Primer is the foundation upon which all your makeup rests. It ideally goes on your skin after your skincare products and before applying makeup.
What does primer do? Primer preps your skin for makeup. It helps makeup stay on longer while making your skin look smoother and evening out your skin tone. If you suffer from acne and oily skin, there are new primers in the market that offer additional benefits that target these problems.
In this article, our beauty editors review 10 of the most popular primers that you can consider if you suffer from acne. Check out our list to find the best primer for skin with acne.
Top 10 Primers for Acne-Prone Skin
#1. Maybelline New York Face Studio Master Prime Primer – Best Primer for Acne Prone Skin
Maybelline’s Studio Master Primer is a makeup primer that provides a blurring effect and matte finish for imperfections like acne scars, fine lines, and wrinkles. It features a weightless, water-based, oil-free formula to minimize irritation and redness.
Dermatologist and allergy-tested, this face primer is safe for all skin type including sensitive skin type. Face Studio Master Prime Primer is available in 5 variants that each address different issues while offering different benefits:
- Blurring and pore-minimizing
- Blurring with redness and pigment control
- Blurring and smoothing
- Blurring with sun protection (SPF30)
- Hydrating and smoothing
As a brand, Maybelline New York is a recognized household name that has been around for ages. They have an extensive makeup line of solid products at affordable prices.
We love the Face Studio Master Prime Primer for offering so many benefits. We are also fans of how Maybelline gives us options on which benefits we want most. For these reasons, we believe that this is the best primer for oily acne prone skin.
- Color corrects and blurs fine lines and blemishes
- Provides 5 options for different concerns
- Long-lasting, 24-hour wear
- Dermatologist and allergy-tested
- Blur + Defend variant with SPF 30 sun protection protects against sun damage
- Consistency may be too thin for some women
- Be wary of irritation
#2. E.l.f. Hydrating Face Primer – Best Vitamin-Infused Primer
E.l.f.’s Hydrating Primer provides a smoothing effect by filling in pores, fine lines and wrinkles. Its ingredients contain Vitamins A, C, and E to nourish and hydrate your skin while illuminating your complexion.
This is a creamy makeup primer. You should try to apply a little at a time as it can be quite oily if you apply too much too quickly on your face. It leaves a natural matte finish once it dries.
The e.l.f. Hydrating Primer is 100% vegan and cruelty-free and contains no parabens, phthalates, triclocarban, triclosan, ethoxylates, and hydroquinone.
- Vegan and cruelty free
- Suitable for all skin types
- Contains Vitamin A, C, and E
- Can feel oily
#3. NYX Professional Makeup Pore Filler Primer – Best Primer for Your Beauty Routine
NYX Professional Makeup Pore Filler Primer has a silky formula that is lightweight and works with every skin tone. This beauty product is one of the best primers for acne-prone skin because it is talc and oil free which helps with oil control. It also minimizes the appearance of pores and is infused with vitamin E to nourish skin.
After trying this on, we understand why NYX’s makeup primers are a cult favorite. Their formula dramatically improved the appearance and texture of our skin by making our fine lines and pores less visible. We also liked how it left our faces with a matte finish.
This product didn’t cause any breakouts to our oily acne prone skin, but it kept our skin feeling moisturized while using it. As a primer, it was effective and kept our makeup on for the 12 hours that were promised on their product fan page.
We love the fact that NYX products are vegan. If you’re on the fence about this one, you’ll find many reviews online from women who may be able to give you additional insight and confirmation on its benefits and effectiveness.
- Vegan and cruelty free
- Talc and oil free, infused with vitamin E
- Provides great coverage that hides pores and skin imperfections
- Didn’t cause any breakouts
- Takes a while to dry
- Smell can take a little getting used to
#4. Photo Finish Foundation Primer by Smashbox – Best 2-in-1 Primer Foundation
Smashbox’s Photo Finish Foundation Primer is one of the transparent oil free primers that provides an instantly smooth look to skin by diminishing the appearance of fine lines, blemishes, acne, and acne scars. According to their product page, this face primer also protects skin from harmful environmental factors that can damage it.
The Photo Finish Foundation Primer blends with any skin tone and contains vitamins A and E. It has no talc, phthalates, parabens, or fragrance which makes it a great choice for skin that is acne prone.
This primer by Smashbox is a product that is extremely easy to use and sets in 15 seconds. Because it doubles as a foundation, it can be used by itself or as a base under makeup. You can also use it on top of makeup for touch-ups and to help makeup set properly. It promises to provide a photo-quality finish and long-lasting smoothness while helping to keep makeup stay on longer.
We love Smashbox’s formula and can totally see it becoming part of our beauty routine. It is more expensive than the usual primer, but one tube will easily last several months. A little product goes a long way and leaves our face matte and looking natural.
All Smashbox products are vegan so you can keep a clear conscience while reaping the benefits of clearer, smoother-looking skin.
- Cruelty free
- Suitable for all skin tones
- Photo-quality finish
- Can cause breakouts
- Apply minimally otherwise it will be oily
- Pricier than the other primers we reviewed
#5. Dr. Brandt Skincare Pores No More Pore Refiner Primer – Best Pore-Minimizing Primer
The Pores No More Pore Refiner Primer is one of the best primers for acne prone skin. It is a primer with salicylic acid which can help dry out pimples. This product also absorbs extra oil on your face to prevent an oily look.
Its water-based sweatproof formula minimizes the appearance of pores and fine lines. It also makes skin imperfections such as large pores less visible giving you a smooth base for your makeup.
The manufacturers recommend using this primer in the morning immediately after your skincare routine to help cover up and minimize any blemishes on your skin.
Dr. Brandt’s primer has a tan-colored cream with a rather thin consistency. It is one of the most expensive products in our review of primers for acne prone skin, but it does an exceptionally good job at covering up our less than perfect texture. After application, we simply could not stop admiring how much smoother and less visible our acne marks and fine lines were. Our pores were also harder to see.
In our review, this is the first primer with anti acne ingredients which is always great when you’re looking for primers for acne prone skin. Overall, we strongly recommend this mattifying primer with anti acne properties.
- Very effective at improving skin texture, diminishes fine lines, large pores, and blemishes
- Primer with anti acne ingredients
- Effectively reduces oiliness
- Has a thin consistency
- Can have a drying effect
#6. Oily Face Control Mattifying Primer and Moisturizer with Salicylic Acid and Tea Tree Oil – Best Non Comedogenic Primer
Oily Face Control Mattifying Primer is the first product in our review that isn’t manufactured by a big brand business. This mattifying face primer is from Lauda Botanicals, a small skincare company from the US. Their brand promise is to provide personal products made from organic, natural ingredients that are responsibly sourced.
Their products are non-GMO, cruelty and paraben-free, contain no artificial mineral oils, fragrances, and colors.
In addition to offering natural products, Oily Control Mattifying Primer and Moisturizer packs a punch when it comes to pimples. Its formula contains salicylic and tea tree, two very effective ingredients when you’re looking for primers for acne prone skin.
Oily Face Control is also a non comedogenic primer which means that it won’t clog pores. The product claims to shrink pore size and prevent oily skin. It also promises to calm irritated countenance.
This isn’t a very popular product, but we were amazed by how well their product worked in minimizing the appearance of pores, acne, and other skin concerns. We also loved how it helped not just hide, but address our skin concerns as well. It kept its promise of oil free skin but kept our skin moisturized at the same time. We also didn’t suffer from breakouts after using it and we loved the matte finish.
We highly recommend this product for all skin type and even for people with acne prone skin. This is the best primer for acne-prone skin and we’re excited to add this to our makeup routine.
- Mattifying primer with anti acne ingredients
- Provides moisture while controlling oily skin
- Great coverage formula
- Improves skin texture
- Smell is not for everyone
- Can cause dryness
#7. Cover FX Weightless Primer – Best Primer for Oily Skin
The Cover FX Weightless Primer is a gel primer for acne prone skin. It has a weightless formula made with African tree bark to keep oiliness at bay while minimizing the appearance of large pores.
Cover FX also features a natural fruit complex made with ingredients like sugar cane, lemon, sugar maple, orange fruit extracts, bilberry, and sugar maple. It is a combination that supports natural cell renewal making you look fresh and feel soft while providing it with a matte finish.
If you’re not used to using gel primers, Cover FX can feel a bit odd at first, but we loved how easy it was to put on makeup after applying it. Our makeup stayed on the entire day and kept our skin moisturized without it becoming an oily mess. We didn’t experience any breakouts after using this for a few days so it is one of the primers for acne prone skin that we would recommend.
This product is vegan and 100% cruelty free. It is also free of parabens, sulfates, fragrance, mineral oil, talc, and gluten making it a safe choice for sensitive skin and a good choice for all skin types. You can wear it by itself or under makeup. It looks great either way.
- Formulated with 1% salicylic acid to fight pimples
- Ancient African tree bark controls oiliness
- Matte finish and smooth on skin
- Texture is on the sticky side
- On the expensive side
#8. Rimmel Stay Matte Mattifying Primer – Best Primer for Light Coverage
The Rimmel Stay Matte Mattifying Primer boasts of a super lightweight formula that leaves no greasy or heavy residue. It controls the shine for up to 8 hours while also providing you with a matte finish for your face.
Rimmel’s primer diminishes the appearance of pores and imperfections. It also ensures that your skin does not become greasy or cakey, but maintains a velvety finish.
This option is suitable for all skin types, however, it seems to work exceptionally well on oily skin. It also prevents dryness.
This product is fairly easy to use and just needs to be patted on your skin. It is a versatile primer that can be worn by itself or under makeup. It’s a very budget-friendly option and is cheaper than most of the beauty products we’ve reviewed.
- Suitable for all skin types and tones
- Versatile, can be worn on its own or under makeup
- Coverage can be too light for some
- Can be difficult to blend
- Consistency can be too thick
#9. Clinique Super Universal Face Primer – Best for Sensitive Skin
The Clinique Super Universal Primer is an oil-free, lightweight cream primer with color-correcting properties. This foundation primer is suitable for oily acne prone skin though it can also be used by women with dry or combination skin.
Clinique is a classic American skincare brand that has been around since the 1960s. They have since established a solid line of skincare and makeup products that are developed by dermatologists.
All of Clinique’s offerings, including the Super Universal Primer, are hypoallergenic, fragrance-free, and contain no parabens and phthalates.
Their Super Universal Primer is oil free and lets you apply makeup colors evenly. It effectively minimizes the appearance of pores, acne, and other skin imperfections while leaving your skin smooth and ready for makeup application.
- Hypoallergenic formulation
- Suitable for all skin types
- Moisturizes skin
- Provides good coverage
- On the pricey side
- Flakes after a few hours
#10. bareMinerals Original Prime Time Foundation Primer – Best Anti-Acne Primer
The bareMinerals Original Prime Time Foundation Primer is perfect for all types of skin. It fights and defends against dryness and rough patches. It also minimizes the appearance of fine lines and large pores while controlling excess oil on the skin.
The primer is infused with vitamin E and antioxidants which work to provide moisture and nourishment while soothing your skin. It is free of irritants and preservatives so your skin feels healthy. BareMinerals’ primer features a silky formula that is easy to apply and doesn’t get sticky when applied.
Since it is free of preservatives, fragrances, and oil, women with sensitive skin can use it. It instantly evens out your complexion and leaves your skin ready for makeup. This works great with mineral pigments.
One bottle of Prime Time Foundation Primer will easily last you for a long time. You only need a small amount of product for your entire face.
It is vegan and free of parabens, cruelty, gluten, synthetic fragrances, tree nut, talc, and sodium Laureth sulfate.
- Nourishing vitamin E fights dryness, provides moisture
- Silky formula makes it easy to apply
- Moisturizes your skin
- Works great with mineral makeup
- Pump dispenser breaks easily
- Can cause allergic reactions
Choose the Best Primer for Acne-Prone Skin
How Do You Choose the Best Primer for Acne-Prone Skin?
Acne is an issue that can only worsen if you use the wrong makeup products on your skin. If you have acne-prone skin you must choose the right makeup primer. Primer is the base of all makeup and comes in direct contact with your skin.
If your skin is prone to acne or hives, it would be wise to follow these basic guidelines when you choose the best primer for your skin.
- Choose anything that does not have any added oils, fragrances, or other skin irritants.
- Use those infused with nourishing ingredients like vitamin E, hyaluronic acid, green tea extract, and willow bark extract.
- Purchase a primer that contains moisturizing agents to keep your skin hydrated.
- Look for a product that is non comedogenic as it will prevent your pores from becoming clogged.
When you have acne-prone skin, it can become a challenge to find something that works well with your skin and doesn’t aggravate pimples. The best primers should ideally counteract acne without causing oiliness and dry skin. It should give you a smooth, natural-looking finish that you can easily layer makeup products over and helps your makeup stay on for the entire day.
What To Look For in the Best Primer for Acne-Prone Skin?
If a makeup product is labeled non comedogenic it means that the product will not clog your pores and it will protect your skin from external damage. Primers that have non comedogenic ratings between 0 and 2 are generally safer for acne prone skin.
If you have oily skin which is also prone to acne, it would be best to look for an oil free or oil-absorbing primer for your skin. Oil free products prevent unwanted shine. You can also opt for primers that absorb excess oil from the skin to help keep it under control.
Good makeup primers for acne-prone skin will ideally have this ingredient. Salicylic acid is used not only to prevent acne but also to treat it. The ingredient dries up blemishes by exfoliating skin and keeping pores clear. This beta-hydroxy acid does not provide instant results, however. You may need to wait anywhere from a few days to a few weeks before your pimples disappear.
Vitamins A and E
Vitamins A and E are used in makeup products as hydrating agents. They help to heal and moisturize. Vitamin E in particular works as an antioxidant and protects the skin from damage and exposure to the sun. Vitamin A helps prevent skin breakouts while speeding up the healing process of your skin.
Tea Tree Oil
Tea Tree Oil can be a valuable ingredient in your primer if you suffer from breakouts. The best primers for acne list this as a main ingredient due to its anti-inflammatory and soothing properties. Tea Tree oil is good for treating dry skin and can even help reduce redness and irritation.
Aloe vera is known to be very good for the skin. It protects the skin against irritants and also soothes it. A primer that contains aloe vera can protect your skin and help get rid of irritation.
Green Tea Extracts
This ingredient helps soothe skin. Green tea is also known to be one of the most effective antioxidants on the planet.
Frequently Asked Questions
#1. Does Primer Make Acne Worse?
Using primer has multiple benefits. It provides a foundation for your makeup and helps it last longer. It also makes your skin look smoother and makes blemishes and imperfections less visible. A good primer will not only make makeup application easier but will also nourish the skin beneath it while keeping blemishes away.
#2. Can Primers Cause Acne?
If primers can make acne worse, then they can also cause it. Since they come in direct contact with the skin, good formulations are capable of offering a certain level of protection. They can help control oil, fight pimples, and soothe irritation. Primers that are not suited to your skin can result in clogged pores and breakouts.
The more sensitive your skin is, the more often you’ll encounter skin problems like these. For the sake of your skin, it pays to look for a primer for acne prone skin.
#3. What Is the Best Primer for Acne-Prone Skin?
Our personal favorite is Oily Control Mattifying Primer and Moisturizer. We love the fact that it has pimple-fighting properties with its salicylic acid and tea tree oil. Salicylic acid works against acne, treating it while also preventing any further clogged pores or breakouts. The tea tree oil helps combat dryness and ensures that skin remains hydrated.
#4. How To Use Primer on Acne-Prone Skin?
You can use primer for acne-prone skin the same way you would use any primer. An extra step you can take to prevent excess oil on your skin is to reapply it over your foundation to eliminate any remaining shine.
Wanting to take care of your skin is understandable. If you have skin that is prone to acne, it becomes an even more important responsibility. Your skin is the first thing people see when they look at you. It makes sense to put your best foot forward with clear, healthy, glowing skin.
Acne can be tough to deal with and can be a persistent issue that you need to treat. Putting on makeup when you have sensitive acne-prone skin can be tricky. You can have healthier skin and an easier time applying makeup if you use a primer that won t clog pores and addresses the skin issues you deal with most.
Choosing the right primer means protecting your skin from unnecessary breakouts, giving your skin the best chance for smooth, soft, and luminous skin. While we think that the Oily Face Control Mattifying Primer and Moisturizer is the best among the 10 best primers for acne prone skin, this may not be the case for you.
Different ingredients can cause irritation among different women. You should look at our review while keeping your own skin in mind. We can give you our recommendations and our opinions, but you know your skin best. No one can find your holy grail to perfect skincare and the perfect primer except you.