the best drugstore primers in Canada

The Best Drugstore Primers in Canada 

My teenage years, mid 2000s, were defined by poreless faces in fashion magazines as the standard of beauty. Flawless skin was only achievable with the advertised high-end foundation, and the higher the price the better the result would be. I thought that if I could only get my hands on one of those foundations or powders my face would also be perfect. Little did I know back then that those impeccable faces went through several corrections by professional makeup artists.   

Makeup artists found out that applying primer before makeup is the way to achieve a smooth complexion. Since makeup tends to slide throughout the day, especially if you have oily skin or plan workout sessions in the middle of the day, there has to be something on your face that would keep it in place. A primer does not only create a silky canvas for makeup, but also allows foundation, blush, eyeshadows and concealer to stay on skin for hours.   

If you want to experiment and see whether primer would make a difference in your makeup routine, the good news is you do not have to spend a lot on it. Several primers that are named the best by makeup artists are sold at the drugstore.   

Today we selected the best drugstore primers that are suitable for dry, oily, combination and mature skin types. We chose primers that brighten, smooth fine lines, hydrate and minimize pores. Most of the drugstore primers cost less than $20 yet promise a long-lasting makeup base.  

Our Top Picks

Why Trust Us

We based our selection of the best drugstore primers on the following factors.   

First, we selected only the best-reviewed drugstore primer. Thousands of satisfied reviewers left their observations after using each primer on the list, stating their pros and cons.   

Second, we analyzed what other buying guides had to say about the best drugstore primers, (Good House Keeping, Byrdie, Who What Wear and others.) Several of those sources even had a chance to interview dermatologists and professional makeup artists.  

Third, we only included drugstore primers that earned at least four stars on Amazon, Walmart, Shoppers Drug Mart and other online retailers.   


Read more on The Best Beauty Products.

How to choose a good drugstore primer

Skin type:  

Considering that primer is the base of your makeup, choose it according to your skin type. Just like you are trying to match as close as possible a foundation or setting powder, pay close attention to a primer’s formula.   

For instance, dry skin would benefit from primer with a hydrating formula, that smooths skin and prevents makeup from flaking.   

Meanwhile, anyone with oily or combination skin should look for a primer with a mattifying effect. Those primers contain oil-absorbing ingredients that help to keep skin matte and dry by slowing oil production.   

Ingredients to avoid:  

One ingredient that dermatologists suggest avoiding is silicone. The main reason is that silicone tends to dry skin out without properly absorbing oil. Instead, look for primers that contain silica.    

Choose based on seasons:  

Most skin types experience dryness during winter months which is why a primer for dry skin is most suitable for cold seasons. Such a primer will provide enough hydration and keep your makeup flawless throughout the day.  

The opposite applies when you are looking for a primer for the summer months. The best primer for hot weather should allow your skin to glow yet keep sweat and oil discharge under control. Additionally, look out for primers that come with built-in sun protection.   


Most primers focus on solving one main concern: redness, large pores, dry or oily skin. Hence, for the best result choose the one that would address your concern directly.   

The Best Value Drugstore Primer

Maybelline New York Baby Skin Instant Pore Eraser

Maybelline is one of those drugstore beauty brands whose affordability and a vast selection you can always count on. Their Baby Skin collection is no exception. The Instant Pore Eraser provides a natural-looking, yet matte and poreless finish.   

One satisfied reviewer who has dermatillomania noted that Baby Skin Pore Eraser provided immediate improvement on her dry, red and very sensitive skin. It blurred pores, reduced the visibility of old acne scars and felt soft and light. The trick is to use a pea-sized amount and no more, or the skin can feel oily, she added. “I use it on its own with a little blush and mascara, or as a base for my foundation and will buy it again, a make-up must-have!” 

Others say that Baby Skin Pore Eraser does not only leave your face feeling and looking smooth, but also minimizes large pores with the same effectiveness as expensive primers.   

  • Minimizes the appearance of pores.  
  • Budget friendly.  
  • Not the long-wearing primer.  

The Best Drugstore Primer for Dry Skin

Essence Prime Studio Hydrating Skin Refreshing Primer

If you are looking for a primer that offers a lotion-like consistency rather than sticky and gluey, consider Essence Prime Hydrating primer. As per many reviewers, including makeup artists, Essence Prime is the best primer for dry skin because it feels like a moisturizer when applied, and leaves skin hydrated even with foundation and setting powder on top.   

One of those reviewers noted that Essence primer does exactly what it is supposed to do and, in her opinion, is better than a lot of more expensive primers.  

Another one with ultra oily skin noted that it works well to keep makeup on all day. Some days she just wears Essence primer with moisturizer, which hides all pores and evens skin tone.  

  • Budget-friendly. 
  • Hydrating formula.  
  • If you have oily or combination skin, foundation does not blend well with the primer, as per some reviewers. 

The Best Drugstore Long-Lasting Primer

Revlon PhotoReady Primer

Suitable for any skin type, Revlon PhotoReady primer reduces the appearance of pores and keeps your makeup in place. The affordable price does not mean compromising in quality: Revlon PhotoReady comes as close as possible to high-end primers.   

As one reviewer noted that a pump top makes Revlon primer easy to use and mess-free. The primer itself feels great and lightweight on skin, she added. “After I rub it in, I really can’t feel it at all.” She has some big pores on her cheeks and around her nose and the primer helps in minimizing them.  

The PhotoReady primer features a lightweight and brightening formula that smooths and perfects skin, making makeup application much easier and longer-lasting. Based on several reviews and makeup artists’ suggestions, you can even wear Revlon PhotoReady on its own for a more natural look, and simply add a few drops of concealer to cover blemishes.   

  • Long-lasting formula. 
  • Minimizes the appearance of pores.  
  • Suitable for all skin types.
  • As per some reviewers, the pump makes it difficult to finish the entire bottle. 

The Best Drugstore Primer for Sensetive Skin

e.l.f. Blemish Control Primer

Those who are battling acne or sensitive skin might find e.l.f. primer the most suitable product. The Blemish Control primer contains zinc that calms redness and irritation, kaolin clay and salicylic acid that clear out clogged pores.   

Besides, e.l.f. primer with a pleasant citrus scent contains hyaluronic acid, squalane and niacinamide, ingredients that nourish and hydrate skin.  

One of the reviewers noted that e.l.f. primer has a smooth and creamy texture that glides on easily and blends well with her skin tone. It gives her face a subtle glow that looks natural and healthy, not greasy or glittery. It also helps to minimize the appearance of pores and fine lines and makes foundation last longer, she added. She also suggests waiting for a few minutes before applying foundation or concealer. This primer works well with both liquid and powder products and does not cause any pilling or caking. It also does not make her skin feel heavy or oily throughout the day, she concluded. 

  • Acne-fighting ingredients.  
  • Vegan formula.  
  • Suitable for all skin types.  
  • Might not be the best product for several skin conditions (consult a dermatologist prior to use or test on a small spot of skin.) 

The Best Drugstore Primer for Dry Skin

Nyx Professional Makeup Electrolytes Plumping Primer Serum

Just like sensitive skin, dry skin is a whole issue of its own. Makeup and skincare products for dry skin should be picked with consideration of both skin condition and season. For instance, this NYX Plumping primer is infused with electrolytes, hyaluronic acid, magnesium and vitamins that hydrate, energize and brighten the skin.   

The NYX primer provides a long-lasting lightweight makeup base while absorbing quickly and creating healthy-looking skin. Just as one reviewer noted she tried this primer and could not believe how refreshing it felt on her skin. It made her skin smooth, and foundation application like a dream.  

  • Infused with hydrating ingredients.  
  • Lightweight.  
  • Long-lasting formula.  
  • As per some reviewers, the primer has a strong scent.

The Best Drugstore Primer for Mature Skin

La Roche-Posay Anthelios 50 Daily Anti-Aging Primer With Sunscreen

La Roche-Posay is a French drugstore skincare brand that is especially favoured by people with mature and sensitive skin.   

The Anthelios 50 Daily primer is packed with hydrating ingredients and SPF 50. However, unlike a typical sunscreen, this primer does not feel heavy and greasy.   

Anthelios Anti-Aging Face primer has a mousse-like texture that quickly absorbs into the skin blurring imperfections and smoothing fine lines and wrinkles.   

One reviewer noted that La Roche-Posay Anthelios 50 is great for a matte finish, especially under make-up. It goes on with creamy texture, absorbs quickly and has the power to keep makeup in place throughout the day. 

  • Infused with SPF 50 protection.  
  • Contains antioxidants.  
  • Hydrating formula.
  • More expensive than other drugstore primers.

The Best Drugstore Primer for Redness

Rimmel Insta Flawless Color Correcting Primer in Green

Adding a touch of green primer to cover redness is a pro makeup tip that artists use to neutralize and correct colour. That is why Rimmel Insta Flawless primer is one of the best products for redness. It does not only work on various skin conditions such as rash or acne but also quick-to-flush skin.   

A satisfied reviewer noted that she has tried quite a few different brands and never found them effective until she found Rimmel Insta Flawless. From the very first application, this felt ‘just right’. It goes on smoothly, like a very fine lotion that is not gloopy, sticky or oily. It does not irritate or clog pores, nor cause breakouts, she added. Her skin feels like it has been moisturized. “Rimmel Insta Flawless gives my prone-to-redness face a much more natural, neutral tone.” 

  • Covers redness.  
  • Long-lasting formula.  
  • Suitable for all skin types.  
  • Takes a few minutes for the primer to absorb into skin.  

The Best Drugstore Primer for Brightening

Neutrogena Prep + Correct Brightening Primer

Besides green-coloured primer that evens skin tone, you could also try a primer with a purple tone. Unlike Rimmel Insta Flawless primer in green which mainly covers redness, Neutrogena Prep + Correct purple primer brightens and illuminates skin.   

As one reviewer noted if you have been searching for that holy grail product to achieve flawless makeup, your search might just end with this. This primer has completely changed the way she approaches her makeup routine, and she can not help but sing its praises. The concept of colour correction can be a bit intimidating, but this primer simplifies the process beautifully, she added.  

Neutrogena Prep+Correct Brightening primer is formulated with seaweed extract that helps to smooth the skin’s surface without settling into fine lines. The primer features a non-greasy texture that does not feel heavy on the skin.   

  • Brightens dull-looking skin.  
  • Infused with seaweed.  
  • Lightweight texture.  
  • Contains silicone. 

The Best Drugstore Primer for Eyelids

Wet’n Wild Photo Focus Eyeshadow Primer

To keep your eyeshadows in place and make application smoother, give a try to Wet’n Wild Photo Focus Eyeshadow Primer.   

It is a mattifying primer that absorbs oil allowing makeup to blend in seamlessly and prevents creases on eyelids.   

A satisfied reviewer noted that using Wet’n Wild helps her makeup last a lot longer throughout the day. And this brand and type of primer formula goes smoothly onto the eyelid and keeps the colour on the eyelids for quite a long time, she continued. “The only thing I would change about it is that I wish the formula would also brighten up the lid,” the reviewer added. 

  • Mattifying formula.  
  • Keeps makeup in place.  
  • When using too much it might end up looking cakey.

The Best Drugstore Primer for Eyelashes

Covergirl Lash Blast Amplify Eyelash Mascara Primer

Covergirl Lash Blast mascara primer instantly adds volume to lashes making them look thicker and longer. It is formulated to dry quicker and make mascara application easy, while preventing smudging throughout the day.   

As one reviewer of Covergirl Lash Blast noted, that it amplified her lash volume and length wonderfully. It also makes her lashes appear fuller. The reviewer would recommend it to anyone who is looking to enhance the look of their lashes.  

Containing several ingredients such as Jojoba Seed Oil, Covergirl Lash Blast also contributes to healthier and stronger eyelashes. 

  • Adds volume.  
  • Strengthens eyelashes.  
  • Cruelty-free product.  
  • As per several reviewers the more you use it, the more it becomes clumpy. 

Questions about drugstore primers

What is a primer?

A makeup primer is a cream-like product that can be used as a base for makeup. It is formulated to minimize the appearance of pores, smooth and brighten skin and improve the longevity of makeup wear.   

How to use a makeup primer?

Use a peanut-sized amount of primer and apply the product with your fingertips. Blend it well all over your face after applying moisturizer. Let it blend into your skin and then proceed with makeup as usual.   

What is the best drugstore primer?

Considering such factors as value and performance, Maybelline New York Baby Skin Pore-Minimizing Primer is the best drugstore primer. Based on hundreds of reviews, the primer glides over pores minimizing their look and leaving natural looking smooth skin. 

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Updated date

December 22nd, 2023

About the author

Maria Kossman

Maria Kossman is an essayist, and content specialist at Her writing appeared in a variety of fashion magazines. When she is not focused on reviewing and writing, she spends time exploring coffee shops, English literature and antique malls.
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