If you’re wondering what the best cruelty-free primers are, the good news is that you’ve got plenty of options to choose from: hydrating primers, mattifying primers, primers with consistencies that resemble putty, water, serum, or even marshmallows (yes, marshmallows). Whatever your skin type, budget, or priming preferences, you’ll find a primer that ticks off all your boxes ahead — and every one has been certified cruelty-free by either PETA or Leaping Bunny, so you can trust that they’re truly animal-friendly.
To choose the right primer for you, you’ll want to consider two things: your skin type, and your preferred finish. If you have oily skin, or simply prefer a matte look, go for a mattifying primer; and if you have dry skin, chose something that’s rich in hydrating and moisturizing ingredients. There are also dewy primers out there for those who love to look glowy (but not shiny), and primers with salicylic acid, which can be helpful if your skin is prone to breakouts. And while all primers make an excellent makeup base (that is, of course, their intended purpose), most of these primers work beautifully with bare skin, too.
Scroll on to shop eight of the best face primers for every skin type, ranging from $5 drugstore finds to splurge-worthy picks that do three jobs in one.
1. The Best Dewy Primer
NYX’s whipped, creamy Marshmellow Smoothing Primer is made with marshmallow root extract to soothe and hydrate skin, and though it’s pink in the bottle, it dries down totally transparent. It helps create a soft, even canvas for your makeup to glide over, while creating a blurred finish that’ll make your skin look as smooth as it feels. This is a silicone-free formula, and though there’s nothing wrong with silicones in primers — in fact, silicones are what give many primers their slippery-smooth feel — some people prefer to steer clear of silicones in their skin care products. With its pink color and fluffy texture, this is also simply a joy to put on.
2. The Best Putty Primer
Another great, cruelty-free primer with a satisfying texture, e.l.f.’s Poreless Putty Primer is — as its name implies — a primer that feels (and looks) like putty. That said, it’s not sticky or tacky at all; in fact, it blends into skin seamlessly, so long as you warm the product between your fingers before putting it on your skin. Made with soothing green tea and moisturizing squalane, this helps blur your pores and creates a smooth, velvety base for makeup (though it also looks great worn on its own). Though it’s designed for most skin types, if you have oily skin, the brand suggests using an oil-controlling lotion on your face first.
3. The Best Priming Water
Mist on Wet n Wild’s lovely, rose-scented priming water to give your skin a fresh, glowy look. This will help prep and hydrate your skin pre-makeup application, but you can also use it to set your makeup and refresh your skin throughout the day. If you prefer, this hydrating primer is also available in equally refreshing cucumber and coconut scents.
4. The Best Priming Serum
Ilia’s True Skin priming serum ingeniously combines a serum and primer in one. In just one step, it’ll help soothe, nourish, and hydrate your skin while also prepping it for long-lasting makeup. Made with an aloe leaf base, as well as glycerin, agave, and hibiscus extract, this has a silky feel and absorbs into skin quickly, leaving a smooth, refined canvas in its wake. This serum is free of fragrance, oil, and silicones, and it’s vegan as well.
5. The Best Primer With Probiotics
The recommendation for TULA’s Face Filter Primer comes courtesy of Caroline Goldstein, one of our editors, who swears by this stuff. She raves, “TULA’s Face Filter is the only primer I ever use. It’s really a makeup/skin care hybrid packed with plant-based ingredients that visibly brighten your complexion, temper redness, and add a good amount of hydration without feeling greasy (or breaking out my sensitive skin). I wear it alone on no-makeup days to give my skin a natural soft-focus finish, but it seriously extends the wear time of foundation too.”
6. The Best Priming Oil
No makeup? No matter! This is an amazing, three-in-one product that works beautifully both on bare skin and underneath makeup. A self-described primer, moisturizer, and serum in one (but a face oil first and foremost), it’s full of nourishing, good-for-skin ingredients like sweet almond oil, lavender, aloe, grape seed, and jojoba oil. This time-saving priming oil is perfect for people who don’t have a lot of time in the mornings, since it bangs out all the steps in your skin care routine at once. Hence its admittedly splurge-y price tag.
7. The Best Primer For Oily Skin
If you have congested pores or oily, breakout-prone skin, consider First Aid Beauty’s Pores Be Gone Matte Primer. It contains salicylic acid to help clear out your pores, while the brand’s proprietary blend of two acids — nordihydroguaiaretic and oleanolic — work to control excess oil production. Overall, this fragrance- and oil-free primer will leave your skin looking smooth, even, and matte, so your makeup is able to glide on smoothly without melting off your face just a few hours later.
8. The Best Eyeshadow Primer
And if you need an eyeshadow primer as well, pick up a tube of Elizabeth Mott’s Thank Me Later Eye Shadow Primer. It’s designed to prevent your eye makeup from creasing, smudging, and running, making it an especially good choice for anyone with oily eyelids. A worthwhile buy for anyone who wears a lot of eye makeup during the day (or night), and wants it to last.