If you have acne-prone skin, you know that one of the biggest challenges that comes with that is dealing with acne scars and dark spots. Wearing makeup can help you cover up some of the dark spots and hyperpigmentation resulting from acne. But deep-pitted acne scars can be hard to conceal with a regular foundation. The good news? Using face primer can help create a smooth finish and even texture. That’s why we’re sharing a roundup of the best primers for acne-prone skin, specifically those that are formulated to smooth out the uneven skin texture caused by acne.
When you’re on the quest to cover up acne scars with a primer, it’s crucial to keep a few things in mind—especially because you need to prep your skin before applying the primer. Firstly, you need to cleanse your skin. Using a facial cleanser or micellar water should work fine, depending on how dirty your skin is. If it’s the morning, you might reach for the micellar water. But if you just got home from the gym, a cleanser is your best bet.
Secondly, you’ll want to use a treatment on your skin. Let’s say you have particularly dry skin. In that case, a serum with hyaluronic acid may best prep your skin for a primer. Thirdly, applying a moisturizer will help ensure that your face is even enough for the primer to stick.
You may also be wondering what makes a good primer for acne-prone skin. Simply put, it’s a primer that won’t clog your pores as well as cover up acne scars and large pores. Now that we’ve got the logistics out of the way, let’s get into our favorite recommendations for primers for acne-prone skin. (By the way, if you’re on the hunt for some of the best skincare for acne-prone skin, check out our guide.)
The 6 Best Primers for Acne Scars
NYX Professional Makeup Pore Filler
NYX is a tried-and-true drugstore brand that has a lot to love. Firstly, you can’t really beat the price point. The NYX Professional Makeup Pore Filler, for instance, is an affordable $15 and provides a very smooth texture for all skin tones. (Read: This product helps to fill in pores and fine lines in addition to deep acne scars.)
According to the brand, this primer provides 12-hour coverage with a soft matte finish, since the formula doesn’t contain any oil. From an ethics standpoint, I also commend this product. The brand never tests on animals, which has earned it PETA’s cruelty-free designation.
Benefit Cosmetics The POREfessional Lite Primer
If you have sensitive skin and are worried that some of the heavier primers might irritate your face, this is a great pick for you. There are other POREfessional options from Benefit Cosmetics, but this particular one is most suitable for all skin types. That’s because it’s virtually weightless and highly breathable. Plus, there’s a cooling sensation that you get when you apply this all over your face.
Its ingredient list also features highly hydrating ingredients like glycerin as well as silica, which helps activate the enzymes necessary for collagen to hydrate the skin. Moreover, the Benefit Cosmetics The POREfessional Lite Primer is fragrance-free nd non-comedogenic—meaning it won’t clog your pores. If you’re looking for a primer with a natural finish, definitely add this one to your cart.
Topicals Sealed Active Scar Filling Primer for Acne Prone Skin
In my (not so) humble opinion, Topicals is one of the best brands that’s recently hit the market. Their products have a strong following—both in numbers and in commitment. The Sealed Active Scar Filling Primer is obviously great for acne-prone skin, considering that the phrase is directly in the product name. Additionally, the brand says that you can use this product with or without makeup. Either way, it’ll blur those acne scars and can even help in improving skin texture over time.
If you want to feel good about what you’re spending your money on, rest assured that this is a worthwhile investment. Not only is it actually good for your skin (because it contains natural herbs and ingredients), but it’s also vegan, gluten-free, and cruelty-free. One thing to note here, though, is that if you use this product, you want to wait 30 seconds before applying makeup.
Available at Amazon ($34)
Laura Geller Spackle Skin Perfecting Primer
Another option that’s great for any skin type is the Laura Geller Spackle Skin Perfecting Primer. It’s formualted with hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and antioxidants—which enable your skin to be extra smooth. This is another lightweight, non-greasy formula that’s free of synthetic fragrance, parabens, phthalates. Plus, it’s not tested on animals.
Similar to the Topicals option, you’ll want to wait a bit before you apply your makeup. Unlike the Topicals formula, though, you’ll want to give this a full minute—instead of only 30 seconds—for this product to fully absorb into your skin. (Also, if you’re curious about Laura Geller Makeup, check out our review!)
E.L.F. Acne-Fighting Putty Primer
I truly cannot say enough good things about E.L.F Cosmetics. I love that its products are widely available, affordable, efficient, and long-lasting. This Acne-Fighting Putty Primer is also extremely innovative, as it features acne-fighting ingredients that help calm skin’s irritation. For instance, this formula has 1.8 percent salicylic acid, which helps to prevent acne from popping up in the first place.
Since this is a putty and not a cream or lotion, like some of the other products on this list, it’s worth mentioning how to use it. You’ll want to apply a thin, even amount to skin that you’ve already moisturized. As with the other primers, you’ll apply this before you apply any makeup. The brand also encourages you to “allow [the product] to set for 30 seconds before applying foundation.”
Milani SPF BFF Face Primer with SPF 30
Let’s say you’re looking for a primer good for acne-prone skin that also protects your skin from harmful UV rays. I’d strongly suggest picking up a tube of this Milani Face Primer with SPF 30. Obviously, it has the dermatologist-recommended sun protection factor of 30. More than that, though, this lotion also works for all skin types and is easy to wear makeup under.
It offers a natural finish while also featuring glycerin and vitamin E for ultimate moisturizing properties. Because of these ingredients, Milani’s SPF BFF glides on super smoothly. It’s also translucent, meaning it’ll go on clear and match any skin tone. And, at $12, it’s among the most affordable picks on this list.