Makeup Oily Skin

The Best Primers for Large Pores (and for your skin type!)

The Best Primers for Large Pores — When people with large pores or acne scars do their makeup, they tend to apply layers of foundation to give the illusion of refined skin. (I know I did!)

Pushing makeup into your pores however, results in an unnatural texture and can eventually lead to breakouts.

Foundation just simply isn’t built to go deep into the skin.

What you can do instead is use the same techniques that professional makeup artists do to cover large pores–target and correct imperfections using a primer, apply a thin blanket of foundation, and mattify with a mineral powder.

This creates a flawless canvas without having the need to cake on foundation.

Using minimal foundation helps you create a more natural and healthier looking finish.

To help create the effect of refined skin, here are two basic types of primers you can use:

  1. Silicone-based – have a thick consistency that works well smoothen out pores, acne scars, wrinkles, and fine lines. Silicone molecules fill out indentations on the skin and prevent makeup from sinking in. This type of primer works well with silicone-based foundations.
  2. Water-based – are more lightweight and generally blends better with liquid, water-based foundations.

Primers are applied after moisturizers and before foundation.

They can be applied with a sponge or brush, but it is best to use to your fingers to help meld the product into your skin.

Video: How Does Primer Work – Makeup Hacks


It’s one thing to have the perfect primer, but it won’t be as effective if it’s not used properly.

Here are a few tips and tricks for buying and using primers:

  • Clear out any build up of (sometimes invisible) dead skin. This will prevent uneven application and that sketchy-looking surface you get when you apply foundation on dry skin. You can use physical exfoliation during cleansing or chemical exfoliation through AHA toners or AHA serums.
  • Moisturize well beneath your primer and wait for 5 minutes or so to let it absorb fully. If you apply your primer on a skin that has traces of moisturizer, your foundation will break up into patches pretty easily. If you have acne-prone skin, use a non-comedogenic moisturizer underneath. Something with a matte finish like La Roche-Posay’s Effaclar Mat Oil-Free Facial Moisturizer is a great choice for oily skin.
  • It’s very important for people with large pores to always keep the oils at bay because they reflect light and tend to exaggerate the skin’s uneven texture. A face that is mattified, however, can give your skin an airbrushed finish. If you have issues with excessively oily skin, I recommend a highly acclaimed program called The Oily Skin Solution by Patricia Everson. Our skin is very dynamic and the causes for oily skin can be one or ten things at once. This guide can help you get to the root causes of your oily skin and help you get rid of it.
  • If you have oily skin, use the right face wash to avoid early production of sebum.
  • Primers not only makes your skin look smoother, but they also help make your foundation stick to your skin for hours on end. It’s not a hard and fast rule, but you should always try to combine products that have the same base. If you apply a water-based foundation to a silicone primer, the silicone primer will tend to repel the foundation and prevent it from thoroughly blending into your skin. This can cause unevenness and will not make your makeup last as long as it could. You should always try to combine makeup based from the same ingredients–silicone-based primers works best with silicone foundations and water-based primers with water-based foundations.
  • Do not rub your primer. Rubbing will ball up the product instead of setting into your pores. Just press and pat gently with your fingers until you’ve filled all your pores. The heat from your fingers will lead to better application.
  • Try not to over apply your primer. Overdoing it will cause your concealer or foundation to slide sooner than later. Just use a small drop and apply a thin layer on your skin.
  • Remember, not every product will work for every person. You may need to try and observe which combination of products will work best for your skin.
Disclaimer Notice

This website is for informational purposes and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

Product or service details are collected directly from the manufacturer and other reputable sources during the time of this review. We try to keep on top of new formulations when we can and update our data accordingly.

Recommendations are based on our research, results, a comprehensive analysis of the products' formulation, claims, value for money, and other consumer reviews. We make an effort to be as objective as possible and give advice in good faith; however, our reviews are 100% honest and therefore may still contain conjectures and opinions based on our personal experiences.

It’s important to know that as with any product (especially cosmetics), what may be perfect for you may not be right for the next person. So as much as we want to guarantee that these will be everyone’s next holy grail, results can still be affected by individual factors like your current skin condition, the environment you’re in, use of the product, reaction to your other skincare, and so on. For best results, make sure to choose products that are suited for your skin type and skin issues.

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Becca Ever-Matte Poreless Priming Perfector

Becca Ever-Matte Poreless Priming Perfector

Though Becca is well-known for their Skin Perfector luminizers, they’re proving to be just as great in controlling shine. Unlike most primers, Becca’s Ever-Matte Poreless Priming Perfector is water-based so it is truly lightweight. This should match perfectly with water-based liquid concealers and foundations.

It’s initially pretty thick when squeezed out of its tube, but eventually melts into warm skin and immediately mattifies to a powdery finish.

The novelty of this pore primer is it acts like a liquid blotting paper that specifically targets the T-zone and other oil prone areas. You can use this normally under makeup or to retouch any time of the day to sponge up excess oil. Texture is going to be exaggerated under any light so if you have oily skin with large pores or uneven skin, having a matte face is crucial in keeping a flawless canvas.

Claims are for 12-hour oil control, but from experience it took around 8+ hours for me to need a retouch. Not bad at all, especially with its liquid blotting paper-to-powder finish feature.

The down side is it can flake like crazy on dry skin. It’s super absorbent, oil-sponging power can also be too much for normal skin, so make sure your skin is moisturized and exfoliated well before putting this on. Also remember to make sure your moisturizer is absorbed thoroughly before patting it (not rubbing!) into your problem areas. The end result can be an impressive matte finish that will last for hours.

Free of Silicone, Oil, Alcohol and Fragrance.

Base: Water-based primer

Best for: Oily skin with open and large pores on cheeks, nose, forehead, and chin

Check for discounts & other customer reviews on Amazon

Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer SPF 15

A product that you’ll find in most make-up artist’s arsenal–and with very good reason.

On top of crossing off all of the best pore minimizing primer requirements, the Hourglass Veil also has a unique formulation that conceals redness (even rosacea). This makes it one of the go-to primers for sensitive and acne-prone skin.

It also has mineral-derived sunscreens Titanium and Zinc Oxide that delivers broad-spectrum protection without the greasiness or tackiness of traditional sunscreens.

Despite this, it’s still incredibly lightweight and is worn under foundation to improve its longevity. It has a mattifying effect that’s crucial to minimizing pores, fine lines, and wrinkles. The airy, silk-like texture sinks into the skin and doesn’t clog pores unlike most primers.

All in all, a powerhouse pore primer that’s so well-formulated, it sits on a level very much elevated among its peers.

Vegan-friendly, Oil-free, fragrance-free, paraben-free.

Winner of the InStyle Best Beauty Buy Award for Best Primer: 2014, 2015 & 2016.

Base: Silicone-based primer

Best for: All skin types especially Sensitive and Acne-prone skin with large pores on cheeks, nose, forehead, and chin; Redness; Sun exposure

Check for discounts & other customer reviews on Amazon

Smashbox Photo Finish Oil Free Foundation Primer - Pore Minimizing

Smashbox has an entire line of primers that are cult favorites. This product, in particular, is to target large and open pores so it is silicone-heavy and has a thicker consistency than the rest. It also sets to a powdery finish for a smoother skin texture.

It’s quite impressive when blended with liquid foundations but doesn’t blend as well with cream or powder foundations. It also works best over makeup, which can be a bit tricky! Just make sure to dab the product instead of rubbing it in so it doesn’t wipe off your foundation.

It also claims that the pore reducing effect can last for eight hours but from my experience, it only stayed for a couple of hours with my oily skin. It’s not so bad though, that’s more or less the time it takes for a touch-up, anyway. It should last longer on normal skin especially with its sweat- and humidity-resistant formula.

Base: Silicone-based primer

Best for: Normal to Oily skin with open and large pores on cheeks, nose, forehead, and chin

Check for discounts & other customer reviews on Amazon

Too Faced Primed & Poreless Skin Smoothing Face Primer

This primer can fill large pores and can work for both dry and oily zones, so it’s perfect for combination skin. The texture is thick and comes in a neutral shade, which disappears on the skin once applied. It also helps your foundation stay throughout the day as it’s specifically formulated to be worn under makeup.

It also has several vitamins (A & C), mulberry extract, and a dose of retinol. This gradually helps banish pores while leaving the skin firmer, hydrated, and detoxified. Make sure to pair with a good non-comedogenic sunscreen though, as retinol can be photosensitizing.

As mentioned, only apply a thin layer to avoid patchy foundation and make your makeup last throughout the day.

Base: Silicone-based primer

Best for: Combination skin with large pores and fine lines

Check for discounts & other customer reviews on Amazon

theBalm TimeBalm Face Primer

This smoothing balm has a milky consistency that’s a bit lighter than the Too Faced primer. (It looks like clear gel in the photo, but that’s only because of the white background. It comes off like a smooth, milky gel when placed against the skin.)

This primer is fortified with Vitamins A, C, and E to help repair and even out skin texture and tone. Also blended in are anti-inflammatory ingredients allantoin and bioflavonoid to soothe stressed skin.

It’s quite thin and sinks instantly to minimize pores, wrinkles, and fine lines. We find this works especially well under the eyes to get rid of that cakey line you get with concealers. It’s also great under foundation and solidly keeps your makeup in place throughout the day.

I have oily skin in the summer which turns combination in the winter. (“Curse you, seasons!”, echoes my skin and wallet.) This holds up pretty well except on really dry patches where it can get cakey after a time. You just need to make sure your skin is well exfoliated and hydrated/moisturized prior if you have dry skin and you’re good to go.

Base: Silicone-based primer

Best for: All skin types especially Oily skin with large pores, wrinkles, and fine lines

Check for discounts & other customer reviews on Amazon

Benefit’s the POREfessional Face Primer

Another popular primer, Benefit’s POREfessional can glide into the skin and melt very quickly. It’s a lightweight balm that can be used over and under makeup. It also has a bonus vitamin E, which is an anti-aging ingredient and helps fight free radicals.

This pore filling primer has a slight tint but should complement all skin tones. The finish also gives a natural matte look and can be used to shrink pores to even out the texture on your face. Some reviews claim it makes their skin look airbrushed!

The only down side is it doesn’t really combat oiliness so if you have oily skin, best to steer clear of this one. This product works best for normal to combination skin.

Base: Silicone-based primer

Best for: Normal to combination skin with large pores

Check for discounts & other customer reviews on Amazon

NYX Cosmetics Pore Filler

This pore filling primer is quite similar to Benefit’s the Porefessional and L’Oreal’s Magic Base in that it’s mattifying and dries to an almost powdery finish. The consistency is thick (I’d say it’s similar to royal icing) so you can use this to zero-in on your problem areas. After applying a non-comedogenic moisturizer (don’t forget to wait until it’s fully absorbed!) squeeze a pea-sized amount on your fingers and gently pat it in. It’s weightless on the skin and the initial peachy tint fades out so you can wear it underneath your concealer or foundation without it clashing with any shade.

The tube is pretty small but it’s very affordable and you’ll only use it in small amounts so it should last for a long time. Keep away if you have dry skin because it has a tendency to cause makeup to look cakey.

Base: Silicone-based primer

Best for: Normal to combination skin with large pores

Check for discounts & other customer reviews on Amazon

LORAC POREfection Mattifying Face Primer

This is a pretty thick pore minimizing primer that will, when worked well into the skin, fill large pores and fine lines. It has a long wear, mattifying formula that can keep you shine-free for hours.

It’s a clear product, so it can work for all shades and under makeup.

This primer can double as a skincare as well, as the product is infused with salicylic acid that helps with acne-prone skin, and antioxidants such as vitamins A, C, and E.

If you have very sensitive skin though, you might be reactive to the added skincare so make sure to patch test just in case.

Oil-free, fragrance-free, paraben-free.

Base: Silicone-based primer

Best for: Oily to Combination skin with large pores and fine lines; looking for dual purpose/extra vitamins in their makeup

Check for discounts & other customer reviews on Amazon


Backe, J. (n.d.). Milady Standard Cosmetology (Milady’s Standard Cosmetology).

BECCA Cosmetics. (2017). BECCA Cosmetics | Official Store | Home Page. (2017). Benefit Cosmetics > Official Site and Online Store | Benefit Cosmetics

Davis, G. and Hall, M. (2008). The Makeup Artist Handbook: Techniques for Film, Television, Photography, and Theatre. Amsterdam: Focal Press/Elsevier.

Faced, T. (2017). Too Faced: Makeup, Cosmetics & Beauty Products Online – Too Faced.

Fields, K., Williams, V. and Rodan, K. (2014). Unblemished: Stop Breakouts! Fight Acne! Transform Your Life! Reclaim Your Self-Esteem with the Proven 3-Step Program Using Over-the-Counter Medications. New York: Atria Books. (2017). Hourglass Cosmetics | Luxury Performance Makeup (2017). LORAC® Cosmetics – Official LORAC Site

McDermott, A. and Kennedy, L. (n.d.). About Face — The Smart Woman’s Guide to Beauty: Your Essential Skincare and Make-Up Bible for the Changing face of Beauty.

Minskey, S. (2011). The Ultimate DIY Bridal Beauty Book. [S.l.]: Lulu Com. (2017). NYX Cosmetics Official Site – Professional Makeup & Beauty Products.

Smashbox. (2017). Smashbox

theBalm. (2017). theBalm Cosmetics

Vallo, Lana. Make-up For Beginners: Learn Doing Make-up Like A Pro.


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