What is the Difference Between Primer and Foundation

The main difference between primer and foundation is that a primer makes the skin smooth, whereas foundation gives the skin an even complexion.

Primers and foundations are two cosmetics products we use before apply other products like blush, lipstick, or highlighters. Primer is the first step, and foundation is the second step when putting on makeup. Though many people skip applying primers, they provide crease and bump-free smooth skin for foundations.

Key Areas Covered

1. What is a Primer  
     – Definition, Features
2. What is a Foundation
     – Definition, Features
3. Difference Between Primer and Foundation
     – Comparison of Key Differences

Key Terms

Primer, Foundation

Difference Between Primer and Foundation - Comparison Summary

What is a Primer

Primer is the first makeup product we apply before applying all the other makeup products. This acts as the makeup basis and also works as a moisturizer by absorbing salicylic acid oil, thereby creating a less oily or matte appearance. Foundations can be either water-based or silicon-based. However, it’s always better to use natural primers free from harsh ingredients.

Primers fill skin pores and hide spots, wrinkles, and fine lines. They also help makeup last longer, help even application, even unwanted skin texture, and give a smooth finish. Primers can be applied using fingers or a brush, but applying them with fingers is recommended since the warmth in fingers helps in proper absorption.

Primer and Foundation

Primer has a thick consistency and is colourless and serum-like. Primers come as gel and cream versions as well. Some of them also contain antioxidants like A, C, and E and even SPF. Meanwhile, mineral-based primers contain mica and silica. Though primers are generally colourless, some tinted primers add and correct skin colour. Out of them, peach and green are the commonly used ones. In addition to face primers, there are eyelid primers and lip primers as well.

How to Apply Primer

  • First, wash the face and moisturize.
  • Then apply sunscreen
  • After a few minutes, apply the primer in circular motions
  • After the primer is absorbed into the skin, put on makeup

Primers can be applied without makeup as well, plus they are good for a no-makeup look. They reduce skin redness and give a smooth complexion.

What is a Foundation

Foundation is a cosmetic product that is used to correct skin tone and provide a smooth texture. We usually apply it after the primer, and it helps to hide spots, redness, blemishes, and freckles on the skin and gives an even complexion. It is also used to change the natural colour of the skin.

Foundations come in powder, cream, mousse, liquid, and stick variants, and various methods like fingers, sponges, brushes, and airbrushes are used when applying them. There are alcohol-based and oil-based foundations, while some even contain SPF. There are two main types of colours: warm and cool. The correct shade would blend with the skin tones perfectly and will give a smooth, no-makeup look.

Primer vs Foundation

How to Apply Foundation

  • First, wash your face, exfoliate, and moisturize.
  • Apply primer and colour correcter.
  • Apply a small amount of foundation.
  • Spread the foundation outwards.
  • Blend it.
  • Conceal blemishes.
  • Next, apply setting powder.

Difference Between Primer and Foundation


Primer is the makeup product that is applied before applying all the other makeup products, while foundation is a makeup product that corrects the skin tone and provides a smooth texture.


Primers provide smooth, bump-free skin and act as a firm base for foundation, while foundations provide an even skin tone.


Primers suit any person and skin tone, but there are different types of foundations for different skin tones and types.


While primers are used as the first step when applying makeup, they are not a must; however, foundations are used as the second step when applying makeup, and they are a must.


Primer is the first makeup product that is applied before applying all the other makeup products. As the first step, it provides a bump-free, wrinkle-free, smooth texture to the skin. It also reduces redness, pores, and fine lines of the skin. But primer is not a must when applying makeup; however, this prevents the makeup from getting transferred and acts as a firm base for foundation. Foundation, on the other hand, corrects skin tone and provides a smooth texture. It is the second step when applying makeup and covers dark spots, blemishes, and freckles and gives an even, smooth skin tone. This is the main difference between primer and foundation.


1. “What Is Makeup Primer and Do I Need It?” Grove.
2. “Foundation (Cosmetics).” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation.

Image Courtesy:

1. “Foundation (cosmetics)” By Jen – I took this photo (with my shiny new camera!), CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Makeup” (CC0) via Pxhere

About the Author: Hasa

Hasanthi is a seasoned content writer and editor with over 8 years of experience. Armed with a BA degree in English and a knack for digital marketing, she explores her passions for literature, history, culture, and food through her engaging and informative writing.

Leave a Reply