Face Tutorials

How to Keep Your Mattifying Primer from Balling Up

One of the best ways to combat oiliness in the skin while you wear makeup is with a mattifying primer.  Not only do they even skin tone, reduce skin texture, fill in pores, and prolong the wear-time of your makeup, but they also help to absorb/control the oil that your skin produces throughout the day, keeping your makeup shine-free and locked in place.  Simply put, mattifying primers are the bomb for oily skin.  But unfortunately if applied incorrectly, they can also leave you looking like a bomb went off on your face. Yep, not cute.

Mattifying primers are finnicky and can ball up and pill on the skin, becoming a clumpy, frustrating mess. If you’ve tried using them and have ended up looking like someone crumbled a styrofoam cup over your face, you’re not alone, and here’s what you can do to prevent it:

1. Moisturize – and give it time

No matter if your skin is oily or dry, you should be using a moisturizer. 99% of the time it should be the last step of your skincare routine, before applying primer. Once you’ve moisturized, let the product absorb into the skin 2 to 5 minutes before applying primer – this will create the start of a great base for your makeup.

2. Don’t go too overboard with the moisturizer

While it’s totally fine to moisturize,  just make sure that you aren’t using an excessive amount of it.  Applying the right amount of moisturizer should leave your skin feeling supple and hydrated but not greasy, slippery, or like you’re wearing a mask.

If you can still feel a slick layer of moisturizer on your skin 5 minutes after you’ve applied it, you’ve applied too much to use with really any makeup product and can try gently blotting your face with a clean towel.  If you’ve ever had trouble with patchy foundation or getting your makeup to set properly, over-moisturizing may be the culprit.  

3. Use the correct amount of primer

With most mattifying primers out there, you should only need a pea-sized amount of product for your entire face. Even if it feels like there’s nothing there when you spread the primer over a larger area like your cheek – trust me, it’s there.   It’s usually best to start at the center of the face or areas that tend to get more oily, and spread the product out from there. If you apply too much mattifying primer, it can kind of roll up on itself, which causes the dreaded clumpy styrofoam face.

4. Don’t massage the product into your skin

This is probably the biggest cause of pilling/clumpy mattifying primer. When I first started using mattifying primers, I would use circular motions to massage the product into my skin, like I would with a moisturizer. That is a big no go. Using circular motions, or going over the same area too many times will also cause the product to roll up on itself and ball up. The correct way to apply mattifying primer is to dot it onto your face  and then spread it over small areas in 1 or 2 quick swipes.  Think of waving your hand from left to right, vs waving it in a clockwise circle. Then, gently press it into the area you just swiped the product over. Essentially, you want as little friction as possible.

5. Let it set

Once you’ve applied your primer, let it melt into your skin for 1-2 minutes.  Going in with foundation or concealer too soon may cause the primer to get dislodged from where you spread it, which can cause it to ball up.

My Fav Mattifying Primers

  • Primed & Peachy Cooling Matte Perfecting Primer by Too Faced Cosmetics, $34 (you can check out why I love this primer so much in this blog post!)
  • Spackle Mattifying Under Make-Up Primer by Laura Geller, $32



Thanks for reading,