Ask a Beauty Editor: Best Drugstore Primers Under $20

The perfect foundation for your foundation.

woman applying lotion to her face with a blue background
Photo: Delmaine Donson/Getty Images

Ever wanted to pick the brain of a beauty editor? Or get beauty product recommendations from someone who has tried them all? You've come to the right place. In our weekly series, beauty editor Hana Hong answers your biggest skincare, hair care, and makeup questions, all submitted by Real Simple readers. Tune in every Tuesday and submit your own burning beauty questions here for a chance to be featured.

Reader question: What is the best drugstore brand for base/primer? @jholley2005

We all love makeup and a good deal (see our concealer roundup from last week), so let's talk drugstore primers. Primer may seem like a skippable step, but the makeup pre-game is arguably the most important consideration to take in your routine. Just like you would apply a base coat on your nails pre-polish (well, I hope so), primers give your foundation and concealer an even surface to grip onto so that makeup goes on evenly and lasts longer. Not to mention that many primers are also boosted with ingredients that make applying makeup better for your skin than going without.

Oh, and here's the best part—you don't have to shell out big bucks to reap the benefits. Case in point: These six primers, which I've tested against even the most expensive alternatives to affirm they're the real deal.

Best Drugstore Primers

01 of 06

Best Primer for Rough Skin: Maybelline New York Baby Skin Instant Pore Eraser

best-drugstore-primer-Maybelline New York Baby Skin Instant Pore Eraser

Dubbed by fans as "Photoshop in a bottle," Maybelline's aptly named formula smooths over pores and bumpy patches like an imperfection eraser.

02 of 06

Best Primer for Oily Skin: Rimmel Stay Matte Primer

best-drugstore-primer-Rimmel Stay Matte Primer

If your oily pores ruin your perfectly blended makeup throughout the day, this primer will be a foundation-saver—it mattifies skin and controls shine for up to 8 hours, so your foundation looks the same at happy hour as it did at your 11 a.m. meeting.

03 of 06

Best Primer for Dry Skin: Neutrogena Hydro Boost Glow Primer and Serum

best-drugstore-primer-Neutrogena Hydro Boost Glow Primer and Serum

This serum-to-primer hybrid is infused with purified hyaluronic acid to give three major benefits: intensely hydrate, plump up your complexion (i.e. younger-looking skin), and bestow the *glow*.

04 of 06

Best Primer With SPF: Milani SPF BFF Primer

best-drugstore-primer-Milani SPF BFF SPF Primer

Calling all skincare and makeup minimalists: This drugstore primer moonlights as sunscreen with SPF 30 to provide UV and foundation protection.

05 of 06

Best Primer for Acne: Milk Makeup Hydro Grip Primer

best-drugstore-primer-Milk Makeup Hydro Grip Primer

The last thing you want on an acne-prone complexion is a thick formula that sits on your face (read: clogs up your pores). This one has a gel consistency that absorbs quickly and leaves behind a matte, never sticky finish.

06 of 06

Best Primer for Redness: NYX Studio Perfect Color Correcting Primer in Green

best-drugstore-primer-NYX Studio Perfect Color Correcting Primer in Green

If you're familiar with color correcting (using complementary colors to cancel each other out), then you should know that green will neutralize any red you're trying to hide. This one from NYX cancels out any redness caused by rosacea, acne, and broken capillaries while prolonging the wear of your foundation.

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