresh and healthy-looking complexion. 

The lightweight formula delivers a tint that enhances your skin’s natural glow while minimizing imperfections and dullness. Available in four shades, the glowing lotion can be worn independently, under foundation, or applied to specific areas for an added luminous effect.

Skin type: All, dull | Finish: Shimmering | Benefits: Illuminating, hydrating | Main ingredients: Glycerin, shea butter

Best hydrating
NYX Hydra Touch Primer

What we love

  • Moisturizing
  • Lightweight
  • Vegan

What we don’t love

  • Not ideal for oily skin
  • Not longwearing
  • Contains fragrance

Infused with hydrating centella extract, this lightweight primer not only provides all-day moisture for the skin but also creates a smooth canvas for even makeup application. The vegan primer is gentle on the skin and helps extend the wear of your makeup. 

Allow a few minutes for the primer to set for best results before applying your makeup. If you have dry skin, apply more primer on those areas. Milani recommends pairing this primer with its Dewy Setting Spray for a full-on dewy finish.

Skin type: Dry | Finish: Dewy | Benefits: Hydrating, smoothing | Main ingredients: Centella extract, glycerin, niacinamide, chamomile extract

Best for red skin
Covergirl Clean Fresh Skincare Color Correcting Serum Moisturizer

What we love

  • Color-correcting
  • Sustainable packaging
  • Fragrance-free

What we don’t love

  • Not longwearing
  • Doesn’t address texture

The Color Correcting Serum Moisturizer Primer from Covergirl is a multitasking primer that addresses redness while strengthening the skin’s moisture barrier. With moisturizing ceramides and 1.8% niacinamide, the vegan formula provides all-day hydration and neutralizes ruddy skin. This helps to minmize sensitivity, redness, tightness, discomfort, and irritation due to dryness. 

The primer is available in four shades to suit different skin tones, and the formula is free of fragrance, parabens, sulfates, and phthalates. An added bonus? The serum jar is made from 35% post-consumer recycled material, and the FSC-certified carton is made from 100% recycled paper.

Skin type: Red | Finish: Matte | Benefits: Calming, color-correcting | Main ingredients: Avocado and ceramide complex, niacinamide

Best for oily skin
One Heck Of A Blot Pore Reducing Primer

What we love

  • Reduces oil
  • Blurs pores
  • Soothes skin

What we don’t love

  • Can be drying
  • Not carried at all drugstores
  • May irritate the eyes

If your skin tends toward oily, that’s one more obstacle to keeping your makeup intact. Enter One Heck Of A Blot Pore Reducing Primer. It absorbs oil and keeps shine at bay so your makeup can stay in place. 

The formula also works to shrink the appearance of pores and soften the skin’s texture. Finally, the soothing ingredient vitamin E balances out the shine control to keep the skin hydrated.

Skin type: Oily | Finish: Matte | Benefits: Oil-reducing | Main ingredients: Glycerin, rice starch

Getting primed for a flawless look 

Selecting the right primer as a base for your makeup is crucial for achieving a flawless look that lasts all day. Whether you want to minimize the appearance of pores, brighten your complexion, or hydrate your skin, there’s a primer that can work to your benefit. With so many options available, you’re sure to find the perfect primer to suit your needs and enhance your natural beauty.

How to pick the right primer for you

Consider your skin type and makeup habits when choosing a primer, and look for one that works well with your foundation. 

Skin type

  • Dry. You’ll want a primer with a dewy finish and hydrating ingredients, like hyaluronic acid, vitamin E, or shea butter. 
  • Sensitive. Avoid fragrances or drying ingredients like salicylic acid.
  • Red. Look for a green-tinted primer that can neutralize pink tones. 


  • Matte. Oily skin will benefit from a matte finish. 
  • Dewy. If your skin is prone to dryness, a dewy finish can work to your advantage. 
  • Satin. For combination skin, satin is a good in-between finish. 


  • Hyaluronic acid. This helps to seal in moisture. 
  • Vitamins. Vitamin E is hydrating, while vitamin C can have a brightening effect. 


What’s a good drugstore primer for dry skin? 

The NYX Hydra Touch Primer is our favorite hydrating primer. Its lightweight formula is infused with hydrating centella extract for an all-day moisturizing effect.

Which primer brand is best?

There’s no objectively “best” primer brand. However, E.l.f. Wins several positions on our list of top drugstore primers, as the brand offers several primer options for various skin types and concerns.