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If you’re prone to breakouts and congested pores, it makes sense that you’d be shopping for a noncomedogenic primer. But does noncomedogenic on a product’s label really mean anything? According to board-certified dermatologist Dr. Ranella Hirsch, “It’s not a bad thing to have on a label, especially if you are breakout prone, but it’s not a term that’s especially well defined.” So when trying to narrow down the best noncomedogenic primers, choose a primer based on your skin type instead of blindly trusting any product that’s been labelled noncomedogenic.
In a minute, you’ll find eight of the best primers to choose from — but first, a bit more background from Dr. Ranella. She tells Elite Daily, “Comedogenicity refers to an older scale that was developed around 50 to 60 or so years ago, in response to certain ingredients that were causing a condition cause acne cosmetica (acne secondary to certain cosmetics ingredients). It’s an imprecise system because people utilized different scales. [And] a large number of those ingredients are not in use anymore.” Once again, this is why it’s better to choose a primer — or any skin care product — based on its formula, rather than its marketing.
If you’re shopping for a noncomedogenic primer because you have oily, acne-prone skin, try any of the following types of primers: an oil-free primer; a primer with ingredients that are commonly used to treat acne, such as salicylic acid, sulfur, or benzoyl peroxide; or a primer that contains the silicone dimethicone, Dr. Hirsch suggests. Dimethicone and other silicones tend to get a bad rap, but as Dr. Hirsch has written about extensively, silicones can actually help boost your skin’s ability to benefit from other ingredients, and dimethicone in particular received a “0” rating on the comedogenicity scale.
Though all of the primers below are labelled noncomedogenic, they also offer more tangible benefits, and will make your skin look and feel great. To get shopping, scroll on.
1. A Fan-Favorite Mattifying Primer For Just $6
Not only does Rimmel’s Stay Matte Primer come at a great price, but it’s also been awarded over 15,000 five-star ratings from Amazon shoppers. It’s a mattifying primer, so one of its primary jobs is to reduce shine, and the silicone-based formula gives your skin an overall smoother, softer feel. This primer is also a favorite of Elite Daily associate commerce editor Caroline Goldstein’s, who says it gives her skin a flawless, doll-like finish. At just $6, why not try it out for yourself?
2. A Primer That Doubles As A Shine-Absorbing Spot Treatment
As its name suggests, Paula's Choice Shine Stopper Instant Matte Finish primer is another great choice for shine-prone skin. It’s an oil-free primer that’s made with smoothing silicones and lightweight hydrators, but the real star of the formula is the brand’s Microsponge Technology, which works to soak up oil instantly and keep shine at bay for up to six hours. Because of this, it can be used throughout the day as an oil-absorbing spot treatment, similar to blotting papers or setting powder.
3. A Mattifying Primer With Salicylic Acid
If you’re prone to clogged pores and breakouts, finding a primer that contains ingredients such as salicylic acid is a great way to reap additional skin care benefits from your makeup-prep products. Cover FX’s mattifying primer contains 1% salicylic acid to help clear out your pores, fruit-derived AHAs to lightly exfoliate, and Ancient African Tree Bark, which the brand says helps reduce the appearance of oily, enlarged pores. With this primer, you’ll be getting both immediate and long-term benefits (in the form of smoother, clearer, less congested skin).
4. Another Great Primer With Salicylic Acid
Here’s another great mattifying primer with salicylic acid, and this one costs about $8 less. First Aid Beauty’s Pores Be Gone Matte Primer is an oil-free makeup base that works to blur pores and control excess oil, while deep-cleaning salicylic acid provides long-term benefits for congested, acne-prone skin. The formula contains a whole range of skin care superstars, like dimethicone, colloidal oatmeal, fig extract, sodium hyaluronate, and the extracts of green tea and licorice, among others.
5. A Cult-Favorite Primer With SPF 15
Ask any of its devoted fans: Hourglass’s cult-favorite Veil Mineral Primer is worth the splurge. The award-winning formula helps create a smooth, even base for your makeup, though it’ll also make your skin look amazing if you wear it alone. Expect reduced redness and less noticeable pores, as well as softer, plumper skin overall. Even better: This has an SPF of 15 courtesy of mineral blockers zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, so it’s great for anyone who’s looking for extra sun protection (the keyword here is extra — it won’t substitute for regular sunscreen, since experts recommend wearing SPF 30 or higher every day).
6. A Mattifying Primer With Both Salicylic Acid & Sunscreen
Another primer that’ll give you an added boost of sun protection, Colorescience’s mattifying primer has an SPF of 20 and helps control shine, blur pores, and promote smoother skin with its powerhouse formula. Key ingredients are titanium dioxide and zinc oxide for sun protection; purifying salicylic acid and tea tree oil (making it great for those prone to blackheads and breakouts); several types of dimethicones for smoother skin; and aloe and jojoba oil to keep your skin moisturized — still important, even for oily skin.
7. A Primer/Serum Hybrid That Soaks Up Oil
Whether you like two-in-one formulas for their convenience, or you prefer to avoid layering on multiple products to avoid heavy-feeling skin, Neutrogena’s Shine Control Matte Primer & Serum is a great multitasker to incorporate into your morning routine. The super-lightweight priming serum sinks into skin quickly and dries down to a matte finish. Still, it effectively absorbs oil and helps prevent midday shine using ingredients like silica and rice protein, while glycerin provides non-greasy hydration. It rings up at a very-reasonable $15, too.
8. This Putty-Like Primer For Less Than $10
Another affordable pick, e.l.f’s silicone-based Matte Putty Primer contains kaolin clay and charcoal to help absorb excess oil. The unique, putty-like formula doesn’t feel heavy on skin — it simply creates a smooth, evenly textured base for your makeup to grip onto — and it’s particularly good at blurring the appearance of visible, enlarged pores. It feels oddly satisfying to use, too.
9. This Japanese Primer That Makes Your Skin Feel Like Velvet
As it says in the name, DHC’s Velvet Skin Coat will make your skin look and feel like velvet. Silicones work to create an ultra-smooth base, silica helps absorb and prevent shine, and a touch of olive oil provides just the right amount of moisture to nourish skin without making it feel greasy. It starts off as a clear gel and dries down to a soft, powdery finish that feels delightfully airy and light.