Can Makeup Primer Cause Breakouts?

Can Makeup Primer Cause Breakouts

A makeup primer is a preparatory product that improves the skin’s surface before applying another cosmetic. Simply put, a makeup primer creates a clean, smooth canvas for the rest of your products. However, whether one needs a primer, which one to use, and does it cause breakouts are all still questions asked, even though it’s been on the market for years.

How To Know If You Need A Primer

If you happen to have no problem with foundation staying on all day, then congratulations, you are one of the few who doesn’t need a primer. However, if you require a little two-sided tape like magic to keep your face on all day, then you need a primer.

Makeup primer doesn’t just prolong the wear of your foundation and the rest of your makeup. Primers present a more air-brushed appearance and foster a smoothing and blurring effect on acne, light scars, uneven skin tone, and wrinkles.

Do you wear makeup daily and want to protect your pores from getting clogged, or you’re breakout-prone? A makeup primer creates not only the perfect barrier between your skin and other makeup products but also plays protectant to your skin from harmful pollution, bacteria, and UV rays.

Which Makeup Primer Is Right For You?

Much like makeup, there is a considerable market of primers to choose from out there. Typically, you select makeup primers based on any skin issues and skin type.

Here are a few options based on those criteria:

Dry Skin

If you see signs of dry flakey skin or rough patches, you need a hydrating makeup primer. Choose a creamy, moisturizing, or gel-based primer that offers all-day hydration and creates an even, bright base.

Primers containing hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid and glycerine are perfect for dry skin, especially during the winter months. However, avoid matte primers, these further a powdery look. Search for primers that say hydrating, soothing, or replenishing.

Oily Skin

Do you suffer from excessive oil and shine, and you want to combat that with a primer. Pick a primer that mattes or oil-free formulas. The proper mattifying primer reduces the skin’s oil production, minimizes pores, and usually helps to minimize shine.

Look for Products formulated especially for oily skin have absorbent particulates that soak up oils and have a powdery feel. Search for primers that say oil-free, shine-free finish, mattifying, or pore-minimizing.

Sensitive Skin

If you have skin sensitivity, choose primers with a shorter list of ingredients. Primer requirements for sensitive skin are free of parabens, oils, fragrances, and any other ingredients you’ve found to have an issue.

The fewer additives in your facial products, the better chance you won’t experience an adverse reaction. Look for words like non-comedogenic, gentle, or all-natural. In addition, there are also vegan formulas on the market created especially for sensitive skin.

Mature Skin

When we age, we start suffering from those pesky fine lines, wrinkles, uneven skin tone from dark spots, and blotchy skin. Look for primers that incorporate antioxidants, botanical boosters, or superfruits such as blueberry, acai, and goji for mature skin. Stay away from powdery or heavyweight primers as both sink into fine lines. Many primers for mature skin have keywords like invigorating, boosting, and lifting.


Do you have uneven skin color or tone? Primers can act as color correctors. Choose a primer with the same color that matches closely with your foundation to even skin tone, or use a primer specific for color-correcting. A green-tinted primer reduces redness from sunburn or rosacea. A purple-tinted primer assists with yellow undertones. A primer with peach hues helps even hyperpigmentation and covers up dark circles. Remember the color wheel in art class? Colour correcting primers work based on contrasting colors neutralizing the colors on the opposite side of the color wheel spectrum.


If you have issues with acne, then choose a gentler primer. Some primers on the market contain salicylic acid that doubles to reduce acne while working as a primer. Avoid products that someone with sensitive skin avoids and sans the primers with oils, fragrances, and other additives.

The primers that contain vitamins E and A assist in healing and moisturizing already broken-out skin without the heavy feel and pore-clogging effects of some moisturizing primers. Look for products labeled oil-free, lightweight, oil-absorbing, or non-comedogenic.

Large Pores

Although pore size gets ultimately determined by genetics, uber-dryness, breakouts, excess oil, and hormonal changes all affect our pores and make them more prominent in appearance.

Primers rich in hyaluronic acid, vitamin E, vitamin C, calamine, and algae help minimize pores and fine lines. Look for attributes like pore defining, pore minimizing, blurring, or poreless on the packaging.


If you’re active, live or work in humid conditions, or when working out and your makeup constantly slides off your face. To ensure your makeup stays put through work or play in hot conditions, use a sweat-resistant primer. Mattifying or smoothing primers are essential makeup primers to remember.

These primers get a little tricky because you might require a sweat-proof primer when active. However, the rest of the time, you might require a different primer type for your specific skin type.

Do Makeup Primers Cause Breakouts?

If you’re like many who’ve worn makeup since teenagehood and did it without the aid of a primer, here is the layout on breakouts. Some makeup primers work much like moisturizers, and others absorb oils with a chemical called salicylic acid to create a less oily appearance and help prevent breakouts.

However, that doesn’t mean that using the wrong primer or incorrectly using a primer won’t make you breakout.

Many primer brands contain the addition of antioxidants to help pull double duty as an anti-aging product such as vitamins A, C, and E, grape seed extract, or green tea extract. There are also water-based and silicon-based foundation primers and ingredients like Cyclomethicone or Dimethicone.

Therefore, a primer user may ultimately also experience breakouts if they’re allergic to one or a combination of the ingredients therein. A good tip is to do a patch test when possible before applying a primer in its entirety.


Hi, my name is Joy-Lee and I'm the owner of As you might've noticed, I'm a true beauty lover, and made it my passion, my work and my hobby. I love sharing my thoughts and feelings on a variety of beauty aspects and want to thank you for reading!

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