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No matter what type of skin you have, a great primer can optimize coverage and boost the longevity of your makeup. That said, the best primers for deep acne scars are few and far between, which is why I got in touch with celebrity makeup artist Jamie Dorman for advice. According to Dorman, the right primer “can cover and fill in texture and crevices in the skin, creating an even surface for makeup,” but the consistency and the ingredients will help determine the best formula for you.
Odds are that a thin, lightweight primer won’t cut it in this instance. Instead, you’ll want something thicker with a balm-like consistency, which will help to even out the appearance of scars. “Matte, silicone-rich primers are best for covering and smoothing texture,” Dorman wrote in an e-mail to Elite Daily. Below, you’ll find Dorman’s recommendations for primers that effectively fill in texture, crevices, and larger pores. You’ll notice that most of them contain lots of hydrating and nourishing ingredients like vitamins, plant extracts, and hyaluronic acid — this not only creates a smooth canvas for today’s makeup, but may also speed up healing and moisturize your complexion over time.
Scroll on to check out Dorman’s four favorite picks for primers that are well-suited for skin with acne scars — as well two other options that aren’t direct recommendations, but have a thicker consistency and are highly rated by reviewers.
1. The Most Popular Primer For Scars
“Benefit Porefessional is one of the best primers for filling in large pores [and scars],” Dorman wrote. “It can also be used over makeup to touch up throughout the day.” With almost 3,000 reviews and an overall rating of 4.7 stars on Amazon, it’s a fan favorite. Even though it has a thicker, balm-like consistency, it’s still lightweight and translucent to suit all skin tones — and it’s infused with vitamin E for healing and hydration.
One reviewer wrote: “I've been using this primer for about 2 years. I struggle with large pores and deep acne scars. This product fills in the textured areas and makes my face smooth. My foundation goes on easily over it as well.”
2. The Best For Intense Texture Coverage
For especially deep acne scars, there’s Clinique Pore Refining Solutions Instant Perfector. “This thick primer is great for trouble areas and intense texture coverage. A little goes a long way; use this for the areas that need the most help,” Dorman explains. The matte finish lasts for up to eight hours and is resistant to sweat and humidity. Thanks to its invisible, neutralizing formula, it’s also ideal for all skin types and tones.
One reviewer wrote: “It will hide your [deep] scars. A must-have for your makeup game.”
3. The Best For Dry Skin
“This primer has two steps,” Dorman wrote: “One that hydrates the skin and another that creates a smooth layer for makeup. The hydrating phase one is great for plumping the skin before applying a layer over it, creating a long-wearing smooth surface.” For that reason, Westmore Beauty’s Two Times The Prime dual-phase primer is the best pick for people with dry skin. Ingredients like hyaluronic acid and squalene lock in moisture, while the thicker consistency helps to fill in scars. It’s also free from fragrance, sulfates, parabens, and dyes, so it works for sensitive skin as well.
4. The Splurge Packed With Skin-Nourishing Ingredients
If you’re willing to spend a little bit more for a big dose of healing ingredients, both Dorman and past buyers rave about Bobbi Brown’s vitamin-enriched face base: “This hybrid moisturizer/primer creates a smooth base that also looks hydrated,” Dorman wrote, and over 450 reviewers awarded it an overall 4.7-star rating. The balm-like consistency is packed with dermatologist-tested ingredients like carrot extract, shea butter, and vitamins A, C, and E, all of which aim to smooth, plump, and brighten your complexion over time.
One reviewer wrote: “Best on the market! Great texture, very rich and makes a visible difference.”
5. The Best Budget Primer
The next two aren’t direct recommendations from Dorman, but they’re favorites of shoppers backed by tons of glowing ratings. Yes, scars leave behind a texture — but they often leave behind discoloration, too. This NYX PROFESSIONAL Studio Perfect primer has a smoothing, cruelty-free formula that fills in uneven texture and it’s tinted green to counteract unwanted redness. You can also get it in clear or lavender, which is great for yellow-toned discoloration. Currently, the range has more than 10,000 reviews and an overall rating of 4.4 stars, making it one of the most popular fan-favorite primers on Amazon. It’s also been compared to the much-more-expensive, cult-favorite Smashbox primer.
One reviewer wrote: “Just like the Smashbox one, but way cheaper and I think it's honestly better. Goes on incredibly smooth and does a great job with pores and fine lines. Does better with filling my scars too. Makeup stays on forever as well.”
6. An Affordable Primer With SPF
Reviewers adore this ETUDE HOUSE primer because it’s affordable and does so much simultaneously: Yes, its thicker consistency helps to fill deep scars and pores, but it’s also tinted to correct discoloration, loaded with five types of hyaluronic acid for hydration, and has SPF 50+ to protect against sun damage. This version is mattifying, but you can also get it in Moisturizing and Smoothing formulas, too.
One reviewer wrote: “I have pitted acne scars, some big pores, and fine lines, all of which I'd love to diminish. I've tried quite a few primers and they do nothing. [... This one] isn't a miracle worker, but it does make everything look a bit smoother and nicer. I haven't had problems putting makeup over it and no new pimples.”
Jamie Dorman, celebrity makeup artist