Found: The Best Illuminating Primers For Glowing Skin

Best Illuminating Primer

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If your makeup lacks luminosity, an illuminating primer is the easiest way to get glowing skin. Because sometimes, no matter how much you try, your makeup fails to give you the glowy skin you’re trying to achieve. A dewy foundation or a luminous blush can’t replace a radiant base. And other times, you may not even feel like wearing makeup. You just want something to give your complexion a boost to fake naturally radiant skin. Either way, if you have dull, lackluster skin and are looking for a way to add some radiance to your complexion while prepping your base for makeup, get ready for a dazzling transformation. I’ve got the absolute best illuminating primers that’ll light up your complexion instantly. Scroll down and see for yourself.

The Best Illuminating Primers

1. Erborian CC Water Gel

Best Illuminating Primer

Erborian CC Water Gel - Best Iilluminating Primer
Best for glowing skin
Glow guaranteed 100%
Amazing on bare skin
Suitable for all skin types

I’m a sucker for anything Erborian makes but they need to rename this product ASAP! Here’s why I think CC Water Gel is the absolute best illuminating primer.

First of all, it’s a super lightweight gel that contains tiny particles that melt into the skin and turn a dull complexion into a luminous one instantly. You’ll see that most glowy primers tend to fade a bit after you rub them into the skin and can even lose half the radiance once you apply your full coverage foundation over the primer. That does not happen with this one! No matter how matte your foundation is, the glow of this baby will show through it! It’s like wearing a highlighter without actually wearing it.

And secondly, as suggested by the name of the product, it also color-corrects a bit. It’s made with Centella Asiatica, which is an antioxidant that also soothes redness. Plus, it contains hyaluronic acid and amino acids to hydrate and freshen up the skin.

And thirdly, the glow is so good that you might even want to skip wearing foundation. It’s super easy to blend and makes the skin luminous in the most natural-looking way. It doesn’t make the skin oily or greasy and it doesn’t feel sticky after applying either. If you’re someone who doesn’t wear too much makeup or you prefer something that can be worn alone too, this is it.

As you can see below, it literally looks like I’m wearing a highlighter but I’m not! Also, all my base products are matte. But the primer doesn’t care.

Best Illuminating Primer - Erborian CC Water Gel Before and After Picture

If you have aging skin, mature skin, or overall dull skin, this is going to make your skin look as if you’ve just had a facial. It’s suitable for all skin types, including sensitive skin, and it won’t clog pores either.

The only potential problem with it is that it doesn’t contain silicones, which work to blur out skin imperfections in a primer. If you’re into that, I can recommend Erborian Glow Creme as an alternative from the same brand.

Erborian CC Water Gel checks all the boxes for me and I think it’s the best illuminating primer for glowing skin. And I’ve been a fan ever since I first tried it. But if you want to see what else is out there, or if you prefer something silicone-based, below are other illuminating primers that are equally amazing.

Key Ingredients: Centella Asiatica, hyaluronic acid
Shades: 4
Size: 1.3 oz/40 ml
Formula: Contains fragrance

2. Clarins SOS Primer – Universal Light

Best For Acne-Prone Skin

Clarins SOS Primer Universal Light - Best Illuminating Primer
Skin smoothing

Clarins is another brand that’s amazing when it comes to base makeup products. This isn’t your subtle, barely-there luminizer. This is blindingly glowy which you can see right when you start to squeeze out the product. Much like an illuminating moisturizer, it has a nice consistency where the light particles are smoothly formulated into the base. That’s how it gives you that non-patchy, super-smooth application.

It contains silicones that nicely blur out skin texture irregularities like large pores. But at the same time, the formula is oil-free. So it not only smooths out your skin texture and minimizes oil, but it also keeps your pores clear, preventing clogging. It extends your makeup wear and keeps your foundation in place. The botanically rich formula provides long-lasting moisture, which helps prevent your foundation from looking patchy or separating later on. If you have oily, combination, or acne-prone skin, this is an overachiever that won’t disappoint.

Clarins SOS Primer in Universal Light - Best Illuminating Primers
Clarins SOS Primer in Universal Light/Ejollify

Key Ingredients: Glycerin, green tea, sea lily
Size: 1 oz/30 ml
Formula: Contains fragrance

3. Nars Radiance Primer SPF 35

Best with SPF

Nars Radiance Primer SPF 35
Pore blurring

For my fellow skin-conscious people, this illuminating primer comes with built-in SPF. In terms of its texture, it has a creamy consistency and leaves a glistening effect on the skin where the glow is subtle but absolutely there. Plus, it also smooths out the skin and evens your base with its blurring properties.

It gives long-lasting makeup wear and a strong foundation hold. And it’s just an overall great multi-tasking primer with SPF that protects, illuminates, and creates a smooth canvas for a flawless base.

Key Ingredients: Chemical SPF, hyaluronic acid
Size: 1 oz/30 ml
Formula: Contains fragrance

4. Rare Beauty Illuminating Primer

Best For Combination Skin

Rare Beauty Illuminating Primer

This is intense! The illuminating primer has this almost metallic consistency but once you slather it on, it leaves this nice, subtle shimmer on the skin. It’s not sparkly or anything but it’s really pearly. This is a water-based primer and it’s silicone-free too.

So it won’t give you that real-life filter effect but the lightweight gel is absolutely gorgeous for no-makeup makeup days. If you have combination skin or you just want a hydrating, water-based glowy primer, this is really light on the skin.

Quick Tip: Apply the primer all over your skin. Once you’re done, apply whatever is left on your fingers gently on the eye area below the brow bone toward the eyelid. I saw this trick on my favorite makeup artist’s channel, namely Wayne Goss. He uses a different primer but that trick works really well with this illuminating primer to create a lit-from-within glow on the upper part of the face.

Key Ingredients: Glycerin, sunflower seed oil
Size: 0.94 oz/28 ml
Formula: Vegan, cruelty-free

5. Guerlain Meteorites Primer Perfecting Pearls

Best For Oily Skin

Guerlain Meteorites Primer Perfecting Pearls - Best Illuminating Primer

At some point, this primer went viral for being the most expensive one. I think it’s a well-deserving splurge if you want to have the most natural-looking glow and let people guess whether you’re wearing anything on your face. This light gel is infused with tiny particles.

It’s not like Erborian’s formula where you rub the particles into the skin. This comes out like jelly and gives you that glass skin immediately! This is amazing especially if you have oily or combination skin because it contains oil-controlling powder particles too. You can wear it alone or with your foundation for long-lasting makeup.

Key Ingredients: Glycerin, diamond powder
Size: 1 oz/30 ml
Formula: Contains fragrance

6. Laneige Glowy Makeup Serum

Best For Dry Skin

Laneige Glowy Makeup Serum - Best Illuminating Primer
Makeup/skincare hybrid

And speaking of hydration, this is like a hydrating, skin-plumping face serum but with a radiant finish. The liquid primer comes with a dropper and is literally as light as a face serum. It has diamond powder particles that can be seen right there in the formula.

And even though it looks like it’s going to look all glittery and shimmery on your skin, it actually absorbs fast and leaves your skin with a seamless, healthy radiance. I wouldn’t say this is a straight-up glowy primer, but the radiance is definitely there.

Key Ingredients: Ceramide, amino acids, diamond powder
Size: 1 oz/30 ml

7. Glossier Futuredew

Best For Mature Skin

Glossier Futuredew
Makeup/skincare hybrid
Glass skin must-have

And speaking of hybrids, this multi-purpose product is a face serum, a lightweight oil, a skin luminizer, and a dewy makeup primer. Its runny texture is madly rich in hydration boosters like squalane, hyaluronic acid, and plant oils like jojoba.

So it’s already nourishing for the skin. And the added dewy finish of the serum is amazing if you have fine lines and wrinkles you need to plump up and you could use an extra touch of glow.

Key Ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, squalane, jojoba oil
Size: 1 oz/30 ml
Formula: Cruelty-free, vegan, non-comedogenic

So these are the best illuminating primers on the market. Again, I swear by Erborian CC Water Gel for its light consistency and gorgeous glowy finish. And if you need something creamier, Clarins SOS Primer is oil-free, super dewy, and contains silicones to create a soft filter on the skin. If you need to see what else is out there, check out our guide to different types of primers and how to find the right one for you.

Tips For Choosing an Illuminating Primer

  • Consider your skin type. No matter what type of primer you’re going for, always keep your skin type in mind.
  • If you’re prone to acne, go for oil-free or non-comedogenic illuminating primers.
  • If you have dry skin, look for illuminating primers that are water-based and high in hydrating skincare ingredients.
  • Choose the right formula. Gel primers tend to be much lighter on the skin. They work for all skin types. Creamy illuminating primers, on the other hand, are usually better for people with dry skin or sensitive skin.
  • Go for silicones for textured skin. If you have textured skin or large pores, make sure your illuminating primer contains silicones to blur them out. A water-based primer is usually not enough to minimize the appearance of pores.


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