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If you’re looking for the best silicone-free primer to wear under your makeup, you’ve got a lot of options to choose from: sprays, creams, oils, and even primer/serum hybrids. Aside from thinking about the type of primer you prefer, consider your skin type, and any other related concerns — for example, if you tend to get shiny throughout the day, go for a mattifying primer; or if you want to boost your skin’s glow, reach for an illuminating primer instead. And if you’re dealing with breakouts, you’re already on the right track, because as makeup artist Renée Loiz tells Elite Daily, “Silicone-free primers are better for those with more acne-prone skin or larger pores [because silicones] can actually clog the pores and cause acne to form.”
As for the best foundation to wear with silicone-free primers, Loiz says they work perfectly with water-based formulas, so look for a foundation that lists water as the first ingredient. That said, a lot of these primers can be worn without makeup, too, especially the ones that offer added skin care benefits.
Below, you’ll find seven of the best silicone-free primers for every skin type, from antioxidant-rich formulas to moisturizing oils to hydrating priming sprays and more. Scroll on to get shopping.
1. Pro Pick: Best for Oily Skin
“I love that [this primer] goes on smoothly, hydrates, but keeps shine under control with its mattifying formula,” makeup artist Omayma Ramzy tells Elite Daily. “It [features] seaweed collagen as a key ingredient which is fantastic for plumpness in the skin.” This oil balancing primer includes soothing aloe, moisturizing squalane and vitamin E, and purifying ingredients like tea tree oil and eucalyptus, to name a few. Ramzy recommends using this with a demi-matte foundation, or even a tinted moisturizer. As a plus, the cruelty-free, sustainability minded brand focuses on the purity of their ingredients — mainly plant-derived actives that are fermented, distilled, or cold processed, which is referred to in the brand’s name.
2. Pro Pick: Best Long-Lasting Primer Spray
“[This] makeup primer spray has been a kit staple of mine for years,” Loiz says of this long-lasting priming spray that works for all skin types. “I spray [it] all over the face and press it in with a makeup sponge to really set it in place. It works wonders for those with oilier skin [or] for those who want their makeup to stay in place all day at weddings, red carpet events...” Skindinavia’s vegan, spritz-on primer boasts a patented, water-based formula that features ingredients like hydrolyzed corn starch and silica, as well as willow bark extract — a natural source of pore-purifying salicylic acid that’s great for acne-prone skin. This pick is oil-free, paraben-free, and cruelty-free, to boot.
3. Best Creamy Primer
e.l.f. reports that they make the top-selling primers in the United States, so you really can’t go wrong with any of them. But their creamy Puff Puff Primer is particularly intriguing, with its water-based, silicone-free formula that’s rich in hemp seed oil, which is popular for being a moisturizing, non-comedogenic (i.e. non-pore-clogging) oil and providing anti-inflammatory support via omega fatty acids. Other key ingredients in here are shea butter, glycerin, and sunflower and carrot seed oils, making this a great choice for skin that’s on the dry side. This affordable primer is also vegan and cruelty-free.
4. Best Oil Primer
Makeup artists love using oil blends to prep and prime the face, because it helps make skin look dewy and glowing. So this oil primer would be another great choice for dry skin types, or anyone who loves the sweaty-in-a-good-way look. Not only does this cruelty-free primer allow your foundation to glide on seamlessly, but it relays the potent benefits of antioxidant-rich, antibacterial, and soothing oils like sweet almond, jojoba, and safflower seed oils, respectively.
5. Best Primer/Serum Hybrid
The appeal of a primer/serum hybrid is that it absorbs into skin seamlessly and imparts major benefits at the same time, thanks to the high concentrations of actives that are found in serums. This one includes probiotics to support the skin’s microbiome and overall health, agave extract to provide the “priming effect,” and alpha glucans, which are hydrating, firming, and offer further skin-supporting benefits. As a bonus, REN is another brand that’s committed to more sustainable business practices. For example, they’ve made the Zero Waste Pledge, and are aiming for all of their packaging to be recyclable, reusable, or made with recycled materials by the end of 2021 — so this is another brand you can feel good about supporting.
6. Best Illuminating Primer
There’s a lot to love about this Pacifica primer, which uses rose quartz powder and mica to promote a blurred, illuminated appearance all day long. Thanks to oil-absorbing bentonite clay, it’ll help keep your skin matte as well, while sodium hyaluronate, niacinamide, and cucumber and rosemary extracts offer soothing and hydrating benefits. Though this provides a nice base for makeup, it’s an equally great choice for wearing without makeup when you want a nice glow, but not any coverage.
7. Best Budget Primer
If you can’t stand the feeling of yet another product on your face, reach for this primer/setting spray hybrid from wet n wild. It’s a lightweight, barely-there primer that you literally mist on, where it’ll prep your skin for smooth, easy makeup application while leaving behind a slightly dewy finish. But you can also spray it on after doing your makeup to lock everything in, or use it as a refreshing spray throughout the day to give your skin some hydration.
Krupa Koestline, cosmetic chemist.
Renée Loiz, celebrity makeup artist.
Omayma Ramzy, makeup artist.
Du, B., Bian, Z., & Xu, B. (2014). Skin Health Promotion Effects of Natural Beta-Glucan Derived from Cereals of Microorganisms: A Review. Phytotherapy Research, 28, 159–166.
Al-Ghazzewi FH, Tester RF. (2014). Impact of prebiotics and probiotics on skin health. Benef Microbes. 2014 Jun 1;5(2):99-107.