What is the Difference Between Primer and Moisturizer

The main difference between primer and moisturizer is that primer is a make-up product, whereas moisturizer is a skincare product.

Primers and moisturizers are two popular cosmetic products. Primer is the first step in a make-up routine, and moisturizer is the last step in a skincare routine before applying sunscreen. A primer should be applied after the moisturizer so that the skin will be free from dry patches and cracks. The skin should be cleansed and exfoliated before applying a thin layer of moisturizer. Then you should wait for 30-60 seconds before applying primer.  

Key Areas Covered

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

Key Terms

Primer, Moisturizer, Make-Up, Personal Care

Difference Between Primer and Moisturizer - Comparison Summary

What is a Primer

Primer is the first make-up product that is applied before applying all the other make-up products. It acts as a make-up basis and also works as a moisturizer by absorbing salicylic acid oil, thereby creating a less oily or matte appearance. They can be either water-based or silicon-based. However, it’s always better to use natural primers free from harsh ingredients. This acts as an even and smooth base for make-up.

Primers skin pores and hides spots, wrinkles, and fine lines. They help make-up 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 helps to melt the primer.

Primer and Moisturizer

A primer typically has a thick consistency and is colourless and serum-like. Primers come in gel and cream versions as well. Some of them also contain antioxidants like A, C, and E and also green tea and grape seed extracts, and 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 commonly used.

Primers can be applied without make-up, and they are good for a no-makeup look. They reduce skin redness and give a smooth complexion. Before applying a primer, you should first wash your face and moisturize. Then after a few minutes, apply the primer in circular motions. You can put on make-up once the primer is absorbed by the skin.

What is a Moisturizer

A moisturizer is a cream, ointment, lotion, or balm with emollients that keep the surface layers of the skin hydrated. Moisturizers come in various other forms like gels, serums, and oils as well. They protect the skin and seal the moisture and nutrients in it.

Primer vs Moisturizer

Normally, moisturizers either seal the moisture on the skin or restore moisture with the help of four kinds of ingredients: occlusive, humectants, emollients, and barrier-repair. Some even contain anti-ageing ingredients, while some soothe the skin and make the skin firm, healthy, brighter, and fairer. They also help to look make-up better. When using a moisturizer, it is very important to select one that matches your skin type.

  • Dry skin – a rich moisturizer with ingredients like shea butter
  • Oily skin – oil-free cream or lightweight gel moisturizer
  • Combination skin – lightweight moisturizer with glycerin or hyaluronic acid

Difference Between Primer and Moisturizer


Primer is the first make-up product that is applied before applying all the other make-up products while moisturizer is a cream, lotion, ointment, or balm with emollients that keep the surface layers of the skin hydrated.

Product Type

Primers are make-up products while moisturizers are skincare products. 


While primers give an even base for make-up and to make it last longer, moisturizers hydrate and nourish the skin.


Moreover, a primer is applied after moisturizer.


Primer is the make-up product we first apply on the face before applying all the other make-up products. It provides a smooth, even base for make-up by covering pores, wrinkles, and dark spots. Primers are generally colourless and have a thick serum-like consistency. They can be applied using fingers or brushes, and applying them using fingers is effective. Moisturizers, on the other hand, are creams, lotions, ointments, or balms with emollients that keep the surface layers of the skin hydrated. They protect, nourish, and hydrate the skin, thereby making it healthy, firm, and glowing. This is the summary of the difference between primer and moisturizer.


1. “What is Makeup Primer & Do I Need It?” Grove Collaborative.
2. “Face Moisturizers: Benefits and Use Types.” Johnson’s.

Image Courtesy:

1. “Applying Makeup” (Public Domain) via Public Domain Pictures.net
2. “A moisturizer product” (CC0) via Pixahive

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