13 Best Water-Based Primers Of 2023- A Buying Guide

Get a smooth canvas for makeup application with hydrating, lightweight formulations.

Reviewed by Marin McCarthy, Professional Makeup Artist
Written by Srijani Roy Chowdhury, Certified In Makeup Artistry, Certified Style & Image Consultant
Edited by Krati Darak, Certified Skin Care Coach
Fact-checked by Madhumati Chowdhury  • 
All products recommended on StyleCraze are independently selected by our editorial team. If you make a purchase through any of these links, we may receive a commission. Learn more about our product selection process here.

The best water-based primer can take your makeup game to the next level, especially if your skin tends to get dry quickly or is sensitive to oil-based products. A makeup primer is the first step in a makeup routine. It helps create a smooth canvas for makeup application and improves the skin texture to give you a flawless look. A good water-based primer covers the uneven spots and pores and keeps your makeup in place all day. Water-based primers are especially beneficial for oily skin. They are light, hydrating, and give your skin a perfect base for the remaining makeup products. Whether you’re looking for a non-toxic primer, an eco-friendly primer, or a primer that helps your makeup adhere better, we’ve got you covered.

If you can not wait to try one out, explore our list of the top 13 water-based primers that are highly rated by reviewers on various forums. We have put together a buying guide in the article to help you choose the best product. Scroll down.

Products
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Best Fragrance-Free Formula:NYX Cosmetics Hydra Touch Primer
Price on Amazon
Best Vegan Formula:Too Faced Hangover Replenishing Face Primer
Price on Amazon
Price on Walmart
Best Hydration:Milk Makeup Hydro Grip Primer
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Best Non-Comedogenic Formula:First Aid Beauty Coconut Skin Moisturizing Primer
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Best Sweat-Resistance:Clinique Pore Refining Solutions Invisible Primer
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Best For Oily Skin:e.l.f Oil Control Primer Mist
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Best Long-Lasting Formula:Honest Beauty Matte Primer With Micronized Bamboo Powder
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Best Crease-Proof Formula:Skindinavia Face Makeup Pore-Minimizing Primer
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Best For All Skin Types:Becca Ever-Matte Poreless Priming Perfector
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Best For Oily Skin:e.l.f Oil Control Primer Mist
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Price on Walmart

13 Best Water-Based Primers That Keep Your Face Fresh & Hydrated

1. Best Fragrance-Free Formula:NYX Cosmetics Hydra Touch Primer

4.3
NYX Cosmetics Hydra Touch Primer Image: Nyx Professional Makeup

If you have an uneven skin tone, this Hydra Touch Primer by NYX Cosmetics will provide a smooth canvas for seamless coverage and prepare your skin for makeup. This creamy formula will cover pores and smooth out fine lines, delivering exceptional results. Plus, the primer is made using skin-friendly ingredients, which makes it the perfect makeup base for sensitive skin.

Skin Type: All | Product Dimensions: 1.04 x 1.87 x 4.76 inches | Weight: 1.06 Ounces

Pros

  • Oil-free formula
  • Fragrance-free product
  • Conceals fine lines and patchy skin
  • Hydrating and moisturizing

Cons

  • Some may find the consistency sticky.

protip_icon Caution
Do not use NYX hydra touch primer if you have acne-prone skin, as it might clog pores due to its thick consistency.

Why We Think It's Worth Buying

The extensive 2,075 rave reviews on Amazon prove why we are vouching for this product.

2. Best Vegan Formula:Too Faced Hangover Replenishing Face Primer

Too Faced Hangover Replenishing Face Primer

Are you looking for a primer that prepares your skin for long-lasting makeup? This face primer instantly hydrates the skin and brightens it, leaving a dewy finish. The best thing about this primer is that it is infused with coconut water, skin reviving ingredients, and probiotics to boost the elasticity and the natural glow of your skin. Elevate your makeup routine and apply this water-based makeup primer for a dewy glow.

Skin Type: All | Product Dimensions: 1.42 x 1.3 x 4.61 inches | Weight: 2.4 Ounces

Pros

  • Feels airy light
  • Not tinted or glittery
  • Oil-free primer
  • Vegan and paraben- free
  • Creamy primer quickly penetrates the skin
  • Soothes and smoothes dry and sensitive skin

Cons

  • Consistency can be thin for some.

3. Best Hydration:Milk Makeup Hydro Grip Primer

The Milk Makeup Hydro Grip Primer is a must-have for all-day wear! This primer is a lightweight and silicone-free formula that helps keep makeup in place and keeps skin hydrated. It’s powered by blue agave extract and hemp-derived cannabis seed extract to provide long-lasting hydration and grip for all-day makeup wear. It is also infused with ultra-hydrating hyaluronic acid and natural polymers to help lock in makeup while giving the skin a smooth and radiant finish.

Skin Type: All,Dry Skin,Sensitive

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Easy to apply
  • Water-based formula
  • Cruelty-free and vegan
  • Clean product
  • Paraben-free
  • Silicone-free
  • Oil-free
  • Fragrance-free
  • Gluten-free

Cons

  • Unpleasant scent

Why We Think It's Worth Buying

This product has received 289 reviews from customers on Amazon, indicating its popularity and reliability.

NYX Cosmetics Hydra Touch Primer
Best Fragrance-Free Formula
Too Faced Hangover Replenishing Face Primer
Best Vegan Formula
Milk Makeup Hydro Grip Primer
Best Hydration
Skin Type All All All,Dry Skin,Sensitive
Dimensions 1.04 x 1.87 x 4.76 inches 1.42 x 1.3 x 4.61 inches -
Weight 1.06 Ounces 2.4 Ounces-
Rating
Reviews2,075663289
Price$14.97$34$37.63

4. Best Non-Comedogenic Formula:First Aid Beauty Coconut Skin Moisturizing Primer 

First Aid Beauty Coconut Skin Moisturizing Primer 

If you are worried about your skin imperfections and pores, then fret not. This primer by First Aid Beauty is formulated with coconut water along with some superfood ingredients to brighten and smoothen the skin. It carries hydrating benefits that help you achieve a smooth makeup finish. Many reviewers love the primer as it helps blur the appearance of open pores and imparts a natural, healthy glow. Plus, it’s free from alcohol, parabens, talc, and other skin-irritating ingredients.

Product Dimensions: 2.2 x 2.2 x 2.2 inches | Weight: 1.6 Ounces

Pros

  • Dermatologist-tested
  • 2-in-1 moisturizer and primer
  • Enriched with proteins and minerals
  • Non-comedogenic, allergy-tested, and gluten-free
  • Light-reflecting pearls for a dewy finish
  • Suitable for sensitive and combination skin

Cons

  • It may take time to get absorbed in the skin.

protip_icon Remember
For better results, only use a water-based primer with a water-based foundation, not the silicone-based one.

5. Best Sweat-Resistance:Clinique Pore Refining Solutions Invisible Primer 

Clinique Pore Refining Solutions Invisible Primer 

 If you are looking for a pore refining and correcting primer then this Clinique Pore Refining Solution Invisible Primer is a great pick. This brightening primer feels smooth on the skin and reduces the visibility of pores by up to 50%. Plus, it provides a rich and natural matte finish, which lasts for up to 8 hours without smear.

Product Dimensions: 6 x 2 x 4.35 inches | Weight: 0.53 Ounces

Pros

  • Sweat and humidity-resistant
  • Available in 2 shades for different skin tones
  • Buildable coverage
  • Oil-free and lightweight
  • Perfect for concealing large pores.

Cons

  • May leave a white residue on the skin.

6. Best For Oily Skin:e.l.f Oil Control Primer Mist

This lightweight, water-based mattifying e.l.f Oil Control Primer Mist is not only an affordable primer but also a game-changer when it comes to helping your makeup adhere better. It helps to reduce shine and leaves the skin feeling balanced, hydrated, and refreshed. It also contains a blend of natural ingredients to help nourish, protect, and restore the skin’s natural barrier. This moisturizer is fast-absorbing and won’t leave your skin feeling greasy or heavy. It is enriched with cucumber extract that provides long-lasting hydration and vitamins E and B that help to protect the skin from environmental damage.

Skin Type: All | Product Dimensions: 1.34 x 1.34 x 5.63 inches | Weight: 3.21 Ounces

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Non-greasy
  • Long-lasting hydration
  • Shine-free finish
  • Suitable for all skin types

Cons

  • Doesn’t give much coverage

7. Best Long-Lasting Formula:Honest Beauty Matte Primer With Micronized Bamboo Powder

Honest Beauty Matte Primer With Micronized Bamboo Powder 

This premium water-based primer is infused with micronized bamboo powder that helps eliminate skin imperfections, shrink large pores, and strengthen the skin’s protective barrier. The dermatologist-tested primer leaves your skin with a matte finish and an even-toned look. Irrespective of your skin type, its oil-free formula controls the release of oil and prevents your skin from getting dry. This excellent matte everything primer will have you covered for all events, be it a special occasion or a casual brunch!

Skin Type: All | Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 2.3 x 4.3 inches | Weight: 2.24 Ounces.

Pros

  • Long-lasting coverage
  • Prepares and nourishes the skin for makeup
  • Free from parabens, synthetic fragrances, and phthalates
  • Cruelty-free product
  • Skin-friendly and dermatologist-tested

Cons

  • May not work for acne-prone skin.
  • Not suitable for dry skin.

protip_icon Quick Tip
Never miss primer application if you want a long-lasting, seamless makeup look.

8. Best Crease-Proof Formula:Skindinavia Face Makeup Pore-Minimizing Primer 

Skindinavia Face Makeup Pore-Minimizing Primer 

Here is a silicone-free, water-based primer that easily blends with the skin and creates a smooth canvas for an even makeup application. This multi-tasking primer minimizes the appearance of pores and signs of aging, such as fine lines, wrinkles, and dryness. Its versatile and hydrating formula offers instant nourishment and lifts the skin. Many reviewers have testified that the primer helps control excess oil production and keeps the makeup fresh throughout the day. The product is purely vegan and free from parabens.

Color: Colorless | Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 1.5 x 6 inches | Weight: 4.8 Ounces

Pros

  • Best for dry, irritated, and dehydrated skin
  • Works well with water-based makeup products
  • Holds makeup for up to 16 hours
  • Prevents makeup from creasing
  • Heat-resistant and waterproof

Cons

  • May not work with silicone-based makeup products.

9. Best Sof-Focus Finish:Shiseido Synchro Skin Soft Blurring Primer

3.9
Image: Shiseido

The Shiseido Synchro Skin Soft Blurring Primer is a revolutionary primer that helps create a smooth, even complexion and a perfect canvas for makeup application. Its lightweight formula is enriched with advanced hydrating and oil-absorbing ingredients that help blur the appearance of pores and fine lines while vitamins and antioxidants protect your skin from environmental damage. It helps ensure you don’t have to deal with any dry patches as it provides a smooth base for flawless application. This primer from the celebrity-endorsed brand also helps reduce shine and creates a natural, soft-focus effect that is perfect for everyday wear. With its creamy consistency and light, pleasant scent, this primer is sure to be your go-to choice for a flawless complexion.

Skin Type: All

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Non-greasy formula
  • Matte, soft-focus finish
  • Water-based formula
  • Non-comedogenic
  • Dermatologist-tested

Cons

  • May not be suitable for sensitive skin

10. Best For Oily Skin:e.l.f Oil Control Primer Mist

The e.l.f Oil Control Primer Mist prepares the skin for a flawless and smoother finish, while reducing oil and shine. It is enriched with cucumber extract and vitamins E and B, wherein these potent skin care ingredients help soothe the skin and restore its moisture. When used before makeup, this fine mist offers your face a baby-like, natural matte texture. This product is cruelty-free, vegan, and devoid of phthalates and parabens.

Skin Type: All | Product Dimensions: 1.34 x 1.34 x 5.63 inches | Weight: 3.21 Ounces

Pros

  • Phthalate-free
  • Paraben-free
  • Cruelty-free
  • Vegan
  • Lightweight
  • Gentle formula

Cons

None

11. Best Oil-Free Primer:Glamair Airbrush Makeup Face primer 

Glamair Airbrush Makeup Face primer 

With this primer, your skin will look airbrushed and smooth within minutes! This vitamin E and minerals-enriched matte primer effectively covers brown spots, blemishes, pores, fine lines, and uneven skin tone. The best thing about this primer is that it holds your makeup for up to 24 hours without smearing or fading, regardless of your skin type.

Skin Type: Oily,Dry,Normal,All Skin TypesColor: Face PrimerItem Weight: 0.25 Ounces.

Pros

  • Offers youthful glow
  • Heat and humidity-resistant
  • Oil-free and alcohol-free formula
  • Prevents the skin from drying out

Cons

  • The spray may get clogged.

12. Best For Covering Imperfections:Juice Beauty Phyto-Pigments Illuminating Primer 

Juice Beauty Phyto-Pigments Illuminating Primer 

For illuminating radiance and perfect-looking makeup, this is the primer you need. This primer is infused with photopigments to make your skin glow from within and is suitable for all skin types. The primer is lightweight and is formulated without oil and silicones. Plus, it has coconut alkanes, organic base of botanical juices, and antioxidants to offer a natural and youthful glow to your skin.

Skin Type: All | Product Dimensions: 1.06 x 1.06 x 4.88 inches | Weight: 1 Ounces.

Pros

  • Controls oil production
  • Perfect for all skin types
  • Hides skin imperfections
  • Blurs wrinkles and fine lines
  • Antioxidant protection with vitamins C & E.

Cons

  • May not be completely waterproof

13.Best Moisturizing Formula:Pixi Flawless & Poreless Primer 

Pixi Flawless & Poreless Primer 

Grab this Flawless Primer by Pixi and create a flawless base for makeup. The primer is formulated to prepare the skin while reducing the appearance of wrinkles and lines. The primer controls breakouts and makes the makeup last over 12-16 hours without creasing or melting. Made using skin-friendly ingredients, this primer is great for everyday use and can be used with or without foundation. It is not tested on animals, so you can indulge in a guilt-free experience.

Skin Type: All | Product Dimensions: 4.6 x 2 x 0.5 inches | Weight: 3.2 Ounces

Pros

  • Easy to apply
  • Feels lightweight and airy
  • Hides blemishes and hyperpigmentation
  • Works as a moisturizer
  • Preserves coverage

Cons

  • It may sting a little on sensitive skin.
*The prices provided in this article are based on the latest available information. However, they may vary due to changes in pricing by the seller and/or promotional offers.

Now that we have discussed some of the best water-based primers available, it’s time to guide you about the ways of choosing the best water-based primer according to your skin type and condition.

How To Choose Water-Based Primer

Long-lasting 

The primary purpose of a water-based primer is to hydrate the skin and offer a long-lasting base to hold the makeup. A water-based primer should ideally hold the makeup for 12-16 hours without losing color or fading. For hydrating the skin, certain primers are infused with coconut water, vitamin E, antioxidants, aloe, and such ingredients that rejuvenate your skin.

Skin-friendly 

Most primers are dermatologist-tested and sensitive skin-friendly. If you have skin-related issues, look for primers that are allergy-tested. If you live in a humid area, pick a water-based primer that is humidity-resistant. These primers are oil-free and also prevent breakouts.

Variety 

If you are looking for a multipurpose primer, there are plenty of options that offer anti-aging benefits and cover a range of skin issues like blemishes, pores, wrinkles, fine lines, etc.

Thus, from nourishing primers to skin-friendly primers, there are ample variations to choose from, according to your skin condition and type.

How Does A Water-Based Primer Work?

Water-based primers are hydrating and are composed of ingredients that condition dry and dehydrated skin. These primers are free from oil and silicone. Most primers get absorbed easily in the skin while masking skin imperfections and pores. Water-based primers are expertly crafted to deliver a smooth and even layer on your skin so that it holds makeup for a longer period. Also, because water-based primers are oil-free, they won’t clog the pores or cause breakouts.

How Long Does Water Base Primer Last?

A water-based primer generally lasts for 12-16 hours, but some waterproof primers may last for up to 18-24 hours. Water-based primers are engineered to last longer than the regular primers without smearing or fading the makeup.

Infographic: How To Apply A Water-Based Primer

The best water-based primer can elevate your makeup game, especially if you have dry skin or are sensitive to oil-based products. Applying a primer the right way before makeup will give your skin a smooth texture and a flawless appearance. Check out the infographic below to learn how to apply a water-based primer the right way to avoid creasing of your makeup.

How To Apply A Water-Based Primer

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

Save the high-quality PDF version on your device now.

Download Infographic in PDF version Download Infographic
Download Infographic in PDF version

The Bottom Line

Primers are specially formulated to prepare your skin and make your skin smoother for an even base. They are an essential step in any makeup routine. The best water-based primers help improve skin texture to give you a premium makeup finish without feeling too heavy or greasy on your skin. In addition, they aid in hiding uneven acne spots and visible signs of aging like wrinkles and fine lines. Marin McCarthy, a licensed professional makeup artist with over five years of experience, says, “I would mention being careful when shopping for a water-based primer. Quite a few will not interact well with your standard foundation and it will pill or peel on top of the primer. For the primer and foundation to work together, they must both be water-based.” These primers are enriched with moisturizing ingredients that hydrate and nourish your skin and hold the makeup for a long duration. To conceal patchy skin and fine lines, the NYX Cosmetics Hydra Touch Primer is the best choice, or you may go for the Clinique Pore Refining Solutions Invisible Primer if you live in a humid area, as it is sweat-resistant. Try the Honest Beauty Matte Primer With Micronized Bamboo Powder for a matte finish and concealing large visible pores. These water-based primers are paraben-free, vegan, and cruelty-free. However, some products may have a sticky consistency. Therefore, read the customer reviews before investing in a product. You may go for expert-recommended formulations that are free of chemicals to avoid allergic reactions. However, remember to do a patch test before application to avoid skin irritations.

Why Trust StyleCraze?

Srijani Roy Chowdhury is a makeup enthusiast with a passion for unearthing only the best makeup products. She has prepared this list of the best water-based primers. After perusing through many product reviews, Chaitra recommends these products because of their skin care benefits. These products also contain active, non-comedogenic ingredients.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which is better: silicone-based or water-based primers?

As the name suggests, the silicone-based primers are made using silicone and have a vaseline-like sticky texture. On the other hand, water-based primers are water-based and have a thin consistency. Both silicone and water-based primers blur fine lines and shrink the pores, but due to the consistency of silicone-based primers, sometimes it may cause clogged pores and breakouts. Especially for people with oily or acne-prone skin, silicone-based primer may not work. Thus, if you have dry, dehydrated or sensitive skin, water-based silicone-free primer will hydrate and smoothen your skin without clogging pores or feeling oily.

What can you expect from water-based primers?

Water-based primers do not contain oil or silicone, which means that it feels smooth and light on the skin. These primers are super hydrating, highly absorbent, long-lasting, and resistant to humidity.

Why should you go for water-based primers?

For those who like a natural look or for those who wish to rock a high-drama makeup look, water-based primer is the best option. This is because a water-based primer offers a natural look and feels like second skin. It hides imperfections and bestows flawless skin. Plus, it can easily hold the makeup for hours without fading.

Should you use a water-based primer with a water-based foundation?

Yes, water-based primers work well with water-based foundations. This product duo is also recommended since using two different bases can make your overall makeup appear extremely uneven and gray.

How can you tell if a product is water-based?

You can easily tell if a product is water-based by checking its ingredients list. If ‘water’ is added as an ingredient, the product is water-based. Also, if the list includes anything made of water, such as aloe vera or tea, the product is water-based.

What is the difference between an oil-based and water-based primer?

The major difference between an oil-based and water-based primer is that the former takes longer to penetrate into the skin due to its concentration. Oil-based primers can also feel heavy and sticky on the skin. On the other hand, your skin will not feel too greasy after applying water-based primer. It also blends into your skin easily without clogging pores or looking cakey.


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