5 Differences Between Silicone Face Primer, Lotion Face Primer, and Cream Face Primer


I  have extreeeemmely oily skin so without a primer my face would be all oily and gross like 2 hours after I’m done with my makeup. Before face primers, I had to blot twice a day. I know, I know, over-blotting actually induces the skin to produce more oil. But the amount of oil on my face could save the global crisis ! I swear you can see your reflection on my cheeks if I don’t blot mid-day.

And then I got introduced to the makeup world and *throws confetti into the air!* got to know about face primers!

Primers are like a web over the skin, to smooth out the skin by sort of ‘filling in’ the unevenness in the skin and allow makeup to have something to cling on to. Like legendary celebrity makeup artist Adrien Arpel says, face primers are “under-makeup makeup”.

Face primers come in lotion, cream and silicone form.

Creamy Formula Face Primer

My first experience with a cream face primer (Stila Hydrating Primer) ended in tragedy. It was horrible! My face looked like a melted plate of candle wax in the hot and humid weather of Singapore. I think the fact that I paired the cream primer with a BB cream made me the greasiest pancake-faced person ever. Gawd, BB creams are creamier and oilier in texture and I was putting a BB cream on top of a creamy face primer on top of a moisturizer on top of an oily face. Dang!! Creamy makeup primers are too rich for me.

It is, however, recommended for dry skin as creamy formula face primers tend to contain moisturizing ingredients.

Lotion Face Primer

The MAKE UP FOR EVER HD Microperfecting Primer is more like a lotion than a cream primer. More lightweight and less greasy. I would recommend it to people with normal or combination skin. It may be a little greasy for oily skin though. I only use it when I feel that the air is a little dry and my skin needs a little more moisture.

Cream and lotion face primers (and BB creams!) are excellent for people with dry or dry/combination skin. It provides another layer of moisture (hence my disastrous oily face + moisturizer + BB cream = greasy pancake equation) and are great for use in winter. Try to avoid silicone primers as they tend to slide off dry skin in tiny flakes. Opt for a silicone-free face primer that has moisturizing content.

Silicone Face Primer

With a silicone primer, the oils on my face still appear, but MUCH LESS. When I blot my face in the late afternoon, there is less oil on the blotting paper and my makeup really does stay on longer. And I love the feeling silicone primers give, especially the Monistat Chafing gel – it’s like putting silk on my face!

The Monistat Chafing Relief Powder-Gel is a nontoxic silicone primer, which covers everything with a thin layer that stays between the skin and makeup. It works like a charm on me. I was afraid it would clog my pores but so far it’s fortunately done all the good and none of the bad – no clogging, no breakouts.


Buy Monistat Chafing Relief Powder-Gel

Here’s comparing Silicone Face Primers, Lotion Face Primers, and Cream Face Primers in 5 ways:

1. Texture

Creams are thicker in consistency than lotions. Silicone primers feels like silk. Whee!

2. Suitability

It is debatable as to whether silicone face primers are more suitable for people with oily skin or dry skin. Some makeup artists claim that silicone primers tend to end up flaky on people with dry skin, while others say it is best for dry skin. Some other artists say that they cause breakouts on oily skinned people, while other say it is best for oily skinned people.

I say, opt for a lotion or silicone face primer if you have normal to oily skin. Given the greasier elements in cream face primers, they’re more suitable for drier skin types or to be used in winter.

But to each his own! If a certain texture works for you, stick with it.

3. Staying power

Lotion and cream face primers tend to slide off my skin more than silicone primers.

4. Ease of removal

They’re all pretty easy to remove with a makeup remover. I just have less makeup left on my face with a cream face primer by the end of the day because nothing stays! Ha! The most important thing is, regardless of how thick or light your face makeup may be, always remove all traces of makeup before you go to bed.

5. Ability to keep shine at bay

For a person with oily skin, finding a primer that actually keeps the makeup on has been an arduous journey. I give my vote to silicone primers.

What kind of face primer do you use?

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About Bun Bun

Hello! My name is Juli and Bun Bun is my alter-ego. I blog to share my love for makeup, how to apply it, and what works or what doesn’t work, all from an Asian perspective.

My first makeup product was a shimmery light blue lipstick which I proudly wore all over my eyelids and lips. It cost $2.50, felt like $250, and made me feel like a million bucks.

Throughout this blog you will see Bun Bun in different poses.

Instead of using numbers (3/5, 4/5) or alphabets (B+, A+) to rate products, I put Bun Bun in different positions and expressions to represent the rating given to the product after a review.

In Bun-O-Meter, the first on the list would mean a 5/5 rating and the last one a 1/5 rating.

You can always refer to the sidebar any time you don’t understand what Bun Bun’s pose means.

I hope you enjoy reading my makeup and beauty posts as much as I did writing them.

Talk to you soon! =)


Juli & Bun Bun

  • tooglam

    LOVE your post. I’m a makeup artist and I found the MUFE primers (along w/ Smashbox light to be best on combination skin too). The MAC (the one w/out SPF) seemed to be slightly better for oily skin while still being a little bit hydrating.

    In regards to the debate about silicone ones for oily vs. dry skin, I can settle it: Pure silicone primers, especially ones with mostly dimethicone or phenyltrimethicone are better on drier skins because they fuzz over flakiness and crepey skin beautifully.

    Silicone primers which contain a lot of PVP type ingredients, or powdered silica absorb oils the best and are therefore best for those with super oily skin. However, many of them still look and feel like silicone primers which are better for dry skin, so we either have to read online reviews or get really good at reading ingredient lists.

    • Bun Bun

      Thank you for all that info, tooglam! Ingredient-list reading is such a headache sometimes, isn’t it? It’s like looking at a string of alphabets that make so sense. Ha!

  • glamglamglam

    I think I bypassed the intimidation so early on that I actually find reading the lists fun! I know how nerdy that sounds, but seeing as how I had terrible skin in my early teens, I realized that understanding ingredients was gonna be the only way I could empower myself when making choices. I’ve been judiciously recording and researching ingredients in all my products for almost 10 years, so I am now as expert as you get without being a proffesional chemist.

    Bless my luck for having a very good memory though….

    • Bun Bun

      That’s a lot of work! I don’t have good skin too but it never occurred to me as much that it was certain ingredients that caused the reactions. I always just blamed it on my bad luck with good skin. So I guess you must have flawless, healthy, glowing skin now? I’m envious! =)

      • glamglamglam

        My skin is in pretty good shape now, not perfect but almost there. But yes, it did take a lot of work to get here. I can definitely say it was worth it to do all that research.

        It’s not the ingredients that cause the reactions, its the interaction between the innate biology of the skin and the ingredients. That’s why skincare (and primer, and foundation, etc) are so individual and why different people react differently to things.

        Luckily, these things can be changed!

        • Bun Bun

          One man’s meat is another man’s poison!

  • Mel

    Hey I’m just wondering, would Shu Uemura UV under base mousse be considered a primer as well?

    • Bun Bun

      Yes, it can be used as a primer. =)

  • jane

    My face is neither oily nor dry I LOVE silicone type primers. Which is best for combination skin.? I am 67 and love a matte finish.

    • Bun Bun

      For a matte finish, I recommend the Monistat one. It’s really my favorite primer. I usually don’t repeat my purchases, not because I don’t like them, but because I like to try new things. However the Monistat has made me such a loyal fan of it I intend to use it for as long as it’s in production.

  • gothchiq

    I have a question… the primer creams strangely named “boomer” to be used with BB creams? Have you tried those? I want to get some opinions before putting money down and testing them myself.

    • BunBunMakeupTips

      @gothchiq The ‘boomer’ is a primer for BB cream, much like a foundation primer is for foundation. I haven’t tried a boomer as I’m more of a liquid foundation person than a BB cream user.

  • reggieveggie

    You can try Classic Matte primer from Banila Co. It is a korean brand and it had scored the best when compared to 4 other korean/big name primers in their korean beauty show. I have oily and acne prone skin and the moment I apply the primer, I don’t feel like I have a layer of wax on my face! It absorbs quickly as it is watery, then dries up to a bit of powdery feel. It feels so natural that I don’t feel like there is a physical barrier between my face and makeup :)

  • RadhaKrishnakumar

    Wow same story of mine :) Thanks a lot for the useful post dear… I have super oily skin and better to use silicone primers :)

  • Clara

    I have dry skin, but I love the texture and staying power of silicon primers. Unfortunately, silicon-based primers cause major breakouts on my skin, as I learned all too well with the Banila Co. Classic Primer (it’s a really good primer and I wish I could continue using it; it’s just that I have very sensitive skin). Ugh.