Skip to Content

Substitute For Primer: 7 Alternatives For Flawless Skin

Substitute For Primer: 7 Alternatives For Flawless Skin

Prepping your face for a foundation is like preparing a canvas for painting.

Applying primer before you apply your makeup can actually make a difference, not just for your foundation but eyelids, lipstick, and mascara as well. Still, the main question is: is it really necessary?

No, using primer is a matter of preference. However, it has its benefits.

For example, this product will create a smooth base that will keep your makeup intact during the day. If you don’t want to spend money on primer, use the seven alternatives approved by beauty gurus.

What can I substitute for face primer?

No matter your reason for not liking primer, you can always pick some of the alternatives that will accomplish the same if not an even better effect on your skin. If you ever run out of primer, don’t hesitate using some of these substitutes to prep your skin before makeup.

1. Deodorant

According to my research, many celebrity makeup artists apply fragrance-free deodorant on their clients. Allegedly, this product keeps their makeup stays intact on the red carpet.

2. Vagisil

Vagisil’s main purpose is treating yeast infections. However, it contains dimethicone, an ingredient that’s usually found in makeup primers for filling fine lines and uneven texture in order to get that smooth finish. So, Vagisil can also be used as a substitute for primer.

3. Chafing Gel

Another substitute for a primer that people use is chafing gel. It contains dimethicone just like Vagisil. It’s affordable, easy to apply and effective. Believe it or not, it will soften the skin while providing that mattifying powder finish we all dream of. Would you try this?

4. BB cream

BB cream targets blemishes. However, it also acts as a moisturizer. Meaning, it’s the ideal substitute for primer. People use BB cream as a primer and get the same if not better skin texture as of using a real primer.

However, be careful not to overload on BB cream. Apply a few drops of your BB cream and spread it all over your face with your fingertips.

5. Moisturizer and aloe vera

Mixing one or two teaspoons of moisturizer with a dollop of pure aloe vera gel can act as a primer. How many teaspoons you mix depends on how oily your skin is. Aloe vera is best for soothing redness, while a moisturizer can give you that smooth finish without looking oily.

6. Milk of Magnesia

This product is usually used for constipation. However, that’s what makes milk of magnesia great for prepping the skin. Dip a cotton ball in this great milk and gently apply over your face just as you would apply primer. It will keep your makeup intact for the day or night.

7. Lube

Yep, believe it or not, people use lube as an alternative for primer. It’s the newest hack in the beauty community. You can use a small amount of the exact little bottle that’s hidden in your bedside table for spicing up your sex life.

If you want to try this out, keep in mind that silicone-based lube is the best for experimenting, on your face, not in the bedroom.

If you have a water-based lube at home, leave it aside and buy a silicone-based. The reason why I’m suggesting this one is that silicone is the main ingredient in most makeup primers and hair taming products.

Don’t think about the lube seeping into your pores and just apply.

Don’t worry. The purpose of silicone-based lube is to protect skin against friction and keep it moist. Once you apply lube onto your face, it will create a moisturizing surface (base).

According to my research, some people use lube as a part primer, part facial. Apply on the face and let it sit for a few minutes. After, you can apply your makeup and start your day.

Although everybody thinks that lube is a substance that will make you feel uncomfortable in your own skin, it actually won’t. On the contrary, your skin will suck it up.

However, keep in mind that lube isn’t going to work for everybody. If it doesn’t work for you, try some of the other products I’ve listed. In the meantime, have you ever used vaseline as a primer?

substitute for face primer

Can I use Vaseline as a primer?

Just like lube, vaseline can also be used as a primer. And it’s pretty obvious why people go for the vaseline as a substitute for primer. It’s affordable, easy to use and we all have it at home. Yes, you can use Vaseline as a primer, however, it depends on different factors:

Skin type

People with oily skin shouldn’t use Vaseline as a primer because it will make their skin even more oily. However, if you have combination skin, you can use vaseline as a primer only for dry areas. If you have dry skin, Vaseline can be the ideal substitute for a primer for you.

However, before you give it a shot, take a look at the second factor and decide if vaseline is the perfect substitute for you.

What type of coverage do you want?

What will you be covering? What type of coverage do you want? You know that vaseline is thick and clear. And it’s usually used by people with dry skin.

Meaning, it’s not very good at hiding dark blemishes which is one of the main purposes of actual primers. However, it can still provide that smooth surface for the application of your makeup and provide moisture.

Therefore, I would recommend that you use vaseline as a substitute for primer only to dry or uneven areas. The purpose of this substitute is to provide cheap but not full coverage in order to help you “smooth out” some dry parts of your skin before you apply foundation on.

Tip: Apply a thin layer. Vaseline can either make or break your foundation throughout the day and applying too much may cause the opposite effect. If you’re attending an important event, skip the vaseline and use your regular primer. You can give it a shot on a regular day.

Can moisturizer be used as a primer?

One of the most frequently asked questions when it comes to primers and moisturizers is: aren’t they the same product? Well, apparently, no. A primer provides a base for applying foundation. It represents a product that will make sure that your foundation lasts longer.

Primers can be found in powder, gel or cream formulas and provide a base for makeup. A moisturizer, on the other hand, softens the skin and keeps it well-hydrated. Can you notice the difference? The primer’s main purpose is to prep your skin and gives your foundation something to hold onto so it can last during the day or night.

Most makeup primers contain silicone-based polymers (dimethicone). They’re the ones that provide the ultra-smoothing effects. However, if you suffer from cystic acne or other skin conditions, check with a skin professional or dermatologist and test your skin to determine if you’re allergic to dimethicone or not.

A primer can help you smooth wrinkles, large pores, and fine lines. So, if you have problems with pores or want to fill in fine lines or wrinkles, I suggest that you buy a light green primer. It can help with redness and take care of acne.

As I mentioned at the beginning, there’s not only a primer for foundation, but eyeshadow, mascara, and lipstick as well. If you want to prevent creasing on your eyelids, buy a primer for eyeshadow. I suggest you buy one with extra long-wear formula if you have oily eyelids.

Is a primer really necessary?

No, primer isn’t really necessary. However, just like any other skincare product or makeup product, it has its benefits.

After hours of research, I’ve realized that many people think that a primer is just another product that the beauty community has convinced people that it’s necessary when it actually isn’t. And maybe they’re right.

However, we can’t deny that using a primer has its benefits as well. I don’t know about you, but if I don’t apply primer or some of the substitutes I have recommended, my foundation doesn’t look amazing during the day, especially on the dry areas (I have combination skin).

However, I can understand people who don’t like using proper. They wonder how people held their makeup intact back when primers didn’t exist and they’re absolutely right about this.

People survived without primers in the past. However, in my opinion, primer is a necessity, just like a lipstick. Did you know that primers have a purpose to control skin oil as well?

Using a primer is mostly recommended for those who live in tropical regions where the weather is hot. They control oil, fill pores, reduce dryness, keep your skin well-hydrated and correct.

Let’s review some of the most important advantages and disadvantages of using a primer:


  • Without eyeshadow primer, your eye makeup has no chance
  • A primer provides a smooth base for applying your foundation
  • A face primer can help you look like airbrushed and cover flaws
  • Primers act as a barrier for your skin and can prevent creasing
  • Undereye primer can help you deal with delicate skin
  • A lash primer can add thickness to your lashes


  • Your primer can fail due to your skincare routine
  • A primer can refuse to work with your foundation

As you can notice, using a primer has more pros than cons. It’s not just one more product that the beauty industry threw at you in order to make profits.

It works and has benefits like helping your foundation stick longer, brightening up your skin, minimizing pores, making you use less foundation, boosting skin glow, and giving you a smooth finish.

However, do not rely on products called “primers” only. Go beyond that and use the alternatives I’ve listed.

Can oil be used as a primer?

There’s one more substitute for primer I have not mentioned before that I personally use every day: coconut oil. Yes, oils can be used as a primer. They’re also amazing for removing makeup as well, especially coconut oil.

Coconut oil is great for prepping your face. Just rub a small amount onto your skin before you apply foundation.

Coconut oil has other skin benefits too. It provides protection against the growth of bad, harmful bacterial thanks to the lauric acid it contains. You can use coconut oil every day as I do after washing my face with water.

Apply a small amount to your skin in the morning or before you go to bed. It has the power of making your skin smooth and boost natural glow.

Using coconut oil may not be good for everyone, especially for people with acne-prone and oily skin. If you have oily face, I recommend that you avoid coconut oil as a substitute for primer or makeup remover.

It might cause whiteheads, blackheads or pimples if used as an overnight treatment. If you have combination skin like me or dry skin, feel free to use it.

Final verdict

To wrap it up, I’ll say that primer isn’t really necessary because our makeup survived long before it existed.

However, using a primer has its benefits. It’s often used for bridal makeup because this type of makeup needs a solid foundation. So, unless you attend a special event where you need your makeup intact during the whole thing, you can afford not to use a primer.

Otherwise, I suggest that you do or try some of the few alternatives (coconut oil and BB cream are my favorites). I hope you find this article somehow helpful. If you do, don’t forget to share it with your besties.

Whitley Tineo

Saturday 29th of October 2022

“A lip liner can help you skip the lip liner”? Otherwise, an amazing article! Thank you.