Best Primers for Acne Prone Skin - 2017 Reviews and Top Picks

With our dedication to help you end your skin breakouts without sacrificing your beauty and confidence, we spent a good 15 hours going through 20 different products to help you get your hands on the best primers for acne prone skin. They were chosen based on their ingredients, ability to prolong your makeup and address your acne.

​A Glimpse: Our Top-Rated Choices for The Best Primers For Acne Prone Skin

When it comes to primers, Cover FX Mattifying Primer with Anti-Acne Treatment is our top pick. It has 1% salicylic acid to prevent acne and control oil.

We like that aside from its ability to prolong makeup, it can also help unclog your pores. It's infused with vitamins, too.

Spackle Under Make-up Primer by Laura Geller is another great pick since it has botanical antioxidants to protect your skin. It locks in moisture so that you'll look fresh and vibrant all day.

It has a lightweight formulation that won't make your foundations and concealers look cakey.

On the other hand, Hourglass Cosmetics Veil Mineral Primer comes without parabens and sulfates. It can absorb excess oil so you won't have to look greasy when you're out.

It provides protection against sun damage, too.

​bareMinerals Original Prime Time Foundation Primer has ingredients that can address most of your skin's needs. It has vitamins, soothing botanical extracts as well as antioxidants.

​One pump is enough to make your foundation last long. And since you won't need too much of it, the product can last a long time.

​Murad Invisiblur Perfecting Shield, our fifth pick, is actually a multifunctional formula. It has the benefit of an anti-aging serum, a makeup primer and sun block.

What Makes a Good Primer for Acne Prone Skin?

Those prone to acne usually face other complexion challenges like oily, dry or sensitive skin. This can make finding the right makeup primer that suits your specific needs all the more difficult.

Reading the ingredients is an essential first step. You should be weary of purchasing products with added fragrances, oils, or unnecessary chemicals as these can aggravate your skin and clog pores, causing you to breakout.

A good primer should reduce the appearance of acne and soothe the affected skin while also helping your makeup look better and last longer.

Here are a few other things to keep in mind when selecting a makeup primer:

  • Acne-fighting ingredients: To cure and prevent acne, WebMD suggests finding products that contain benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid. These dry out blemishes for quick healing. Tea tree oil has also been known to reduce bacteria and unclog pores.
  • Antioxidants and Vitamins: To soothe red and inflamed skin while also keeping your face firm and radiant, look for products that contain vitamins and natural extracts like willow bark, licorice root, and chamomile. Evidence has shown a link between acne and low levels of A and E vitamins.
  • Oil-control: According to, acne forms when your pores clog with oil and bacteria grows. Not only do you want to avoid primers with added heavy oils like lanolin or shea butter, but you also want a product that absorbs existing oils and limits oil production throughout the day.
  • Retain moisture: Locking in moisture helps heal damaged skin and keep it firm. Water should be a primary ingredient, if not the first one listed.
  • Fragrance-free: Active extracts like lavender and chamomile are okay but added artificial fragrances can irritate sensitive or broken skin and even cause dryness.

Top 10 Primers for Acne Prone Skin

Every primer is a little bit different. To help in your quest for better-looking skin, we've gathered the ten best primers for acne prone skin.

No matter your specific skin type or acne severity, we're certain you'll find a product or two from this list that will help you say bye-bye to acne and hello to a flawless complexion.

1. Cover FX Mattifying Primer with Anti-Acne Treatment

Cover FX Mattifying Primer

This two-in-one acne treatment and makeup primer helps control oil and prevent acne. The 1% salicylic acid from natural willow bark extracts provides treatment against mild acne without over drying.

Cover FX Mattifying Primer with Anti-Acne Treatment contains alpha-hydroxy acids that add gentle exfoliating properties to slough away dead skin cells to unclog pores.

The gel formula reduces the appearance of fine lines and large pores, creating a smooth canvas for flawless makeup application. Vitamins F, C and E reduce redness and soothe inflammation around blemishes.


  • ?Acne-treatment-and-primer-in-one
  • Can also be used as an acne nighttime spot treatment
  • Salicylic acid treats and fights against mild acne
  • Added vitamins soothe inflammation


  • The salicylic acid content isn't high enough to treat moderate or severe forms of acne
  • Leaves behind a slight tackiness
  • Product must be shaken vigorously with each use to prevent watery consistency
  • Only 5-8 hours of makeup wear

2. Spackle Under Make-Up Primer by Laura Geller

Spackle Under Make-Up Primer by Laura Geller

Botanical antioxidants like white tea and calendula retexture and revive skin for easier makeup application. Aloe vera helps Spackle Under Make-Up Primer protect skin and lock in moisture for an all-day facial plump.

Hydrated skin prevents makeup from caking and settling into fine lines and wrinkles. The lightweight formula makes skin look smoother and softer.

In addition to the colorless original, this line also offers tinted versions in three different shades: champagne, ethereal, and bronze.


  • No lingering greasy feel
  • Blends well
  • Lightweight
  • Oil-free/doesn't clog pores
  • Ingredients to calm redness


  • Contains parabens
  • Longer drying time
  • Some found the tinted varieties provided too light of coverage

3. Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer

Hourglass Viel Mineral Primer

The Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer is a great choice for oily skin types. Formulated without harmful ingredients like parabens, sulfates or phthalates, this mineral-based primer minimizes shine by absorbing excess oils on your face, acting a like an all-day liquid blotter. We also have a buying guide about Best Primer for Oily Skin if you want to take a look.

Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide help reflect UVA/UVB rays to protect skin from sun damage while also providing anti-inflammatory properties to help with redness. It's from these two ingredients that the primer gets its white color.

This water-resistant primer goes on smooth and evenly distributes light to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.


  • Lightweight and fast-absorbing
  • Helps control shine and excess oils
  • 100% free of fragrances and oils
  • The white color evens out skin tone and reduces redness
  • Helps makeup last up to 12 hours


  • Leaves behind a chalky "veil"/residue, but it does disappear under foundation or with buffing
  • The pump style prevents you from using the whole bottle and getting your money's worth

4. BareMinerals Prime Time Foundation Primer

BareMinerals Prime Time

Infused with vitamins, antioxidants and soothing plant extracts like licorice, this formula is great for both younger skin and those wanting age-defying power.

The powerful combination of ingredients fights against a whole slew of complexion problems like excess oil, rough patches, dryness, and fine lines.

BareMinerals Prime Time Foundation Primer provides the wearer with a satin-like canvas for applying makeup.


  •  Reduces the look of large pores
    SPF 15
  • Vitamins help combat dry, flaky skin
  • No preservatives to irritate sensitive facial skin
  • In addition to the original, the Prime Time line has extended to include several other products that specifically target oily skin or sensitive skin


  • The pump bottle design limits consumption of the entire product
  • Not resistant to heat or humidity
  • Less wear time than other brands

5. Murad Invisiblur Perfecting Shield Broad Spectrum SPF 30

Murad Invisibular Perfecting Shield

A multifunctional formula provides anti-aging properties, makeup primer and sun protection with every application.

Mushroom peptides fight visible signs of aging by restoring firmness and elasticity for youthful-looking skin. Barely, sunflower and cucumber extracts prevent drying by retaining moisture.

By blurring pores and filling in fine lines, Murad Invisiblur Perfecting Shield and Broad Spectrum SPF 30 helps makeup glide on easier and last.


  • Developed by dermatologists
  • Improves the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
  • Non-chalky SPF 30 broad spectrum protection
  • Improves tone and texture for better makeup application


  • Not paraben-free—may irritate sensitive skin
  • The mix of natural extracts creates a woodsy smell that can be off-putting to some
  • This primer is one of the priciest on the market, but its dual function has the potential to offset its cost by replacing other products in your regimen

6. Sunday Riley Effortless Breathable Tinted Primer

Sunday Riley Effortless Breathable Tinted Primer

Choose from three tint colors: light, medium or deep. This multipurpose primer leaves skin radiant and youthful-looking.

A peptide complex increases skin elasticity while other ingredients draw moisture into the skin to minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Rejuvenox oxygenates the skin and has a mild acne-fighting effect.

Sunday Riley Effortless Breathable Tinted Primer provides a semi-matte finish. It's a perfect primer for someone who prefers BB creme or light foundation coverage, but it can also act as a base for a heavier makeup application.


  • Leaves skin feeling soft and smooth
  • Anti-aging properties keeps skin looking young
  • Plumps skin instantly
  • Dual purpose tint and primer combo


  • Limited tint choices
  • Separates quickly and requires vigorous shaking with each use
  • No SPF

7. Laura Mercier Oil-Free Foundation Primer

Laura Mercier Oil-Free Foundation Primer

This oil-free gel formula is more hydrating and easier to spread and smooth than its creme counterparts.

The gel creates a moisturized barrier between your skin and makeup that hydrates while controlling oil. The smooth matte finish allows for better makeup blending.

Added antioxidants like green tea extract; vitamins A, C and E; and cucumber help refresh and soothe irritated skin and minimize redness naturally.


  • Dermatologist-tested
  • Calms irritation and redness
  • Lightweight and hydrating
  • Oil-free formula won't clog pores
  • Holds up in humidity


  • Smell
  • Takes longer to dry
  • The high water content can leave some skin types looking greasy

8. Skindinavia Makeup Primer Spray

Skindinavia Primer

You likely haven't heard of this award-winning company before, but don't let that scare you. The touch-free design of this spray-on primer makes it a unique alternative for those with extremely sensitive skin or painful active acne.

Just spray in an "X" and "T" pattern over your face and wait for it to dry. The ultra-fine, lightweight mist controls shine for up to sixteen hours and provides a smooth base for makeup.


  • Silicone-free to keep pores from clogging
  • Long-lasting touch-free application
  • Fast-absorbing and lightweight
  • Paraben-free and hypoallergenic
  • Recommended for oily or combination skin types


  • Too much spray can leave face feeling oily
  • Product separates quickly and requires vigorous shaking before use
  • Doesn't combat redness or blemish inflammation

9. Lorac POREfection Mattifying Face Primer

Lorac POREfection Mattifying Face Primer

Containing salicylic acid and a whole smorgasbord of anti-inflammatory vitamins like A and E, this primer helps improve the condition of your skin with each use.

Lorac POREfection creates a poreless-looking, matte finish that helps makeup last longer.


  • Acne fighting ingredients
  • Oil-, fragrance-, and paraben-free
  • Great for sensitive skin
  • Calms skin and reduces redness


  • Contains silicone—may clog oily skin
  • Salicylic acid content is not high enough to treat moderate to severe acne

10. BECCA Ever Matte Poreless Priming Perfector

BECCA Ever Matte Poreless Priming Perfector

This oil-control primer can be used all over the face or just applied to trouble spots like your T-Zone. Perhaps the best choice for oily skin, this primer leaves skin matte and fresh all day long.

Warm up the product in your hand before applying. The "mattifying effect" reduces the appearance of pores and tightens skin. BECCA Ever Matte Poreless Priming Perfector locks in makeup for a longer hold.


  • Dries quickly and lasts up to 12 hours
  • Oil-control formula allows it to be used with oily eyelids as an eye shadow primer
  • Alcohol-, oil-, fragrance-, and silicone-free
  • Minimizes appearance of pores
    Sweat- and humidity-resistant


  • If you don't have oily skin, the matte finish can be drying
  • Not paraben-free
  • Can feel heavy on skin
  • Requires fast application to avoid pilling
  • Can leave behind white residue that you need to buff out


Your ultimate goal is to find a primer that works well for your specific skin needs. Consider all your skin factors—oily, dry or sensitive—in addition to your acne. Even if you suffer from acne, there are solutions available to help cover up the blemishes, reduce the redness, calm any pain, and help improve the condition of your skin even while wearing makeup.

What factors are most important to you when selecting a makeup primer?

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