Face Primer Alternatives: Substitutes for Face Primer for Makeup

Published Categorized as Makeup Tips

If you’ve ever used primer, you know what a difference it can make when applying your makeup. Primer can help smooth out skin and cover up imperfections to ensure your foundation has a smooth and silky look. It is also ideal to use on your eyelids beneath eyeshadow and on your lips under lipstick. However, the cost of purchasing primer can really add up, and you may be wondering if there are any face primer alternatives that are a little more budget-friendly. Indeed, there are some substitutes for makeup primer to consider that will help you achieve the flawless look you desire without costing as much money!

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Maybelline New York Face Studio Master Prime Primer, Blur + Smooth, 1 Fl Oz (1 Count)

What to Use Instead of Primer

So, what can be used instead of face primer?

If you’re looking for a substitute for face primer, there are actually a number of different options to consider.


Native Deodorant - Natural Deodorant - Vegan, Gluten Free, Cruelty Free -Contains Probiotics - Aluminum Free & Paraben Free, Naturally Derived Ingredients - Unscented

Can I use deodorant as a primer?

Yes, unscented deodorant can actually be used as a primer.

Deodorant’s texture allows it to help makeup stay in place on an individual’s face.  Another benefit of using deodorant as primer is that it can help keep your face from sweating.  Think about how effective deodorant is when applied under your arms, and apply this same logic to think about the benefits it could deliver when used on your face.

Finding the best deodorant for your face may take some time.  You might need to try a few different brands before finding one that offers the feel you want and delivers the results you’re looking for.

If you’re looking for the right fragrance-free deodorant, try starting with one of these suggestions:

BB Cream

Garnier SkinActive BB Cream Face Moisturizer For Oily/Combo Skin, Medium/Deep, 2 fl. oz. (Packaging may vary)

BB Cream is another top choice when you’re looking for what to use instead of face primer.  It works to cover up imperfections and can help smooth the skin to provide the ideal canvas for your makeup.

BB cream is also great at hiding discolorations on the skin and can help moisturize the skin.  Plus, most BB creams also offer SPF protection, so they can work double-time and help protect your face against harmful UV rays.

Consider trying out one of these top BB creams as a face primer alternative:

Day Cream

Grown Alchemist Hydra-Repair Day Cream - Camellia & Geranium Blossom - Vegan Hydrating Facial Moisturizer, Clean Skincare (65ml / 2.19oz)

Why not try day cream if you’re looking for a face primer substitute?  Day cream is moisturizing and also leaves a light layer on the skin.  This layer can act as an ideal surface when applying makeup.  Day cream can be an ideal solution for individuals with more sensitive skin too.

Check out one of these day creams and give it a try as a primer alternative:

Milk of Magnesia

Sunmark Milk of Magnesia Original Flavor - 16 oz

When you’re asking, “what to use as makeup primer,” we bet you wouldn’t think of milk of magnesia.  But, believe it or not, milk of magnesia is actually a great alternative to face primer.

Its texture can help prepare the skin and get it ready for makeup application, just as primers do.  Simply use a cotton ball to spread a little milk of magnesia over your face, allow it to dry, and you’ll be ready to apply your foundation and finish your makeup routine.

Try one of these milk of magnesia products if you don’t already have some in your medicine closet:

Chafing Cream or Gel

Summer's Eve Active Chafe Gel Prevents Relieves Chafing oz, 1.5 Ounce

Chafing gels have a very similar base to the formula used to make face primers, but are way less expensive.  Many have a silicone base that helps to smooth out the skin.  They can also work to fill in pores and lines to help with applying foundation for a truly flawless finish.

Using chafing cream or gel can also result in softer skin, which is an added bonus.

Try one of these chafing gels or creams if you’re interested in trying out this face primer alternative:


Vagisil Anti-Itch Creme, Regular Strength 1 oz

Vagisil is another one that you probably wouldn’t think of as using as a makeup primer substitute, but it is actually a good option to consider.

Like many makeup primers, Vagisil includes dimethicone.  Dimethicone helps to fill in the lines on your face and even out the texture.  This can create a smooth canvas for applying your makeup.

Consider picking up one of these options if you want to try using Vagisil as a makeup primer alternative.

Oil-Free Sunscreen

La Roche-Posay Anthelios Melt-In Sunscreen Milk Body & Face Sunscreen Lotion Broad Spectrum SPF 60, Oxybenzone Free, Oil-Free Sunscreen, Water Resistant

Another option to consider when you’re wondering what can be used as a makeup primer is oil-free sunscreen.

Unlike oily sunscreens, oil-free options don’t make the skin sticky.  Rather, they can leave a matte finish, which is perfect for applying makeup over.  Oil-free sunscreen can also help protect your face and prevent you from getting a sunburn.  Plus, many oil-free sunscreens are formulated with ingredients that also deliver moisture to the skin, which can be an added benefit.

Interested in trying oil-free sunscreen as primer?  Try one of these options:

Aloe Vera Gel

Nature Republic New Soothing Moisture Aloe Vera Gel 92 Percent Korean Cosmetics, 10.56 Fluid Ounce

Is Aloe Vera Gel a primer?  Well, it can be, especially if mixed with a little moisturizer.

Aloe vera has a sticky texture, which can help hold your makeup in place for a long time.  It is also helpful for reducing acne and inflammation, which can make it a good option for individuals with oily skin.  Those with dry skin may also find that aloe vera gel makes a good makeup product as well, since it can also help moisturize the skin.

Looking for an aloe vera gel to try as a primer alternative?  Consider one of these choices:


Vaseline Petroleum Jelly, Original 13 oz, Pack of 3

Can Vaseline be used as a primer?  Yes!  Vaseline is another one of the top face primer alternatives to consider.  It is easy to get and very inexpensive, making it a great choice.

However, using Vaseline on your face as a primer may not be the best choice if you have oily skin, since it can make your skin even oiler.  It also isn’t as good as masking blemishes or dark spots as some of the other alternatives we shared, so it may be a better choice if you’re not looking for a full coverage look.  It can be quite effective, though, at smoothing out skin before applying makeup and providing a nice base for your foundation.

Need to purchase some new Vaseline, or maybe a generic petroleum jelly? Check out the options below:

RELATED: Is Petroleum Jelly Vegan


Aquaphor Healing Ointment Moisturizing Skin Protectant for Dry Cracked Hands Heels and Elbows Use After Hand Washing Oz Jar, bA, Fragrance Free, 14 Ounce

Can I use Aquaphor as a primer?  Yes, Aquaphor can also be used as a primer.

It has a very hydrating and moisturizing formula to keep your face from getting too dry.  Plus, it goes on smoothly and can help create the right base for applying your makeup.  If you’ve used Aquaphor before, you know that it has a very similar consistency to Vaseline, so it makes sense that it would also make a great face primer alternative.

Here are a few different options to consider if you want to try Aquaphor as a primer:

RELATED: Can I Use Aquaphor On My Lips

What is the best natural makeup primer?

Looking for a more natural product to put on your face?  Keep reading to find our top pick for the best natural makeup primer!

Coconut Oil

NOW Solutions, Liquid Coconut Oil, Light and Nourishing, Promotes Healthy-Looking Skin and Hair, 16 Fl Oz (Pack of 1)

Can I use coconut oil as a primer?  Yes, in addition to the numerous health benefits of coconut oil, it also makes a wonderful makeup primer substitute. Although some steps must be taken before, so your makeup doesn’t melt off your face.

Use a damp washcloth to scrub about half a teaspoon of coconut oil around on your face.  After rubbing in the coconut oil, use a dry cloth to pat dry your face, and apply your makeup overtop the coconut oil.  In addition to providing a nice base for your foundation and makeup, coconut oil is also very moisturizing and can help exfoliate your face.

Need to pick up a new container of coconut oil?  Try one of these options:

What Not to Use as Primer


Can you use lotion as a face primer?  No, lotion is not a good face primer substitute.  It is designed to hydrate and soften the skin, which while important, will not prepare the skin for makeup and offer the right surface for foundation or eyeshadow to stay on for long-lasting wear.


Can I use moisturizer as primer?  No, like lotion, moisturizers are also not good substitutes for makeup primer.  They work to bring hydration to the skin to keep it from getting dried out, but will not work to create an ideal base for makeup.

Face Primer Hacks

Applying face primer or a substitute for face primer can really be an art.  Use these tips for effective use of face primer to help you use one of the face primer alternatives shared above to achieve the look you’re after.

  • You should put face primer on after you have completed your skin care routine, but before you begin applying your makeup.
  • Use your fingers, not a makeup brush, to apply primer to your face.  Brushes won’t spread the primer out evenly; they’ll only drag it around.
  • After applying a face primer, or one of the primer alternatives above, let it sit on your face undisturbed for one minute before moving on to the next step in your makeup routine.  This will help ensure it is fully dried before you put anything over it.
  • The amount of primer your face will need will depend on your skin type.  Individuals with oily skin won’t need much because the primer will stay on their skin longer.  However, if you had dry skin, you may need a bit more, since your skin may absorb more of the primer.
  • You don’t have to use primer on your whole face.  If you have a scar, large pores, or other imperfections you want to hide, consider applying the primer over them rather than over your entire face.

Makeup Primer: FAQs

Is primer necessary for makeup?

No, primer isn’t necessary when applying makeup.  However, there are a number of benefits associated with using primer, which is why it is such a popular product, especially among professional makeup artists.  Primer can help conceal imperfections.  It can also ensure that your face is ready for makeup to be applied.  With using a primer beneath your foundation, you can also achieve more of an airbrushed look.

Can I apply foundation without primer?

Yes, you can apply foundation without primer.  However, if you notice that your foundation isn’t staying on your face all day or isn’t doing a good enough job hiding imperfections on your face, adding a primer or a primer alternative to your routine may help you get the most out of your foundation.  Using primer with mature skin can also help smooth out fine lines and wrinkles before applying foundation.

Is it OK to wear makeup without primer?

Yes, there is nothing wrong with wearing makeup without primer.  But if you find that your makeup is not lasting as long as it should, applying primer before your makeup may be a good idea.  Primer can help makeup stay on your face longer, which can reduce the number of times during the day that you feel like you need to touch up your look.

Try a Face Primer Alternative

While not extremely essential, face primer certainly has a lot to offer.  However, it isn’t necessary to purchase an expensive bottle of designer makeup primer.  You can achieve comparable results by using one of the face primer substitutes we shared above.  Chances are you already have one or more of these items in your home, and if not purchasing one of them will be a lot more cost-effective than purchasing a face primer.

Check out these related posts on our blog!

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  1. Wow, I didn’t know that I could use all of these options as primer, that’s so useful!! Thanks for sharing 🙂



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