Substitute For Primer

Struggling to find primer when you need it most? What if I told you there’s a surprising alternative already in your beauty arsenal? Say goodbye to makeup meltdowns with other substitutes for primer. 

In this post, I unveil an unexpected substitute for primer that will revolutionize your beauty regimen. Stick around to discover the secret ingredient and how it can transform your beauty regimen. You will achieve that flawless look without a fuss. 

Understanding What Are Makeup Primers

Makeup primers are your makeup’s best friend. They’re the first step in your makeup routine, smoothing out your skin and making it the perfect canvas for your makeup masterpiece. 

These handy products create a barrier between your skin and makeup, so your look can stay put all day. They also minimize pores, blur imperfections, and even out skin texture. If you use them correctly, you get that flawless finish you’ve always wanted. 

15 Makeup Primer Alternatives

Use a gentle exfoliator

Exfoliation does not just remove dead skin cells; it can also prep your skin beautifully for makeup. Opt for a gentle exfoliator with fine granules or chemical exfoliants like AHAs or BHAs. These ingredients help smooth out your skin’s texture, creating a flawless base for makeup application. Remember to moisturize afterward to keep your skin hydrated and ready for makeup.

Exfoliating skin

Milk of magnesia

Surprisingly, milk of magnesia isn’t just for upset stomachs; it can also double as a mattifying primer. Its high magnesium hydroxide content absorbs excess oil, leaving your skin matte and ready for makeup. 

However, use it sparingly and only on oily areas, as it can be drying. Apply a thin layer, allow it to dry, then proceed with your makeup routine for a shine-free finish that lasts.

BB cream

BB creams are multitasking marvels that can streamline your makeup routine while acting as a primer, moisturizer, sunscreen, and foundation. They offer light to medium coverage with added skincare benefits like hydration and sun protection. 

Apply a thin layer evenly over your face to even out your skin tone and provide a smooth base for makeup without feeling heavy or greasy.

BB Cream

Coconut oil

Other than cooking, coconut oil also work wonders as a natural makeup primer, especially for dry skin types. Its emollient properties moisturize and soften the skin, creating a smooth surface for makeup application. 

Simply warm a small amount between your fingertips and gently massage it onto your skin before applying makeup. Be cautious if you have oily skin type because coconut oil may exacerbate shine.

Grease-free sunscreen

Sunscreen is a non-negotiable step in any skincare routine, but did you know it can also double as a makeup primer? Look for lightweight, grease-free formulas that absorb quickly into the skin without leaving a greasy residue. 

These sunscreens protect your skin from harmful UV rays and create a smooth canvas for makeup, ensuring long-lasting wear without clogging pores or causing makeup to slip.


Yes, you read that right—deodorant can serve as an effective makeup primer, especially in hot and humid climates where makeup tends to melt away. Opt for a clear, unscented deodorant stick and lightly swipe it across your T-zone or other areas prone to excess oiliness. 

The deodorant’s antiperspirant properties help control sweat and oil production, keeping your makeup fresh throughout the day.

Anti-chafing cream

Don’t let the name fool you; anti-chafing creams aren’t just for preventing friction—they can also double as a makeup primer. These silicone-based creams create a smooth, velvety base for makeup, blurring imperfections and filling fine lines and pores. 

Use a pea-sized amount as you focus on areas where makeup settles or creases for a flawless, long-lasting finish.

Anti-chaffing cream


Surprising as it may seem, Vagisil can double as a makeup primer due to its soothing and mattifying properties. It contains ingredients like dimethicone that create a smooth base for makeup application. 

Apply a thin layer to clean, moisturized skin, focusing on areas prone to excess oil or enlarged pores. Vagisil’s ability to control shine and minimize the appearance of pores makes it an unconventional yet effective primer alternative.


With its silicone-based formula, Lube creates a silky-smooth surface for makeup application, filling in fine lines and blurring imperfections. 

Choose a water-based, unscented lubricant and apply a small amount of the face primer, focusing on areas where makeup tends to fade or crease. The lubricant’s lightweight texture ensures your makeup stays put all day.

Nivea after-shave balm

Don’t let the “after-shave” label fool you; Nivea After-Shave Balm can work wonders as a makeup primer. Thanks to its hydrating and soothing properties. 

Its glycerin-rich formula helps moisturize and prep the skin, creating a soft and supple canvas for makeup. Apply a small amount evenly to your face after cleansing and allow it to absorb before proceeding with your makeup routine for a flawless finish that lasts.

Lacto calamine lotion

Lacto calamine lotion, a staple in many skincare routines, can also double as a makeup primer, particularly for those with oily or acne skin conditions.

Its zinc oxide content helps control excess oil production, while its calamine soothes inflammation and redness. The lotion’s mattifying effect ensures your makeup stays fresh and matte throughout the day.

Rub an ice cube

Before reaching for your makeup, try rubbing an ice cube over your face to tighten pores and reduce puffiness. The cold temperature constricts blood vessels, resulting in a smoother complexion and minimized pores. 

Wrap an ice cube in a clean cloth and gently glide it over your face for a few minutes. Pat your skin dry and proceed with your makeup routine for a refreshed and radiant look that lasts.

using ice cube as primer

Aloe vera Gel

Aloe vera gel isn’t just for soothing sunburns—it can also serve as a natural makeup primer, particularly if you have sensitive or dry skin. It’s hydrating and anti-inflammatory properties help smooth and prep the skin, creating a hydrated and even base for makeup. 

If you prefer this option, apply a thin layer of pure aloe vera gel to clean, moisturized skin and allow it to dry before proceeding with your makeup routine for a fresh and dewy finish.

Witch hazel

Witch hazel, derived from the witch hazel shrub, can work wonders as a makeup primer, especially for oily or acne-prone skin. Its astringent properties help control excess oil production and tighten pores, creating a smooth and matte base for makeup. 

Apply witch hazel to a small cotton ball and gently swipe it over your face.

Tea tree oil

Tea tree oil, renowned for its antibacterial and antiseptic properties, can also serve as a makeup primer. This option is made from natural oils, particularly for those with acne-prone skin. Its ability to control excess oil and prevent breakouts makes it an effective primer alternative. 

Dilute a few drops of tea tree oil with water and apply it to clean, moisturized skin, focusing on areas prone to blemishes. Let it absorb before applying makeup for a smooth and blemish-free complexion.

Tea tree oil

Reasons Why Primer is Necessary

Smooths skin texture

Primer acts as a base for makeup, smoothing out uneven skin texture and creating a flawless canvas. It fills fine lines, wrinkles, and pores, allowing foundation and other makeup products to glide on seamlessly. 

This ensures a more even and polished finish, minimizing the appearance of imperfections for a photo-ready complexion.

Increases makeup longevity

By creating a barrier between your skin and makeup, primer helps prevent oils and sweat from breaking down your makeup throughout the day. 

It locks in your makeup, extending its wear time and keeping it looking fresh for hours. This especially benefits those with dry and oily skin types prone to makeup meltdown or fading.

Enhances makeup pigmentation

Primer can intensify the pigmentation of your makeup, making colors appear more vibrant and true to their original shade. This is particularly important for eyeshadows, blushes, and lipsticks, as it ensures the colors pop and stay vibrant throughout the day. 

It also helps prevent makeup from looking dull or fading over time, maintaining its vibrancy from morning to night.

Minimizes the appearance of pores

One of the key benefits of primer is its ability to minimize the appearance of pores. It fills in enlarged pores, creating a smoother surface and a more even skin texture. 

This helps makeup glide on more smoothly and gives the illusion of a poreless complexion. Primer can blur imperfections and create a flawless base, ensuring your makeup looks flawless from every angle.

Controls shine and oiliness

For those with oily or combination skin, primer is a game-changer in controlling shine and oiliness. It contains mattifying agents that absorb excess oil and sebum, leaving your skin with a matte finish. 

This prevents your makeup from sliding off or becoming greasy throughout the day, ensuring a fresh and shine-free complexion.

Acts as a barrier

Primer creates a protective barrier between your skin and makeup, preventing makeup products from clogging your pores or causing irritation. 

This is more beneficial to those with acne-prone or sensitive skin, as it helps minimize the risk of breakouts or allergic reactions. Primer ensures that your makeup sits on the surface of your skin without penetrating or disrupting its natural balance.

Hydrates and nourishes

Some primers contain hydrating and nourishing ingredients like hyaluronic acid, vitamin E, and botanical extracts. These ingredients help replenish moisture, soothe dryness, and improve the overall health of your skin. 

Using a hydrating primer can prevent your makeup from clinging to dry patches or accentuating dehydration lines, ensuring a smooth and hydrated complexion.

Pro Tips for Choosing the Perfect Primer

  • Determine your skin type: Understand whether you have oily, dry, combination, or sensitive skin to find a primer that caters to your specific needs.
  • Consider your skin concerns: Whether it’s minimizing pores, controlling oiliness, or hydrating dry patches, choose a primer that addresses your unique skin concerns.
  • Choose a formula that suits your desired finish: Matte, dewy, or luminous? Select a primer formula that aligns with the finish you want for your makeup.
  • Match the primer with your foundation: Ensure compatibility between your primer and foundation to achieve a seamless makeup application and longevity. (See how to stop foundation settling in pores).
  • Check for long-lasting or hydrating properties: Depending on your preferences, opt for a primer with long-lasting wear or hydrating properties to suit your makeup needs.
  • Look for oil-free options if you have oily skin: To combat excess shine, opt for oil-free primers designed specifically for oily skin types.
  • Test for potential allergic reactions: Patch test new primers to avoid adverse reactions or irritations, especially if you have sensitive skin or allergies.
  • Read reviews and seek recommendations: Research online reviews and seek advice from your makeup artist or beauty enthusiasts to decide which primer to choose.

Moisturizer Vs Primer: What is the Difference?

Moisturizer hydrates and nourishes the skin, improving its overall health and texture. It provides essential moisture to keep the skin supple and soft. 

On the other hand, primer acts as a base for makeup, smoothing out the skin’s texture, minimizing pores, and extending makeup wear. While moisturizer focuses on hydration, primer focuses on creating an optimal surface for makeup application and longevity.


Can you skip primer in makeup?

Yes, you can skip primer in makeup if you prefer a more minimalistic approach or if you’re short on time. However, primer offers several benefits, such as smoothing the skin’s texture, prolonging makeup wear, and enhancing the vibrancy of makeup colors. If you have oily skin or large pores, primer can be particularly beneficial in creating a matte finish and minimizing the appearance of pores.

Can you use vaseline as a primer?

While Vaseline can provide a temporary smoothness to the skin’s surface, I don’t recommend it as a primer substitute. Vaseline is occlusive and may clog pores, leading to breakouts. Plus, it lacks the beneficial properties found in traditional makeup primers, such as pore-minimizing, oil-control, or hydrating ingredients. Using Vaseline as a primer may also cause makeup to slide off or appear uneven throughout the day.

Will using alternatives affect the longevity of my makeup?

Using alternatives to traditional makeup primers may affect the longevity of your makeup depending on the product and your skin type. Some alternatives, like silicone-based lubricants or mattifying lotions, can extend makeup wear and control shine. However, others may not provide the same longevity or makeup adherence level. 

How can I choose the right substitute for my skin type?

Consider your skin type and concerns when selecting a substitute for traditional makeup primer. For oily skin, opt for mattifying alternatives like silicone-based lubricants or oil-free moisturizers. Dry skin may benefit from hydrating substitutes such as aloe vera gel or glycerin-based lotions. Those with sensitive skin should choose gentle alternatives free of fragrances or harsh chemicals, like witch hazel or aloe vera. 


While traditional primers have long been the go-to for flawless looks, many substitutes open up a universe of possibilities. From unexpected household items to skincare staples, the options are as diverse as they are surprising. Whether on a budget, in a pinch, or simply looking to shake up your routine, exploring alternative primers can be exciting and rewarding. 

So, dare to step outside the conventional and start a journey of experimentation. Who knows? Your next makeup masterpiece might start with an unlikely hero from your bathroom cabinet.

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