DIY Natural Makeup Primer


Whether you like the “au natural” airbrushed look, need a makeup primer, or are trying to tone down oily skin, here is your answer.  You can easily create your own natural makeup primer.  Now you will have the perfect base to begin applying your makeup and have semi-matte beautiful skin.

What you will need:

Aloe Vera or Face Lotion

Kaolin/White Cosmetic Clay or Rhassoul Clay

Arrowroot Powder

Mineral Makeup (optional)


Clay is used in this recipe for its healing mineral content, and its anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties.  Both clay and arrowroot powder absorb excess oil and produce a matte finish.

Mix 1/4 teaspoon of clay and 1/4 teaspoon of arrowroot powder in a small bowl with a spoon.  Next mix 2-3 teaspoons of aloe vera or face lotion with the clay and arrowroot powder thoroughly.  Apply a thin layer with a foundation brush for an even application.  Store whatever you haven’t used in a clean container for later.  Allow the primer to set for a few minutes before applying your makeup.  You can always add a bit of mineral makeup for an natural tint.  Also if using aloe vera for this recipe, please refrigerate to extend the shelf life as there are no preservatives and use within 1-2 weeks.

If you’re not big on DIY, Vapour Organic Beauty Stratus Instant Skin Perfector is my favorite organic BB cream.  Read more about it here.

(Image by D Sharon Pruitt)

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  1. LM says

    You have so many great recipes. Can’t wait to try this one. So far the fragrance body oil is my absolute favorite. Thank you!

  2. Rebecca says

    Can’t wait to try this – I don’t wear much makeup – just powder – but I love primer for some reason. I am thinking this is going to have a similar texture to the smashbox primer? I have been searching everywhere for a natural recipe for this – Thank you!

  3. Dawn Michelle says

    Hi Rebecca,

    The DIY Natural Makeup Primer is going to be different from the Smashbox Primer because it does not contain dimethicone as well as other ingredients I’m not crazy about. Dimethicone is a silicone “wax” that gives products its slip and “conditioning” properties. It is also toxic. Read here to learn more.

    The DIY Natural Makeup Primer just gives your skin a matte finish with simple natural ingredients. You only need to use a little. I found that it is overall easier to mix the powder ingredients with aloe vera than with Burt’s Bees Radiance Lotion even though I love the finish. Once applied I take a clean powder brush and brush off any extra bits that I may not have mixed in thoroughly by hand. I like to use this DIY primer as an eye shadow base as well.

    Let me know how this works for you and best wishes,
    Dawn Michelle

  4. Rebecca says

    Yes, I am excited to try it – I have been mixing up my own beauty products here and there. I will try this aloe recipe, I think I will like it and it that “slick” feeling is definitely worth giving up in order to drop the chemicals. I also was trying to think up a recipe for a bees wax based primer – like Benefit Dr. Feel Good. My only attempt did not work, but I am thinking that the silk powder, bees wax, and maybe some aloe all mixed together with some heat? Maybe a bit of coconut oil to help the blending… I am a big fan of coconut oil and use it as a face cleanser and just a tiny bit in the morning as a moisturizer under my primer.

    Thanks for you blog and your tips.

  5. Dawn Michelle says

    Hi Rebecca,
    Coconut oil is so good! I’d love to hear how your blend turns out. Please keep me posted and Happy Thanksgiving!
    Dawn Michelle

  6. Joelle says

    I’ve been searching for an all natural makeup primer for a while. The only one I found to buy was $22.99 for 2 ounces. It worked really well, but I was searching for something cheaper. I love this! I use it before my mineral makeup (Everyday Minerals foundation and blush, and Meow Cosmetics finishing/setting powder). It’s definitely cheaper than buying my previous primer! I used Tropical Traditions Unscented Moisturizing lotion, Rhassoul clay and bamboo silk powder.

  7. Dawn Michelle says

    Hi Joelle,
    It’s amazing to hear that this worked so well for you and to know what you used. I’ve seen the Tropical Traditions Brand before but never tried it. I’ll keep it in mind for future.
    Best Wishes,
    Dawn Michelle

  8. Marion E. Becker says

    Cosmetic Grade Dimethicone is not toxic…LOL. I am a Chemist have an MS and 17+ years experience in the field. I also make all my own cosmetics and have my own line; which, my entire family uses. I make a kick-ass primer made of Dimethicone-Cyclomethicone-Micro Silica Spheres. I am not ill. I do not have a death wish. I can read and interpret an MSDS sheet. I am not being poisoned. LOL, forgive my amusement, but your information concerning dimethicone is seriously incorrect.

    If you are afraid of dimethicone, then I suggest you never buy a bar of commercial soap or shampoo again. BY LAW-only the first 5 major ingredients used in any cosmectic formulation must be printed on the label!!!! SURPRISE…I list all of mine as I know these formulations are exempt from patent infringement. They would have to reverse engineer my products to figure it out. Takes a lot of instrumental analysis to do that. I always get a kick out of people who list a cosmetic formulation “PATENT PENDING.” It is a lie. You can have trademark infringement-not patent infringement.

    I see so many statements like this regarding cosmetic ingredients that are just false. There is nothing wrong with magnesium oxychloride either. Where this extremely false 411 originates form…well the sources need to back up what they say with hard core statistical data. I do not see any of that ever on these sites that are always throwing up red flags without having the credentials and siting the research to back it up. Such bad , bad, really bad chemistry . It is appalling.

    I like the silicone primers because they are anhydrous-do not have to use a preservative-;last forever and have great slip. There is nothing wrong with these silicones and they have carbon branched groups attached to them…Too much chemistry to try and explain it here.

    I tried this formulation and it is kind of nice..made a few adjustments..I still prefer my water-silicone based primers (way better than Olay’s Regenerist Regenerist Serum-which acts the same way). Just personal preference.

  9. Dawn Michelle says

    Hello Marion,

    Thank you for the wealth of information and I’m glad that you thought my formulation was kind of nice. The only reason that dimethicone is on my list of chemicals to avoid is that it is also on the list of chemicals to avoid from one of my favorite and trusted skin care brands Suki. Dimethicone also coats skin and hair and doesn’t allow moisture to penetrate the skin or hair once applied therefore can create skin irritation and dryness and also dry brittle hair if used in hair care.

    When I looked up dimethicone on the Cosmetic Database, dimethicone was rated a 3 in toxicity, yet bis-phenoproply dimethicone, amodimenthicone, cetyl dimethicone, trimethylsiloxyphenyl dimethicone, diphenyl dimethicone and a few others were rated a 0 in toxicity. You may have a point with this ingredient in terms of toxicity, yet if you are chemically sensitive like myself the rating is only a fraction of the issue. Most silicone based skin and hair products heavily coat the skin and hair causing dehydration which is not a plus for me. I never liked silicone based primers as foundation would slip too much versus apply to the skin correctly, made my skin itch, and when used in hair care made my hair feel a bit gross.

    If you are comfortable with silicone as an ingredient in products it is always your choice. My primer recipe is to give a chemical-free option to be worn alone or under makeup for a matte finish. Again thank you for your thorough comment and all of the information.

    Have a beautiful day,
    Dawn Michelle

  10. Jen says

    You are an answer to prayers!! I am just starting to rethink my skin and hair care routines and becoming more natural, etc. Could you use silica microspheres instead of the silk powder? What’s the difference? Like I said, I’m just a beginner :)

    Thanks so much for all your help!

  11. Dawn Michelle says

    Hi Jen, I’ve never used silica before I any of my formulations, yet it is known to be great oil absorber. I may look into it further later on. Glad you are looking towards a more natural route for skin and hair care. So good! Best, Dawn Michelle

  12. says

    Any suggestions for a “not so matte” finish? I am African American and have really dry skin. I find that a matte finish always makes my face look a dryer and “ashy.” Can I leave out or substitute one or more of these ingredients and still achieve the “less shine” look?

  13. Dawn Michelle says

    Hi Daisha,
    From what you said it sounds like if you have dry skin that is “shiny” it could be imbalanced from harsh cleansers or moisturizers that are not moisturizing enough. I’m not sure what you are using for skin care but that is the first thing that comes to mind. If you have an oily T zone you may want to use the primer for only those areas. You could also put on a moisturizer underneath the primer. I hope that this is helpful in some way. Best wishes!

  14. Melissa says

    Thank you so much for posting this recipe. This may be a silly question but do you know what the “shelf life” on this primer is? Does it go bad at all? I didn’t use mine for a few weeks and it seems to have gotten really strong smelling.

  15. Dawn Michelle says

    Hi Melissa,

    If the smell changes it has definitely gone bad. If you used aloe vera versus a face lotion for this recipe it will also need to be refrigerated. I just put a note in the article.

    Whenever creating a recipe with aloe or water if there aren’t preservatives added, the product will need to be refrigerated. In some of my earlier articles I did not originally state that. I personally don’t want to put chemical preservatives in my products, yet essential oils such as rosemary, tea tree, and lavender, rosemary antioxidant extract, and vitamin E oil will all extend the life of your DIY products. How did your primer turn out otherwise?

  16. Melissa says

    Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my question. The primer turned out great otherwise. I will be sure to refrigerate it when I make it again. I also use your aloe vera juice based moisturizer with lavender essential oil. That one should be shelf stable due to the EO right? I absolutely love your blog. It is a gold mine! :)

  17. Dawn Michelle says

    Hi Melissa, Essential oils will extend the life of DIY products, yet are still not long term broad spectrum preservatives. I would even freeze large portions of DIY products and keep a small amount in the refrigerator or even take less than an ounce of the product in my bag when I go out. These are just precautions to take. Making sure that your make you products in a very clean environment and store in sterilized containers are also important. So glad you are enjoying the blog!

  18. says

    Dawn Michelle,
    I am curious, does this primer work well with DIY liquid foundation? Or does it work better with a mineral powder? Or have you had no problems with either?

  19. BrownCurls says

    OMG you really have covered all the bases! I am learning so much through your website. I had never used any primer until a month ago, someone told me about the new all natural ones that are coming out, so I bought one, and I really like the feeling! I have large pores and not super oily skin but definitely get some sheen on the t zone. The primer really helps with that. Thing is, this stuff is $20+ for just 1oz! So yesterday I googled homemade primers and came up with a whole bunch of things people are trying like pure clay or clay mixed with rice powder etc. I KNOW this stuff will be too drying on my skin. So then I google, “Minimalist Beauty primer” Tada! you got it covered! thank you! I will definitely give this a try. I love that you use aloe, and I appreciate you got the ratios figured out. Can’t wait to see if it works for me.

    By the way I found Mountain Rose Herbs through you as well, and I wanted to let you know about another place I found that also supplies raw materials as well as finished products and their site has a lot of useful info as well. I ordered a serum from them and I am pretty happy with it. They also sell optiphen and germal liquid as natural preservatives if you wish to use them.

  20. Dawn Michelle says

    Hi BrownCurls, Let me know how the primer works out for you. Also optiphen and germall aren’t really natural preservatives. Optiphen is a combination of phenoxyethanol and caprylyl glycol. Germall is propylene glycol, diazolidinyl urea, and iodopropynyl butylcarbamate. Preservatives are complicated, but most that are in our cosmetics aren’t good for our health.

  21. Kendle says

    Can you use this for eyeshadow primer? Been wearing make-up recently but it all falls off and only stays in my crease, looking weird, so I’m looking for a natural DIY recipe for primer.

  22. Dawn Michelle says

    Hi Kendle,

    Yes you can use this primer as an eye primer. You can also try using a light dusting of a DIY setting powder before using your eye shadow to help as well with a mix of arrowroot and clay. In general if you have oily skin or simply oily eyelids you want to make sure that your skin cleanser is not over drying your skin causing it to overproduce its natural oils. Oily skin can also be dehydrated skin. I have combination skin and when I switched over to gentle skin cleansers my skin started to slowly balance itself.

    Hope this helps <3

  23. Maggie says

    I’m wondering if you know of any local shops that carry the clay that you mentioned above?
    FYI I’m based it off Los Angeles as well.

  24. Dawn Michelle says

    Hi Maggi,
    The only clay that I’ve purchased locally is bentonite clay from Whole Foods. Otherwise I order other clays from Mountain Rose Herbs.
    Dawn Michelle

  25. Dawn Michelle says

    Hi Sarah,
    I’ve never worked with tapioca starch so I wouldn’t be able to really tell you. If it is a soft fluffy powder I’m sure it could work though.
    Have a beautiful day!

  26. Reeba says

    Hi, Dawn!

    If I only wanted to use your primer recipe (and not use mineral makeup), could I add raw cacao powder to the blend?

  27. Dawn Michelle says

    Hi Reeba,
    If you are looking for coverage for the primer, you would be better adding mineral pigments. Raw cacao works well as a dry tinted dusting powder with arrowroot powder or another translucent base powder such as rice powder. Once you wet raw cacao you are dealing with an entirely different shade and consistency.
    Hope this helps.

  28. Kat says

    Hey Dawn,

    I was just wondering if it would be ok to put carrier/essential oils into the primer blend? Perhaps camellia, tea tree oil and carrot seed oil. My skin is fairly well behaved (not much hyperpigmentation) so I’m aiming for something to create a natural, dewy complextion for the day without the need for makeup. I’ve also noticed that after working out the skin around my jaw, chin and lips can start to sting so I want to create a product thats rather hydrating.

    Thanks sooo much for your time! One day I’ll think of a way to give back to you all the help you’ve given us from this website!

    Much love,

  29. Dawn Michelle says

    Hi Kat,

    Thanks for your comment! You could try the original recipe and start by adding a teaspoon or less of a carrier oil (depending on your skin type) and a few drops of an essential oil to the recipe. Please take note that any recipe that you make that is water/aloe vera juice based without a preservative needs to be refrigerated and has a somewhat short shelf life depending upon how clean your preparation and environment is.

    Most of my recipes come from trial and error and a lot of testing while also taking notes. Definitely write down the exact proportions of your ingredients so that you can have a better idea what you’d like to change with your next batch etc. Think of all of these recipes as a foundation to be creative and make them your own.
    Best wishes!

  30. JazzyMay says

    If I use face lotion and add mineral makeup will it sink into my skin? Cause I’ve heard that adding mineral powder to your lotion and mixing it will cause the mineral to skin in the with the lotion and it won’t be good for your skin especially if you’re acne prone.

  31. Dawn Michelle says

    Hi JazzyMay, If you are making the primer as is you don’t need to add mineral pigments, only the clay and arrowroot powder. The mineral pigments can be added to create a tinted primer and are optional.

  32. Dawn Michelle says

    Hi JazzyMay,
    When I made this I preferred using aloe vera yet also used Burt’s Bees Radiance Lotion. Another reader said she had great success using Tropical Traditions Unscented Moisturizing Lotion with this recipe although I have not tried it myself. Hope this helps and have a beautiful day!

  33. Dawn Michelle says

    Hi Sherry D,
    I used aloe gel for this recipe. Let me know how it works for you and enjoy your day!

  34. Kyarameru says

    Hello! I’d just like to ask a couple of questions before trying. :)

    I have very oily skin and I also want to use this as an eyelid ( which is hooded and oily as well ) primer.

    1. Do you recommend Kaolin/White Cosmetic Clay or Rhassoul Clay more? And why? Like what’s the use and difference?

    2. If I want the finished product without liquid foundation, ( because I want it to look exactly the same as my skin because I’ve been trying not to use any foundation or powders ), is it going to dry white on my skin? Or will it dry clear?

    3. You said “have semi-matte beautiful skin” but what if I want it to be more matte? What should I do?

    4. How many hours does it usually take for the oil from the face to appear after wearing this?

    I would really appreciate your response! Thanks. 😀

  35. Dawn Michelle says

    Hi Kyarameru,
    You can use white clay or rhassoul clay for this recipe. I choice rhassoul since that is the clay. I usually have on hand. As for semi-matte, matte, etc. it really depends upon where you are starting from. Everyone is different. One of the best ways to reduce oil production is to stop stripping the skin of its natural oils in the first place with harsh facial cleansers and scrubs. You can read more on that here. Another thing that helps is oil cleansing and applying small amounts of oil to the skin to moisture it. If you are acne prone then choosing the best oils suited for your skin that are listed in this article is very helpful. It was life changing for me. Hope this helps!

  36. Yary says

    I’m stoked about this primer. Cant wait to try it. I have suffered with cystic acne for many years and finally it seems to be under control. I still have extremely oily skin so i’m hoping your primer helps with my problem. One question though, and I apologize if it has been covered already but, I was wondering if this primer would help minimize the scars left by the acne. Thank you so much :) your blog rocks.

  37. Dawn Michelle says

    Hi Yary,

    I’m going to share some article links with you which you may find helpful. The first is has to do with oils for acne prone skin. The information in this article really changed things completely for my skin. You can also see all that I did to clear my acne and acne scars here.

    One reason skin is excessively oily is because it is possibly being stripped by harsh cleansers, scrubs, etc. I share some very inexpensive gentle facial cleansers in this article, but oil cleansing has been the BEST for me yet with the right oils. Lastly this DIY primer is simply a chemical free formula to create a semi matte complexion. I hope this helps and thanks for the compliment about the site!

    Best wishes!

  38. Dawn Michelle says

    Hi Lisa,
    This primer’s main function is for an all natural makeup base and to give the skin a matte finish. I haven’t experienced any tightening effects from it though. Have a beautiful day and let me know your thoughts if you do try it!

  39. Kristin says

    Could I substitute bentonite clay for the kinds you list here? I’ve only started making a few DIY natural beauty products so I’m trying to keep from but in extra ingredients if I don’t have to. Thanks in advance!

  40. Kitty says

    Hey Dawn,

    Would this work to fill in medium pitted acne scars? (They’re a mis of rolling, pitted and boxcar).

    Thanks! This website has really helped me go back to basics.


  41. Dawn Michelle says

    Hi Kristen,
    You can definitely try using bentonite clay for this recipe. Bentonite clay has incredible oil absorbing properties yet it is still a different clay. I always think it’s best to use what you have first though! <3

  42. Dawn Michelle says

    Hi Kitty,
    This primer is great for helping makeup to last longer and to give skin a matte finish. Sometimes it helps to try things to see if it works for you. I found it the most helpful to focus on healing my skin from the inside out through nutrition, healthy digestion, and super simple almost non-existent skin care. I hope this helps some.

  43. Christine Frances says

    Hi Dawn Michelle!
    Question: If I wanted to extent the shelf life of the primer using this recipe what EO would be best for my skin type? I have oily/combination skin. And how long do you think it would last?

    Thanks for the info! :)

  44. Dawn Michelle says

    Hi Christine Frances,
    I personally don’t use chemical preservatives in my products, yet essential oils such as rosemary, tea tree, and lavender as well as rosemary antioxidant extract, and vitamin E oil will all extend the life of your DIY products. With all water/aloe based DIY products created without a preservative systems should be refrigerated and used up within a week to be safe. Make small batches. The preservation process is very complicated and needs lab testing otherwise to ensure there is no bacteria growth. Using clean sanitized containers and tools when making products is important too. I hope this helps!

  45. Ashlynn says

    Hi Dawn!

    I made this primer last night and absolutely love it so far! I noticed that a lot of natural primers have silicone still and I really don’t want that, or the price of those that do not contain silicone, so I came to your site to see if you might have a recipe.. and you do! Thank you for sharing this. I love to make all my own cosmetics (except mascara, organic wear Physician’s formula) and love how they have turned out and serve as skin care too. For this recipe, I used Arrowroot, aloe gel, few drops of hemp seed oil, silica instead of clay (it clumps and rolls off my face), and serecite mica for a soft focus/blurred look. I used the same measurements for each of the three powders and just used 3 tsp of aloe. I do not have reactions to silica or mica and I love how it feels, however, I think I may also try rice powder soon instead for a more natural primer. I use Lysine coated serecite (in foundation) and since I made that switch from regular serecite, I stopped getting clogged pores through the day and smoother skin. I blended the powders with a bit of green oxide in my coffee grinder, then added my aloe gel and hemp seed oil and it cancels any redness quite well! Thank you for the recipe inspiration and I look forward to seeing more skin care and cosmetic recipes and info =)

    Have a splendid day!

  46. Dawn Michelle says

    Hi Ashlynn,
    Your recipe sounds amazing! I am so glad that this one here helped you modify it to get exactly what you were looking to create. Thanks so much for sharing this and wishing you the very best!

  47. Nisha says


    Can I substitute bentonite clay for the Kaolin clay instead? I have combination skin, and I use a 80% organic face cream which leaves my skin looking a little oily, but keep my skin hydrated throughout the day. I only use a foundation powder on my face and maybe sometimes blush as daily makeup. The only problem I’ve ever had, is that my makeup melts away later in the day and I look tired and a bit shiny. I intend to make my own foundation powder, which also contains some bentonite clay in the recipe. If I use this recipe as primer, and then use my diy foundation powder on top of it, do u think it might be too dry or matte for my skin? I’d love to know your opinion. Thanks.

  48. Dawn Michelle says

    Hi Nisha,
    Bentonite clay is a bit heavier in texture than kaolin clay as well as more gray in color. I do think it’s good to use what you aready have although keep this in mind. Whether your skin will need a primer under your foundation really depends on each individual’s needs. Give it a try and tweak it to work best for you. Best wishes!