Difference between Primer and Moisturizer
By Marc Gordon - May 5, 2023

The makeup process is as much a science as an art, and considering the multitude of beauty products, it might be tricky to know which. A moisturizer and primer seem to serve the same purpose, and even brands label products with both. However, there are differences between the two.


A cosmetic primer is a cream placed before another cosmetic to increase coverage and extend the duration of the cosmetics on the face. A foundation primer, for example, may act as a moisturizer or absorb oil using salicylic acid to help create a less greasy, matte appearance. Some contain antioxidants like A, C, and E and additional substances, including grape seed extract and green tea extract.

A moisturizer, also known as an emollient, is a cosmetic preparation intended to protect, moisturize, and lubricate the skin. These tasks are generally carried out by sebum, which is generated by healthy skin.

Black woman putting on face lotion

Getty Images/Tetra Images/JGI/Jamie Grill

Primer vs. Moisturizer

Primer is a beauty product that helps your makeup remain longer by providing an even base for seamless application. Think of primer as a barrier between your skin and your cosmetic items. Depending on the recipe, it can give a mattifying effect or moisturize the skin to help your makeup last longer.

On the other hand, a moisturizer is a skincare product designed to hydrate your skin. Moisturizers, like primers, come in various formulae tailored to specific skin types. Whether you have excess oil, dry skin, or a dull complexion, a moisturizer will offer the necessary nourishment while also addressing other concerns.

Because primers are not designed to deliver moisture to the skin, they might detract from your makeup appearance if not applied correctly – after the moisturizer, which is the last thing you need. Moisturizing primers hydrate your skin while prepping your face for makeup application. They’re often utilized by persons who have dehydrated skin and are concerned about cosmetics bringing attention to their dry spots. They are not, however, substitutes for moisturizers.

Comparison Chart

  1. It is applied to make the skin hold on to the makeup products better.
It is applied to hydrate and rejuvenate the skin
  1. It is applied after the moisturizer
It is applied before the primer