13 Best Water-Based Primers Of 2023- A Buying Guide
Get a smooth canvas for makeup application with hydrating, lightweight formulations.
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 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.
If you can not wait to try one out, explore our list of the top 13 water-based primers that are grab-worthy. We have put together a buying guide in the article to help you choose the best product. Scroll down.
In This Article
13 Best Water-Based Primers That Keep Your Face Fresh & Hydrated
Best Fragrance-Free Formula:NYX Cosmetics Hydra Touch Primer
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 primer’s creamy formula will enhance your skin tone by covering pores and smoothening fine lines. Plus, the primer is made using skin-friendly ingredients, which make it suitable for sensitive skin as well.
- Oil-free formula
- Fragrance-free product
- Conceals fine lines and patchy skin
- Hydrating and moisturizing
- Some may find the consistency sticky.
Are you looking for a primer that prepares your skin for long-lasting makeup? This face primer will instantly hydrate and brighten your skin for 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.
- 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
- Consistency can be thin for some.
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 skin a smooth finish.
- Easy to apply
- Water-based formula
- Cruelty-free and vegan
- Clean product
- Unpleasant scent
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 helps blur the appearance of open pores and imparts a natural glow. Plus, it’s free from alcohol, parabens, talc, and other skin-irritating ingredients.
- 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
- It may take time to get absorbed in the skin.
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.
- Sweat and humidity-resistant
- Available in 2 shades for different skin tones
- Buildable coverage
- Oil-free and lightweight
- Perfect for concealing large pores.
- May leave a white residue on the skin.
Best For Oily Skin:e.l.f Oil Control Primer Mist
This lightweight, water-based mattifying e.l.f Oil Control Primer Mist 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.
- Long-lasting hydration
- Shine-free finish
- Suitable for all skin types
- Doesn’t give much coverage
This premium water-based primer is infused with micronized bamboo powder that helps eliminate skin imperfections and shrinks large pores. The 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.
- 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
- May not work for acne-prone skin.
- Not suitable for dry skin.
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. The primer controls excess oil production and keeps your makeup fresh throughout the day. The product is purely vegan and free from parabens.
- 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
- May not work with silicone-based makeup products.
Best Sof-Focus Finish:Shiseido Synchro Skin Soft Blurring Primer
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. This primer 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.
- Non-greasy formula
- Matte, soft-focus finish
- Water-based formula
- Dermatologist tested
- May not be suitable for sensitive skin
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 finish while reducing oil and shine. It is enriched with cucumber extract and vitamins E and B, which helps 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.
- Gentle formula
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.
- Offers youthful glow
- Heat and humidity-resistant
- Oil-free and alcohol-free formula
- Prevents the skin from drying out
- The spray may get clogged.
For illuminating radiance and perfect-looking makeup, this is the primer you need. This primer is infused with phyto-pigments for making 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.
- Controls oil production
- Perfect for all skin types
- Hides skin imperfections
- Blurs wrinkles and fine lines
- Antioxidant protection with vitamin C & E.
- May not be completely waterproof
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.
- Easy to apply
- Feels lightweight and airy
- Hides blemishes and hyperpigmentation
- Works as a moisturizer
- Preserves coverage
- It may sting a little on sensitive skin.
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
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.
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.
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 establish 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.
Primers are specially formulated to prepare your skin and make your skin smoother for an even base. They are an essential step of 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 to be 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. These water-based primers are paraben-free, vegan, and cruelty-free. However, some products may have a sticky consistency. Always do a patch test before application to avoid skin irritations. These primers are enriched with moisturizing ingredients that hydrate and nourish your skin and hold the makeup for a long duration. These water-based primers are paraben-free, vegan, and cruelty-free. However, some products may have a sticky consistency. Always 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 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 makes the skin look flawless. Plus, it can easily hold the makeup for hours without fading.
Should you use water-based primer with 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 would 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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