The Best & Worst Primers For Oily Skin

I put six primers to the test to find the best (and a couple of duds).

My quest to find a primer to control the intense shine emanating from my face has been a long and arduous one. After reading countless blogs and reviews, and watching multiple YouTube roundups, I compiled a list of primers to test out in order to find the one that best keeps my shine in check and my makeup from sliding off my face.

Here they are, ranked from worst to best.

The Bad

Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics OCC Skin: Primer

Despite this being touted as a great primer for oily skin, I think it’s actually better suited for normal to dry skin. The texture of it is almost serum-like, but it finishes to a sort of tacky feel. My initial thought was that maybe that would make my makeup adhere better, but it actually made my skin feel slicker than normal (even after finishing powder). As far as keeping your makeup on all day, it didn’t really seem to make much of a difference; my face had its usual amount of end-of-the-day makeup to remove. However, this primer does blur out the appearance of pores pretty well, and I think that it would work for someone with drier skin.

The Meh

Benefit Stay Flawless 15-Hour Primer

This one was not awful, but it didn’t really hold up well as the day wore on. The feeling of it is pretty thick on the skin, and you have to work quickly to blend it in because it sets almost immediately. I liked the initial finish of this as it was matte without being too dry. It did keep a decent amount of my makeup intact, but by midday my shine was peeking through as per usual in my T-zone area.

Rimmel London Stay Matte Primer

I have tried this primer a few times, and although it gets the job done relatively well, I’m not crazy about it. It has a thicker, lotion-like texture of which I’m not a huge fan, but it keeps my skin looking matte throughout the day. The initial finish is somewhat tacky, but unlike the OCC primer, it’s not bothersome. As far as holding my makeup in place, it was just OK. It faded through the T-zone quite a bit.

The Good

MAC Matte

I thought that I was going to hate this one because it has that silicone slip texture (which almost never works on my skin), but I was pretty impressed. The immediate finish was super smooth (I went one day with just the primer on and my skin looked great) and it did a pretty good job of keeping my makeup on all day (again, a little bit of fading in the T-zone). It also kept me pretty matte for the first three quarters of my day, which is unusual for me.

Becca Ever-Matte Poreless Priming Perfector

This product is a matte-ifying powerhouse. My makeup stayed on most of the day and I didn’t start feeling a bit oily until later in the afternoon. My issue with this primer is the texture and initial finish: it's super thick (almost paste-like) and it leaves a pretty noticeable white cast to the face. While I think this primer does an excellent job of keeping you shine-free, it's a bit drying in areas. If you are anything less than extremely oily, I would only use this in the T-zone. If your skin is dry, don’t even make eye contact with it.

The New Best Friend

Neutrogena Shine Control Primer

I was the least excited about this primer, so go figure that it turned out to be my favorite of the bunch. It has a thicker texture similar to the Rimmel primer and a slight white cast initially, but once it is smoothed in, it dries clear. This was the only primer that I tried that kept me matte (without being chalky) all day. Additionally, when I went home to wash my face at the end of the day (after 10 hours of wear) I was so surprised at how fresh my makeup looked that I just stared at my face for a while. I had minimal fading at the top of my forehead and around the bottom of my nose, but other than that, my makeup looked like I had just applied it. This was hands down the best primer that I have tried to date.

  • Do you guys have any HG primers for oily skin?
  • Please tell me I’m not the only one who has kissed toad after primer toad to find my prince?