How Long to Wait Between Moisturizer and Primer | Milk Paper (2023)

Give it some time.

By Deanna Pai | January 19, 2023

How Long to Wait Between Moisturizer and Primer | Milk Paper (1) How Long to Wait Between Moisturizer and Primer | Milk Paper (2)

Even if you have your makeup routine down to a science, there are still some tricky steps to navigate. How long to wait between primer and moisturizer? Should you opt for a cream or liquid bronzer? How does lip plumper even work? The good news is that we have answers, thanks in part to cosmetic chemist Ginger King. And in the case of pairing makeup primer and moisturizer, it’s delightfully straightforward.

That’s because understanding what goes into these formulas and how they interact with one another can help you determine the best way to use them—and, of course, get the best possible results. With that in mind, here’s how to layer them properly to ensure your makeup stays on point all day, every day.

How to layerprimer and moisturizer

Typically, your moisturizer goes on first as part of your skincare routine. While your makeup primer might have some skincare properties, like the hydrating hyaluronic acid and soothing niacinamide in our Hydro Grip Primer, it’s still, technically, a makeup product. That’s also true when you’re working with a mattifying primer, such as Pore Eclipse Mattifying Primer.

Ultimately, “the function of a primer is to [hold onto] your makeup and [in some cases,] make it a little matte,” Ginger explains. As a result, you’ll often find powders within mattifying formulas; Pore Eclipse has both blurring microspheres and moonstone powder, for example. When you apply it to clean, dry skin, the formula works its magic to control any shine that may arise throughout the day.

However, “if you apply primer on a wet surface, it's like making dough—think water and starch,” says Ginger. That doesn’t have a great feel on skin, and can ultimately lead to pilling. “So, wait until the moisturizer is dry,” she says. “Then, the primer can go on as a nice canvas.”

How Long to Wait Between Moisturizer and Primer | Milk Paper (3)How Long to Wait Between Moisturizer and Primer | Milk Paper (4)

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How long to wait between primer and moisturizer

Ginger recommends waiting at least one minute after moisturizing before applying makeup primer. If you experience a doughy texture or any pilling, she says, then you’ve put in on too quickly.

Also worth keeping in mind is the compatibility of your primer, moisturizer, and foundation. “Since there are different types of product bases—oil-in-water, oil-in-silicone, water-in-oil, etc—you just have to know what you are playing with,” she says. “If you mix them together and they start pilling, then it's not a good match.” Our Vegan Milk Moisturizer was designed to work with each of our primers; it nourishes skin with a proprietary blend of vegan “milk,” while argan oil and squalane offer lasting moisture.

If you’re wondering where sunscreen stands in all of this, you’re not alone. “The last step in application is physical sunscreen, as it forms a shield,” Ginger says. “Chemical sunscreen absorbs UV and turns into a lower energy wave to protect skin, so it does not matter when you use it—but it’s still preferred as the last step.” So, if you’re using our Sunshine Skin Tint SPF 30 after your moisturizer and primer, you can rest easy knowing your skin is hydrated, primed, and protected.

TL;DR: Apply your moisturizer, wait a minute. Apply your primer, wait a minute. Put on somesunscreen, then apply your makeup.

Meet the Expert:

Ginger King (she/her) is the founder & CEO at Grace Kingdom Beauty, a cosmetic product development firm in New Jersey specializing in helping create beauty brands from concept to launch. She has been the keynote speaker for brand launches and has spoken at various trade conferences on product development and In-Cosmetics on product innovation. Ginger is an often-quoted beauty expert and has been on radio and video chat with leading beauty magazines as well as a regular TV appearances on Good Day Sacramento. She has been quoted by over 35 top beauty magazines such as Allure, Self, Marie Claire, Harper’s Bazaar, Shape, Teen Vogue, and Women’s Health.

How Long to Wait Between Moisturizer and Primer | Milk Paper (5)

Deanna Pai (she/her) is a freelance beauty and wellness writer and editor based in New York. Her work has appeared in Vogue, Vanity Fair, New York Magazine, and more. She’s also worked as a beauty copywriter for brands such as Lancôme and Living Proof, and enjoys reading and long walks.

All information is created for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

How Long to Wait Between Moisturizer and Primer | Milk Paper (6)

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How Long to Wait Between Moisturizer and Primer | Milk Paper? ›

How long to wait between primer and moisturizer. Ginger recommends waiting at least one minute after moisturizing before applying makeup primer. If you experience a doughy texture or any pilling, she says, then you've put in on too quickly.

What happens if you put moisturizer over primer? ›

The benefits of using primer and moisturizer together

Primer can help to create a smooth surface for foundation, while moisturizer can help to hydrate and nourish the skin. Another benefit of using primer and moisturizer together is that they can help to prolong the wear of foundation.

How long should you let your primer sit before applying foundation? ›

Phillips also recommends giving primer a full minute to dry before layering anything on top in order to avoid disturbing the makeup.

Can you put face primer on after moisturizer? ›

If you use a lightweight, gel-based moisturizer, you can apply your primer immediately after moisturizing. If you use a heavy cream moisturizer, it's recommended to wait at least five to ten minutes to let the moisturizer fully absorb into your skin before applying primer.

How long should moisturizer sit before makeup? ›

Wait at least five minutes.

The moisturizer needs some time to form a smooth, even surface over your skin. Wait anywhere from five to thirty minutes before putting on makeup, or you may struggle with uneven application or even acne breakouts.

Do I let moisturizer dry before primer? ›

It's always advised that you let your moisturiser fully absorb before applying primer, makeup, or sunscreen. If your moisturiser hasn't absorbed, your primer may go on unevenly, which defeats the purpose of applying one. It should only take a few minutes for your moisturiser to set.

How long does it take for moisturizer to absorb? ›

However, Vivian Bucay, a dermatologist in San Antonio, does say that it does take time for products to be fully absorbed into your skin. “It typically takes around 30 minutes for products to be absorbed, meaning, that if something is washed off before 30 minutes, it would need to be reapplied,” she says.

Do you apply foundation when primer is wet or dry? ›

Before reaching for any face makeup, make sure your primer is totally dry. "To get the maximum benefits, you want to let your primer fully absorb into skin before you add foundation," says Oquendo. And even if you don't wear makeup, a primer will still work to "smooth over pores and create a blurring effect," he adds.

How many coats of primer do you need? ›

You will want to use 2-3 coats of primer to ensure there is a good bond between the new paint and the wall, and also to cover up any previous colors, especially if they are red, orange, or a strange outdated color. In short, you will typically need 2 coats of primer for most painting projects.

Why does primer make my makeup cakey? ›

You Didn't Let Your Primer Dry

“I like to re-distribute any moisturizer or primer from areas that didn't absorb or set before applying foundations.” Doing so will prevent caking as well as pilling, so it's a win-win.

How long to wait after moisturizer? ›

You see, while some experts insist you should leave anywhere between 30 seconds and 15 minutes between layers, others argue it's far more important to just get the product on. “If you don't have the time, it won't harm the skin by applying products directly after each other.

Do you put sunscreen or primer first? ›

If you apply primer first, it could interfere with how well the sunscreen adheres to your skin. So, follow these application tips: always apply sunscreen before primer. This ensures maximum protection from UV rays and lets your primer create a smooth canvas for makeup application.

How long to wait between moisturizer and SPF? ›

In general, you want to use separate sunscreen and moisturizing products. Wear sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher over your moisturizer for adequate sun protection. You only need to wait a minute or so between applying moisturizer and sunscreen. Even if your makeup has SPF, you should still wear sunscreen.

Does moisturizer go over or under makeup? ›

Moisturizer does two very important things: First, it smoothes skin's surface for a more even foundation or concealer application and can even help makeup to stay on longer. Second, hydrating skin underneath makeup will help skin to look less dull. Applying foundation on dry skin can cause it to look cakey.

Should my face be damp before moisturizer? ›

As the back of the bottle says, you should always apply moisturizer to clean skin—and for maximum results, shortly after cleansing, before your skin is totally dry. Moisturizers are most effective if you use them while your skin is still damp because damp skin absorbs the product more readily.

What happens if you put moisturizer over makeup? ›

"It doesn't effect makeup—it will just make it softer and make lines less pronounced." She suggests keeping the products in your purse and using them for a quick hydrating touchup for when your skin is begging for a bit more moisture.

What do you apply after primer? ›

As much as it's debated, foundation comes after primer.

"Afterwards though, I always suggest lightly off-setting your foundation with a powder foundation that warms your face."

What happens if you use too much face primer? ›

If you've applied too much, you may notice that your foundation grabs or clumps in certain areas. Using too much primer may make your skin slippery and oily, especially if you're using a product containing silicones or hydrating ingredients.

How long does it take for primer to dry? ›

Most latex primers dry to the touch in 30 minutes to one hour. But for best results, don't paint until the primer completely dries—which can take up to 3 hours, depending on temperature and humidity. Once the primer is completely dry, it's prime time for painting.

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