If you’ve never used a primer as part of your makeup routine, your wedding day is a good time to consider doing so. Think of a primer like the base coat you’d apply under nail polish, or, well, the primer you’d apply on a wall before painting it. Primers work to create a smooth surface of the skin, so that any makeup you apply over it will both go on more evenly and last longer, explains celebrity makeup artist Tomy Rivero. That’s obviously always a good thing, but it’s an even bigger boon on your wedding day, when you definitely want to ensure all of your makeup stays put.
On top of that, “The biggest benefit of wearing a makeup primer on your wedding day is that it allows your makeup artist to continuously touch up the makeup without it building up and looking too heavy or cakey,” Rivero explains. Yes, please.
Here, the best primers for your wedding makeup.
This primer takes the cake as a universal crowd-pleaser, with a balm-like texture that works great on all skin types. It blurs and smooths away the look of imperfections, and contains three different forms of silk that impart a perfectly glowy finish that still looks natural. In short, it leaves your complexion looking—and feeling—silky smooth, all while upping the longevity of your makeup, too.
Price at time of publish: $54+
Size: .7 oz. | Additional Ingredients: Hydrolyzed silk, silk powder | Contains Silicone: Yes
Per the namesake ingredient, this does in fact boast a whipped and airy texture that makes it a joy to apply. While it has a subtle lavender tint immediately out of the bottle, it dries down totally clear on all skin tones. Best of all? It offers a whopping 10 different benefits, everything from ensuring makeup stays put (for up to 16 hours) to hydrating to soothing to blurring fine lines…and more.
Price at time of publish: $17+
Size: 1.01 oz. | Additional Ingredients: Marshmallow root extract | Contains Silicone: No
There’s arguably no skin type that can benefit from a primer more than the oily set; excess oil can up the likelihood of makeup meltdown, not to mention that a primer can also help tamp down unwanted sheen. This affordable, oil-free pick does exactly that, relying on rice protein to help absorb excess oil and leave your complexion perfectly matte for up to eight hours.
Price at time of publish: $8
Size: 1.01 oz. | Additional Ingredients: Rice protein | Contains Silicone: Yes
Even though primer is more often thought of as a good pick for oily skin, it can also be a great way to add an extra layer of hydration for those with dry skin. The key is choosing the right formula, and this one fits the bill. It relies on a litany of hydrating ingredients—hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, aloe water, cannabis seed extract—to give parched skin a hefty dose of moisture, all while locking makeup in place for up to 12 hours. The beautifully radiant finish is just the icing on the cake.
Price at time of publish: $38+
Size: 1.52 oz. | Additional Ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, aloe water | Contains Silicone: No
As a general rule of thumb, it’s not always the best idea to apply tons of makeup on over blemishes; it can end up clogging your pores and only exacerbating the situation. But here’s a good exception to the rule. There’s actually acne-fighting salicylic acid mixed right into this creamy primer, great for dissolving excess oil and keeping pores clear. Anti-inflammatory zinc helps calm redness, while the green tint helps to camouflage and counteract it.
Price starting at: $12+
Size: .74 oz. | Additional Ingredients: Salicylic acid | Contains Silicone: Yes
“This has a stunning, illuminating finish that works on anyone,” says Rivero of one of his favorites. That being said, it’s an especially good pick for mature skin, which tends to be duller and lack radiance. It also contains a light-reflecting complex that works to magically blur away the look of fine lines and imperfections.
Price at time of publish: $47+
Size: 1.7 oz. | Additional Ingredients: Micronized pearls | Contains Silicone: No
Rivero lauds this for being “super hydrating and luminous.” It has a soft-focus finish that’s neither too radiant nor too matte, but rather acts like a real-life Instagram filter, blurring and diffusing any thing you don’t want to call attention to.
Price at time of publish: $95+
Size: 1.4 oz. | Additional Ingredients: Algae extract | Contains Silicone: Yes
Even a standard primer offers a multitude of benefits, but this color-correcting formula really ups the ante. It comes in four colors, each of which help address four different issues. The orange counteracts ashy tones in deeper complexions, yellow balances out sallowness, pink combats dullness, and green knocks out redness. Prep skin with one of these and you’ll be amazed at how much less foundation and concealer you need.
Price at time of publish: $39+
Size: 1 oz. | Additional Ingredients: Ginseng Contains Silicone: Yes | Shades: 4
For those in search of a squeaky-clean, non-toxic pick, this is it. It’s free of over 2400 different chemicals, instead boasting a water-based formula that’s packed with antioxidants (from ingredients like raspberry seed oil and cocoa powder). It also has the subtlest of peachy-pink tints that blends beautifully into all skin tones, adding a touch of brightness before you even start applying makeup.
Price at time of publish: from $34
Size: 1.1 oz. | Additional Ingredients: CoQ10, antioxidant blend Contains Silicone: No
The hard truth of the matter is that there’s nothing you can do that will *actually* change the size of your pores. But there are plenty of things you can do to make them look smaller and less noticeable, including use this primer. According to Rivero, it’s incredible for minimizing the look of pores; it also helps control shine and has a gorgeous, velvet-like finish.
Price at time of publish: $49+
Size: .84 oz. | Additional Ingredients: N/A | Contains Silicone: Yes
Rivero says this works well for even those with the most sensitive of skin. It’s both silicone- and fragrance-free, relying on a bevy of natural ingredients that hydrate and nourish, all while leaving skin looking radiant and helping makeup stay on longer. Also nice: The bottle is made of recyclable glass, and the pump and cap from recycled plastic.
Price at time of publish: $55+
Size: 1 oz. | Additional Ingredients: Mica, lavender water | Contains Silicone: No
To be fair, this only contains SPF 15, and you really do need at least SPF 30 for daily use. That being said, this is still a great way to add a little extra layer of protection into your skincare/makeup routine. It’s another favorite of Rivero, who calls out that it has a silky smooth finish and is especially great for “erasing” the look of any textural irregularities.
Price at time of publish: $58+
Size: 1 oz. | Additional Ingredients: Titanium dioxide, zinc oxide | Contains Silicone: Yes
What to Look for in a Primer for Wedding Makeup
Consider Your Skin Type
Primers generally have the same type of benefit when it comes to increasing makeup staying power, but not all of them are created equal. Many offer different types of benefits, so it’s important to think about your skin type when choosing one. For example, those made for dry skin will be very different from those geared towards oily skin.
Silicone-Based or Not
Silicone is somewhat of a controversial ingredient, although it traditionally is what gave makeup primers their slip and grip. That being said, if you want to avoid it for any reason, there are a variety of great silicone-free options on the market.
Makeup primers create a smooth surface on the skin that helps the makeup go on smoother and last longer, says Rivero.
According to Rivero, this depends largely on your skin type. “If you have normal skin and no texture issues, you can go without,” he says. “But it can be very helpful if you’re oily or very dry,” he adds. Not to mention that they can be a great way to minimize the appearance of any textural irregularities (pores, bumps), and will make your makeup last longer. For that last reason alone they’re worth adding to your wedding makeup routine.
Meet the Expert
Tomy Rivero is a celebrity makeup artist and beauty expert for film and television. He’s also the owner of Tomy Rivero Beauty Lab—Nail Salon and Spa in Washington Heights, New York.
Why Trust Brides
Brides contributor Melanie Rud has nearly 15 years of journalism experience covering the beauty and lifestyle space for some of the biggest magazines and websites out there. She’s also a recent newlywed.