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Best primer for oily skin 2023: Keep you face shine-free all day long

Whatever your budget or skin type, these are the best primers for oily skin types

Oily skin can often make makeup application a little bit more difficult, which is why finding the best primer for oily skin is so important. If you’ve ever experienced your foundation or base products slipping or moving, the difference a good primer can make is significant. With oily skin, a makeup primer is often integral if you want flawless application as facial oils can destroy makeup in just a couple of hours.

Below, we’ve put a variety of different face primers to the test to see which ones deal best with oily skin, no matter if you wear a full face or just the bare minimum. If you’re new to primer, check out our buying guide below for more info. Otherwise, read on for reviews of our top picks.

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Best primer for oily skin: At a glance

How to choose the best primer for oily skin for you

What does a primer do?

Makeup primers provide an even base on top of which makeup such as foundations, concealers and eyeshadows can be applied. They also have the added benefit of making these products look much more reflective of their true shades on the skin. Colourful eyeshadows, blushes and highlighters also show up brighter when using a primer beforehand.

Primers for oily skin have the additional task of mattifying oily skin and reducing shine. This extra step in your makeup routine is certainly one worth taking as it helps your makeup and makeup products to last longer throughout the day or night.

What formulations do primers come in?

You’ll find makeup primers in several different formulations and it may be your own preference that will determine which kind you like best. But, for oily skin, we recommend looking for a mattifying, oil-free or pore-minimising option, instead of one that could add more moisture to your skin.

Also keep an eye out for ingredients like silica and clay, which work to keep skin looking shine-free and absorb any excess oil.

How do I apply a primer?

Primer can be applied directly onto bare skin or after you have completed your skincare routine. Most primers can either be dispensed onto the skin with the product’s dispenser or applied with your fingertips. You’ll then want to blend the primer over the entirety of your face to make sure that the whole surface is covered.

It’s best to wait at least 30 seconds before you apply any makeup on top of a primer. This way, it will have a chance to dry down and not cause your foundation to go on patchy.

How do I know if I have oily skin?

Once you’ve cleansed your skin, allow it to dry naturally. If you can visibly see or feel oil on your skin, typically on your forehead, on your T-zone or around your nose, this could be a good indicator that you have oily skin. The same can be said if you routinely feel your skin getting oily or greasy as the day goes on.

An overproduction of oil can also be a sign that your skin is actually dehydrated, which may seem a little contradictory. In this case, your skin starts to overproduce oil because it is desperately lacking hydration and moisture. If you are in any doubt about whether your skin is oily or dehydrated, we recommend consulting a pharmacist, a dermatologist or your GP.

How much should I spend?

There is no reason to spend any more than £35 on a primer for oily skin, although we have included one luxury primer over this that we think is worth splurging on. There are also a few great options under the £10 mark, perfect for those who are on a budget.

How we test face primers for oily skin

At Expert Reviews, we know that hands-on testing delivers the most complete information about a product. As such, we personally test all the face primers we review. Where face primers are recommended for a particular skin concern, we test on that specific skin type/area to ensure we make an accurate recommendation. For this test, all face primers were tested specifically on oily skin.

We start by applying each face primer to clean, dry skin to evaluate the overall ease of application, before adding makeup on top of it. This makeup includes foundation, concealer, contour and blush. We then note how well the makeup lasts over the course of a day, and whether any product moves, smudges or disappears as the hours progress. Our experience is then compared to a day where makeup is applied without using primer first.

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The best primer for oily skin you can buy in 2023

1. Fenty Beauty Pro Filt’r Mattifying Primer True Matte: Best all-round primer for oily skin

Price when reviewed: £28 | Check price at Boots

When it comes to tackling high-shine and oily areas, this lightweight primer from Fenty Beauty gives you that flawless and filtered makeup look, as well as improving the look and feel of bare skin. Makeup stays fresher throughout the day and because of the unique blurring powders in the formulation, it leaves makeup with that soft-focus look. This primer also works well on combination skin, allowing you to apply it where you may need it, like across your T-zone or forehead.

Key details – Vegan: No; Fragrance free: No

Check price at Boots

2. MAKE UP FOREVER Step 1 Primer Shine Control: Best multi-tasker primer for oily skin

Price when reviewed: £31 | Check price at LookFantastic

If you’re looking for a primer with skincare benefits, this is the one to pick up for oily skin types. With mineral clay, one of the ingredients we said to keep an eye out for above, this helps to control excess oil and sebum. It leaves the skin feeling silky but with a matte finish, wtohut drying out skin in the slightest. This primer is also rich in glycols and water to add hydration back into skin without making it look oilier.

The ingredient that impressed us the most though? Lactic acid. This exfoliant speeds up cell turnover and improves texture, which is particularly beneficial for those who struggle with imperfections that foundation or base products can routinely cling to. Overall, we love the look that this gives skin and that it continues to improve the skin with each application.

Key details – Vegan: No; Fragrance free: No

Check price at LookFantastic

3. Rimmel Lasting Matte Primer: Best value primer for oily skin

Price when reviewed: £7.99 | Check price at LookFantastic

If you want to leave your skin feeling silky and makeup-ready for less, we love this budget friendly option from Rimmel. Priced at under a tenner, you can pick this creamy primer up from a range of different drugstores and supermarkets.

For those with particularly oily skin, this mattifies quickly and is particularly effective around the T-zone, where many struggle with excess oil production throughout the day. Makeup goes on nicely and stays that way all day. It’s also great for warm days when your makeup can start to move.

Key details – Vegan: No; Fragrance free: No

4. Laura Mercier Pure Canvas Primer Blurring: Best primer for mature, oily skin

Price when reviewed: £40 | Check price at LookFantastic

If you have more mature skin, in addition to it being oily, you’ll need a mattifying primer that also stops makeup from settling into lines and wrinkles. This primer from Laura Mercier does just that. It’s incredibly lightweight, meaning that it doesn’t cling to any unwanted areas, such as uneven texture or lines.

It instantly helps to control shine and very much lives up to its claim that it can last for up to 16 hours. We put this to the test from morning until the late evening and it managed to absorb any oil production throughout the day, keeping makeup looking shine-free.

Key details – Vegan: No; Fragrance free: No

Check price at LookFantastic

5. e.l.f. Blemish Control Putty Primer: Best primer for redness or acne-prone skin

Price when reviewed: £9 | Check price at Boots

If you suffer from redness or blemishes, a great way to counteract and neutralise redness is with a green-tinted product – such as this primer. Many who experience an overproduction of oil also struggle with acne and blemish prone skin that can cause redness and irritation, so finding a 2-in1 solution is a must.

This putty primer smooths the skin, while simultaneously reducing any redness, and unlike many other primers, which simply prep the skin ready for applying makeup, the skincare benefits of this one means it helps to calm the skin and fight breakouts while creating a base that won’t show up every imperfection or blemish/

Key details – Vegan: Yes; Fragrance free: No

Check price at Boots

6. Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer: Best primer for oily skin to splurge on

Price when reviewed: £55 | Check price at John LewisIf you feel like splurging, this Hourglass Veil primer is certainly worth it. Whether you have redness that you would like to conceal or fine lines and wrinkles to soften, this primer truly does it all. And when you consider the added benefit of broad spectrum SPF 15 protection, it’s easy to understand why this is an investment worth making.

All skin types could benefit from using this specific primer but it handles additional oil and greasiness on the skin particularly well, with the lightweight formula not feeling too heavy. The beautiful frosted glass bottle also looks the part on any dressing table or beauty shelf.

Key details – Vegan: Yes; Fragrance free: Yes

Check price at John Lewis

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