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The Best Primer & Foundation Combinations for Every Skin Type

Oily? Dry? Breaking out? Our makeup artist friends are here to help.

The Best Primer & Foundation Combinations for Every Skin Type

As any woman who's dipped even her baby toe into the ocean that is the beauty world can attest, finding the perfect face makeup is a struggle. But foundation? It's kind of the Goldilocks of the beauty world. But even once you find something that’s juuuuust right in terms of coverage and shade, then comes the final test: does it jive with your skin type? Oily and dry skin types alike (as well as just about everyone in between) can relate: you find the perfect foundation shade only to have it melt off of your face by midday or have it highlight your flakey and dry patches. And then, there's primer—anyone who's prone to breakouts almost always lives in fear of the number the sometimes silicone-y bases can do on skin. 

With a wide range of skin types (and subsequent needs) making up the faces behind the laptops at TC HQ, we got curious. And given that we're collectively the solutions-oriented type, we hit up our Rolodex for a solution: the definitive guide to primer and foundation combinations, no matter what you're working with. Don't say we never did anything for you.



Neil Young

Clients: Natalie Dormer, Kate Hudson



—Oily skin—

“Oily complexions, over time, can be your best friend, keeping you youthful and radiant. Day to day, though, they can often be your worst enemy, as oil dissolves makeup. For a smooth, low maintenance complexion all day, I love Estee Lauder Matte Perfecting Primer. It contains optical diffusers to minimise pores and green tea extract to calm and soothe the skin. Apply through the centre of the face or to any area where pores appear more visible in a sheer veil. To perfect the skin, follow with Clinique Pore Refining Solutions, Instant Perfecting Makeup. Its naturally matte finish leaves the skin looking flawlessly light without a heavy appearance.”


— Dry skin 

“Dry complexions often lack lustre and light reflection, but it can be easily replicated. I have always loved MAC Strobe Cream, which can be used alone as a moisturizer or as a primer for foundation. It contains pink and lilac spheres which pulls light to the skin creating the illusion of radiance or that “lit from within” effect. For additional perfection, I adore CHANEL Vitalumiere Aqua Foundation. A lightweight liquid foundation that melts into the skin to create a completely nude, second skin radiance. I often feel drier complexions lend themselves to a hands on application, so use fingers and allow the heat of the hands to literally melt the foundation into the skin so that it becomes one with your complexion.”


— Balanced skin 

“Balanced skin is the holy grail of all complexions, as you can create any texture of skin you prefer, usually requiring just a touch of perfecting or brightening. My favourite Skin Brightening Primer is Elemis Pro Radiance Illuminating Flash Balm. It’s a lightweight, radiance boosting moisturiser that can be used as a primer under, and also with, your favourite foundation. For even more radiance, I love NARS Sheer Glow Foundation. It perfects minor imperfections whilst respecting the natural glow of the complexion.”


— Acne-prone skin 

“There are so many incredible advances in beauty products that gone are the days when experts would say to keep acne prone skin as makeup free as possible. For me, Clinique Anti Blemish Solutions Liquid Makeup is a two in one Primer and Foundation that has bacteria fighting ingredients to actively fight future breakouts, so it’s probably more effective to wear foundation than not and that can only do great things for your confidence. Keep the application hygienic and use a synthetic foundation brush. I really love Real Techniques Angled Flawless Foundation Brush for a seamless application.”


— Aging skin 

“Aging skin can appear dull and lifeless, but I really feel there are amazing hybrid foundations that combine the science of skincare along with the performance of foundation for all women of any age. Skin plumping primers are essential and I really love L’Oreal Age Perfect Cell Renewal Serum. It can instantly transform the appearance of skin and helps to literally wake up a sleepy complexion. Since mature complexions can sometimes appear sallow, opt for a tinted moisturiser or lightweight foundation such as Givenchy Teint Couture Balm. Choose a shade just one deeper than your natural complexion to instantly breathe life into your skin.”


— Skin prone to redness 

“Skin prone to redness or reactive skin needs a more delicate approach to skin care and perfecting. I’m absolutely loving CHANEL’s Le Solution 10 De CHANEL. It’s an incredible moisturiser that contains just 10 skin calming and soothing ingredients to help restore and strengthen the skin's natural protective barrier. Since this type of skin reacts so easily to be touched, try applying foundation with a synthetic brush such as MAC’s 190 brush to minimise redness and over use of product. I love Teint Miracle Foundation by Lancome for a beautifully light, flawless finish.”



Kim Brown

Clients: Cate Blanchett, Rosamund Pike



— Oily skin —

“I love BareMinerals Prime Time Oil Control Foundation Primer. This oil free primer combats excess oil, absorbs shine and lasts all day. For foundation, I like CHANEL Vitalumiere Satin Smoothing Fluid Makeup SPF 15. I really like this one as you can create a dewy look on oily skin, without it looking to shiny or greasy. It also has great coverage without looking like you're wearing anything.”


— Dry skin 

“I like Laura Mercier’s Mineral Foundation Primer. This has a creamy formula, containing Aloe Vera to keep the skin well hydrated. I also love the Too Faced Tinted Beauty Balm, which is more of a BB cream. It feels amazing on and has a very dewy finish.”


— Balanced skin 

“I like Smashbox’s Photo Finish Foundation Primer. This helps to hide imperfections, prevents eye makeup creasing and makes foundation last all day. For foundation, Bobbi Brown’s Foundation Stick, for it’s creamy and weightless texture. It blends really easily and gives a fresh, natural look.”


— Acne-prone skin 

“I like Cover FX’s Mattifying Primer with anti-acne treatment. This vegan product smooths out skin while fighting breakouts. Benefit’s Big Easy foundation is soothing, comforting and gives a healthy glow.”


— Aging skin 

By Terry’s Terrybly Densiliss Primer with Anti-Wrinkle Serum Base is my primer of choice! It plumps fine lines, has anti-aging ingredients and is incredibly dewy. For foundation, Mary Kay’s Time Wise Luminous-Wear Liquid Foundation: this contains vitamin E and peptides, which is great for fine lines and age spots and has great coverage.”


— Skin Prone to Redness 

Pixi’s Redness Reducing Primer gives a smoother appearance while also cancelling out redness. I like it with BareMinerals’ Blemish Remedy Foundation. It’s creamy and lightweight and formulated with Aspen Bark and Tea Tree Oil to help promote clearer, healthier-looking skin and helps to reduce redness.”


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