The Best Primers for the Over-40 Set, According to Makeup Artists

Opinions vary when it comes to whether primers are essential to a makeup routine. We've written about the debate before. Some people sit in the "yes" camp, while others might think it's "just a waste of a product." Either way, there's no denying that primers can be helpful in the quest for flawless makeup. They set the stage, so to speak, for your products and can help your makeup last throughout the day. Some can even hydrate if you've got dry skin, while others can get your oily skin under control.

"Primer is not necessary, in my opinion, for day-to-day wear, but for that completely perfect makeup look," says celebrity makeup artist Maud Laceppe, whose clients include Vanessa Paradis and Julianne Moore. "It will give more of a photoshopped finish. Primer will definitely make your makeup last longer. It smoothes the fine lines, evens out the skin tone, and reduces the size of your pores."

But not all primers are created equally, just like everyone's skin is not the same. "There are primers for all different skin types, so choose one that best suits your skin," recommends celebrity makeup artist and groomer Georgie Eisdell, who has worked with Gwyneth Paltrow and Sophie Turner. "So if you have oily skin, you might want to use a primer that is oil-free so it can help keep your base looking fresh but not too shiny. If you have drier skin, then locate more hydrating primers or pruning oil to help get a nice glow to the skin."


(Image credit: Getty Images)

And when you have mature skin, you might have other concerns, like fine lines and dryness. Some primers can help with those—and the same rule for choosing one applies here. "No matter your age, you should always choose a primer that addresses your skin type and feels good on your face. Every face is different!" says Christine Cherbonnier, Yoko Ono's personal makeup artist. "If you have concerns about fine lines, I suggest trying a primer with a lighter weight. Typically those sit best on mature skin without accentuating what you're trying to smooth out. I know it may seem like you should add extra coverage as your skin ages, but try to resist the urge if you can. Mature skin is beautiful and can really benefit from a lighter touch."

Across the board, though, most of the makeup artists I spoke to for this story said women over 40 should look for a hydrating primer. "The older you get, the drier your skin starts becoming," says Carissa Ferreri, whose clients include Annette Bening and Gina Rodriguez. "Someone younger usually has oilier or acne-prone skin. I would apply a mattifying primer for a younger client and focus on the T-zone. For mature skin, I like to use a primer that imparts illumination and brightening, such as Lancôme's Prep and Hydrate Primer ($35)."

When it comes to applying primer, Eisdell says you should put it on after applying moisturizer but before you put your base on. And Cherbonnier adds, "I recommend applying primer with your fingers as if applying moisturizer. Your body heat will melt the primer into the skin, creating a perfect canvas for makeup application. Be sure to focus on any redness, fine lines, or other areas that could use a little extra attention."

Ready to choose one? Take a look at our list of best primers for mature skin below.

Best Overall: Laura Mercier Pure Canvas Primer Illuminating

Victoria Beckham by Augustinus Bader Cell Rejuvenating Priming Moisturizer

Fenty Beauty Pro Filt'r Instant Retouch Primer

SkinCeuticals Hydrating B5 Gel

Lancôme Génifique Youth Activating Serum

Too Faced Hangover Replenishing Face Primer

Charlotte Tilbury Wonderglow Face Primer

Make Up For Ever Step 1 Primer Color Corrector

Yves Saint Laurent Touche Éclat Blur Primer

Supergoop! Glowscreen Sunscreen SPF 40

Chantecaille Ultra Sun Protection SPF 45

Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40

Lancôme UV Expert Aquagel Defense Primer & Moisturizer SPF 50

Maybelline Face Studio Master Prime Primer

Covergirl Simply Ageless Makeup Primer

This story was originally published at an earlier date and has since been updated. 

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Managing Editor

Sarah is lifestyle writer and editor with over 10 years of experience covering health and wellness, interior design, food, beauty, and tech. Born and raised in Los Angeles, she attended New York University and lived in New York for 12 years before returning to L.A. in 2019. In addition to her work on THE/THIRTY and Who What Wear, she held editor roles at Apartment Therapy, Real Simple, House Beautiful, Elle Decor, and The Bump (sister site of The Knot). She has a passion for health and wellness, but she especially loves writing about mental health. Her self-care routine consists of five things: a good workout, “me” time on the regular, an intriguing book/podcast/playlist to unwind after a long day, naps, and decorating her home.