Beauty Breakdown: the Different Types of Face Primer

Makeup Primer


There are literally hundreds of primers on the market, and all of them provide their own unique benefits. The first step in choosing a primer is picking one for you skin type – you don’t want to use an overly hydrating formula on oily skin, just as you would probably want to stay away from any mattifying formulas if you have dryer skin. Once you’ve figured out which kind of formula works best for your skin type, you have a few more questions to ask yourself: What else do you want your primer to do? Of course you want it to prime your face and keep your makeup looking great, but do you also need to add some radiance to your skin? Do you have skin issues you want your primer to address?

Who knew choosing a primer could be so complicated? Who knew choosing a primer could be so much fun? Below, we break down the 4 main types of primer on the market, to help you better understand what kind of primer you need.

Prepping Primer

A primer’s main job is to prep and perfect, and that’s what your basic makeup primer will do. These keep your makeup in place, but offer no color correction or skin treatments. This is a great choice for those just being introduced to primer, those with no major skin issues, and those looking for that airbrushed makeup look. Most of these primers are transparent and go on clear, filling in fine lines, minimizing pores and smoothing out skin for an even makeup application.

Treatment Primer

Brightening, tightening, mattifying, anti-aging, dark spot correcting, and acne-fighting primers fall into this category. They’re different from color-correcting primers as they don’t utilize color to superficially treat the issue; they use actual ingredients to treat the issue, to fix and minimize it over time. These are a great option for those dealing with any of the above skin issues, acting as reinforcements to any skincare treatments you’re already using. These types of primers can be transparent or tinted, depending on the brand.

Color-Correcting Primers

Just like any other makeup product, primers come in all colors of the rainbow. However, there’s a reason they come in several different shades, and no, it’s not just to confuse you. Colored primers utilize color theory in order to better correct and conceal certain skin imperfections. Below, we’ve listed some of the most common colors available:

A green-tinted primer will help cancel out any redness and correct ruddiness. A green primer is ideal for those with rosacea or inflamed skin.

Blue-tinted primers brighten up dull and pale skin, adding radiance without the use any light-reflecting ingredients such as pearlesence or mica.

If dark circles are a huge issue for you, look for a yellow primer, which can help diffuse and lighten out any darkness in your complexion.

A purple-tinted primer will even out yellow undertones, making sallow skin appear healthier.

Peach-tinted primers will neutralize and blur out any discolorations while evening out skin tone.

Bronzing & Illuminating Primers

These primers work for all skin tones, adding a healthy dose of color and radiance to your skin without having to change your foundation or concealer shades. Illuminating primers usually leave behind an opal, pink, or gold-tinted glow, utilizing light-reflecting properties to give skin a luminous look. Bronzing primers have a bronzed tone to give skin that sunkissed look. Since the effects are so sheer, they can be used alone or under foundation. Neither choice color-corrects, but both provide your makeup routine with more versatility, as you can use either to slightly alter the finish or deepen the shade of your foundation with very little commitment.