5 Best Primers For Acne-Prone Skin

When it comes to acne, most of us want to run and hide, banishing all mirrors that we come into contact with, sound familiar?  Make-up and accessibility, mainly thanks to YouTube and influencer culture, have taught us how to conceal and contour and throw in some added insecurity and filter loving for good measure.

But do you ever find that after a little while, your make-up has smudged off or crusted onto the spot you worked so hard to cover? 

Me too! It does not matter how much time and money you spend on your make-up; if the base isn’t right, it isn’t going to sit right.

That is where primer comes in; it has saved my day more time than I can count.

It’s been used on catwalks for years to keep make-up in place, and now the market is full of them. 

But which is the best primer for acne?

Well, you have come to the right place. My make-up collection is full of primers, tried and tested, so without further ado, let me tell you what the best primer is for acne!

Best Primers For Acne-Prone Skin: Our Top 5 Picks

In a hurry? Check out our top pick to grab your primer and get your base on!

1. Best Overall: E.l.f Blemish Control Face Primer

e.l.f. Blemish Control Face Primer, Acne Fighting Formula, Preps & Soothes Skin, Small, 0.47 Fl Oz (14mL)

For those who don’t want to spend a lot but achieve flawless looking skin, the e.l.f primer is the one for you! 

What’s great about this primer is that it is infused with skincare ingredients that work to target your spots and reduce them.

The primer is infused with salicylic acid, which is excellent for drying the excess oils your spots produce and shrinking their size. 

The primer also features Vitamin E and Tea tree, which have been used for generations to combat skin concerns. Vitamin E will provide some nourishment and hydration, which even the oiliest of skin types will need.

They work together to help reduce the blemishes and keep your skin hydrated. 

E.l.f’s primer has a slight green color to it, you can thank the Tea Tree, but as you blend it into your skin, the color should fade to clear.

Your makeup should apply smoothly over the top; just make sure it has sunk into the skin before adding your foundation or concealer. 

As a brand, e.l.f prides itself on being vegan and cruelty-free, and this primer is also free from parabens and other chemicals that can be harmful to your skin.

This is great for acne-prone skin, as you won’t be adding too many chemicals which your skin can react to. 

The finish of this primer is not as mattifying as you might like for your acne-prone skin.

As most acne sufferers also have oily skin (usually from the excess oils your spots are causing), a matte primer can help control the extra shine you may get throughout the day.

However, with a mattifying powder on top, you should be able to achieve a shine-free face!

The primer is raved about by customers and makeup artists alike.

Not only for its excellent price point, but its ability to work for all skin types and tones and the added skincare benefits make this a primer not to miss!

Pros

  • Affordable 
  • Infused with salicylic acid, vitamin E, and Tea Tree
  • Great for all skin types and tones
  • Cruelty-free and vegan 
  • Smooths skin for a flawless make-up application

Cons

  • Not 100% mattifying, you may need an additional product to achieve no shine. 

More time to browse? Check out our other great options below!

2. Maybelline Baby Skin Instant Pore Eraser Primer

Maybelline New York Baby Skin Instant Pore Eraser Primer 0.67 oz (Pack of 3)

Perhaps one of the lowest costing on this list is Maybelline’s Baby Skin Pore Eraser Primer. This primer is proof that you do not need to spend a fortune to get excellent results! 

The Primer is available in a 20ml bottle so that you may go through it quite quickly; I know I did use it daily, but at such a low cost, replacing it is no bother.

It comes out white, resembling a moisturizer, but is so lightweight and blends in instantly, leaving no color on the skin so that it will be suitable for all skin tones! 

Baby Skin is also suitable for all skin types and will leave your skin with a matte to a natural finish.

I would say it’s slightly more on the matte side, which is excellent as it will stop any oils and shine coming from your acne seeping through your makeup. 

The primer blurs the appearance of pores, smoothes your skin, and creates a smooth canvas for you to apply makeup.

You can also wear it on its own as there is no color for those wanting to blur any imperfections. It does what it says, and you can see a reduction in your pores’ visible appearance. It also blurs out any spots or acne scarring. 

Baby Skin also works to moisturize your skin, which can be an excellent boost for your current moisturizer!

The primer sinks into your skin quickly, allowing you to wear it on its own or underneath makeup without needing to wait for it to try!

I usually apply it, apply my mascara, and then get to work on my foundation. 

For those after an affordable primer that won’t cling to any dry patches or spots, this is the one for you! 

Pros

  • Affordable 
  • The primer sinks into the skin quickly. 
  • It helps aid the longevity of your make-up.
  • Won’t cling to any dry patches or spots 
  • Great for all skin types

Cons

  • You can go through it quite quickly.

3. Latorice Face Makeup Primer

No products found.

At a reasonable price, Latorice’s face primer could be the next addition to your makeup collection! 

The primer is an excellent option for those wanting to conceal not only acne but pores, fine lines, and wrinkles!

The primer is great for those with oily skin as well, as it works to prevent any excess oils from developing and ruining your makeup. 

The primer does have a slight pink tinge to it as it comes out of the tube. The pink color is designed to lighten your skin and brighten your complexion.

A lightning primer can also work to balance out imperfections and blemishes. However, it might be visible on darker skin tones if you are wearing it on its own. 

Latorice’s primer is made with natural ingredients derived from plant and flower extracts.

These are designed to work with any skin type and are also suited for sensitive skin. These extracts include orange blossom, tea tree, rose, lily, magnolia, and oats.

The ingredients complement this nicely to still hydrate the skin along with your skincare routine. 

The primer is listed as a sunscreen and provides no SPF rating, so I would recommend still using an SPF or sunscreen as part of your daily routine to ensure you are fully protected from UV rays. 

While the primer is not suitable for all skin tones, it works to smooth out acne’s appearance, and its ingredients will work to help your skin without irritating. In my opinion, it works best for pale to medium skin tones. 

Pros

  • Reasonably priced 
  • Features oil control to stop excess oils 
  • It contains natural ingredients and is suitable for sensitive skin.
  • Works to brighten dull skin
  • Smooths skin for an effortless makeup application

Cons

  • The pink tinge may not work for all skin tones.

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4. Smashbox Photo Finish Oil-Free Pore Minimizing Primer

Smashbox Photo Finish Oil Free Pore Minimizing By Smashbox for Women - 1 Oz Primer, 1 Oz

For those after a high-end primer that is great for acne, Smashbox has the one for you! Based on their original primer, the oil-free pore minimizing primer is designed with oily, blemish-prone skin in mind. 

The primer is easy to apply and leaves the skin with a smooth finish, ready for a flawless makeup application.

Made with a silicone-based consistency, the primer has a slight cream color to it, which blends into nothing as you apply it. 

The primer is great for all skin tones and is suited more for those with an oily or combination skin type. It does an excellent job of controlling excess oil throughout the day to keep the shine at bay. 

Smashbox’s primer has a matte finish and works to reduce the appearance of pores and blemishes visibly. After applying, you can notice a difference immediately, with your skin seeming smoother and more even.

Though expensive this primer, and its original predecessor, have developed a cult-like following in the beauty world. Many argue that it is worth the price tag, and a little of this does go a long way!

If you were keen to treat yourself and have a smooth base to work on despite your acne, why not give Smashbox a try? 

Pros

  • Easy to apply with a smooth finish
  • It controls excess oils, great for oily and combination skin. 
  • Matte finish. 
  • Blurs to reduce the appearance of pores and blemishes. 
  • Silicone-based consistency. 

Cons

  • Expensive 

5. The Ordinary High-Adherence Silicone Primer

The Ordinary High-Adherence Silicone Primer 30ml

When it comes to the skincare market, The Ordinary has revolutionized it in recent years, bringing affordable yet high-quality products that work. Their minimalist packaging yet great ingredients wowed us, and the same can be said for their primer. 

The silicone-based primer is designed to provide an excellent base for oily skin. Compared to other silicone primers on the market, it does not leave behind a slippery silicone texture on the skin. 

The primer does not feel greasy either and sinks into the skin quickly so you can get on with your makeup application. The formula is also great for providing hydration to the skin. Its lightweight feel should not overwhelm any oily skin types.

You don’t need a lot of this primer either; a small blob will cover your whole face. It is an affordable option too, for those who may have seen the cult following of Smashbox but don’t have the budget for it, this is the one for you! The consistency and formula are very similar; why not treat yourself to a dupe? 

The primer does not settle in any fine lines or acne, allowing for a smooth application of makeup. Compared to others on the market, this primer does not have any skincare benefits to help your acne. 

For those after an affordable primer that will leave your skin smooth and ready for application, this is the one for you!   

Pros

  • Silicone-based primer 
  • Mattifying finish 
  • Non-greasy formula that also hydrates the skin. 
  • Great for blurring pores and imperfections
  • Affordable 

Cons

  • It does not provide skincare benefits other primers do.

Primer For Acne-Prone Skin: Buyer’s Guide

Not too sure what to be looking for? Our buyer’s guide will lead the way. 

Skin types

When purchasing your primer, it’s vital to make sure that it fits your skin type like your skincare.

When we talk about skin types, we are categorizing them into the following: 

  • Dry skin 
  • Oily skin
  • Combination skin
  • Normal skin

Generally, if you are suffering from acne, your skin will be on the oily side. You might notice excess shine or oil around your spots, forehead, nose, or chin. Some acne sufferers will also have dryness on the cheeks or small patches on their face. 

It is worth knowing your skin type before purchasing your primer to ensure it will perform well for you. Some primers are listed as suitable for all skin types, and these can be good options if you have combination skin or are unsure. 

Silicone-based? 

Silicone-based primers are often listed as great options for acne; let’s unpack why to help make your decision. Silicone-based primers are formulated using silicone and are often an alternative to water-based primers. 

Silicone-based primers are popular with people wanting to reduce the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and pores.

The primer usually contains blurring properties, which help to reduce the appearance of these concerns and help your makeup stay in place for longer. 

A silicone primer should leave a velvety feel on your skin. Sometimes, it can feel tacky, which some people like, as your makeup will stick to that rather than your skin.

Generally, silicone-based primers are mattifying, although ones that will leave your skin with a glowy finish are available. 

Added extras?

When looking for a primer, it’s always worth seeing what else you can get your primer to do for your skin.

This won’t appeal to everyone; some people like each part of their skincare routine to do its specific job.

If you are in the market for new skincare, why not test out The Ordinary alongside its primer? Their Niacinamide is a cult favorite for acne, and you can pick it up here. 

Hydration

Getting some hydration from your primer is a great bonus! It ensures that your skin stays moisturized and can be an added boost to your current moisturizer too.

A primer with added hydration is excellent for all skin types also. If you have oily skin, look out for a lightweight primer that will not overwhelm your skin and cause more excess oils. 

Acne fighting ingredients

When it comes to primers for acne and covering your acne, you can get primers that will work to improve your skin.

Primers with ingredients like salicylic acid, niacinamide, and tea tree are great for targeting your breakouts and helping to reduce redness and swelling. 

Suppose you are using a primer with these ingredients. In that case, I recommend checking the percentage used and ensuring that there is not too much in that or other skincare products that could cause any potential irritation to your skin. 

How much? 

A good quality primer does not need to be a costly purchase. With so many brands claiming to be the best for acne skin, and the price ranging so dramatically, it’s hard to know what the right amount to spend is. 

It’s worth setting a budget and sticking to it as closely as possible to avoid any nasty surprises when your statement appears.

It’s worth keeping an eye out for any sales or flash deals as well as bundle opportunities if you like the brand you are using!

Those who are dipping their toe into the primer world may want to start with an affordable option. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need a primer?

A primer, much like when painting, will act as an undercoat for your make-up. An excellent way to think of a primer is like a barrier between your skin and any makeup applied. 

You can wear primer on its own, with many designed to counteract redness or even skin tone, which can be great if you suffer from acne.

We would never tell anyone to wear make-up, it is your personal choice, after all! However, if you are going to wear it, a primer should be a staple in your bag. 

It can work to absorb excess oil from your breakouts, help keep your make-up stay on for longer and in a better condition, reducing the time for touch-ups and contact with your skin, which will help your acne.

Personally, anything that keeps my make-up on without drawing attention to my spots is a winner for me! 

Will primer smooth my skin?

It is worth remembering when purchasing a primer that it has its limitations. If a spot is visibly raised, then even with the best will in the world, your skin is not going to seem airbrushed smooth.

But let’s remember that no-ones skin looks like it does on Instagram or in a magazine. Those photos have been manipulated and filtered.

If a spot is raised or there is texture on the skin, you can bet it is there in real life.

However, that does not mean all is lost. A primer will smooth out your skin and allow for a smoother make-up application and keep your make-up in place all day.

While you may apply your primer and make-up and still see the little lumps from your acne, others will not.

Countless times I have felt self-conscious only to be met with endless compliments about how smooth my skin looks! Remember, no-one will scrutinize you to the same extremes you do. 

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