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Do You Apply Primer or Moisturizer First?

We’re here to help you find the truth.
June 16, 2023

Primer and moisturizer are two beauty products that, in many ways, do the same things. However, they are two distinctly different products that often ignite debates in the beauty world about their proper application order. Both professional makeup artists and novice beauty enthusiasts have wondered: Should moisturizer be applied before primer, or should primer come before moisturizer? The answer is straightforward: moisturizer should be applied first. 


While there is flexibility in the application of certain products, this isn't the case for makeup primers and face moisturizers. Achieving long-lasting makeup and a flawless complexion requires getting the order right. Although we've already told you whether primer goes on before or after moisturizer, there's more to explore. Below, we'll address your lingering questions about using a primer or moisturizer first in creating the ideal face base, along with product recommendations for your best complexion.

Is Primer the Same As Moisturizer? 

Believe it or not, there is a common misconception that primer and moisturizer are interchangeable or identical products, leading to confusion about their proper application order. However, these two products have distinct differences and serve specific purposes for your skin.

You might be wondering about moisturizing primers. These versatile products offer an additional boost of hydration while preparing your face for makeup application. They are particularly beneficial for those with very dry skin, as they can address issues of makeup emphasizing dry patches. However, it's important to note that moisturizing primer is not intended to replace your moisturizer. Consider it as supplemental moisture rather than the sole source your skin needs. For a multi-use option, you can try the L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Miracle Blur, which not only functions as a moisturizing primer but also provides a velvet-smooth finish in a single step.

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What Is Moisturizer?

Now, you probably already know what moisturizer is, but we’re going to explain the ins and outs in a little more detail. On the flip side of the primer versus moisturizer conversation, moisturizer is a skin care product that’s formulated to hydrate your skin. Like primers, moisturizers come in a myriad of formulas designed specifically for different skin types. Whether excess oil, dry skin, or a dull-looking complexion is your skin care concern, a moisturizer provides the right amount of nourishment and can address other issues in the process. 

When to Use Moisturizer?

You should use a moisturizer daily. Skin care is a very personal thing and depending on your skin concerns you might want a specific moisturizer to address a need you have. The American Academy of Dermatology Association recommends having a dedicated nighttime and daytime skin care routine consisting of (at least) a gentle cleanser, moisturizer, and sunscreen. Skin care layering should always be done with the thinnest formula going first. With that in mind, layer your moisturizer after a serum but before an spf and primer. 

What Is Primer for Makeup?

Primer is a makeup product designed to give your makeup an even base for a smooth application and help it last longer. The best way to think of primer is as a barrier for your skin and your makeup products. Depending on the formula, it can add a mattifying effect or boost the skin with moisture to help your makeup look go the distance. 

Primer for makeup can also come in a shimmery or bronze formulation to create a glowy foundation on the skin that won’t make you look like a sparkling vampire. For a subtle glow that is Martha Stewart-approved, try the L’Oréal Paris True Match Lumi Glotion Natural Glow Enhancer.

When Do You Apply Primer?

As we’ve discussed so far, primer can be applied on the face to act as a base before makeup (i.e. foundation, concealer, blush, etc). Try the L’Oréal Paris Prime Lab Up to 24H Matte Setter for a shine-free base. Primer can also be applied to the eyelids in the form of a dedicated eyeshadow primer that is safe to use around the eyes.

How to Choose the Right Primer and Moisturizer for You?

When choosing the right primer and moisturizer for your skin type, it's important to consider your specific needs. If you have oily or normal skin, try a lightweight yet hydrating moisturizer like the L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Triple Power Day Lotion SPF 30. It provides the necessary moisture without feeling heavy, and the added SPF protects your skin from damaging ultraviolet rays. 

In the world of primers, if you have oily skin pick up the  L’Oréal Paris Prime Lab Up to 24H Pore Minimizer for a base that creates an instant blurring effect and combats oiliness all day and night. Those with skin on the drier side need a primer that won’t dry out skin further. That’s where the L’Oréal Paris Age Perfect Makeup Blurring Face Primer shines with the infused serum that’ll visibly transform skin quality for a soft-focus effect. For all skin types, including sensitive skin, try the L’Oréal Paris Prime Lab Up to 24H Redness Eraser which is formulated with the skin-loving ingredient, niacinamide.

When it comes to moisturizers, there are dozens of products to choose from that can target certain skin types and skin concerns. Oily skin that needs moisture without the extra greasy layers will appreciate the L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Triple Power Day Lotion SPF 30 which doubles as a moisturizer and sunscreen. If you have normal to dry skin, pick up a water-based moisturizer like the L’Oréal Paris Hydra Genius Daily Liquid Care - Normal/Dry Skin that provides 72 hours of intense hydration while locking in the moisture for longer skin radiance. All skin types, including aging and sensitive skin, should try the L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Derm intensives Micro Hyaluronic Acid + Ceramides Line-Plumping Water Cream that visibly reduces fine lines.


Should You Apply Primer or Moisturizer First? 

Let’s dive a little deeper into the question of primer first or moisturizer first that brought you here. The truth is, you should always apply moisturizer before reaching for primer (seriously, always). As we mentioned above, the purpose of a moisturizer is to lock in moisture to keep dryness at bay. If you apply primer first, you run the risk of sporting dry, lackluster skin. Since primers are not formulated to provide skin with moisture, they can take a toll on your overall makeup look if not used correctly, which is the last thing you want. 

An easy way to remember the right order is to separate your products into two separate routines. Moisturizer (or sunscreen) should always be the last step in your skin care routine. The primer should always be the first step in your makeup routine. Your skin care routine always comes first.

Once you’ve got your moisturizer and primer on, you’re ready for makeup. For a quick flushed look that’ll show off the skin you just prepped, try the L’Oréal Paris Infallible Up to 24H Fresh Wear Soft Matte Blush.

How Long to Wait Between Moisturizer and Primer?

To achieve the best results, you should wait for a few minutes (around one to five minutes) after applying moisturizer before applying primer. This allows the moisturizer to fully absorb into the skin, providing maximum hydration and creating a smooth base perfect for makeup application. 

Next: What's the Difference Between Cream and Lotion?


Edited by: Alexis Gaskin, Photographer: Nelson Huang, Art Director: Hannah Packer, Producer: Becca Solovay, Beauty Content Director: Shalwah Evans, Visual Designer: Sarah Duvivier, Wardrobe Stylist: Alexis Badiyi, Wardrobe Assistant: Jazmine Alzado, Makeup Artist: Jonet Williamson, Hair Stylist: Akihisa Yamaguchi, Digi Tech: Jacky Jiang, Photo Assistant: Tyler Andrews, Model: Mecca Allah

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