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The Best Primer for Acne Scars: Our Five Favorites

We all love primer, but those of us with acne scars really love primer. It’s one of those products that can dramatically change the look and feel of your skin, and… how could you not fall in love with a product like that?

Of course, there are some great options out there and some lousy options out there, and we hope to help however we can! We’ve tried a crazy amount of primer, and here are the ones we like the most (and why). If you know of one we missed, absolutely let us know—jump down to the comments and tell us all about it.

In the meantime, let’s start with one of our favorites:

Touch In Sol “No PoreBlem” Primer

Touch In Sol’s “No PoreBlem” Primer is a gel, silicone-based primer. This primer is an entry-level, mattifying, pore perfecting primer with a sheer pink undertone. The pore refining properties of this formula are designed to smooth uneven skin texture and extend the lifespan of your makeup look. No PoreBlem is a popular Korean primer and a favorite for those who swear by Korean beauty products.


  • The formula includes Green Tea Extract, which is a natural source of caffeine. In skincare, green tea extract can help calm skin irritation and soothe redness.
  • Soluble collagen in this primer’s formula can help your skin’s overall health an elasticity with continued use.
  • The mattifying effect that this primer produces can reduce shine associated with oily skin and mask unevenness in the complexion caused by acne or scarring.
  • The light pink tint to this primer can help mask dark circles, dark spots, wrinkles, and pores.
  • This product is cruelty-free and vegan!


  • The formula is silicone-based with dimethicone listed in the top ingredients. Dimethicone can allergic reactions for some people, particularly those who suffer from cystic acne.

Recommended for:  

  • Oily or combination skin type.
  • Complexions that are uneven due to wrinkles, bumps, or pitted acne scars.
  • Those with non-sensitive skin.

Last update on 2023-10-01 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Elizabeth Mott “Thank Me Later” Matte Face Primer

Elizabeth Mott’s Thank Me Later Matte Primer is a cream, silicone-based primer. This primer is an entry-level, mattifying primer that is designed for oil control. Thank Me Later’s mattifying properties are designed to mask shine associated with oil and help mask uneven skin texture by controlling light-reflection. Elizabeth Mott is a cruelty-free brand that is verified by PETA’s Beauty Without Bunnies program.


  • This formula is made with sebum-controlling powder that controls the natural oils that skin produces.
  • Thank Me Later is waterproof and can hold up through sweat or harsh weather.
  • The texture of the primer is similar to lotion, which makes this a lightweight formula.
  • A matte finish can be great for covering up acne breakouts or pitted acne scars.
  • Consumers report that this primer is particularly long-lasting.
  • This product is cruelty-free and paraben-free!


  • The silicone-based formula lists dimethicone as the top ingredient, which is known to cause allergic reactions for some people who have sensitive skin, particularly those with cystic acne.
  • The oil-controlling properties of this formula might not be suited for those who have dry skin.

Recommended for:  

  • Oily skin or oily/normal combination skin types.
  • Complexions that are shiny or complexions that are uneven due to large pores or acne.
  • People seeking lightweight coverage.
  • Those without sensitive skin.

Last update on 2023-10-01 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Better’n Ur Skin Mineral Primer

Better’n Ur Skin Mineral Primer is a cream, water-based primer. We like this mid-range primer because it has a noncomedogenic formula, which can be great news for those with acne-prone skin. Better’n Ur Skin is packed with vitamins and minerals that can help with overall skin health after continued use. This formula is mattifying, pore-reducing, and designed to make your makeup last 8-12 hours. 


  • Noncomedogenic formula means that it is made without ingredients that are known to clog pores and cause breakouts. Noncomedogenic formulas are good for those with sensitive skin.
  • Aloe in formula reduces redness and soothes irritated skin.
  • Consumers with skin types ranging from dry to oily report effectiveness with this primer.
  • This primer can double as a moisturizer due to its hydrating formula.
  • Skin2Spirit is a self-described ethical brand. Their products are: vegan, cruelty-free, non-GMO, paraben-free, gluten-free, fragrance-free, and produced without outsourcing!


  • Water-based formulas may be less effective at covering drastic unevenness caused by pitted acne scars or large acne breakouts.

Recommended for:  

  • People with sensitive skin or those who have experienced allergic reactions to cosmetics.
  • People seeking lightweight, moisturizing coverage.
  • Those who prefer using products that are made with organic and botanical ingredients.

Last update on 2023-10-01 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Skindinavia Makeup Primer Spray

Skindinavia’s Makeup Primer Spray is a water-based, silicone-free primer spray. Makeup Primer Spray formula is designed to control oil production and increase the longevity of makeup wear. This primer is mattifying and intended to smooth skin, providing an even canvas for makeup application.  Skindinavia advertises this product as increasing the lifespan of makeup for up to 16 hours. This primer is our favorite option because of its easy application, oil-controlling properties, and smooth finish.


  • Mattifying and pore-reducing effect can help smooth complexions with wrinkles, fine lines, acne, and/or scarring.
  • Skindinavia’s makeup prep line is designed to be waterproof, weather-resistant, and heat-resistant, which can drastically increase the longevity and fortitude of your makeup even in extreme circumstances.
  • The spray style of this product can help apply primer evenly across the face.
  • This product comes in 4 oz or 8 oz containers, which can last the average consumer a long time.
  • Skindinavia’s makeup spray line is cruelty-free, vegan, paraben-free, and hypoallergenic!


  • People with extremely oily skin report that this product did not last as long as gel or cream oil-control primers.
  • The formula is not suited for people with dry or flakey skin.

Recommended for:  

  • People with oily or combination skin.
  • People with sensitive skin.
  • People who want a primer that is easy to apply.

Last update on 2023-10-01 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer with SPF 15.

Hourglass Veil’s Mineral Primer with SPF 15 is an oil-free, silicone-based primer. This high-end product is formulated to conceal redness, minimize pores, and smooth complexions with fine lines, wrinkles, and large pores. Users of this product report great coverage for wrinkles, fine lines, and big pores. This product is transparent and can be worn alone, without foundation.


  • Designed primarily to smooth uneven complexions and leaves a silky finish for smooth makeup application.
  • It can be a great product for those who have redness in their complexions. Consumers report that this product helps even with intense redness caused by rosacea.
  • Designed to hydrate skin, which can lead to better overall skin health.
  • SPF 15 helps protect skin from UV rays that can cause damage, especially in those who use topical acne products that contain benzoyl peroxide.
  • The formula includes Zinc Oxide, a mineral that possesses anti-inflammatory properties.
  • This primer formula does not include sulfates, parabens, oil, gluten, fragrance, or synthetic dyes.
  • Vegan and cruelty-free!


  • Silicone-based formulas can cause reactions for people with sensitive skin, particularly those who are acne-prone.

Recommended for:  

  • Oily and combination skin.
  • Those looking for a primer with a strong smoothing effect.
  • People with red or blotchy complexion.

Last update on 2023-10-01 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

How to Select a Primer If You've Got Acne Scars

Everyone’s skin is different, so when it comes to covering up acne scars there is no one “golden” primer that is going to work perfectly for everyone. After deciding what formula base is best for you, consider primers that tout certain effects that counter the appearance of your blemishes. For those who have red blemishes, a color correcting primer may work best. If you have pitted acne scars, then a primer that smooths the texture of your face may be what you are looking for. Let's take a closer look at how to choose a primer:

Starting with the Base-ics: Oil-Based, Water-Based, and Silicone-Based Primers

When it comes to choosing a primer that suits your skin and needs, it is important to consider what base the formula uses. Most makeup formulas use silicone, oil, or water as bases. When considering what base is best for you, there are several things you should take into consideration.

Silicone-based primers are very popular and easy to come by. Silicone-based primers tend to have a thicker consistency than water-based primers, which can be helpful when you aim to smooth out your complexion from bumps and dips caused by acne and scarring. However, there is wide anecdotal evidence that says silicone-based products cause acne and many people choose to pass on silicone-based makeup formulas because of it.

The claim that silicones directly cause acne is not currently backed by published research. However, because silicone creates a layer above your skin, it can trap sweat and sebum between your primer and your skin’s surface, which can result in pimples or breakouts. Some types of silicone can cause inflammation on sensitive skin. For example, many primers use a silicone-based ingredient called phenyl dimethicone, due to the smoothing effect that it produces. Dimethicone has been found to cause allergic reactions for some people, particularly those who suffer from cystic acne. For this reason, people with sensitive skin are encouraged to patch test any silicone-based products and pay attention to correlations between breakouts and the use of silicone-based products.

Water-based primers are the answer for those who can’t use silicone-based primers. Formulas made with a water base are hydrating, lightweight, and offer a mattifying effect. Water-based formulas are often thinner than silicone formulas, so they typically have less of a smoothing effect. However, some high-quality water-based primers hold their own against primers made with silicone. The lightweight and noncomedogenic nature of primers with a water base make this type of primer a good choice for people with sensitive or breakout-prone skin. 

Oil-based primers are rare, but they exist. The benefit of oil-based primer is the inherent luminescence that oil produces when light hits it. These primers are often used specifically to produce a ‘wet’ look and thus aren’t often used as a daily primer. Oil-based primers can also cause breakouts for those with oily, combination, or average skin. However, those with extremely dry skin may consider an oil-based primer.

Pro Tip: Your moisturizer, primer, and foundation should all be made of the same base. This makes total sense, though it isn’t necessarily intuitive. Moisturizer, primer, and foundation are layered on top of one another, so these layers will chemically interact with one another. For everything to work perfectly and smoothly, the primer must be able to bond with your foundation and moisturizer. But if these formulas have different bases, they may not mesh with one another.
For example, we all know that oil repels water. If you were to apply an oil-based foundation on top of a water-based primer, these formulas would refuse to comply with one another. Silicone formulas are designed to create a layer between your skin and the formula, so if a product is applied that is not also silicone-based, you may experience cracking and separation in your foundation. No one wants that!

best primer for acne scars

Tips for Using Primer If You Struggle with Acne

Here are some general pieces of advice for using a face primer if you have acne:

Perform patch-tests. If your skin is sensitive, it is important to test a primer on a small patch of your skin to see if you will have a reaction to it. You should apply a small amount of the product close to where you would be applying it. For facial products, patch test on the neck. For body products, consider the stomach or behind the knees. Apply a small amount of this product as you normally would, and wait for a reaction. Most reactions will happen within 24 hours, but some dermatologists recommend waiting up to 72 hours.

Try samples before you buy them. Everybody's skin reacts differently, so what might really work for someone else may not work for you as well. This is especially true for those with sensitive or acne-prone skin. It can be frustrating to continually try out new products until we find one that works for us. That's where samples come in. Some retailers, such as Sephora or MAC, provide samples of primers and other cosmetics before you buy them. You can use this advantage to try out new things without your wallet taking a big dent. This is just generally good advice.

Clean your applicators! I cannot stress this enough. If you do not frequently clean your makeup brushes and sponges, then you are directly applying old facial oils and bacteria to your precious skin. This encourages pore buildup and can result in some serious breakouts. Brushes and sponges used around your eyes should be cleaned at least twice a month. Applicators used for other parts of your face should be cleaned at least once a month.

To clean brushes:

  1. Wet bristles with warm (not hot!) water.
  2. In the palm of your hand, place a pea-sized drop of gentle bar soap, baby shampoo, or makeup cleanser.
  3. Very gently massage bristles into your palm
  4. Rinse bristles. (Repeat step 3 and 4 until there is no more color runoff of your brush)
  5. Using a clean towel, gently squeeze the excess moisture from the bristles.
  6. Reshape the brush and let it air dry with its bristles hanging off the counter.

To clean sponges:

  1. Squeeze your sponge under running warm water until it is soaked.
  2. Use baby shampoo, gentle dish soap, or makeup cleanser directly to the sponge. If using gentle bar soap, lather the sponge gently around the bar.
  3. Massage and press the sponge until the soap makes a good lather.
  4. Rinse and squeeze thoroughly under warm water.
  5. Repeat until the color run-off is clear.
  6. Let air dry on countertop.

Pro-Tip #1: If your main goal with primer is to cover large pores or pitted acne scars, consider the orange test. What is the orange test? You simply need to acquire an orange (or any piece of citrus that is porous) and perform 2 patch tests on the peel’s surface: one patch using primer and foundation, and one patch using only foundation. The peel of an orange has many grooves that simulate human facial pores. By applying your makeup to this fruit, you can easily see the effectiveness of your primer and foundation when it comes to smoothing out porous surfaces. This is also a good way to compare the coverage power of different primers.  (Yes, this sounds like a joke, but it really isn’t.)

Pro-Tip #2: Some primers have salicylic acid in their formula, which is one of the 2 main acne-fighting ingredients on the market. Some people with acne say that using a primer with salicylic acid helps them control their acne, while others say they don’t see a notable difference. It might be worth a try!

Pro-Tip #3: Some people who have combination skin choose to apply mattifying primer over the uneven parts of their skin that are prone to acne-breakouts or scarring and luminizing primer over the parts of their skin that are smooth. This can give the smooth parts of your skin that glowing look, while the uneven skin caused by acne remains concealed.

What Are You Loving?

Are you using a primer you love? Tell us all about it in the comments below—we want to hear all about it!

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