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Do I Moisturize Before My Primer? Does It Matter?

By Amalah

Just a quick question, I purchased the Dr. Brandt Pores No More as a primer, but do I put it on before or after a moisturizer? I feel like the moisturizer kind of dilutes the primer’s effect, but if I put it on after the moisturizer, is it getting to the pores? I’ve tried just using the primer and then putting makeup directly on it, that gives me the best results, but obviously not using moisturizer is probably a bad thing?

Personally, I use my foundation primer AFTER I moisturize — including the Dr. Brandt, which is technically more of a skin treatment than a straight-up primer. (It’s for enlarged, visible, blackhead-prone pores [YUMMY] and works to shrink the pores while also concealing them with a dash of tint WHILE ALSO smoothing your skin and readying it for foundation.)
I felt like I still saw the pore-shrinking benefits despite putting it on after a layer of moisturizer. But…I would say go with what works for you, above and beyond. If you can skip morning moisturizer and don’t notice dryness or tightness or rough patches after a few days, then meh! Skip your morning moisturizer in favor of treating the pore problem. (UNLESS your moisturizer is where you get your daily dose of SPF. I put SPF on first, then slather on all the nice products that will help combat the crap reactions I often get from sunblocks. But if your foundation contains SPF, then you’re set.)
(Already a banner day for parentheses!)
Then…moisturize at night. If it works for you, it works for you. In the summer I can get away with moisturizing once a day because my skin drifts more into the “oily” category than the “combination.” I continue to use my eye cream twice a day (and I also use my eye cream around the lines of my mouth, so if you’re concerned about cutting back on moisturizer applications because of aging effects, try the eye cream trick on wrinkle-prone areas).
If you notice dryness, add the moisturizer back in, before the primer. I use a (completely made-up-by-me and arbitrary and not-based-on-anything-scientific-probably) mental hierarchy when it comes to ordering and layering products. Basic, essential skincare products go on first. Moisturizers, sunscreens, straight-up anti-aging or anti-acne serums or creams or whatever fad I’m currently indulging in. These get the first position, since in my head, it makes sense that these are mostly working beneath the surface of my skin. Then I move into stuff I classify as “cosmetic,” and I include foundation primers in this. This is the stuff that works on a mostly superficial level. And while yes, the Dr. Brandt product (and others like it) sort of fit into both categories, it IS a primer and will work best when your foundation is the next thing you layer on.
But…I don’t think there’s anything WRONG with putting stuff on in a different order if in the end, you achieve results that you’re happy with. (Although I can’t imagine putting moisturizer on OVER your makeup, or anything, but I do know women who put sunblock on last, over everything else.) You are allowed to ignore rules and conventional wisdom, if your own face is telling you that something different works better. I still get reminded about the importance of using a toner whenever I get a facial, and I just smile and nod because cutting out a toner was a HUGE success in my fight against an oily, overcompensation complexion. But then if toning works for YOU, then it’s your turn to just smile and nod and ignore me completely.


About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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  • I read somewhere you should wait 5 minutes after putting your moisturizer on to put any makreup or primer on. I have no idea, but I follow this. I guess the makeup sets in.

  • tonya

    I always wait to put anything on my face after I put on moisturizer so it has time to “dry” and set in. Lately, the Hope in a Bottle does not seem to be doing the trick and my face seems greasy and shiny. Perhaps it’s time to find a new product? 🙁

  • CK

    I freely admit that I am not a makeup girl, but at what point are we reaching ridiculousness? If I’m understanding this post correctly, I’m supposed to be covering my face with FOUR products every day: SPF, moisturizer, primer, and foundation, with the option of adding eye cream?
    Seriously? How is my skin supposed to even breathe?
    I swear I’m not trying to be snotty or argumentative. I’m just…confused. And, frankly, exhausted just thinking about it.

    • same here…confused 😛

  • Erin

    CK, it’s really not as bad as all that. But you can get some of those products rolled into one. I use a tinted moisturizer with SPF 15 instead of foundation. Even with those three products taken care of, I still have a salicylic acid serum under that, and powder on top.
    I think it starts getting ridiculous around six or seven products, though. There’s only so much you can do before your face starts melting off.

  • Caleal

    I keep the hair dryer near so I can blast the cold setting on my face between applications of products.
    That’s probably weird.

  • Wait a second, I don’t have to apply moisturizer in the morning AND at night? Dude, I’m so skipping my morning application tomorrow!