What’s the Best Primer for Acne Prone Skin?

Finding the best primer for acne is no easy task - well, finding the best of any skin care product for acne is difficult. If you’ve been victimized by frequent bouts of acne throughout your life, you know better than anyone how crucial it is to be picky about your cosmetics.

On one hand, you desperately want to hide every last evidence of acne from the eyes of the world so you have to make sure it provides ample coverage for enlarged pores, acne scars and the frequent flare up. On top of all that, you also have to be extra vigilant to make sure it doesn’t trigger a breakout or oiliness on your highly-reactive skin.

And thus goes the ritual: There's the thorough sifting through the ingredients list to make sure everything is up to snuff, there's the obsessive reading through reviews to see if anyone - ever- has experienced a breakout from the product, and then there's the heart-heavy weariness of trying it for the first time, keeping your fingers and toes crossed that it doesn't make you break out. 

So with all the agony and anxiety that goes into choosing a new product, how are you ever supposed to choose the best primer for acne. And more importantly, should you even bother?​ Yes, you should - here's why...

How to Choose the Best Primer for Acne Prone Skin

Now that primers are all the rage, you might be dreading having to go through such an arduous process to pick one, but fret not. Adding a primer to your makeup routine is actually be a great thing, even especially for acne prone skin! Why? For starters, having the perfect primer in your arsenal means that any kind of foundation or base product you put on skin will stay in place.

Aside from longevity, primers also help reduce the chance of breakouts and irritation from foundations and other makeup like blush since the primer acts as a barrier between the other products and your skin.

But before you can enjoy all the positive effects from a primer, it’s crucial to pick the perfect one first. A primer will be in direct contact with your skin for the longest time so it’s important to pick one that’s suitable for your finicky acne-prone skin. 

The perfect primer should check off two boxes: 

  • Lack of irritating ingredients. The first thing you want to make sure of is that your primer won't be triggering future breakouts. Ditch anything that has additional fragrances and unnecessary preservatives. Remember that more ingredients means more chances of breaking out. Toss anything with heavy oils such as mineral oil and lanolin, they will only clog your pores, to get your dose of hydration (you still need it even if you have oily skin!), look for a primer with water or aqua as the first ingredient and is labeled as oil-free.
  • Contains acne-fighting ingredients. Secondly, you want to make the most of the time this primer spends on your skin, rah? So look for ingredients that combat acne as well as ones that calm and soothe irritated, inflamed. 

Also, be on the lookout for primers that contain extra perks, like ingredients like strengthen and protect your skin, like anti-oxidants and skin-benefiting vitamins. Vitamin C, A, and E are potent anti-oxidants, and studies show that there is a positive link between exposure to these vitamins and low levels of acne.

Natural extracts such as licorice root, chamomile and willow bark are also great for angry, red, and inflamed skin - not to mention that they help prevent hyperpigmentation from acne before it can begin. 

And if you’re really adamant about maximizing the effect of primer on your skin, you can also pick up one with anti-acne ingredients such as benzoyl peroxide, Salicylic acid or tea tree oil. That way you get coverage and acne fighting ingredients in one. 

What is the Best Primer for Acne Prone Skin? Our Top 5 Picks

Still feel unsure about visiting a beauty counter? Read on for a cheat sheet of the best anti-acne primers in the market!

Hourglass Cosmetics Veil Mineral Primer

best primer for acne

Get it for $60

Let’s start on the pricier side of the spectrum, Hourglass is a luxury brand that works to fuse beauty, science and luxury into all their products. The Hourglass Veil Mineral primer is considered as a Holy Grail product for beauty enthusiasts and a lot of oily-skinned gals are in love with this one.

Why? First of all, Hourglass knows how to edit and reduce their ingredients list to perfection - there is no ingredient in this primer that isn’t both good for the skin or absolutely needed. It’s free of oil, sulfates, parabens, phthalates PABA, and additional fragrances. It is also gluten free and 100% vegan. The texture is supremely comfortable and skin drinks it up easily. It also provides shine control, reduces excess oil, and keep redness at bay - three things that are absolute musts for those with oily, acne-prone skin.

What makes it effective in absorbing excess oil is the silicones and alumina in the formulation. Both are super absorbent and are industrial grade drying agents (that are still safe for skin). While this product does not contain any ingredients that specifically fight acne, it won’t aggravate your breakouts either. The white color of the product helps neutralize redness, and this one can keep foundation on your skin for as much as 12 hours.

As a bonus, it also provides sun protection as a physical sunscreen. It comes in a posh-looking glass bottle and you only need a pump or two of this product to cover your entire face, which justifies the rather steep price tag. Read what users have to say!

best primer for acne prone skin

Get it for $54

This brand achieved cult status with its iconic Cover FX Custom Cover drops, but their primer game is pretty strong as well. It’s hard to beat this primer when it comes to the benefits it provides against acne. It contains 1% Salicylic Acid to put a stop to your breakouts, and it has additional antioxidants in the form of Willow Bark Extract to gently soothe away redness and Vitamin C, E, and F which functions both as anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory ingredients.

This primer comes in a gel formula, which feels very luxurious and silky. It promises up to 8 hours of wear, and in terms of texture it’s comfortable although it can be slightly sticky when not given enough time to absorb so make sure you give it some time to settle in. You may also notice a slight tingling sensation, but it's nothing to be wary of, just the salicylic acid’s effect on skin and it shouldn't cause any adverse effects. On a brighter note, you'll also notice the minimized appearance of pores due to a slight blurring effect that makes skin look a lot more refined. Huzzah!

While it doesn’t specialize in shine control, it more than makes up for it in terms of anti-acne benefits. Aside from being a primer, it can even double as a spot treatment for acne due to its active ingredients. Read what users have to say!

best primer for acne prone skin

Get it for $31

Let’s all admit it, while the idea of primer is genius, there are days when we can’t muster the energy to add another product to our already rigorous beauty routines. Enter Smashbox’s Photo Finish Primer Water, it converts the step of spreading another creamy product on your face and waiting for it to absorb to the simplicity of a two-second spritz.

Convenient? Yes. Genius? Most definitely. In terms of size and price, it’s hard to beat Smashbox’s value for money. It provides priming and hydrating benefits to your skin without alcohol, silicones, and added heavy oils. The electrolytes in the formulation are great at restoring moisture and waking up the skin while it also promises to keep it shine free for hours.

In terms of anti-acne benefits, it contains caffeine, which functions mainly to perk up the skin, but can also protect the skin against environmental stressors that can cause acne. In terms of shine control, the glycol in the formulation helps dry out the skin a bit to prevent excess oil. While this is a great way to apply primer when you’re in a rush, it doesn’t replace all the benefits of the typical gel primer that comes in a tube.

But if all you’re after are convenience, easy reapplication mid-day, and a sheer light sort of feeling, this might be the perfect fuss-free product for you. Read what users have to say!

best primer for acne
best primer for acne prone skin

Get it for $32

When it comes to anti-shine benefits, the Lorac Primer is tough to beat. The formulation is pumped with silicone to diffuse oil production, keeping skin matte for hours. But the benefits of this primer don’t stop there, it contains a plethora of antioxidants such as Vitamin A, C, and E, to provide additional benefits to skin. When it comes specifically to preventing acne, it also has Salicylic acid listed in its ingredients to dry out potential bumps in the skin.

Aside from the ingredients in the formulation, let’s also talk about what isn’t in it. This primer is free from additional oils, fragrances and parabens to keep it as beneficial to acne-prone skin as possible. The formulation is highly absorbent, and disappears into skin within seconds. It provides a smooth, waxy canvas that’s a dream for makeup application without settling into fine lines.

Since it’s clear in color, it doesn’t give you chalky undertones or mess with the shade of your foundation. It doesn’t do too much in terms of minimizing pore size but the mattifying effects of this primer more than make up for its lack of a blurring effect. With this primer, you can expect as much as 7 hours of shine-free skin and makeup longevity. Read what users have to say!

best primer for acne
best primer for acne prone skin

Get it for $38

Almost every primer tagged as mattifying contains copious amounts of silicone to the frustration of acne-prone gals who have a skin aversion to silicone as it can be pore-clogging which can lead to even more acne. Well, consider Jouer the fairy godmother that granted your primer wish. Jouer has done the painstaking research and came up with a primer that mattifies without using silicone.

Aside from this feat, it also made sure the primer is oil-free and contains salicylic acid to make it even more of a must have for those with sensitive and acne-riddled skin. To cover all bases, Jouer also made sure that the product is free of fragrances, oils and parabens, hypoallergenic, and dermatologist tested.

This primer also contains a slew of good-for-skin ingredients such as Vitamin E, Aloe, Ginseng and Gingko Biloba to make sure that you get a big anti-acne punch every time you slap this product on. While it may not provide the most in terms of its pore blurring effects or longevity, it’s still a major achievement to come up with a primer that effectively mattifies without using comedogenic silicone. We’re definitely cheering for this primer. Read what users have to say!

best primer for acne prone skin

Get it for $11

This brand proves that you don’t have to look further than your nearest Walmart for quality makeup products. We’re already loving this primer because we don’t have to fork over a wad of cash for it, yet it doesn’t seem to scrimp on its anti-acne benefits.

First it’s infused with Vitamin E, an anti-oxidant to protect skin. It also contains 2% Salicylic acid, Tea Tree extract, and Witch Hazel to keep pesky pimples and breakouts at bay all while transforming your skin into a smooth and makeup ready canvas.

It has a very comfortable satin finish that wears well throughout the day. If you’re looking for primer that will help minimize acne while providing fabulous bang for your buck, this is the perfect one for you. Read what users have to say!

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