Primers often contain silicones, which can act like spackle and fill in any lines or uneven texture, making skin appear and feel smoother temporarily. This makes any makeup you apply afterward -- such as foundation, blush, and bronzer -- blend easier than on bare skin. Try Maybelline New York Instant Age Rewind Primer Skin Transformer, $8.99.
Even if you don't like wearing foundation, you might want to consider applying a dab of primer: Makeup artist Maria Verel says primers often have light-reflecting particles that can make pores appear smaller. Try L'Oreal Paris Revitalift Miracle Blur, $18.99.
Primers are a great mattifyer -- meaning they help absorb oil and prevent shine that could otherwise dissolve your makeup throughout the day. “It also gives your other makeup something to hold on to, so it stays put longer than if it were just on your bare skin,” Verel says. We like Neutrogena Shine Control Primer, $11.99.
The most basic primer on the drugstore shelves will even out your texture, blur fine lines, and get your skin ready for the rest of your makeup routine. But there are many specialized versions on the market these days that have extra benefits.
If you’re trying to hide an overly rosy complexion, try a primer with a green tint. Don’t worry, it won’t look green on your skin. “It will just subtly tone down any redness in your skin,” Verel says. The benefit: This means you can get more mileage out of your foundation because you won’t feel like you need to pile it on to eliminate redness. Try Physicians Formula Mineral Wear Correcting Primer, $9.59.
If the idea of using a primer sounds like one extra product too many in your morning routine, you’re in luck: Many primers come loaded with hydrating ingredients, which means you could skip your moisturizer and not even notice. Try Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Hydrating Primer, $42.
Sunscreen should come after your moisturizer and before your makeup -- so what better way to cross off that step than with a primer that has sunscreen benefits? Plus, it's one less layer on your skin to make you feel greasy. Try La Roche-Posay Anthelios SX Primer, $30.49.
If you find your eye shadow disappears or creases before lunchtime, Verel says an eye primer will be your new best friend. “Eyelids can be very oily, which breaks down eye shadow throughout the day,” she says. “A primer will grab onto any powder you apply and lock it in until you take it off at the end of the day.” Don’t try to do this with a regular primer, though -- they aren’t formulated to be used around your eyes and might cause irritation. Try NYX Eye Shadow Base, $6.99.
Verel says your primer should be the first thing you put on before any other makeup. Use your fingers to apply a dot of it like you would lotion. "Primers usually have a satiny texture, so your hands are the best way to feel where you've missed a spot," Verel says.
Verel recommends waiting a few minutes after applying your primer before topping it with anything else. "This ensures that it's had enough time to sink in and won't muck up any of your other products -- especially powders," she says.
Even if you don't need any foundation after you've applied primer (lucky!), Verel recommends dusting your face with loose powder to help it set for the day. And if you are going to follow it up with foundation, you might find that you need less of it: "It will go on more evenly and your skin will look smoother, so make sure you look in the mirror to make sure you don't overdo it," Verel says.