The 15 Best Mattifying Primers Makeup Artists Recommend for Every Skin Type
After putting in all of that work to do your makeup, the last thing you want is an oily T-zone ruining your glam. Instead of piling on setting powder throughout the day, you can stop shine in its tracks with your prep — starting with your primer.
Makeup artists recommend kicking off a full-faced look with a mattifying primer, which can do everything from keep shine in check to erase pores. "Mattifying primers help control oil throughout the day, but they're also amazing for minimizing the appearance of texture in the skin," professional makeup artist and content creator Jonet Williamson tells InStyle.
But contrary to popular belief, matte primers aren't exclusive to oily skin. In fact, they can benefit any skin type if they're formulated with the right ingredients. "If you're on the normal to oily side, this will be your best friend," Williamson continues. "I'd suggest staying away from mattifying primers if you're someone that has dry or flaky skin, but if texture or enlarged pores is a concern for you then totally get a mattifying-but-hydrating primer."
According to Carly Giglio, a professional makeup artist and beauty educator for bareMinerals, dry skin types should opt for primers that contain hydrators like hyaluronic acid, vitamin E, and shea butter. "Don't be afraid to try a primer as well with a little illumination for dry skin," she says. "This will help to add dimension and also give the look of hydration, not just the feel."
The 15 Best Mattifying Primers:
- Best Overall: Maybelline Face Studio Master Prime Primer
- Best Shine-Absorbing: The Body Shop All-In-One Instablur Universal Primer
- Best Pore-Blurring: Fenty Beauty Pro Filt’r Mattifying Primer
- Best Drugstore: L’Oréal Studio Secrets Professional Secret No.1 Magic Perfecting Base
- Best for Oily Skin: Urban Decay All Nighter Face Makeup Primer
- Best for Acne-Prone Skin: Smashbox Photo Finish Oil & Shine Control Matte Primer
- Best for Combination Skin: bareMinerals Combo Control Milky Face Primer
- Best for Mature Skin: By Terry Hyaluronic Hydra-Primer Moisturizing Primer
- Best for Dry Skin: The Ordinary High-Adherence Silicone Primer
- Best for Enlarged Pores: Benefit Cosmetics The Porefessional Pore Minimizing Primer
- Best With SPF: Supergoop! Mattescreen SPF 40
- Best for Dewy Makeup: Milk Makeup Hydro Grip Primer
- Best for Oily T-Zones: Nars Pore & Shine Control Primer
- Best Airbrushed Finish: Tatcha Silk Canvas Filter Finish Protective Primer
- Best Color-Correcting: Stila Correct And Perfect All-In-One Color-Correcting Palette
How to Apply a Mattifying Primer
While everyone's application style is different, Williamson says that less is more when priming your skin. "When it comes to any skin prep, I always suggest spot-treating areas based on your personal needs," she explains. "If you know that smile lines or oil in your T-zone is something you'd like to avoid, then applying a mattifying primer in those specific areas will go a long way versus applying it over areas that may not need this attention."
As for tools, celebrity makeup artist Lisa Aharon recommends using a brush. "Brushes are my favorite tool, especially if you're working with naturally oily skin," she notes. "You don't want the natural oils from your fingers on your face too. Apply your primer with a foundation brush sparingly; sometimes if you load it on, it can start to pill."
Other Ways to Minimize Pores and Oiliness
"Apply moisturizer in places where hydration is needed only," Flor stresses. "I see people putting moisturizer all over the face and that's great, but leave that for your night time routine. If you're worried about oiliness and shine, you want to focus more on just priming the skin and applying the moisturizer in areas that need it. I also recommend using mattifying lotions."
She also suggests using a pore-refining toner to help battle unwanted texture. Her favorite is The Body Shop’s Tea Tree Skin Clearing Mattifying Toner, which exfoliates dead skin cells and soaks up excess oil.
In terms of makeup, Flor says that having a good setting powder or mattifying finishing spray on hand will also help. “Makeup can start to look cakey after a few hours,” she notes. “So by setting the makeup in place, you can minimize the pores and prevent buildup.” Beefing up your glam routine with a longwearing matte foundation is also a good idea, especially if you’re really prone to oiliness.
Now that you know what to look out for, keep scrolling to explore the best mattifying primers that the pros recommend for every skin type and makeup look.
Best Overall: Maybelline Face Studio Master Prime Primer
This budget-friendly matte primer is one of Flor’s top picks because of its versatility. “The reason I love this primer is because it helps with blurring lines and minimizing pores, but it also comes in different colors to help with discoloration and redness,” she shares. “It gives everyday makeup wearers the confidence to use a primer to even the skin tone before using foundation with heavier coverage.” It’s not hard to see why it has more than 7,500 five-star ratings and hundreds of glowing reviews.
Shop Now: from $8; amazon.com
Best Shine-Absorbing: The Body Shop All-In-One Instablur Universal Primer
This mattifying primer from The Body Shop gets to work instantly to absorb shine. It uses a blend of moisturizing ingredients to prevent dryness — or worse, that dreaded caked-on look. “It has up to 12 hours of shine control, which is the key to a good primer,” says Flor. “It’s great on sensitive skin and enriched with vitamin E and marula oil, giving you a beautiful canvas for makeup that’s also good for the skin.” In their reviews, shoppers vouched for its staying power and said that it lasts “throughout the day and into the night to control shininess” without any help from a setting powder.
Shop now: $22; thebodyshop.com
Best Pore-Blurring: Fenty Beauty Pro Filt’r Mattifying Primer
Say goodbye to your pores and hello to airbrushed skin courtesy of Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty. Powered by blue agave extract and a blend of pore-blurring powders, this universally flattering face primer creates a soft-focus finish and grips to the skin for all-day wear. “This really plays well with loads of different types of foundations,” professional makeup artist and content creator Delina Medhin says. “I notice this really makes the skin look better in photos.” According to reviewers, who have given this primer a 4.6-star rating, the formula is super lightweight and even helps improve how their makeup looks.
Shop now: $32; fentybeauty.com
Best Drugstore: L’Oréal Paris Studio Secrets Professional Secret No.1 Magic Perfecting Base
What can’t this primer do? Thanks to its creamy mattifying formula, this budget-friendly pick glides across the skin and eliminates all traces of shine and texture. Its line-filling capabilities make this primer a must-have for professional makeup artist Ashley Rebecca. “This primer will mattify and fill in anything — literally anything,” she says. “It is almost like applying a spackle to the skin before makeup and holds up really well during photo shoots.” Reviewers also say that it’s great for controlling oil in the T-zone, shrinking pores, and preventing your makeup from settling into lines.
Shop now: $13; ulta.com
Best for Oily Skin: Urban Decay All Nighter Face Makeup Primer
Urban Decay All Nighter Setting Spray fans, meet your newest makeup obsession. Designed to lock in your makeup and disguise the appearance of texture, this hydrating-yet-mattifying primer absorbs quickly into the skin and maximizes your inner glow. According to Medhin, it “grips makeup so you don't have to touch up as much and this works very well for oily skin.” Just peep how many reviewers love this primer on Ulta.
Shop now: $36; ulta.com
Best for Acne-Prone Skin: Smashbox Photo Finish Oil & Shine Control Matte Primer
There’s nothing better than makeup that acts like skincare. In the Smashbox Photo Finish Oil & Shine Control Matte Primer, acne-fighting ingredients like witch hazel, salicylic acid, and zinc come together to clear your pores of breakout-causing bacteria and give your skin a shine-free finish. It’s so good that it’s recommended by both Aharon and Rebecca, who raved over its long-lasting 12-hour wear and “skin-like” matte finish from its gel-to-powder formula. One Ulta reviewer says that “this is the only primer that controls the look of oil on my face and controls my breakouts. No more maskne for me.”
Best for Combination Skin: bareMinerals Combo Control Milky Face Primer
Finding a primer that soaks up oil without drying out your skin is key if some parts of your face aren’t as shiny as others. bareMinerals Combo Control Primer’s smooth formula transforms combination skin with its multitasking magic, according to experts and shoppers alike. “This primer is two-fold,” says Giglio. “It absorbs oils where needed but maintains the skin’s moisture as needed. It's a milky consistency that lays onto the skin evenly but dries down to a powder texture, giving a natural finish.” In their reviews, beauty lovers praise its gentle and fast-absorbing formula, which also helps foundation and concealer go on better.
Shop now: $27; ulta.com
Best for Mature Skin: By Terry Hyaluronic Hydra-Primer Moisturizing Primer
Blurring the look of pores and reducing shine aren’t the only things that this primer is good at. As its name suggests, it hydrates your skin and prevents it from losing moisture throughout the day, preventing your makeup from settling into fine lines or spots with uneven texture. “It's loaded with hyaluronic acid, so it nourishes the skin while still controlling oil and diminishing any texture or fine lines,” assures Williamson. Its hyaluronic acid-based formula also gives your skin a plumper, more youthful-looking glow, which is always welcome. Reviewers at Amazon concur that it’s great for reducing the appearance of fine lines and overall texture-smoothing.
Shop now: $55; amazon.com
Best for Dry Skin: The Ordinary High-Adherence Silicone Primer
Another hydrating pick, The Ordinary’s High-Adherence Silicone Primer blurs the look of pores — no matter their size. Plus, it’s only $5, making it the most budget-friendly primer on this list. “I love this for being an affordable, hydrating, pore-blurring primer that can be used under makeup for extreme longevity or alone to reduce the appearance of pores,” Aharon says. It’s also pH-balanced and won’t leave a greasy sheen behind. Some reviewers say it’s an excellent dupe for certain high-end primers.
Shop now: $5; ulta.com
Best for Enlarged Pores: Benefit Cosmetics The Porefessional Pore Minimizing Primer
This balm-like primer is equipped to handle the most visible pores with its mattifying formula, which gives your skin a texture-blurring filter and uses vitamin E to defend against free radicals. “I often use this to help minimize the look of pores and excess shine,” Rebecca notes. “it doesn't pill with makeup.” In fact, it actually improves the look of color cosmetics, so you don’t have to worry about midday caking, creasing, or smudges. Reviewers call it “complete magic” for covering “deep, ugly pores” and mattification.
Shop now: $32; ulta.com
Best With SPF: Supergoop! Mattescreen SPF 40
A sunscreen with oil-absorbing benefits? Sign us up! This mattifying mineral sunscreen simplifies your morning routine with its multitasking formula, which smooths away texture and minimizes the look of pores as it protects your skin with broad-spectrum SPF 40. “Sunscreen is a very important step in our makeup routine for skin health and preservation, though applying all the layers of skincare and makeup can be daunting and we often forget,” Aharon says. “I love that this one provides SPF 40 yet also acts as a primer giving a natural, poreless finish.” Reviewers report that it doesn’t leave a whitecast behind and works well with a variety of other products.
Shop now: $38; supergoop.com
Best for Dewy Makeup: Milk Makeup Hydro Grip Primer
Finding the balance between dewy and greasy is a struggle when you’re oily. Well, at least it was before the Hydro Grip Primer. The gel-based formula uses blue agave extract to blur the look of imperfections, hemp-derived cannabis seed extract to smooth away texture, and hyaluronic acid to create a dewy glow. “This primer feels super moisturizing when you put it on the skin, yet it completely dries down and works so well with water-based makeup,” Medhin notes. “It really helps your makeup stay put but keeps you looking hydrated.” According to Sephora shoppers, this formula offers the perfect amount of slip without breaking down your favorite foundation or leaving a streaky finish. People with sensitive skin add that it has a soothing effect.
Shop now: $32; sephora.com
Best for Oily T-Zones: Nars Pore & Shine Control Primer
The Nars Pore & Shine Control Primer tackles shine wherever it strikes, but according to Giglio, it really thrives in the T-zone. “This little tube is a staple in my kit,” she says. “It is lightweight and absorbs oil on the skin, but doesn't dry it out. I use it only where needed, mostly in the T-zone or wherever my clients have excess oil.” It’s formulated with skin-smoothing peptides and pore-refining powders that prolong the wear and performance of your favorite skin makeup. Reviewers with oily skin were impressed by this primer’s longwear formula, noting that it controlled shine for “hours” on end.
Best Airbrushed Finish: Tatcha Silk Canvas Filter Finish Protective Primer
This Tatcha primer is basically an Instagram filter. Thanks to its silky-smooth texture, it seamlessly melts in and creates a skin-perfecting barrier that locks in hydration and protects against free radical damage. “It minimizes excess shine with a soft-focus finish so the skin doesn't look flat,” Giglio mentions. “I love how it also smooths texture, allowing for a perfect prep before makeup.” It’s also a great pick for acne-prone skin, since it doesn’t clog pores and it contains superfood ingredients like green tea, rice, and algae, which also boast anti-aging benefits. It has a 4.6-star rating and hundreds of rave reviews on Amazon.
Best Color-Correcting: Stila Correct And Perfect All-In-One Color-Correcting Palette
With the Stila Color-Correcting Palette, you’re able to sideline redness, under-eye circles, and dark spots while blurring your pores and controlling oil. Recommended by makeup artist Charlie Riddle, who is also the global beauty director of Stila Cosmetics, this multitasking pick comes stocked with five cream color correctors and two tinted pressed setting powders (yellow and purple) for all of your brightening, neutralizing, refining, and setting needs. In their reviews, Amazon shoppers shared that the all-in-one palette makes concealing blemishes, texture, and discoloration incredibly easy, and it didn’t make them break out.
“A trick I use to help the skin stay matte is, after I moisturize, I lightly set the face with the setting powders, wait one minute, and then apply the color-correctors and my foundation,” Riddle explains. “Not only does this create a flawless canvas, but the makeup lasts longer and there is less shine throughout the day.”
Shop now: $39 (Originally $45); amazon.com