The Best Primers for Oily Skin for an Easy-Breezy Summer Look


There are so many things to love about summer: backyard barbecues, warm-weather activities, and longer days in the sun. But as a person with combination skin that leans on the oily side, I get the summer scaries at the thought of putting on makeup that will, by the end of the day, melt into a mess. Despite my lightweight summer lineup of skin tints and sheer coverage, my skin can’t seem to hold onto a look for dear life. And who wants to cake on the powder in the summer? That’s why the best primers for oily skin have become my go-to solution.

But of course, I always want to be working with the best of the best. And with new products releasing all the time, it’s important to do my research and try out what’s available. So, after lots of deep dives and scouring through skincare social media accounts, I gathered together some of the best primers for oily skin and put them to the test.

Image by Alex Spigle

How We Determined the Best Primers for Oily Skin

There are a lot of primers on the market. For oily skin gals, not just any primer will do. Whether you’re a fan of matte or dewy looks, your oily skin can sabotage even your most low-maintenance looks. So finding the right primer for oily skin is key.

To discover which primers are actually worth the hype, I tested them based on:

  • Texture: What does it feel like?
  • Hold: How well does it hold makeup throughout the day/night?
  • Key Ingredients: What is in it? Does it contain other skincare ingredients I like?
  • Skin Type: Is it made for oily skin?
  • Size: How much bang you get for your buck

The Best Primers for Oily Skin

Read on to discover which of the best primers for oily skin are worth buying for all occasions and every type of look.

Every product is curated with care by our editors and we’ll always give an honest opinion, whether gifted or purchased ourselves. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a small commission at no cost to you.

Rare Beauty never disappoints. This weightless texture is not to be underestimated. It hydrates and plumps your skin with soothing skincare ingredients while providing a radiant, smooth canvas for your makeup. The pearly finish will give you that lit-from-within glow while the hydrating ingredients address all skin types.

  • Key Ingredients: Glycerin, Sunflower Seed Oil, Lotus Extract, Gardenia Extract, and White Waterlily Extract
  • Skin Type: All
  • Size: 0.94 oz/ 28 mL

This is a serum-first with serious priming benefits. When summer comes around, it’s pretty much all I wear under my sunscreen. The lush, gel texture makes it a refreshing serum that intensely hydrates summer skin. Any irritation or sun damage feels instantly soothed as this serum goes to work repairing my skin barrier. But it’s also my secret weapon for priming my skin. It creates a smooth canvas for makeup. For anyone who likes that dewy look, this primer is for you. If you prefer a more matte finish, save this for your nighttime routine to hydrate after a day of being out in the sun.

  • Key Ingredients: Antioxidants, Glycolipids, Linolenic Acids, Vitamin E
  • Skin Type: All
  • Size: 1 fl oz

Another hit and run from Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty, this mattifying primer stops shine in its track to keep skin looking fresh for longer. If you’re a fan of the original Fenty primer, this True Matte version has the same cloud-like texture with an even stronger hold. If you have combination skin, you can apply it on your oiler areas. But for full-on oily skin, a thin layer all over will keep you matte all day.

  • Key Ingredients: Blue Agave Extract, Blurring Powders
  • Skin Type: Oily & Combination
  • Size: 1.08 oz/30 mL

This hydrating primer attracts moisture to the skin with a silky, thick texture that spreads easily and improves your complexion over time. Glycerin also helps plump the skin to reduce the appearance of fine lines and texture, making your skin look smoother while blurring powders create a light-reflecting canvas. The hydrating hold and blurring effects give you the best of both worlds: a dewy finish without excess shine.

  • Key Ingredients: Microalgae, Glycerin, Blurring Powders
  • Skin Type: Oily & Combination
  • Size: 1.7 oz/50 mL

I’ve been a Milk Makeup stan since I first started wearing makeup. As someone who doesn’t love wearing a ton of products, Milk has always offered lightweight, skincare-focused options that feel like you’re wearing nothing. This primer is a perfect example. I keep it in the fridge and drench my skin in its hydrating, soothing formula when I want a dewy look. Hydrating ingredients fuel my skin while blue agave keeps a tight grip on my makeup. Pro tip: Let it dry for a minute or so before applying makeup for the most effective hold.

  • Key Ingredients: Hyaluronic Acid, Blue Agave Extract, Hemp-Derived Cannabis Seed Extract, Aloe
  • Skin Type: All
  • Size: 1.52 oz/45 mL

What can’t this primer do? This super serum doesn’t just blur pores and diminish shine, it works to improve your skin every time your wear it. We’ve all experienced those pore-clogging primers that leave you with breakouts and blemishes. For oily skin, this is a constant struggle. But this primer prevents breakouts with natural AHAs and niacinamide to sweep and minimize pores while you wear it, stopping breakouts before they happen.

  • Key Ingredients: Niacinamide, AHA-Fruit Blend
  • Skin Type: Combination & Oily Skin, Blemish-prone Skin
  • Size: 30ml

This classic lightweight gel is a favorite of makeup artists for a reason. The “photo finish” is no joke—wearing it makes my skin look instantly smoother in photos. A little bit of the gel goes a long way, and its vitamin E and A-enriched formula helps skin look smoother over time. You can also use it over makeup to touch up your look during the day. (Psst… You can also apply it to your hair to tame flyaways or refresh your slicked-back style.)

  • Key Ingredients: Vitamins A and E
  • Skin Type: Oily & Combination
  • Size: 1 oz/30 mL

Instead of packing on the powder, this multi-tasking serum can act as a primer underneath your makeup, or layered on top of your look to absorb oil and prevent shine without cakey residue. The gel-texture also makes it easy to combine with foundation to create a lightweight skin tint for summer. Full of clean beauty ingredients and no oil, it’s a natural way to hold and grip your makeup look however works best for your skin.

  • Key Ingredients: Niacinamide, Blue Spirulina, Prickly Pear Extract, Aloe, Glycerin
  • Skin Type: All
  • Size: 1.1 oz/35 ml

With a balm-like texture, this nourishing primer masks pores and creates a smooth, texture-free surface for your makeup. Suitable for all skin types and tones, it’s a quick solution to wear under or over makeup. Throw it in your bag for on-the-go fixes and midday touchups. It instantly mattifies shine, like a balmy blotting solution that controls excess oil production all day. For the strongest hold, apply under and over your makeup look to double down on its priming effects.

  • Key Ingredients: Vitamin E
  • Skin Type: All
  • Size: 0.75 oz/21 g

If I didn’t already love the Glowscreen, the fact that it doubles as a primer makes me love it more. To keep my routine minimal in the summer, combining my SPF with my primer is a godsend. Plus, the radiant finish gives me a dewy, pearlescent look. The light tint (available in four shades) also provides a little bit of coverage that blends with any product you layer on top. Reapplication is easy since it fortifies the matte look while helping bolster your sun protection.

  • Key Ingredients: Hyaluronic Acid, Niacinamide, and Vitamin B5
  • Skin Type: All
  • Size: 1.7 oz.

This primer was recommended to me by the board-certified dermatologist and founder of Dr. Loretta Skincare, Dr. Loretta. “The Ilia True Skin Radiant Priming Serum goes on beautifully and absorbs quickly into the skin. It is aloe based so it hydrates without clogging pores and can even soothe redness and inflammation in acne-prone oily skin.”

  • Key Ingredients: Hibiscus extract, Aloe, Glycerin
  • Skin Type: All
  • Size: 1 oz/30 ml

Dr. Loretta also recommended this affordable primer from cult-favorite brand, The Ordinary. “The Ordinary High Adherence Silicone Primer is also a great option. The silicone distributes the formula very evenly and can help to trap in moisture as well as give a reflective benefit to minimize pores and other imperfections on oily skin.” While silicone primers are not for everyone, this one offers a strong grip and an easy-to-apply texture, making it a great staple.

  • Key Ingredients: Silicone
  • Skin Type: All
  • Size: 1 oz/30 mL


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