Our Favorite Primer: The 2022 List Beauty Awards

Foundation can be a makeup lover's best friend, serving as the go-to for covering up under-eye circles and any unwanted spots. But if you don't use the right primer before applying it, foundation can easily turn into your worst enemy (trust us). Even the best products can wreak havoc on your skin and leave you with an uneven finish.

At the same time, everyone needs something a little different from a primer, especially when it comes to your skin type. To that end, we sampled five different primers, sticking to hydrating formulas that catered to oily-to-combination skin on various ends of the cost spectrum. After thoroughly testing each product, we ultimately found a winner. With our favorite primer in your makeup bag, you'll never call foundation an enemy again. You just can't forget to actually apply it first!

So without further ado, here are The List Beauty Awards: primer edition. 

Fenty Beauty Pro Filt'r Hydrating Primer: Winner

In the years since Rihanna launched her Fenty beauty brand –- becoming a billionaire in the process and making us wonder what we did before Rihanna casually decided to dabble in makeup –- it has become a favorite of beauty lovers and celebrities alike, both for its quality and reasonable price point. We were already longtime fans of the Fenty concealer, so naturally, we were excited to try out its companion, the Pro Filt'r Hydrating Primer. While Fenty does sell other primers, knowing this primer offered the added benefits of hydration sold us on this particular pick.

Appearing as a pink lotion, this primer is light and hydrating, and foundation absorbs into it easily. Everyone's experience with wearing makeup is different, but at its worst, wearing foundation can clog your pores and make you feel like a pancake. You'll never have to worry about this issue with Fenty Beauty Pro Filt'r Hydrating Primer — your skin will feel protected and your foundation will be long-lasting. We really can't love this primer any more. 

Tatcha Mini Liquid Silk Canvas: Runner-up

In recent years, the Japanese luxury brand Tatcha has made a name for itself in the already crowded skincare space, earning kudos for its clean beauty approach and even becoming a go-to for celebrity makeup artists, per Los Angeles Times. So when choosing primers to test, we knew we wanted to check out whatever primer the brand had to offer.

And as it turns out, the Tatcha Mini Liquid Silk Canvas exceeded our expectations. Similar to the Fenty's Pro Filt'r Hydrating Primer, the Tatcha Mini Liquid Silk Canvas is a pink lotion that will protect your skin and help ensure your foundation is applied seamlessly.

The real sticking point here is the price: The mini/travel size version of the Tatcha Liquid Silk Canvas (10 g/.35 oz) retails for $22, while the full-sized Fenty Beauty Pro Filt'r Hydrating Primer (1 oz) goes for $32, so if you're looking to get more bang for your buck, Fenty is the way to go. But if your brand loyalty is with Tatcha, you can't go wrong here, either.

Neutrogena Healthy Skin Primer Broad Spectrum: Runner-up

Sometimes, instead of doing a full face of foundation, you just want a spot treatment to hide your blemishes or whatever might be ailing your skin. And that's where the Neutrogena Healthy Skin Primer Broad Spectrum comes in handy: You can use it as a primer before a coat of foundation, plus — depending on your skin tone — you can even use it as a cover-up. Talk about double-duty. 

The Neutrogena Healthy Skin Primer is also a solid option no matter what your skin type is; it's not so hydrating that it'll upset oily skin, but not so matte that it'll dry your skin out. It's the kind of primer that you can lend to a friend without being worried that they'll be mad at you when their skin either dries up or breaks out.

And as another added bonus, the Neutrogena Healthy Skin Primer also contains SPF in its recipe, giving your skin some much-needed protection from the sun.

The Ordinary High-Adherence Silicone Primer-1: Runner-up

Similar to Tatcha, The Ordinary has made a name for itself in both the makeup and skincare game. The Ordinary has become well-known for delivering effective products at an extremely efficient cost. If The Ordinary products work for you, then you'll probably want to check out its High Adherence Silicone Primer, which retails for only $4.90 at Sephora. 

As you might have guessed from its name, the product uses silicone, an ingredient a number of other skincare lines have moved away from, but one that can enhance your makeup and ensure your foundation application is long-lasting.

While we found the formula to be a little heavy on our skin, it still gets the job done –- and it does so in an extremely economical fashion. Like the Neutrogena Healthy Skin Primer, the Ordinary High-Adherence Silicone Primer is a great all-purpose foundation. Ultimately, it's one you could pick up in a pinch, if, let's say, you were traveling and forgot your favorite primer at home. The Ordinary has you covered!

MAC Cosmetics MAC Prep + Prime Skin Refined Zone Treatment: Runner-up

The MAC Cosmetics MAC Prep + Prime Skin Refined Zone Treatment initially appealed to us after we read that it was particularly helpful in dealing with acne scars — and who doesn't want all the help they can get when it comes to covering up those? 

However, we had a particularly difficult reaction to this primer, as it has a thick and viscous feel to it, and it resisted easy absorption into the skin. Then, when attempting to apply foundation on top, it gave an overall uneven effect, which is certainly not ideal for long-term makeup wearing. Additionally, while most primers have only a light scent to them — if any scent at all — this one seemed to have an off-putting smell to it.

That being said, everyone's skin is different. The MAC Cosmetics MAC Prep + Prime Skin Refined Zone Treatment has racked up plenty of positive reviews, so if you're a MAC fan, or are having trouble finding a primer for oily skin, this one could be worth a shot. As for The List, we'll be sticking with our favorite from now on.