What is Makeup Primer (& Do I REALLY Need It?)


Silas & Grace

A hand holding an oil used as a makeup primer.

If you’ve ever wondered, “What is makeup primer?” Then you’re not alone, I was there too! 👋

However, after I stopped being lazy and figured it out, even then I still didn’t want to give it a try.

Something about adding just another step to my getting ready routine, just seemed like too much. 😂

But recently, I started using an oil as a primer, and it has completely changed my makeup game.

And it happened by accident.

I’ll go into that more later, and what I’m using, but I do want to say that I am so glad I had this happy accident.

I always felt irritated whenever I would put on a full face of makeup, have it look incredible, and then two hours later, things would look messy and dry. 

And if you’ve ever been there, then you’ll probably want to know what makeup primer is, and how it can make you look great too!

Related: 12 SUPER Helpful Tips I’ve Learned in My Skincare Journey

What is Makeup Primer?

Makeup gel on a tan surface.

I love finding ways to help you level up in your own life, big and small.

And makeup is a great place to start. Also, with something as simple as primer, it’s a great non-intimidating way to level up. 👌

Now, if you’re wondering, “What is makeup primer,” then here’s your answer:

Simply put, makeup primer is a base layer, of an oil or cream, that you put on your skin to prep it for makeup.

It’s the smoothing affect your skin and makeup needs, so think of it like a filter, or photoshop.

I’m not saying it will make you look completely flawless, but it will get you there as close as possible.

And depending on your skin, and what type of primer you choose, it’s the corrector you need to make sure that your makeup looks great before heading out.

Here are the things different makeup primers can help with:

  • Keeping things smooth and looking fresh.
  • Covering up pores.
  • Sun protection.
  • Helping makeup stay on longer.
  • Helping with oily or dry skin.
  • Skin color correction.
  • Improving fine lines.
  • There are also primers for eyeshadow, mascara, and lipstick.

Basically, think of primer as a good friend, who wants to make sure you look as good as possible. 👍 

Oh also, if you need any other reason to use facial primer, this study shows that some primers have been able to help with mild, to moderate, hyperpigmentation and fine lines. Pretty cool right?

More Good Reading: 12 Beyond Easy Beauty Hacks Any Girl can Do

Do You Really Need Makeup Primer?

Makeup in makeup organizing containers.

Technically, no.

Don’t feel like you need to drop a lot of money just because a ton of makeup influencers are telling you that you NEED primer.

However, I would highly recommend it!

For me personally, I see it as an essential part of the makeup process. It’s what keeps my makeup staying on longer, and looking incredible hours after I’ve applied my foundation and powder.

If applied right, it basically does for me what makeup foundation commercials SAY they will do for you. 🤷‍♀️

Related: 10 Skincare Products That Have Actually Changed My Skin 

How Do You Apply Primer?


Alright, now how do you apply makeup primer, and know that you’re actually doing it right?

I’ll help you out!

1. How Do You Apply Face Primer?

Now that you know what makeup primer is, and what it’s used for, here’s how to best apply face primer. Because if not put on correctly, it can completely mess up your makeup look.

Trust me, I would know. 😬 

  1. First, wash your face.
  2. Apply any sunscreens, moisturizers, or pre-makeup skincare products, and let them absorb before using primer.
  3. Use a small amount of primer, and make sure it’s rubbed into your facial skin very well. I use an oil as my primer (which I’ll discuss down below), and find that if I just use a tiny bit, and rub it all over my face and neck really well, my makeup goes on and stays on. 👍 Of course, you can also just test the amount you put on, and see what works for your skin!
  4. Apply it with your fingers in circular motions. You want to make sure you’re using your fingers instead of makeup sponges to apply primer. A makeup sponge will just rub it around, instead of applying it thoroughly.
  5. Wait a couple of minutes for your makeup primer to set before applying makeup. This allows it to set and dry, and not just rub off.
  6. And that’s it! Pretty simple. 🙂

Side Note: Check out the 90+ page Daily Self-Care Journal. You might like it!

2. How to Apply Lip Primer

If you’re wanting your lipstick to last longer, than here’s how to apply lip primer:

  1. Put on a thin layer of lip primer.
  2. Apply lip liner.
  3. Then finish off with your lipstick.
  4. Done!

3. How to Apply Mascara Primer

Apparently, mascara primer can make your lashes look longer and fuller.

And if that’s the affect you want, then here’s how to apply mascara primer:

  1. Apply the lash primer to your lashes, starting at the base, and going upwards.
  2. Once you feel that you have a good amount on, wait just a few minutes for it to dry.
  3. When the primer has dried, apply your mascara thoroughly.
  4. And you’re finished. 🙂

4. How to Apply Eyeshadow Primer

If you love using eyeshadow, then here’s a quick guide on how to apply eyeshadow primer:

  1. Use a small amount of eyeshadow primer, and apply it carefully in the area that you will use the eyeshadow on. 
  2. Let it dry completely, then apply your eyeshadow.
  3. That’s it, pretty easy!

More Great Reads: 8 Beyond Easy 5 Minute Hairstyles for Those Crazy Busy Mornings

5. How to Apply Nail Primer

There are different types of nail primers, and the two that seem to be the most commonly used are acid and acid-free nail primers.

Here’s how to apply an acid-free nail primer:

  1. Apply this primer with an almost dry brush.
  2. Let it sit for 40-60 seconds, or longer if needed.
  3. Once it’s fully dry, apply nail polish.

How to apple acid nail primer for a manicure:

  1. Apply a small amount of acid primer to the middle your nails.
  2. Let it spread naturally.
  3. Wait for it to evaporate before continuing your manicure.

Related: 16 Tips on How to Be Beautiful (That ACTUALLY Work)

How to Pick the Right Primer for Your Skin


Makeup primer probably sounds super helpful by now, but let’s make sure you’re actually taken care of.

Here are two ways you can make sure that you grab the right primer.

1. Know Your Skin Type

This will help you make sure that you’re not wasting money, and getting something that’ll make your skin look too dry (as an example).

Here are some things to consider before you buy a primer:

  • Is your skin oily?
  • Is it dry?
  • Do you have combination skin?
  • Are there wrinkles and creases you want to reduce?
  • Do you have an uneven skin tone?
  • Do you want sun protection?
  • Do you have pores you want to cover up?

Fun Fact: You can use more than one primer; I talk more about that down below!

2. Find the Right Primer That Works with Your Skin Type

Blurring: I think this is kind of the one we all want. 😂 Blurring primers help with covering up pores, and rough textures. And if this is your skin concern, then I would give this type a try!

Hydrating: If you have dry skin, or live in a dry area, then a hydrating primer is a great way to give yourself that fresh look, and minimize creasing.

Mattifying: This type of primer is great for oily skin. If you deal with constantly needing to reapply powder, then grabbing a mattifying primer should be a good move for you.

Illuminating: This is a primer you put on that has light-reflecting particles in it. It gives you that pretty glowing look. 👌 Also, I’ve read that you don’t want to put makeup over it; the glowing look gets canceled out.

Color-Corrector: If you have skin that’s uneven in tone, then finding the right type of color-correcting primer is a helpful way in fixing this. Green (I know that sounds weird) helps correct red skin tones, peach helps with dark spots, and blue helps with yellow and sallow skin tones. The more you know! 🌠

Anti-Aging: If you have some creases, and other aging concerns, then an anti-aging primer might be a good idea! They also contain ingredients which MAY help with making your skin look more youthful. But I’m not going to make any certified beauty claims. I’d just test them out for yourself, and see what works.

3. Make Sure the Primer Works with Your Makeup.

Once you understand what type of primer is best for your skin, it’s great to make sure that it works with your makeup as well.

And a great way to do this is to just take your foundation with you to the store, and test it out with a primer before buying.

If you apply the primer correctly, then put on your makeup and find that it works, then great! No wasting money! 🙌

Related: 8 Beyond Genius Ways to Store Your Beauty Products

How Can I Avoid Common Foundation Primer Mistakes?

It’s so frustrating to get ready to leave, and then something happens with your makeup, and you have to start all over again. 😤

So if you want to make sure that you’re not wasting your primer, and get the best look possible, then here are some mistakes to avoid:

  • Putting Too Much Primer On: It only takes a small amount to work, and putting too much on can make it so that your foundation doesn’t stick. So you’re getting blotchy looking makeup before heading out.
  • Not Waiting for It to Absorb: It can take around a couple of minutes for your skin to absorb primer. And not allowing it to sit, can make it so that your other makeup doesn’t apply right
  • Not Getting the Right Primer for Your Skin Type: It’s so easy to go to the store, and grab a primer that sounds good. But if it doesn’t work with your skin type, then it most likely won’t help you get that nice finished look.
  • Not Testing It With Your Foundation: It’s important to remember that some primers won’t work with your foundation. So it can be necessary to take your foundation to the store, and test it with the different primers (if allowed).
  • Using Face Primer on Your Eyelids and Lips: Apparently, it’s best to stick with primers that work with those specific spots on your face. They’re made for them, and are supposed to give you the best look.
  • Don’t Apply Too Many Primers: While it can be ok to apply a couple of primers, it’s best to test this out before buying. Too many, and it might not turn out right. Or better yet, just buy a primer that pulls double duty.
  • Applying Skincare Products After Your Primer: You want to make sure that if you’re using skincare products, like serums, they go on first. That way, your skin can absorb the beneficial properties, and your primer can work well with your foundation.

What I Use for My Makeup Primer

A woman's hand holding up an makeup primer against a leaf covered wall background.

Disclosure: The Bio-Oil Amazon link down below is an affiliate link. This just means that if you click through my special Amazon affiliate link and make a purchase, I will get commission at no extra cost to you. Also, just know that I didn’t originally use the product with the intention of making money. 🤷‍♀️

Now I could go into a whole post on how Bio-Oil is the first facial skin product I’ve used, where I’ve seen BIG differences. But for now I’m going to talk about why I use this as my primer.

It was kind of (totally) by accident.

I had put some on not long before I was about to put makeup on, and go out. My mind was completely distracted, and when I realized I had made the mistake, I decided to just go with it.

And I feel like that was the first time I felt really confident in how my makeup looked on my skin.

Here’s how it made me look:

  • It gave my skin this nice dewy look, where it wasn’t oily, but it did make my skin look very fresh!
  • My makeup lasted the entire night, and still looked great. After going out to eat with friends, hanging out for hours, hopping over to a gelato shop, and getting stuck in traffic, I was honestly impressed. 

So if you have dry skin like me, or live in a dry area, then this is a great oil to use as a primer. 👌 

Primer FAQ

Can You Use More Than One Primer?

Yes, and if you have multiple skin concerns, then you can definitely layer your primers.
Also, there are primers that help with more than one thing.

Do You Put Primer or Moisturizer On First?

Moisturizer goes on first! 
Let that moisturizer sit for a a few minutes, and soak into your skin. Then go ahead and apply your primer.

Do You Apply Primer All Over Your Face?

If you plan on putting foundation all over your entire face, then yes, apply it everywhere.
This way you’re not left with uneven areas, and makeup coming off.

How Long Do I Wait Between Moisturizer and Primer?

If you do want to use moisturizer before primer, then I’d suggest being safe and waiting at least 2-3 minutes.
I’ve read that you just need to wait for one minute, but sometimes you’re better safe than sorry, and no wasting your primer.

Can I Wear Primer Alone?

Makeup primers really do help with correcting certain skin problems, so if you just want to apply some primer (and maybe some face powder) on before you head out, then that’s totally fine!

Is a Primer the Same as a Foundation?

No, I primer is not the same as a foundation.
A foundation is meant to be your skin’s color tone, and completely cover over any blemishes or marks.

What Happens if You Put Primer Over Foundation?

Normally, primers aren’t meant for going over foundations, since they’ll just rub it off your skin.
However, after a bit of research, I found that there are primers, that when put over foundation, can apparently help give the skin a blurred effect, and set the makeup.

I hope these simple tips made understanding what makeup primer is, and how to use it, a whole lot easier.

Also, if you have any questions, just let me know in the comments down below so that I can help you out. 😊 

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Chasing Foxes was started in 2016 as a way for Grace and her husband, Silas, to start traveling. However, they started to realize that they had a passion for improving themselves, and wanted to help others level up their lives as well. So whether it's with cooking, travel, or staying healthy, they want to help you better your life bit by bit, as they do the same.

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Silas & Grace

Chasing Foxes was started in 2016 as a way for Grace and her husband, Silas, to start traveling. However, they started to realize that they had a passion for improving themselves, and wanted to help others level up their lives as well. So whether it's with cooking, travel, or staying healthy, they want to help you better your life bit by bit, as they do the same.

23 thoughts on “What is Makeup Primer (& Do I REALLY Need It?)”

  1. Your dedication to self-improvement is inspiring! The progress you’ve made is evident, and your journey motivates others to embark on their own paths of growth.

  2. Your educational content is gold! The way you simplify complex topics makes learning enjoyable. Thanks for being a valuable resource in my academic journey.


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