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10 Primers For Acne-Prone Skin With Derm-Approved Ingredients

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Primers are a necessarily evil in the standard beauty routine. They're necessary because they lock in your base, help with oil control, and provide a smooth, crease-free finish. But sometimes, they can clog your pores — which leads to breakouts, especially when you have sensitive skin. That's why primers with acne-fighting ingredients are optimal for prevention. “A primer is a thin moisturizing serum that is the first step in a skincare routine,” Ellen Marmur, M.D., president and founder of Marmur Medical, explains, recommending water-based formulas. “Always look for hyaluronic acid and glycerin to moisturize and heal the skin without clogging pores." According to Heidi Waldorf, M.D. of Waldorf Dermatology Aesthetics, those ingredients "act like a sponge to pull moisture into the skin and hold it, and will hydrate the skin and reduce scale without aggravating your skin."

Aside from soothing, your primer should also work in tandem with your skincare products, too. “The ideal product should encourage exfoliation in the pores while hydrating the skin, and will not be too irritating,” Adebola Dele-Michael, M.D., Medical Director of Radiant Skin Dermatology and Laser in New York City. Anything with an AHA, like glycolic acid, works for the skin because they don't cause too much irritation, Dr. Dele-Michael continues... which is ideal, since makeup is meant to enhance, not inflame.

Ahead, see more primers with dermatologist-approved ingredients to help reveal your best skin (and look) yet.

Skin Equalizer Primer

$37

MAKE UP FOR EVER

"For those with oily skin, a mattifying primer with clay can absorb excess oil," Dr. Waldorf says. "The magnesium aluminum silicate in this product does that."

Mattifying Primer With Anti-Acne Treatment

$38

COVER FX

"This primer has willowbark extract, which naturally contains salicylic acid. The acid provides gentle exfoliation to clarify the skin and reduce sebum buildup, and supports the body’s natural cell renewal process," Dr. Dele-Michael notes. "The ancient African tree bark extract assists with minimizing pore size, shine, sebum, and inflammatory acne."

Blemish Rescue Anti-Redness Mattifying Primer - For Acne-Prone Skin

$26

Bare Minerals

According to Dr. Waldorf, the sulfur in Blemish Rescue is-anti-inflammatory and antibacterial. And the phytosphingosine is fatty alcohol, which binds water to maintain the skin's barrier against harmful elements.

Perfect Canvas Skin Finishing Serum

$55

Ren Skincare

Dr. Dele-Michael recommends this primer for the "hyaluronans that convert to hyaluronic acid in the skin to increase skin hydration."

Pores No More Pore Refiner Primer

$45

Dr. Brandt Skincare

Tea tree oil, an essential oil that minimizes blemishes, is the hero ingredient of Pore Refiner.

Skin Love Glow Elixir

$48

Becca

If you're going for a radiant finish instead of matte, Skin Love Glow Elixir still fights acne as it's a water-based formula, packed with vitamin E, honey, algae, and peony extract.

Mattifying Gel Primer

$28

IPKN

This one's a personal favorite: I was a non-primer user until this product. I struggled with horrible hormonal acne and needed a primer because my skin was dry and my foundation looked cracked and cakey. This product never irritated my skin or accentuated my blemishes. The texture is light, non-greasy, and you can't even feel it on your skin.

Anthelios Mineral Tinted Primer SPF 50

$39.99

La Roche-Posay

A tinted primer knocks out two steps in one. The light coverage conceals acne scars, blemishes, and uneven skin, while the SPF in it is "always a good idea," Dr.Dele-Michael notes.

Poreless Mattifying Primer

$32

TARTE

The avocado in the formula soothes irritation, and the safflower seed hydrates.

Veil Mineral Primer

$54

HOURGLASS

Veil Mineral is oil-free (which is ideal for any acne-fighting product), mineral based, and has SPF 15, which is necessary year-round.