15 Best Primers for Oily Skin in 2023 for a Shine-Free Complexion

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A good face primer is critical when it comes to preventing your makeup from melting off throughout the day — which folks with oily skin are (unfortunately) all too familiar with. According to makeup artist Brittany Lo, the purpose of a primer is to — you guessed it — prime and smooth out pores prior to applying foundation. The result? A smooth complexion and an even base for your foundation.

However, finding the best primers for oily skin can be tricky. With so many options and formulas out there, it can be tricky to narrow down which ones are best suited to help your makeup stay in place when you have oily skin — without setting off any acne flare-ups or enhancing the existing shine you have going on. To start, Lo recommends that oily skin types opt for a mattifying primer, one that will help conceal shine, grease, and excess buildup before your makeup application.

As you shop, you’ll also want to look for oil-fighting ingredients. According to cosmetic chemist Ginger King, these include oil-absorbing cellulose and niacinamide (a form of vitamin B3 that can balance your skin tone). “Not only can [niacinamide] help balance the skin, but it can also help with pore reduction,” King tells Allure.

Cosmetic chemist Ron Robinson of BeautyStat echoes King’s sentiments on niacinamide. He also recommends charcoal and clay due to their oil-absorbing properties. Additionally, he notes that exfoliating acids (think: alpha hydroxy acids, beta hydroxy acids, and poly hydroxy acids) are great when it comes to keeping pores clear, which can help prevent breakouts if you also have acne-prone skin.

To help you find the best primers for oily skin, Allure sought out expert recommendations from makeup artists. Ahead, you’ll find 15 of our favorites across a wide range of price points.

Our Top Picks:

  1. Best Overall: Shiseido Synchro Skin Soft Blurring Primer, $36
  2. Allure Best of Beauty Winner: Smashbox Photo Finish Control Mattifying Primer, $42
  3. Primes and Protects: Beauty Pie Traceless SPF 30 Sunscreen + Primer, $70
  4. Best Waterproof Primer: One/Size Secure The Sweat Primer, $34
  5. Best Silky Finish Primer: MAC Studio Fix Mattifine 12hr Shine Control Primer, $35
  6. Skin Soother: Tatcha The Silk Canvas Primer, $54
  7. Oil-Free Formula: Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer, $58

All products featured on Allure are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

  • Courtesy of brand

    Best Overall: Shiseido Synchro Skin Soft Blurring Primer

    Shiseido’s Synchro Skin Soft Blurring Primer earned a Best of Beauty Award in 2021 for its oil-absorbing powders (including mica) that leave an airbrushed effect on oily skin. It goes on with a lightweight texture and can be used in targeted areas like your T-zone to control shine, or smoothed all over your face to keep your foundation on-point for longer. 

  • Allure Best of Beauty Winner: Smashbox Photo Finish Control Mattifying Primer

    Smashbox is known for its iconic lineup of face primers, and the brand’s Photo Finish Control Mattifying Primer is so good at minimizing oil that our editors gave it an Allure Best of Beauty Award in 2022. This award-winning formula is spiked with sebum-reducing salicylic acid for optimum oil control. Smashbox’s lightweight primer also contains skin saviors like brightening antioxidants and hydrating hyaluronic acid to further perk up your complexion.

  • Primes and Protects: Beauty Pie Traceless SPF 30 Sunscreen + Primer

    If sun protection is a concern of yours (it should be), New York City-based makeup artist Neil Scibelli says Beauty Pie’s Traceless SPF 30 Sunscreen + Primer has a multitasking formula that smooths skin while guarding it against damaging sun rays. “Beauty Pie’s formula features dimethicone which is a silicone that seals the pores and creates a smooth canvas on the skin so that your makeup can glide on easily over it,” he says. Along with its pore-minimizing effect, this makeup primer will leave skin feeling softer and smoother than ever through skin-loving ingredients like brightening niacinamide and moisture-replenishing argan oil.

  • Best Waterproof Primer: One/Size Secure The Sweat Primer

    No matter if sweat, tears, or water comes your way, the One/Size Secure The Sweat Primer will ensure your makeup looks and stays flawless for a full 12 hours. Miami-based makeup artist Natalie Dresher says this formula is “unlike anything I’ve seen on the market” for minimizing excess shine, thanks to its waterproof formula that’s spiked with oil-absorbing bamboo marrow powder. Since it’s also infused with moisturizing squalane, this pick is also great for dry skin types.

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