Difference Between Primer and Foundation

In recent times, the makeup industry has grown in leaps and bounds. With the stereotypical gender roles being broken, makeup is no longer an activity restricted to one gender.

Various brands and companies have released newer and better makeup products to boost one’s confidence by accentuating their features. Primer and Foundation are two such make items that help enhance one’s skin.

Primer vs Foundation

The main difference between Primer and Foundation is that Primer is used to make the skin smooth in texture, whereas Foundation is used to provide an even complexion to the skin. While both are used on the face, the two differ in their application and use.

Primer vs Foundation

Primer is the first step in the process of facial makeup after the skin has been moisturized. Its job is to make the skin even and smooth by filling in the pores. It provides for a base so that the makeup applied stays intact for a longer duration of time.

On the other hand, Foundation is applied after using Primer. Foundation could be in the form of a liquid, stick, or even a mousse. It is essentially used to provide an even complexion and tone to the skin. It also helps in covering the blemishes and the redness that is present on the skin.

Comparison Table Between Primer and Foundation

Parameters of ComparisonPrimerFoundation
DefinitionPrimer is the product used to make the skin smooth.Foundation is the product that provides an even complexion.
UseIt is used to fill in the skin’s pores and acts as a base for the rest of the makeup products.It is used to cover the blemishes and redness on the skin and also makes the skin tone even.
Makeup stepApplication of Primer is the first step in the process of make-up.Application of foundation is usually the second step in the make-up procedure.
ColorUsually, a primer is sheer in color and does not add any color to the skin.Foundation is used to add color to the skin and even adjust the tone of the skin.
TypesPrimers come in the form of gel, cream, and powder.Foundation can be in the form of a liquid, stick, or mousse.

What is Primer?

A cosmetic Primer is a product that is used before applying other cosmetic products to the skin. This is done so as to provide a base for the other makeup products. Yet another use of a primer is to provide smoothness to the skin. It is a gel or a cream-like substance.

Using primer as a base helps the make-up to last for a longer period of time. It works as an adhesive between the skin and the foundation. It is also useful in filling in pores, hiding the wrinkles on the face or even the fine lines that may be present on the skin.

Even though the usual primers do not provide the facility of adding color to the skin, there are some rare ones that may be used to color correct the skin. Apart from this, Primers also prove to be extremely advantageous in hiding any spots that are conspicuous on the face.

Primers can be of various types, including lip primer, eyelid primer, etc. Primer works by absorbing the oil on the skin and acting as an adhesive so that the make-up stays on. It gives a matte look as it smoothens the skin. Primers could be water-based or silicon-based.

What is Foundation?

A cosmetic foundation is a product that is used to color correct the skin and provide a smooth skin tone. It is usually applied after the primer has been used so that it stays on for a longer time. It also helps in hiding blemishes and freckles on the skin.

It comes in the form of a liquid or a powder essentially to give a uniform complexion to the entire face and neck. They are even used to change the natural color of the skin. It also proved to be useful in covering the redness of the skin.

Foundations come in a variety of shades, varying from warm colors to cool ones. The right shade of foundation would blend in with the skin as if there has been no makeup applied at all. It is a product that tones the skin and makes the facial canvas a perfect one.

The use of foundation goes back to as early as 200 BC, usually attributed to ancient Greek women using white lead powder and chalk to lighten the tone of their skin. Today, foundations come in a variety of shades. They can be oil-based, alcohol-based, containing sunscreen, etc.

Main Differences Between Primer and Foundation

  1. Primer is the first step in the application of makeup, whereas foundation is usually applied after the primer.
  2. Primer’s essential function is to even out the skin and provides a base for other cosmetics to follow, whereas Foundation is essentially used to provide an even tone to the skin.
  3. Primer fills in pores and makes the skin smooth, while Foundation is helpful in hiding blemishes and freckles.
  4. While Primer usually does not add color to the skin, Foundation’s function is to color correct the skin.
  5. Primer is usually a gel or a cream-like substance, and on the other hand, the foundation is a liquid or a stick-like cosmetic.
Difference Between Primer and Foundation


Primer acts as a base product that is used to smoothen the skin. It is beneficial as it keeps the skin moisturized and fills in the pores. It also proves to be helpful in keeping the make-up intact for a longer duration. It contains certain antioxidants. It can be oil-based or silicon-based.

Foundation is the product generally applied after primer. It is used to add color to the skin and give the skin an even complexion. It tends to hide any kind of freckles or wrinkles that may be present on the skin.

It comes in a range of shades, varying from light to dark. It could be alcohol-based, oil-based, or even anti-oil, based on one’s skin type.


  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/pmc4562739/
  2. https://europepmc.org/article/med/21699130
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