What Are The Best Face Primers For Oily Skin?

by Gio
3 best primers for oily skin

What are the best face primers for oily skin?

No, Milk Of Magnesia is NOT a good option. I don’t care if it “works.” Its pH is so alkaline, it can wreak havoc on your skin. You don’t want to fix the grease problem only to end up with irritation…

But, where does that leave you? You need something to soak up all that excess oil and keep your skin matte for as long as possible. What else is up to the job?

There are a few contenders. Here are the best primers for oily skin:

Best For Sun Protection: Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer ($54.00)

I’m not saying Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer is a substitute for sunscreen. It’s not. But it has natural UV filters (zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, if you’re curious) that help give your sunscreen a boost. Plus, its lightweight texture is loaded with silicones to soften fine lines and wrinkles, make pores look smaller, and help your foundation lasts longer (and nope, silicones don’t suffocate skin). Most importantly for your oily skin, this stuff has alumina, a powerful oil absorber – it’ll keep you matte for a few good hours.

Available at: Cult Beauty, Nordstrom, Net-A-Porter, Sephora, SpaceNK

Related: Are Silicones Bad For Skin?

Best for super-oily skin: Dr. Brandt Pores No More Pore Refiner ($45.00)

Warning: Dr. Brandt Pores No More Pore Refiner is super drying. That’s a good thing if you have super oily skin. It’ll keep the shine at bay for more than 6 hours! Its secret? Magnesium silicate. It soaks up all the excess oil so your face stays matte. And, yes, it has silicones as well. That’s how it makes those pores look smaller. Like them or hate them, silicones do a great job at masking all kinds of imperfections.

Available at: Beauty Bay, Dermstore, Look Fantastic, Sephora, and Ulta

Related: 3 Science-Backed Ways To Shrink Large Pores

Best Without Silicones: Becca Ever-Matte Powerless Priming Perfector ($39.00)

Ok, so silicones aren’t bad for skin. But what if you’d rather do without them anyway? If you’re not comfortable using silicones, try Becca Ever-Matte Powerless Priming Perfector. It’s a water-based primer with a huge dollop of magnesium aluminium silicate, an oil-kicker that keeps your skin matte for hours and hours. And if you really need a touch-up after work, just pat a small layer over your makeup. Cool, huh? Plus, it’s so lightweight, you feel like you have nothing on your skin.

Available at: Asos, Cult Beauty, Nordstrom, Sephora, SpaceNK and Ulta

Need help creating the best skincare routine for you oily skin? Sign up to the newsletter below to receive the “Oily Skincare Routine Cheatsheet” (it includes product recommendations, too!).

What’s your fave primer for oily skin? Share your picks in the comments below.



Jenn April 12, 2016 - 4:39 pm

Hi, thanks for the great information! I’ve tried all of these primers under my previous foundations (Hourglass, Makeup Forever) and totally agree they work very well but this is not so with my new foundation (Chanel Perfection Lumiere Velvet) and I couldn’t understand why my foundation was coming off after a few hours so I googled it. I repeatedly read that if you use a water based foundation, which is what the Chanel one I’m using is, you need to use a primer that is oil free and silicone free. I haven’t tried this yet but am planning to. Do you think this would help my new foundation to stay on my face longer? I absolutely love how this foundation looks, it’s so natural looking. My skin has never looked this good but obviously if it won’t stay on my face then I need to change to one that will but was hoping there was something to the type of primer I’m using. I’ve never had this problem before but I’ve also never used this type of foundation before either. If possible, can you please let me know your thoughts on this? I don’t want to waste more time and money on more primers to try to make this work if it won’t regardless of what I try! Thank you, Jenn

Gio April 13, 2016 - 12:45 pm

Jenn, sorry to hear about your problem. Yes, you’re right. The fault may very well be with the primer. As a rule, water-based foundations should be used with water-based primers, and silicones-based foundations with silicones-based primers. That way, they work their best. You can try and ask for a sample of a water-based primer at your local counter, so you can test how you like it without wasting money. Hope this helps.

Amber September 23, 2016 - 10:46 pm

Major error, please fix: Magnesium Milk (MoM) is not acidic, it is alkaline. The skin is slightly acidic, and any skin care products need to be within the skin’s ph range (5 to 8). MoM has a 10 ph (very alkaline), hence why it’s not a good idea to use it frequently or in large amounts on the skin, especially if it has Sodium Hypochlorite (bleach). Great as a deodorant though (always try to get MoM without Sodium Hypochlorite).

Gio November 25, 2016 - 10:16 am

Amber, thanks so much for catching that. You’d thnk that after writing a whole post about the dangers of MOM and its alkaline ph for the skin, I wouldn’t make a silly mistake like that here….

Dionna Scott December 22, 2017 - 1:04 am

Thank you for this post! cant wait to try that Dr. Brandt primer!

Gio December 23, 2017 - 6:59 pm

Dionna, my pleasure! Let me know how it goes. 🙂

Geo55 August 16, 2018 - 5:25 am

I’ve tried many primers and have not yet found one that really works- at least not one that controls oily shine well enough to bother using it.

Gio August 16, 2018 - 11:37 am

Geo55, have you tried the ones in this post? If they alone don’t work, you may want to tackle the oil and shine from more fronts, like incorporating salicylic acid and retinoids.

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