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Hate getting your face picture perfect for the day only to find that your t-zone, or your entire face for that matter, becomes a complete oil slick by the end of the day? Join the club. Thankfully, there are makeup out there designed specifically to  banish oil throughout the day. In this post, we will focus on the best water based primer for makeup to help you ditch the shine and acquire healthy looking skin that is smooth and oil free.

Water Based Makeup Primers: Best Water Based Primers

  1. Paula’s Choice Shine-Stopper Instant Matte Finish Oil Control Primer – EDITOR’S PICK
  2. E.L.F. Oil Control Primer Mist
  3. Tula Brighten Up Smoothing Primer Gel
  4. Milk Makeup Hydro Grip Primer
  5. Too Faced Hangover Primer
  6. Honest Beauty Mattifying Primer
  7. NYX HydraPrimer
  8. Clinique Instant Perfector
  9. Pixi Flawless Poreless Primer Translucent
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Best Water Based Face Primer

Paula’s Choice Shine-Stopper Instant Matte Finish Oil Control Primer

Paula's Choice SHINE STOPPER Instant Matte Finish Oil Control Primer, Pore Minimizer for Oily Skin, 1 Ounce
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Why This is The Best Water-Based Primer

  • Specially Formulated With Microsponge Technology
  • Non-Irritating Formula
  • Free of Dyes and Fragrances
  • Backed By Cited Research
  • Minimizes Pores

Water-Based Primer Highlights

This water based primer for oily skin by Paula’s Choice face comes in a thin, white non-fussy package that could easily be missed if you were to see it sitting on store shelves. That’s because, similar to all of Paula’s Choice products, this primer was designed with a fuss-free formula, free from dyes, fragrances and irritating compounds. This primer was manufactured with Microsponge technology allowing the primer to fully absorb oil for hours, keeping you shine free.

According to buyers, this primer does exactly what it says it will and then some. Most who have tried the Paula’s Choice primer rave about its ability to control shine for the entire day and it’s easy to apply consistency. And because the primer can be worn with or without makeup, it is easy to throw in your purse for touch ups throughout the day…if you even end up needing it!

Drugstore Water Based Primer

E.L.F. Oil Control Primer Mist

e.l.f, Oil Control Primer Mist, Water-Based, Mattifying, Lightweight, Hydrates, Preps, Balances Oil, Controls Shine, Enriched with Purified Water, Cucumber and Vitamin E, 1.01 Fl Oz
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Why We Love This Water-Based Drugstore Primer

  • Infused With Cucumber and Vitamin E
  • Water-Based Primer Drugstore Is Incredibly Low Priced
  • Lightweight Feeling
  • Works as a Mist
  • Vegan and Cruelty-Free

Water-Based Primer Highlights

Coming in a small mister bottle with the unmistakable signature E.L.F. logo, this ridiculously affordable water-based drugstore primer from e.l.f is a great buy for an inexpensive way to keep your face shine-free. It is infused with skin nourishing agents such as cucumber, vitamin E and vitamin B and is said to mattify the face for hours on end.

But what do buyers say? For the most part, shoppers agree that, despite the low price point this E.L.F. primer is well-worth the buy. While most contend that the E.L.F. primer works perfectly for oily skinned ladies, a few claim that this water-based  face primer drugstore made their face even more shiny than before.

Best Silicone Free Face Primer

Tula Brighten Up Smoothing Primer Gel

TULA Skin Care Brighten Up Smoothing Primer Gel | Silicone-Free, Non-Comedogenic Face Primer Grips Makeup, Infused with Yuzu and Willowherb | 1.41 fl. oz.
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Why We Love This Silicone-Free Primer

  • Contains Willowherb For Brightening
  • Grips Makeup For Lasting Power
  • Unique “Yuzu” Scent
  • Ideal For Oily and Blemished Skin
  • Doesn’t Clog Pores

Silicone-Free Primer Highlights

Marked exclusively as silicone free, this Tula primer is a winner in our books for providing bright and healthy skin while also controlling shine. In a sleek, bright aqua blue canister, this silicone free primer is worth reaching for.

So, what do shoppers think about it? Reviewers claim this Tula brightening primer to be smooth, lightweight and makes the application of foundation afterwards nearly effortless.

Best Non Silicone Primer

Milk Makeup Hydro Grip Primer

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Why We Love This Non-Silicone Primer

  • Contains Blue agave Extract
  • Cannabis Seed Extract Improves Texture and Smooth SKin
  • Formulated With Aloe
  • Infused With Hyaluronic Acid to Soothe and Calm Skin
  • Grips Makeup

Non-Silicone Primer Highlights

In an eye-catching and classically designed bottle, the “Milk” brand of makeup products is garnering more attention. This MILK primer boasts of natural ingredients such as blue agave nectar and cannabis seed to nourish your skin while also working hard to keep your makeup set and in place for the majority of the day.

Those that have bought this non-silicone primer by MILK seem to love it too. They claim that a little goes a long way with this primer and that it’s holding power is totally leigitable making the steeper price point well worth it.

Primer For Oil Based Foundation

Too Faced Hangover Primer

Too Faced Hangover Replenishing Face Primer 1.35 oz
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Why We Love This Primer For Oil Based Foundations

  • Infused With Coconut Water, Probiotics and Other Excellent Ingredients For Skin
  • Highly Moisturizing
  • Well-Known and Trusted Brand Name
  • Promotes Skin Elasticity
  • Brightens Skin Tone

Why We Love This Primer For Oil Based Foundations

Too Faced is a well-known and loved brand that offers this water based primer as well as other popular cosmetics that even the choosiest makeup addicts love. The Hangover Primer is no different as it offers a moisturizing but never greasy cream formula that effortlessly blends into skin creating an even, dewy and healthy looking canvas without all the oil and shine.

Reviewers agree that the Hangover Primer by Too Faced does a great job keeping skin hydrated without adding shine or becoming too oily. With that said, many seem to strongly dislike the smell of this water based primer which may be off putting to some.

Best Silicone Free Primer For Oily Skin

Honest Beauty Mattifying Primer

Honest Beauty Everything Primer with Micronized Bamboo Powder, Matte, 1 Fl Oz
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Why We Think This Is the Best Silicone Free Primer For Oily Skin

  • Mattifies with Micronized Bamboo
  • Free From Oils
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Cruelty-Free
  • Evens Skin Tone

Best Silicone-Free Primer For Oily Skin Highlights

Honest brand has done it again offering buyers with oily skin a primer that is completely oil free and works to mattify your face by using micronized bamboo. This award winning primer is listed as being hypoallergenic, cruelty-free and dermatologist tested for a water based silicone free primer for oily skin you can trust.

But what do the reviews say? Those that have purchased Honest Beauty Mattifying Primer are split over this primer, and for good reason. Those with dry skin mention that the product does nothing to hydrate the skin, but for those with oilier skin, this news might be music to their ears. Those that loved the primer, however, loved the ingredients and the smell and claimed that it helped their foundation stay smooth.

List of Water Based Primers

Didn’t get enough from our earlier recommendations? Looking for more water-based primers? Here are a couple more recommendations.

NYX HydraPrimer

NYX PROFESSIONAL MAKEUP Hydra Touch Primer Face Makeup
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According to reviews, this NYX primer is a true winner. It goes on smooth, fills pores, is incredibly hydrating and causes foundations to look great and last all day. Score!

Clinique Instant Perfector

Clinique Pore Refining Solutions Instant Perfector - Invisible Bright - 15ml/0.5oz
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Many love to use Clinique Instant Perfector to help diminish pores, but reviews are mixed in some cases. Some have claimed the product to leave behind flakes and to be unpredictable at times. Others rant and rave about how great this water based primer is.

Pixi Flawless Poreless Primer Translucent

Pixi Flawless & Poreless Primer, No.1 Translucent
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This translucent primer from PIXI is a popular pick for minimizing pores, locking makeup in place, and adding a little extra hydration through the addition of shea oil for an all-around good pick for a water based face primer.

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Water Based Primer FAQs

What is a water based primer?

A water based primer is just what it sounds like. Instead of the primer being composed of oils, the primer is oil free creating an airy and mattifying primer for wearing alone or under makeup.

So, how can you tell if primer is water based? Look at the label to see if it is advertised as such first. If it isn’t, take a peek at the ingredients list. Most water-based primers will have water listed as the very first ingredient.

Another trick when looking at the label? Look for the phrase “oil free”. This too means that the primer you are purchasing is water-based.

What is a water based makeup?

Similar to water based primer, water based makeup will follow the same concept of being oil free. When looking at the ingredients list on your makeup, look for words like -Cone/-methicone, and -siloxane near the top of the list. If you find them, your makeup is most likely silicone based, rather than water based.

How can you tell if makeup is water based?

To tell if makeup is water based always check the ingredients list. Look for oils and silicones when checking the ingredients. Otherwise, look at the front of the label to check to see if the product is being advertised as oil-free or water-based already.

How do you apply water based makeup?

The way to apply water-based makeup will flex and flow depending on the type of makeup you are using, your skin type and your overall makeup goals. Those will drier skin, for example, may wish to apply a water-based makeup with a damp sponge to add more hydration. To know the best way to apply your water-based makeup, always consult the instructions on the package before use.

What brands of makeup are water based?

Rather than look for brands that are whole-heartedly water based, it may be best to search for makeups within trusted brands that are water-based. Most popular brands offer water-based makeup in some form or fashion, and depending on what you are looking for, you may find that some brands have more variety than others.

Can you blend silicone based makeup with water based makeups?

When mixing and matching makeups, you should be careful. When layering makeup, such as in the case of using a water based primer with silicone based foundation, silicone primer with water based foundation or using silicone based concealer over water based primer, you should always match silicone with silicone and water with water. If you pair a silicone based foundation with a water based primer, for example, you may experience your makeup becoming grainy or separating due to the incapability of oil and water being combined.

If you want to know more about water-based foundations and their benefits, check out this article “Water Based Foundations For Oily Skin That Have Skincare Benefits, Too”. To learn more about the difference between oil-based, silicone and water-based foundations see “Having a Bad Makeup Day? Your Foundation Ingredients May Be to Blame”.

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Water-Based Makeup Primer May Be a Great Option For You

All in all, if you are looking for a makeup primer that is designed to mattify your makeup look without turning you into an oil slick by the day’s end, then it might be time to look into purchasing a water-based primer along with a water-based foundation to banish unwanted oil for good. We hope the above guide helps navigate you towards the best of the best in terms of the best water based face primer so you can achieve the makeup look you most desire.

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