Primers for Oily Skin: The Ultimate Buying Guide
Primers for Oily Skin: The Ultimate Buying Guide

Primers for Oily Skin: The Ultimate Buying Guide

6 minutes read

There’s a fine line between a face that sports a radiant glow and the shiny patent-like grease slick you get from oily skin.  

Unnecessary shine usually appears on the T-zone — on the forehead, chin, and sides of your nose, where pores are large and open, the skin is sweating a lot and producing much oil. If you have a naturally oily skin type, this may be especially common. But what can you do to manage it? Enter: skin primers for oily skin. Below, we share all you need to know about make-up primers, including our edit of the best primers for oily skin.

Woman with dewy skin and curly hair
Photo by Enrico Martins/Pexels

What does a skin primer do?

To prevent your make-up from melting and sliding down, you need one more layer to oil-control your skin and smooth your pores before applying a foundation.  

Discover how to cut down the slick and reduce large pores with the best primers for oily and combination skin. 

What primer is best for oily skin?

What qualities should you look out for when buying a primer if you have an oily skin type? A good primer for oily skin creates a smooth base for long-lasting make-up and blurs your pores. It prevents skin oils from dissolving your foundation. When first applying a primer on your face, you can layer the best of your foundation, BB, CC cream, or contouring products afterwards. 

If your skin is prone to blemishes, a primer should not be comedogenic and must not provoke acne flareups, extra oil production, and blackheads. Cosmetic chemists Ginger King and Ron Robinson name the best oil-fighting ingredients that you should look for in a primer or a cream for oily skin type: 

  • niacinamide  
  • oil-absorbing cellulose 
  • clay 
  • charcoal 
  • alpha hydroxy acids  
  • beta hydroxy acids  
  • poly hydroxy acids 

4 of the best primers for oily skin

1. Clarins Mattifying SOS Primer, £30.50

If you’re looking for the best primer for greasy skin, look no further than the Clarins SOS Primer. For a soft-blur effect on your face, to minimise your pores and skin imperfections, you can apply this clever formula on clean skin or over make-up throughout the day. This product is transparent, vegan, and non-comedogenic and has brilliant oil-control qualities. It is infused with desert date, leaf of life, and strawberry tree extract. This primer helps to absorb excess sebum on the oily T-zone and mattify your skin’s surface. 

SOS Primer

Read: Base 101: How to Make Foundation Look Natural on Acne 

2. Clarins Instant Smooth Perfecting Touch, £30 

Ultra-light and creamy Instant Smooth Perfecting Touch combines a primer and skincare product. It smoothes your pores, wrinkles, or other skin imperfections; on the other side, it doesn’t feel heavy on your skin or clogs your pores. You can apply this product alone before the foundation, mix it with your foundation before applying, and keep your make-up flawless until the rest of the day. 

Instant Smooth Perfecting Touch

Next read: How To Apply Foundation Like A Pro 

3. Clarins SOS Primer for Redness, £30.50

Another pick from the Clarins SOS Primer range, choose this one if your oily skin is also prone to redness. As green is opposite red on the colour wheel, it neutralises red tones. The result? Not only will the primer make your make-up last longer, but you will also need less foundation and concealer to even out your skin, leaving you with a more natural finish — always a win, in our books.

Clarin SOS primer in Green


4. Clarins Beauty Flash Balm, £36

The cult favourite Beauty Flash Balm is a go-to primer for many, irrespective of skin type. That’s because it’s an absolute multitasker  — it smoothes the appearance of pores and wrinkles, adds a healthy all-over glow to the skin and makes your make-up wear better. The biggest bonus, however, is all the skincare benefits it offers. With plant-based ingredients like acerola seed extract, prickly pear extract and organic oat sugars, the balm also nourishes the skin from within.

Clarins Beauty Flash Balm

Primers for oily skin and large pores

Oily skin usually has large pores that produce more sebum and sweat than dry skin types. That’s why it’s easy to get confused about which primer you need for large pores or oily skin.  

  • So, if you struggle with large pores and excess oil on your skin, especially on targeted areas such as the T-zone, try a mattifying stick primer. It will help to absorb sebum, blur pores, and mattify your skin. 
  • If you are worrying about textured skin, post-acne large pores, wrinkles, fine lines, blemishes, etc., choose light shades of colour-correcting and a little bit radiant products, like SOS Primer, which can also hide the textured skin areas.

What other products can help with large pores and oily skin? 

1. A clay mask is a remedy for tightening pores and clearing oily skin. 

2. Toner or lotion for combination and oily skin (especially with ingredients like meadowsweet and glycolic acid) tightens your pores and controls oil production. 

3. Pore Control Serum, £48, gives your skin an even texture if used regularly. 

4. For a perfect finish on oily skin, pick up a mattifying foundation that blurs pores and provides a flawless finish. 


Still looking for a good primer for oily skin? We can’t leave your frequently asked questions without answers. 

Is primer important for oily skin?

Yes, primer is one of the essential products that help create a flawless make-up base, reduce the look of enlarged pores, and provide shine and oil control. A primer layer will hydrate, colour-correct your skin, and ensure make-up is long-lasting without melting down after a few hours. You can always apply your best make-up primer for oily skin with or without foundation to get minimal natural coverage and shine control. 

Which primer is best for sweaty skin?

Mattifying and smoothing primers are the best for hot summer days when you sweat a lot but still want to prolong your make-up wear. Even the best primer for oily skin won’t stop sweating, but it can keep your make-up from sliding down with sweat and hold it in place. 

Why does primer make my face oily?

Some silicone-based primers are not suitable for oily skin. They fill in the pores and lines but can cause acne breakouts, excess oil production and irritation on oily skin. To avoid these side effects, you should choose light-formulated, non-comedogenic, and oil-control primers that are silicone-free.

Should I apply moisturiser or primer first for oily skin?

As a rule, skincare always comes before make-up (the only exception: SPF reapplication). So, even if you primer comes with bonus skincare benefits, apply it after you’ve applied your serum, moisturiser and SPF. Then, follow with the rest of your make-up routine.

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