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13 Best Drugstore Primers for Long-Lasting Makeup

Dry skin, acne prone skin or otherwise, these affordable primers cover it all.

drugstore primer
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We updated this article in July 2022 to ensure all picks vetted by the Good Housekeeping Institute were available, in stock and correctly priced. We also included two new picks from e.l.f. Cosmetics and Essence.


Whether it's due to oily skin or sweaty temps, makeup has a tendency to slip and slide throughout the day. That's why a good makeup primer is truly necessary if you want your foundation, concealer, blush and eyeshadow to stay put for hours. Primers contain "smoothing ingredients that create a silky-feeling canvas for makeup, helping it to go on evenly," explains Birnur Aral, Ph.D., director of the Good Housekeeping Institute Beauty Lab. Plus, applying primer is easy: Just use your fingers to apply a pea-size amount and blend it on.

There are a ton of drugstore primers out there with just as quality formulas — today's most affordable primers can also brighten, hydrate, smooth fine lines, minimize pores, mattify and so much more. We put these qualities to the test when we evaluated primers for our annual Beauty Awards and for our Good Housekeeping Seal, breaking down favorable ingredients and gathering real-life feedback from our consumer testers. Based on GH Beauty Lab testing and reviews vetted by the GH beauty editors, here are the best drugstore primers for long-lasting makeup, including the best face primers for oily skin, the best primers for dry skin, combination skin and more.

Our top picks:

Read on for our complete guide to the best drugstore primers, including how to shop for your skin type. Build out your beauty routine with our tips on how to minimize pores and the best dark spot correctors.

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1
Best Overall Drugstore Primer
No7
Airbrush Away Primer
No7
2
Best Value Drugstore Primer
Maybelline New York
Baby Skin Instant Pore Eraser
Maybelline
3
BEST BRIGHTENING DRUGSTORE PRIMER
e.l.f. Cosmetics
Acne Fighting Putty Primer
e.l.f. Cosmetics
4
Best Drugstore Primer for Pores
Maybelline New York
Master Prime Primer
Maybelline
5
BEST DRUGSTORE PRIMER FOR DRY SKIN
Essence
Prime+ Studio Hydrating +Skin Refreshing Primer
Essence
6
BEST DRUGSTORE PRIMER FOR SENSITIVE SKIN
Aveeno
MaxGlow Hydrating Face Serum + Primer
Aveeno
7
Best Drugstore Primer for Long-Lasting Makeup
Revlon
PhotoReady Primer
Revlon
8
Best Drugstore Primer for Oily Skin
NYX Professional Makeup
Shine Killer Face Primer
NYX
9
Best Drugstore Primer for Combination Skin
Rimmel
Stay Matte Primer
Rimmel
10
Best Drugstore Primer for Mature Skin
COVERGIRL
Simply Ageless Makeup Primer
Covergirl
11
Best Drugstore Primer for Rosacea
e.l.f. Cosmetics
Tone Adjusting Face Primer
e.l.f. Cosmetics
12
Best Radiant Drugstore Primer
Neutrogena
Healthy Skin Radiant Booster Primer & Serum
Neutrogena
13
BEST DRUGSTORE LASH PRIMER
COVERGIRL
Lash Blast Amplify Eyelash Mascara Primer
Covergirl
How we chose the best drugstore primer
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Our Good Housekeeping Institute's Beauty Lab scientists test hundreds of makeup products from foundation to concealer and beyond each year, including makeup primers, to find the most effective formulas. Primers are evaluated both with consumer testers and in-Lab tests on factors including pore blurring and skin smoothing, product texture on the skin, ease of use and application and overall user satisfaction. We've included the top-performing picks from our Lab evaluations above, plus editor's picks and Beauty Lab favorites.

What to look for in a drugstore primer
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Professional makeup artists and GH Beauty Lab experts recommend shopping for a makeup primer according to your skin type:

✔️ If you have oily, combination or acne-prone skin, celebrity makeup artist Ashunta Sheriff suggests looking for mattifying primers. "They help to slow oil production by keeping the skin matte and dry," she says. These products will usually contain oil-absorbing elements and leave your skin with a more powdery feel, Aral adds.

✔️ If you have dry skin, make sure the product labels include words like "hydrating," "moisturizing" or "nourishing." The last thing you want is your makeup to flake in the middle of the day, and the softening ingredients in these formulas will keep your skin hydrated while keeping makeup in place.

Why trust Good Housekeeping?
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The Good Housekeeping Institute is comprised of scientists, chemists and product experts who regularly test and vet products to make the best recommendations out there. Executive Director Birnur Aral oversees all Lab tests and for this article, lent her decades-long beauty experience on how to choose makeup primers. Former Product and Reviews Editor Shanon Maglente rounded up the picks above based on highly rated reviews, picks from the GH team and consulted celebrity makeup artist Ashunta Sheriff.

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