The Primers That Can Make A Real Difference To Your Make-Up
The Primers That Can Make A Real Difference To Your Make-Up

The Primers That Can Make A Real Difference To Your Make-Up

Want a smoother-looking complexion? Or your foundation to last longer? The answer is to invest in a good primer. The latest formulas work harder than ever – minimising uneven tone, boosting hydration and even offering a few extra skincare benefits. Here are eight of our favourites…
By Rebecca Hull

All products on this page have been selected by our editorial team, however we may make commission on some products.

Wonderfilter Brightening Primer, £30 | Beauty Pie

Best For: Brightening Dullness

This earns rave reviews for a reason. Full of ‘prism pearls’ the texture breaks over the skin as you apply it, offering just the right amount of shimmer for a believable glow. It’s a sure-fire way to brighten up dullness, absorbing fast to feel really hydrating. Just bear in mind a little goes a long way, so start off slowly and layer up if needed. 

Available at

Vitamin Enriched Face Base, £46.50 | Bobbi Brown

Best For: Silky-Smooth Skin

A cult classic, Bobbi Brown’s Face Base was always intended to be more of a moisturiser. Then, make-up artists started using it as a primer – they found a range of products adhered well to its silky-smooth texture. Again, a little goes a long way, so use it sparingly, but if you’re after a little more nourishment, this is a must-try. Squalane and vitamins B, C and E all flood the skin with moisture, while shea butter leaves behind a soft sheen that shows through any foundation you apply on top. 

Available at

SOS Primer, £27.50 | Clarins

Best For: Colour Correcting 

It all started with the iconic Beauty Flash Balm – one of the most coveted and copied beauty products to date. From there, Clarins extended its line with the SOS Primers – a range of useful, radiant skin perfectors. There are several to choose from, but we love ‘03’ for its colour-correcting benefits. It gives a hefty dose of luminosity, while evening out skin tone and lending a soft, peachy glow that’s universally flattering. Great worn solo or underneath make-up.

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Vanish Airbrush Primer, £50 | Hourglass

Best For: Controlling Shine

This award-winning primer ticks all our boxes. It’s known for its blurring effect and you really don’t need a lot – use it mainly on areas you’re prone to shine, like your T-zone. Cruelty free and vegan, it’s lightweight with zero tacky texture. It absorbs fast, zaps up excess oil and provides a smooth, matte finish almost immediately. We love the gel consistency that feels cooling as you apply it, too.

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Pure Canvas Primer, £35 | Laura Mercier

Best For: A Glow-y Finish

Always highly recommended by make-up artists, this bestselling primer is essential for creating a smooth, flawless base. It hides open pores and allows make-up to glide on seamlessly for a more natural finish. It’s available in several formulas these days, so you can choose one based on your individual preference and needs – we love this illuminating primer for giving skin a healthy-looking sheen. Our tip? Really work this in and let it settle for a few minutes before applying foundation on top. That way you’ll prevent any pilling or rolling of product.

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Hydro Grip Primer, £31 | Milk Makeup

Best For: Instant Hydration

MILK’s primer is full of aloe water, hyaluronic acid, niacinamide and cherry blossom, all of which provide instant hydration to calm the skin. The clear, green gel feels amazing as you apply it. Quick to absorb – you don’t have to spend time massaging this in – make-up glides on easily over the top and stays put for hours. 

Available at

In Transit Camera Close up, £33 | This Works

Best For: Minimising Slip

You’ll find make-up doesn’t budge when you wear this underneath. Often spied in make-up artists’ kits backstage, it’s still one of the most reliable primers out there. The only problem? It can be hard to get hold of. Just a small amount leaves skin looking soft and dewy before you apply your make-up. Alternatively, use a thicker amount as a hydrating mask  – it’s perfect for soaking up dry patches and soothing things like wind or sunburn.

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Priming Moisturiser, £58 | Victoria Beckham Beauty

Best For: Multiple Skin Benefits 

This is expensive, but if you’re serious about added skincare benefits, it’s worth every penny. A moisturiser-primer hybrid, it boosts and renews your skin’s cells by incorporating Augustinus Bader’s TFC8 technology – which is known for actively anti-ageing the skin. The formula also contains micro-algae extract, which helps to stimulate elasticity and collagen within the skin for a firmer-looking appearance. As for the primer, pearl illuminators and optical powders work together to highlight the skin and blur out larger pores. We love that the texture is like a serum – thin and easy to work with. The original will always be our favourite, but it’s also available in a tinted ‘Golden’ formula for those who want to add a bit of warmth.

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