You can use the best foundation money can buy, but when it comes to smooth, long-lasting makeup that won’t crease or flake, there’s nothing more important than the canvas you start out with. When prepping your skin for a full face of glam, it’s essential to start off by applying one of the best moisturizers for under makeup. And like with any other skin-care product, you want to make sure you’re using the right formula for your specific skin type.
No matter what your primary skin concern is, you’ll want to avoid any night creams or rich moisturizers that will be too heavy to sink into the skin, since that can mess with your makeup application. Instead, look for lightweight hydration, and for optimum priming benefits, you can look for a moisturizer that contains skin-smoothing silicones. Though silicones like dimethicone (the most prominent type of silicone in makeup primers) often find themselves on the questionable ingredients list, many makeup artists recommend the ingredient, and dermatologists note that it’s hypoallergenic and noncomedogenic.
For dry and dehydrated skin types, opt for a lightweight moisturizer that contains multiple hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid or glycerin. And for oily skin, look for a mattifying formula or one that contains acne-fighters like salicylic acid to help keep your pores clear. To brighten and even out your complexion, choose something with vitamin C or gentle exfoliating acids.
Ahead, you’ll find five of the best moisturizers to wear under makeup to help get you started.
1. The Industry Pro Favorite
Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentré
This modest-looking moisturizer has a surprisingly glamorous following. Not only is the Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentré a French pharmacy favorite, but it’s also one of the most consistently spotted products backstage during Fashion Week (and beyond) in makeup artists’ kits. Recently made available in the U.S., the moisturizer is powerful enough to smooth dry skin while still being lightweight. Ingredients like shea butter, soy proteins, and aloe vera hydrate and firm skin without leaving behind a greasy finish.
2. Best Priming Moisturizer With SPF
Garnier SkinActive Clearly Brighter SPF 30 Moisturizer
Save yourself the extra step in your morning routine by using a makeup priming moisturizer that also contains your daily sunscreen. Garnier’s SkinActive Clearly Brighter SPF 30 Moisturizer offers broad spectrum sun protection in a non-greasy moisturizing formula. The multi-benefit face cream is formulated with vitamin C and lipo-hydroxy acid to brighten and exfoliate skin, which helps reduce signs of sun damage, like dark spots, while also protecting skin from future damage. Meanwhile, ingredients like glycerin, vitamin E, and hyaluronic acid help hydrate and lock in moisture.
3. Best Priming Moisturizer For Oily Skin
La Roche-Posay Effaclar Mat Face Moisturizer
For oily skin types, moisturizing before you apply makeup might seem like an express ticket to shiny skin. But that doesn’t have to be your face’s fate if you use a mattifying formula like La Roche-Posay’s Effaclar Mat moisturizer. The dermatologist-tested moisturizer works to absorb excess oil and reduce the appearance of enlarged pores with micro-spheres and perlite, as well as the brand’s Sebulyse technology, which was developed to target sebum (aka oil) more powerfully than zinc. Salicylic acid also lands a spot on the ingredients list, making it a great choice for acne-prone skin and treating breakouts. Glycerin, dimethicone, and the brand’s thermal spring water help create a smooth and even canvas for makeup.
4. A Priming Moisturizer That Blurs Imperfections
First Aid Beauty Coconut Skin Smoothie Priming Moisturizer
Designed specifically to serve as a makeup primer, the First Aid Beauty Coconut Skin Smoothie Priming Moisturizer is packed with tons of good-for-skin ingredients to help hydrate while keeping makeup in place. Coconut water is the star ingredient here, which is full of electrolytes, amino acids, and phytonutrients. Then, to further help support skin health, First Aid Beauty added a mineral blend of zinc, copper, magnesium, iron, and silica, as well as quinoa. And to provide a natural looking glow sans highlighter, micro-pearls were included in the formula to reflect light and create a dewy (but never oily) finish.
5. Best Priming Gel Moisturizer
Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel
A drugstore moisturizer that’s oil-free, alcohol-free, and noncomedogenic is hard to find, but the Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel fits the bill — and boasts a lightweight formula to boot. The gel-cream gets its fast-absorbing and simultaneously hydrating powers from hyaluronic acid, which draws moisture to the skin, helping to create a smooth and velvety base for makeup. Since it’s super hydrating but non-oily, this is a great choice for all skin types.