8 best primers

Keep skin looking flawless with a hard-working base

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The Independent Online

A primer may sound like another unnecessary and expensive step to add to your make-up routine, but the right one can be a game-changer. 

They are excellent troubleshooters, so if you struggle with foundation settling into dry patches or slipping on oily skin, need to fake a healthy, rested glow or want to blur out pores and fine lines, a primer could be your solution. 

All of these have been tested on a variety of skin types and tones, and came up trumps across the board for luminising without being full-on day-glow glittery, creating a smooth make-up base and helping foundation stay put.

1. Becca Backlight Priming Filter: £32 for 30ml, Cult Beauty


After Dior's holy-grail Glow Maximiser primer was discontinued, we have been on the search for its replacement, and we think we've finally found it. Thin yet creamy, it spreads easily and gives a pale peachy glow that is at once natural and high-impact.

Buy now

2. Tom Ford Illuminating Primer: £56 for 30ml, Selfridges


There's no denying that Tom Ford's offering costs a small fortune, but for it you get proper luxury: a thick, moisturising, almost balm-like primer in gorgeous packaging with a clever twist-up mechanism. It is white, so the boost it gives is subtle and brightening but not golden, which some may prefer. Our tester found it stopped her foundation settling into dry patches as it usually would.

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3. Charlotte Tilbury Wonderglow Primer: £38.50 for 40ml, Charlotte Tilbury


Charlotte Tilbury is the queen of flawless, golden skin, and with a name like Wonderglow, we were expecting a lot from this. Thankfully it delivered: golden, thin, easy to distribute, our tester said it gave her a healthy, post-holiday-like glow.

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4. Giorgio Armani Maestro UV Skin Defense Primer: £40 for 30ml, House of Fraser


This is milky, luxurious and its fine texture sinks into skin easily, leaving it feeling smooth, velvety and nourished but without a trace left on the surface. It has a white and brightening effect without being chalky, it smells lovely and skincare-y, and is SPF 50. Our only niggle is the slightly fiddly pipette bottle. 

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5. Benefit Porefessional Face Primer: £26 for 22ml, Benefit Cosmetics


If you're after a primer that will mattify oily skin, smooth out pores and help foundation stay put on greasy patches, the gel-like Porefessional is your friend. Combination skins may find it drying on non-oily areas, so try applying only where your skin gets oily throughout the day. It is also excellent at stopping concealer from settling into fine lines under the eyes.

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6. Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer: £30 for 30ml, Smashbox


This is a slightly alarming shade of bronze in the pot, but it has become a desk-drawer staple for pepping up grey office skin at the end of the day for its illuminating and quenching powers.

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7. YSL Touche Eclat Blur Primer: £29.50 for 30ml, YSL


The primer addition to YSL's famous Touche Éclat range does a similar smoothing and mattifying job to Benefit's offering, but is thicker, more luxurious and smells beautifully fresh, with all the lightening powers you'd expect from  Touche Éclat. It does have small gold particles in it, which means it looks gorgeous on the dressing table but its illuminating powers can leave a little visible glitter on the skin.

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8. Hourglass Mineral Veil Primer: £55 for 30ml, John Lewis


If Becca's primer is our favourite, this is a close second (in fact we frequently wear it under Backlight to combine their powers). It is milky and white and gives a similar luminous glow to Armani's offering, but also blurs out pores and leaves skin silky smooth a la Benefit's.

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The Verdict: Primers

Becca's Backlight comes out on top and its mid-range price means we’re struggling to think of any reason why you shouldn't go buy it right now.

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