What is the Best Drugstore Primer in 2019?

When it comes to makeup, there are so many different types of products, and then different brands and variations of each product type that deciding which cosmetics best suit your skin can be a minefield.

As increased knowledge, technology and research lead to the development of new products, all of the other cosmetic companies were generally quick to follow suit and produce their own versions.

So no sooner than we find out about a new type of product, is the market is flooded with a variety of different choices, cleverly advertized to convince you that this company’s new product is superior to the next.

Most companies now offer a primer in their makeup range, and using a primer can provide many benefits—if you can pick your way through all of the available products to select the best primer for you.

So let’s talk more about primers, and see if we can find the very best drugstore primers to add to your cosmetic arsenal!

Product
Details
Our Rating
Our #1 Rated
Stay Matte Primer

Rimmel

Stay Matte Primer

4 out of 5

In the Drugstore Primer category

Click for price
  • Volume: 30 ml (1 fl oz)
  • Skin perfecting
  • Ultra-lightweight formula
HealthAmbition Stamp

Our #1 Rated

4 out of 5

In the Drugstore Primer category


Our #2 Rated
Mineral Infused Primer

e.l.f.

Mineral Infused Primer

4 out of 5

In the Drugstore Primer category

Click for price
  • SILKY FORMULA: Minimize redness by using this versatile green-tinted primer. The skin-smoothing, silky formula is great for...
  • HOW TO USE: Apply to clean skin prior to makeup application to prep skin. Use a small amount and blend evenly on your face.
  • 100% CRUELTY-FREE & VEGAN: Proud to be 100% vegan and cruelty-free, worldwide. Because kindness is chic.
HealthAmbition Stamp

Our #2 Rated

4 out of 5

In the Drugstore Primer category


Our #3 Rated
PhotoReady Primer

Revlon

PhotoReady Primer

4 out of 5

In the Drugstore Primer category

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  • Smooths and perfects skin to create a picture perfect canvas for makeup
  • High Definition Filter Technology reflects and diffuses light to create a flawless, airbrushed look
  • Lightweight, pink tinted formula brightens skin and softens the appearance of imperfections
HealthAmbition Stamp

Our #3 Rated

4 out of 5

In the Drugstore Primer category



Our #5 Rated
Magic Lumi Primer

L'Oreal

Magic Lumi Primer

3 out of 5

In the Drugstore Primer category

Click for price
  • Light Infusing Primer
  • Instant Illumination
  • Enlightened Complexion
HealthAmbition Stamp

Our #5 Rated

3 out of 5

In the Drugstore Primer category

What Is a Primer?

A primer is a type of cosmetic product which is applied to the skin after your moisturizer but before the foundation or other makeup is applied. Primers normally come in the form of a serum or gel, cream or powder.

Primer popularity has increased dramatically in recent years. Sales of primer increased by 73 percent between 2006 and 2011, according to the New York Times, and you can now buy primers to apply to the whole face before foundation, but also to the eye area before eyeshadow or mascara, for the lips and also the nails.

Most primers are water or silicone-based; many contain natural extracts or essential oils. Some primers have an SPF rating, and help to protect the skin from UV rays.

What Is a Drugstore Primer?

All cosmetics have a specific shelf life. After this, the product may start to dry out, become less effective and the user risks the possibility of infection. Now I don’t know about you, but I’ve never completely used up even a single eyeshadow color within the recommended three months!

If I’m honest, there’s probably more than one product lurking in my makeup drawer that I haven’t got around to throwing in the trash. In fact, some of them might be closer to three years old rather than three months (just to clarify, I don’t actually use them any more!).

The short shelf life of many cometics means that many people who splash out on designer cosmetics—which can cost nothing short of a small fortune—end up having to put much of it in the trash.

The big players in the cosmetic industry have picked up on this, and have developed ways of producing cosmetics in such ways as to make them affordable enough to replace well within the recommended time frame.

The term ‘drugstore cosmetics’ is used to describe these makeup products, produced en masse by large cosmetic companies that are widely available for everyone in their local drugstore or high street stores.

So when it comes to primers, a drugstore primer is simply a primer that’s widely available to buy in many shops, country or worldwide, that’s much more affordable than many of the top brands.

What Does a Primer Do?

As the name suggests, primers prepare the skin or hair, smoothing the surface for more even foundation coverage and a more naturally flawless look. Primer is also designed to help makeup last longer once applied and help to control oiliness and shine.

Those of us who’ve been dedicated moisturizer users over the years may well feel that primer is not strictly necessary, let’s face it we’ve managed to do without it perfectly well for years. But research and developments lead to new discoveries, right?

Primers work to form a barrier between your freshly moisturised skin and your foundation. This helps to prevent unhelpful cosmetic ingredients from coming into direct contact with the skin.

Primers can reduce the amount of ingredients like talc (a common ingredient in many foundations) from being absorbed by the skin. The barrier effect of a primer also works by preventing talc and other absorbent ingredients from draining the skin of moisture.

Some primers help to even out skin tones, promoting a flawless look and brightening the skin. Many primers contain natural extracts which can help to refresh and soothe the skin and reduce irritation.

Scientific research which has been conducted on cosmetic primers also tells us that they can reduce the appearance of hyperpigmentation and fine lines related to UV skin damage.

Eyeshadow Primers

Also known as eyelid primers, these are very similar to foundation primers, but are formulated specifically for the eye area, where the skin tends to be thinner and more delicate than on the rest of the face.

Eyeshadow primers are designed to even out the skin tone of the lid prior to the application of other makeup, can help to reduce oiliness, giving a matte appearance to the skin, or add a shimmery touch depending on the product and specific ingredients.

All eyeshadow primers are intended to aid the smooth application of eyeshadow, make blending colours much easier and help keep your eyeshadow in place for longer. This all adds up to a more professional look.

Mascara Primers

Mascara primers are usually colourless, and are applied to the eyelashes prior to mascara to add thickness and length for that fabulous, luscious lashes catwalk look. They can be available as individual products to be used in addition to your normal mascara. Some brands however, manufactured products which are dual purpose.

Unscrew the wand at one end of the tube which contains the primer and apply exactly as you would your normal mascara. Allow to dry thoroughly before turning the tube around, unscrewing the wand at the opposite end—this contains the mascara—and apply as usual.

Lip Primers

Along similar lines to foundation, eyelid and eyelash primers, lip primers are very effective at smoothing the surface of the lips to prepare them for the application of lip liner, lipstick and lip gloss.

Lip primers can help to make your lip color last much longer, meaning less frequent applications throughout the day, saving time and money. They can also prevent lip colour from bleeding into any fine lines around the lip area.

How to Use a Foundation Primer

Using a primer is very easy. After cleansing and moisturizing your face, apply your regular moisturizer as normal and give it enough time to soak in—any experts recommend waiting around twenty minutes for moisturizer to be absorbed. Now it’s time for the primer!

It’s usual with primers for a small amount of product to go a long way, so don’t be tempted to use too much. The best plan is to dot a small amount, around a dime-sized blob is fine, all over the face and gently blend with clean fingertips, dabbing into the skin to blend well.

Allow the primer to dry for a few minutes, and apply your foundation as normal. Checkout this YouTube video showing exactly how to apply primer prior to using your foundation:

The Not-So-Good News…

There are lots of advantages to using primers, but there’s also a drawback. While the large spherical silicon molecule are thought to be inert and safe to use on the skin, they don’t biodegrade which is obviously a concern for the environment.

Precautions for Use

Many makeup primers are manufactured using silicone-based compounds for their effects of smoothing the surface of the skin. They can, however, cause irritation, especially for people with some types of acne and other skin conditions.

For this reason, do a patch test on a discreet area before you use a new product for a full application, or if you haven’t used a particular brand for a long time.

What Is the Best Drugstore Primer?

We’ve emptied all the shelves at our local drugstores (well, almost!) and set about testing them to find the top five best drugstore primers. We’ve chosen primers for all over facial use, as these tend to be the most popular.

The selected products are good quality, popular with users and are widely available. All of their features—positive and negative—are highlighted to help you choose the primer that best suits your skin.

Our #1 Rated
Our pick our #1 rated

Rimmel

Stay Matte Primer

  • Quality
    Quality

  • Quality
    Price

  • Quality
    Our rating

Rimmel has a very well-established reputation for its trendsetting edgy style and cool catwalk ambassadors. Some people commented that they hadn’t used any Rimmel makeup since their teens, but this Rimmel primer made many sit up and take notice. Numerous users were bowled over by the shine control, which lasted for several hours, even for those with oily skin.

One or two people found this primer too oily, or reported a breakout. By contrast, the majority of people really liked this primer, reporting that it’s an extremely effective product. As the lowest priced product of those reviewed—at around half the cost of the next least expensive—people were delighted with the fantastic value for money.

Pros
Pro 1 fluid ounce tube.
Pro Suitable for all skin types.
Pro Non greasy.
Pro Smoothes skin.
Pro Minimizes pores.
Pro Matte effect.
Pro Ultra lightweight.
Pro Shine control.
Cons
Con A tiny number of people found this product too greasy
Con one reported a skin breakout.
 
 
 
 
 
 

Our #2 Rated
Our pick our #2 rated

e.l.f.

Mineral Infused Primer

  • Quality
    Quality

  • Quality
    Price

  • Quality
    Our rating

Although some people were concerned about how green this primer is, they found it didn’t look at all green once applied to the skin. Many users reported that this primer made a big difference when it came to helping their makeup last much longer. Some were even very impressed in hot, humid weather.

People liked the silky smooth feeling of the skin after use, and the majority thought the product itself was great quality. There were several comments, however, about how little of the product you get for your money, so people didn’t consider it good value, even though it was mid-priced for the products we reviewed.

Pros
Pro 0.47 ounce pump dispenser.
Pro Suitable for all skin types.
Pro Pore minimizing effect.
Pro Smoothes skin surface.
Pro Provides all day moisturizing.
Pro Tone adjusting.
Pro Neutralizing.
Cons
Con Lower value for money than other products.
 
 
 
 
 
 

Our #3 Rated
Our pick our #3 rated

Revlon

PhotoReady Primer

  • Quality
    Quality

  • Quality
    Price

  • Quality
    Our rating

This pink-tinted primer from cosmetics giant Revlon impressed many users, who commented on their silky smooth skin after application. They loved the fact that it prevented their foundation from settling in wrinkles and making them more prominent, although a small number of people didn’t agree. Others also found this primer really made a big difference to keeping makeup in place all day.

A couple of people experienced breakouts, and one person complained that this primer was hard to wash off the skin. A mid-range priced product compared to the others reviewed, most users thought this product was worth paying a little extra for considering its excellent quality and performance.

Pros
Pro 0.9 fluid ounce pump dispenser.
Pro Suitable for all skin types.
Pro Pore minimizing effect.
Pro Lightweight gel with pink tint.
Pro Smoothes skin surface.
Pro Oil
Pro talc
Pro fragrance and paraben free.
Pro Contains photochromic pigments to help minimize flaws.
Cons
Con A few people experienced breakouts.
Con One user found it difficult to completely remove this primer from the skin.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


Our #5 Rated
Our pick our #5 rated

L'Oreal

Magic Lumi Primer

  • Quality
    Quality

  • Quality
    Price

  • Quality
    Our rating

One of the top cosmetics companies in the world, L’Oreal has been producing good-quality, affordable makeup for over a hundred years. People were hugely impressed with this primer, with some commenting that it’s the best one they’ve ever used. Many people found this primer helps to make large pores much less noticeable, and loved the silky smooth feeling on the skin.

People with all skin types and users of all ages were big fans of this product. Some reported using it alone for luminous, natural skin, others said they no longer needed concealer after using this primer. One user reported an allergic reaction and a few found their bottle of primer had separated, but on the whole, people thought this was an excellent product, even though it was the most expensive we reviewed.

Pros
Pro 0.68 fluid ounce pump dispenser.
Pro Suitable for all skin types.
Pro Light infusing.
Pro Smoothes skin texture.
Pro Brightens complexion.
Cons
Con A few users reported that their bottle of primer separated.
Con One person had an allergic reaction.
 
 
 

Our Choice

There’s lots of choice when it comes to drugstore primers, and many of them have various positive things going for them. Of the five top products included in our review, the general consensus was that the Rimmel Stay Matte Primer is the best drugstore primer.

Most people were extremely impressed by the performance of this primer, especially with regard to shine control—even for very oily skin—and helping makeup stay in place for longer. Users particularly liked the silky smooth feeling after applying this primer, with very few reports of breakouts or other adverse reactions.

Considering how effective this primer was for the vast majority of people, the biggest surprise for some was the very low price in comparison to the other products – and who doesn’t love a fantastic quality bargain?

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