Beautiful make-up needs a good canvas. If you want your make-up to look flawless from the bottom up, you need to start with a good primer. With so many primers on the market, where to start?

As a freelance make-up artist, as well as a beauty blogger I’ve tried many different primers, some better than others. To save you the time, I’ve listed my favourite primers below.

If you’re blessed with perfectly smooth and even skin, then say a quiet hallelujah and move on. If like me, you need a little help to get smoother skin, then these smoothing primers will be your skin saviour.


Nars Pro Prime Skin Smoothing Face Prep

£23 for 7.5g

This is one of my favourite primers but oh-so-expensive. It’s very light and waxy in texture but once warmed on the fingers it glides effortlessly onto skin and creates a great base for foundation. It is one of my favourite primers to use under cream foundations and it blends beautifully with them so that the foundation doesn’t sit on top of the primed skin, it really buffs nicely into the skin.


Illamasqua Hydraveil

£27 for 30ml

This was launched earlier in 2013 as part of the Paranormal collection and it really created a storm. I tried a sample in store and thought it was just another gel primer. I had many recommendations from fellow make-up artists and decided to give it another go. I was so glad I did, as it really lives up to the hype. It’s a water-based gel that really hydrates the skin and so often no separate moisturiser is needed. It moisturises without leaving any greasy residue and you can start applying make-up over it very quickly after applying. It works on pretty much every skin type and so makes it a massive space-saver in my kit.


Smashbox HD Photo Finish Foundation Primer

£25 for 30ml

This is a light-weight primer with vitamins A & E, grapeseed, and green tea to promote healthier skin with long-term use. It’s a really silky formula and I find that a little goes a long way. Too much and it will take longer to be absorbed by the skin before you can apply your foundation. The finish is a velvety one and so can feel a bit greasy for cream foundations but works beautifully with liquid or powder foundations.


Daniel Sandler Retexturising Face Primer

£20.50 for 28g

I have only tried a sample of this but fell in love with it almost straight away. It is strong enough to fill in enlarged pores and smooth out skin around my acne scars, yet it is light enough to use all over the face. It’s one of those products that works just as well on everyday make-up wearers as it does when used by pros. Daniel is a master at pro quality make-up for the everyday woman. That said, it’s a great primer for men’s skin too. Normally you need to use different primers due to the different thicknesses and characteristics of men’s skin compared to women’s skin. Daniel has created the best unisex primer on the market.


Bourjois Flower Perfection Primer

£9.99 for 7ml

This is a great dupe for the Nars primer and is great for smoothing over acne scars and open pores. It’s small and handbag friendly and has been in my personal make-up bag ever since I first tried it 18 months ago.


L’oreal Professional Studio Secrets Smoothing Resurfacing Primer

15ml £14.99

This is a great substitute for the Nars primer. It’s thicker in texture but you can warm it in your fingers and really smooth it out to a light finish on ‘good’ areas and a ‘thicker’ finish over open pores and uneven areas. This is a staple in my pro kit, as it glides over acne scars and once foundation is layered atop the primer, all traces of acne scars disappear.


E.L.F. Studio Mineral-Infused primer


This is a great budget primer that smoothes skin and the minerals really do give a lovely glow from within look. It locks in moisture and a little really goes a long way. However, it’s not the best primer for smoothing over large pores so is best for those with small pores.

Full review here.