What is makeup primer and how
to apply it.
It’s prime time for makeup and skin. The right primer can make a world of difference to your makeup routine. Read on to find out everything you need to know about primers, including how to apply primer and the benefits of a primer.
What is makeup primer and how
to apply it.
It’s prime time for makeup and skin. The right primer can make a world of difference to your makeup routine. Read on to find out everything you need to know about primers, including how to apply primer and the benefits of a primer.

We often say that your makeup only looks as good as the skin underneath. Preparation is key for smooth, seamless foundation application, and while a great skincare routine works wonders, a primer is a quick, easy way to up your makeup game. Though it's often regarded as an optional step in your routine, having a primer in your makeup bag is more important than you think.


A mainstay in every makeup artist’s kit, a great primer helps makeup apply smoothly and stay in place, and it can also subtly adjust the effect of your finished look. Essentially, it sets the stage for the rest of your makeup. Read on to find out everything you need to know about face primers.


What is makeup primer?

Makeup primer is used as a base to help improve the look, feel and longevity of your makeup. You can find makeup primers for eye, lip and face makeup, all with specific benefits. For example, with foundation primers, there are formulas tailored to all skin types, concerns and goals, from mattifying and pore-blurring to hydrating and illuminating.



What does makeup primer do? Benefits of a primer.

This depends on the type of primer. In the case of face and foundation primers, they help to ensure smooth, flawless application, an almost airbrushed finish, and a longer lasting finish. At Clinique, we offer a small range of face primers that cover all bases. Our new makeup-perfecting, silicone-free Even Better™ primers are powered by skincare ingredients to improve your skin with every wear. The Even Better™ Pore Defying Primer is a weightless water-balm formula that instantly blurs out pores to create a filtered effect, while niacinamide helps reduce oil and hyaluronic acid hydrates skin. It’s the ideal primer for combination and oily skin types as it helps mattify the skin without drying it out. The Even Better™ Light Reflecting Primer gives skin an instant glow up, powered by radiance-boosting vitamin C and hydrating hyaluronic acid. Each tube contains 20 billion prismatic illuminators, harnessing the power of light to visibly brighten skin, leaving a gorgeous lit-from-within finish. Thanks to the hydrating ingredients, it's suitable for all skin types, particularly dry and mature skin. For those prone to redness, our Redness Solutions Daily Protective Base SPF 15 is a super gentle oil-free primer with SPF 15 and a hint of tint to neutralise redness.



How to apply primer.

Make the most of your foundation with our two-step primer routine.

Step 1: Hydrate with your favourite moisturiser. After cleansing and exfoliating, apply your usual moisturiser (find the one for you with our guide to Clinique moisturisers) and SPF, then leave it to dry for a few moments.

Step 2: Apply your chosen primer sparingly all over the face, using your fingertips or a sponge to blend out. If you have combination skin, you can also spot-apply your primer to specific areas, such as the T-zone. Leave it to dry before applying your favourite Clinique foundation.



Can you wear face primer without makeup?

Yes, you can absolutely wear face primer without makeup. The skin-perfecting benefits of our NEW Even Better™ primers are just as effective without makeup. Our illuminating Even Better™ Light Reflecting Primer primer gives skin an instant lit-from-within radiance that’s perfect for no makeup days, while the mattifying, pore-blurring Even Better™ Pore Defying Primer primer is a great way to re-balance combination skin, with or without makeup. True to form, they’re also built with skin-loving active ingredients like hyaluronic acid and vitamin C.



What is the best primer for my skin type?

For best makeup primer results, choose a primer tailored to your specific skin type.


Best primer for dry skin.

If you have dry or very dry skin, you may find foundation can cling to particularly dry areas, creating a powdery, flaky effect. The best way to avoid this is to prep skin with your favourite nourishing moisturiser (Moisture Surge™ 100H layers well with makeup), then apply a hydrating primer enriched with nourishing active ingredients like hyaluronic acid. Our best primer for dry skin? Our NEW silicone-free Even Better™ Light Reflecting Primer hydrates and illuminates with vitamin C and hyaluronic acid. It evens out skin, quenches any drier areas and evens the look of skin.


Best primer for oily skin.

An oil-controlling makeup primer is a great way to re-balance oily skin and avoid the dreaded midday shine. A mattifying primer for oily skin will create a smooth, silky base for foundation, keeping greasiness at bay and helping your skin lock in makeup for a longer lasting, flawless finish. Our best primer for oily skin is the NEW Even Better™ Pore Defying Primer, a skin-smoothing, makeup-perfecting formula built with oil-controlling niacinamide and hydrating hyaluronic acid. It instantly blurs pores and reduces oil for a filtered, virtually poreless look. It also helps to reduce the look of pores, re-balance oil and hydrate skin over time. With a refreshing silicone-free water balm texture, it melts into the skin with a burst of weightless hydration, prepping for smooth, shine-free makeup application.


Best primer for mature skin.

As we age, our skin changes, which naturally impacts the way our makeup looks and feels. Loss of volume, fine lines and dullness all affect how makeup sits on our skin, which is why a great primer is so beneficial for mature skin. Look for a lightweight, hydrating formula to help lock in your skincare, grip on to makeup and avoid foundation or concealer settling into wrinkles and pores. Our best primer for mature skin is our NEW Even Better™ Light Reflecting Primer. A lightweight illuminating primer packed with actives like hyaluronic acid and vitamin C, this powerful formula helps to boost radiance, smooth the look and feel of ageing skin and prep skin for flawless makeup application. Like a youthful glow in a bottle.



Do I need a face primer?

If you’re looking to enhance the wear and finish of your foundation, then a primer is a worth adding to your routine. You may not need to wear one every day, but if you have specific skin concerns like dullness, excess oil, visible pores or redness, you may find that a primer improves the look and feel of your makeup. The beauty of our skincare-infused primers is that they can also be worn alone for an instant skin-perfecting boost, or you can mix them with your favourite Clinique moisturiser for a super natural finish. Another top tip for the summer months? Mix a few drops of the NEW Even Better™ Light Reflecting Primer with our cult-favourite Sun-Kissed Face Gelee Complexion Multitasker to create a gorgeous, luminous liquid bronzer.


If you have any questions about choosing a primer, ask our experts any time via the live chat button on the bottom right of your screen, or book in for a Skin School consultation with one of our Clinique Consultants for personalised advice. 

Words by Shona Wallace, June 2023.