Home Makeup Tips Primer or CC Cream: Which is Better? Which One First?
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Primer or CC Cream: Which is Better? Which One First?

by Sandy Taylor

A primer is used under your makeup to provide a smooth surface for your makeup application and to help your makeup last longer. A coverage cream (a.k.a CC Cream) is mainly used for color correcting. Some CC creams also have great skincare benefits and are usually formulated with anti-aging and hydrating ingredients.

In this post, we will look into the similarities and differences between these 2 products. By the end of this post, you will have acquired enough knowledge to decide whether a primer or coverage cream works better for you.

Primer or CC Cream: Which is Better?

A primer is better for you if your face contains uneven surfaces, like large pores and fine lines, in which makeup can settle. Applying a primer can help you fill in these uneven surfaces and prep your face for makeup application. Primers usually go hand-in-hand with concealers and foundations to provide you with good coverage that will last all day.

Primers by themselves will not provide you with any coverage.

A coverage cream is better for you if you prefer to color correct minor skin impurities (like under-eye dark circles) without applying concealer or foundation. It can be used as a “quick” fix for spot coverage but it can also be used all over the face as well. Many CC creams come with sunblock which makes them ideal if you’re short on time.

The benefit of using coverage cream over a primer, concealer, and foundation combination is that you are using only 1 product instead of 3.  This means your skin will feel less heavy and not cakey. However, a CC cream will have lower coverage than your concealer and foundation.

Primer or CC Cream: Which One First?

If you have a lot of unevenness on your skin, you will need to use a primer first to smooth your skin and then apply a thin layer of CC cream on top for quick coverage.

CC creams can be used alone but there are advantages of using a primer first. Here’s why:

Skincare Benefits – Aside from smoothing your skin, many primers now have skincare benefits like hydration (water based primers), sunblock, and oil control (mattifying primer). These give you great flexibility to customize your makeup products to match your skincare needs. For example, if your CC cream doesn’t come with sunblock, you can apply a primer with SPF first.

Luminous Effect –  Depending on which primer you use, you may find that applying the primer is all you need to improve the look of your skin. Keep in mind that primers are much cheaper when compared with CC cream of the same volume. Therefore, if the primer is all you need, you can save some money too.

Color Correcting Primer Vs CC Cream

Color correcting primers and coverage creams both do a great job of “color correcting”. However, each of these products is designed for different purposes and which one you choose depends on your skin conditions.

Primers that are formulated to color correct usually come in green, yellow, or orange tones. Color correcting primers are designed to “neutralize” harsh blemishes like acne, intense dark circles, and dark bruises.

To understand how they work, you need to know some basics of color theory and the color wheel (below).


As shown in the color wheel above, colors like green, orange, and yellow are directly across from colors like red, purple, and blue. This means that when you mix the colors opposite to each other on the color wheel, they  “cancel” each other out and make each other lighter and less dominant.

For example, applying a green color correcting primer on red acne will lighten the redness of the acne. You can then apply foundation, concealer, or even a coverage cream on top of the primer without having to worry that the redness from the acne would bleed through.

To sum it up:

Choose a color correcting primer if you have harsh and dark blemishes that need to be made less dominant before applying coverage products like concealers, foundations, BB creams, or CC creams. 

Choose a coverage cream for minor skin blemishes that require medium to light coverage.

Can CC Cream Be Used as Primer?

No, a coverage cream (CC Cream) cannot be used as a primer because they serve different purposes. A primer helps to fill in your pores and provide your skin with a smooth texture, while a CC cream helps to cover and color correct minor imperfections on your skin.

If your skin is smooth in which pores and fine lines are not an issue, you may consider using a CC cream as base makeup to color correct minor blemishes and then apply foundation or concealer on top for harder to cover areas. However, this setup is only recommended as a “temporary fix” if you have no other options.

This is because CC creams are not designed to be used as base makeup and your foundation or concealer will have a hard time sticking to the CC cream.

CC creams are alternatives to foundations and concealers while primers are base makeup that works well with all other coverage products.

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