The 20 Best Face Primers For Acne-Prone Skin

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20 Best Primers For Acne-Prone Skin

If you have acne-prone skin and you are looking to invest in the best face primer, you are going to want to keep things gentle. Going with the wrong products, if you happen to have acne, may aggravate the situation.

Ideally, you'll find a product that treats or combats acne while working as primer. But avoid making things worse by not using anything with added oils or fragrances, because these can irritate your skin. If possible go for "non-comedogenic," which means they won't clog your pores.

Oil-free and oil-absorbing primers are great options because it won't clog or block pores, so you may also want to look for the best primer for acne-prone skin that heals and moisturizes. If your skin is in general oily and shiny, consider a mattifying primer, as this will reduce oil production.

RELATED: The 12 Best Peel-Off Masks (For Every Single Skin Type)

If something says it will minimize pores, it's generally great for oily skin and will help avoid breakouts. Look for oil-free formulas whenever possible. If your skin is acne-prone and super dry at the same time, go for a primer for dry skin. You want to hydrate your skin and prep it for makeup in one step so you aren't wearing a ton of layers that will clog those pores and cause breakouts.

With that, here are 20 options for the best face primer when you have skin that is prone to breakouts and acne.

Under $40

1. BECCA Travel Size Ever-Matte Poreless Priming Perfector​

This oil-control primer is the best for perfecting and minimizing pores for mattified skin, and it lasts up to 12 hours! You can use it under foundations to prime, over foundations to set, on eyelids as a primer or on lips as a mattifier. We're obviously obsessed.


2. Smashbox Photo Finish Super Light Primer

This oil-free, 60 percent water-based formula is light in texture and loaded with vitamins and antioxidants for anti-aging benefits. The oil absorbers give a smooth matte finish and it's infused with light diffusers to blur those imperfections. 


3. Benefit Cosmetics 'The POREfessional' Face Primer

This oil-free formula is awesome to keep makeup in place, and contains a vitamin E derivative, which helps protect skin from free radicals. We wear this under makeup but also on its own.

(Ulta, $32)

4. La Roche-Posay Effaclar Mat

This moisturizer targets excess oil for a dual action, which mattifies skin and refines large pores. The Effaclar line of La Roche-Posay is specifically targeted towards oily and acne-prone skin, and formulated with vitamins C and E to tighten pores, reduce oil and protect against free-radical damage. 


5. Isadora Under Cover Face Primer

This works to invisibly fill-in fine lines and pores creating a smooth, soft surface for makeup application. This unique primer delivers a soft focus effect that lightens the skin, erases any shadows, minimizes fine lines and wrinkles, and visually hides any irregularities in the skin.

(Walgreens, $18)

6. NARS Pore & Shine Control Primer

We love how this primer minimizes pores and mattifies skin all day long with soft-focus powders. African Whitewood and Oleanolic Acid combine with peptides to help balance skin.

(Ulta, $36)

7. TriDerma Pore Reducing Primer

This Pore Reducing Primer with oil control helps reduce the appearance of large pores and improves the look of oily, acne-prone skin. It's made with AP4 Organic Aloe Complex, a proprietary botanical complex that naturally contains more than 200 healing properties to help reduce swelling, fight bacteria and soothe pain.

(TriDerma, $25)

8. BareMinerals Complexion Rescue Defense Radiant Protective Veil Broad Spectrum SPF 30

This multitasking gel cream combines hydrating skincare benefits with complexion perfecter. It's great for helping skin feel fresh and bright.

(Ulta, $39)

9. Urban Decay Optical Illusion Complexion Primer

This lightweight primer has a slight pink tint that is so pretty, but it also works to illuminate skin under the makeup and help even the shiniest of skin maintain a matte finish. Made of a blend of argan, rosehip, and meadowfoam seed oils for tons of hydrating and antioxidant benefits, while vitamin E conditions. 

(Ulta, $36)

10. Stila One Step Skin Tone Correcting and Brightening Serum

This bottle is a recipe for great skin with green tone to neutralize redness and conceal blemishes. Lavender tone counteracts sallow undertones and has peach tones to brighten.

(Ulta, $36)

11. Erborian Pink Perfect Crème — 4 in 1 Primer 

Acting as a 4-in-1 primer, it provides an instant blur by giving a soft-focus looking effect to the skin, visibly minimizes the appearance of pores, and helps enhance the appearance of your skin tone with a pearly glow. It prepares your skin for makeup, acting as a primer.

(Sephora, $39)

RELATED: How To Get Clear Skin Fast: 15 Tips For A Smooth, Acne-Free Complexion

12. Gabriel Cosmetics Moisturizing Liquid Foundation

This is great for acne-prone skin because it contains an infusion of Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice and jojoba Seed Oil to nourish and not weigh down the skin while giving tons of great, but light, coverage.

(Gabriel Cosmetics, $29.40)

Over $40

13. IT Cosmetics No. 50 Serum Collagen Veil Anti-Aging Primer

This primer is a powerhouse with 10 essential oils and butters, 10 nourishing botanicals, 30 fruit and plant-based extracts, plus powerful antioxidants and vitamins including vitamin A, B5, brightening C & E Peptides, hydrolyzed collagen, silk and niacin. These and other ingredients work together to sooth skin, with tons of antioxidants to ward off free radicals and fight against premature aging.


14. Blue Lagoon Balancing Oil-Free Emulsion

We love this gentle and lightweight balancing oil-free emulsion that evens out and mattifies your skin, helps prevent blemishes, and gives you a pure, clear complexion. 

(Blue Lagoon, $91)

15. Savvy Minerals by Young Living Mattifying Primer

Made with Manuka and Tea Tree essential oils, this skin-loving primer gives oily skin a matte finish and gives long-lasting wear to your foundation while helping reduce the appearance of blemishes.

(Young Living, $46)

16. Dermalogica Hydrablur Primer

This primer is lightweight and non-greasy, and works to minimizes fine lines and wrinkles, and mattifies against oily shine. Includes H2ORelease Complex and Abyssinian Oil for a sustained-release moisturization. Naturally-astringent Mushroom Extract reduces pore size and appearance.


17. Veil Cosmetics Sunset Light Primer Serum

Sunset Light Primer Serum is a refreshing water-based serum primer that lets skin breathe and dries down like nothing is sitting on the complexion. Hydrating and oil-free, the mattifier leaves skin with a satin smooth finish, which helps minimize the appearance of pores and acne scars. Its white water lily extract is both brightening and soothing, which helps minimize acne/blemish scaring.


18. Dermalogica SkinPerfect Primer SPF 30

This primer smooths fine lines, brightens and primes for flawless skin and preps for makeup application. Velvety silicones combine with Soy Protein to even out skin texture, creating an instantly smooth surface. White Tea polyphenols inhibit collagen damage. 


19. 100% PURE Mattifying Primer

Great for oily and combination skin types, this silky smooth vegan primer is silicone-free and formulated with skin-plumping seaweed collagen to deliver long-lasting, flawless results. Not only does it keep excess shine away for a matte finish, but it noticeably blurs pores and minimizes lines for a smooth complexion.


20. Vapour Organic Beauty Stratus Luminous Instant Skin Perfector

This complexion-enhancing primer instantly balances skin, smooths texture and diffuses lines, resulting in a refined and radiant canvas. Stratus features beauty-boosting botanicals, including Vapour’s proprietary Herbal Enlightenment Complex and Deep Moisture Complex of rich organic pumpkin and toning elderberry.

(Aillea, $50)

RELATED: Why Am I Breaking Out? 15 Super-Weird Things That Cause Your Acne

Aly Walansky is a NY-based lifestyles writer. Her work appears in dozens of digital and print publications regularly. Visit her on Twitter or email her at

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