A few years ago, when my skin was very oily and acne-prone, an oil-controlling primer was my best friend. I used one all over my face before foundation just about everyday, and even then, I'd have to blot every other hour or so. Fast forward a few years, and with age, my skin has calmed down a bit. My t-zone still gets quite shiny, but the rest of my face often tiptoes the line between normal and a bit dry and dehydrated, depending on the season and the other skincare products I'm currently using. In order to accommodate my current combination skin type, rather than my previous oily one, I've grown quite fond of what I call 'mix and match priming.'
For my t-zone, my face primer of choice is the Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer ($36). I really liked the Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer ($52) as well, but the Smashbox has more oil-control for me. It's a silicone-based primer that diminishes the look of pores and smooths over the skin's surface in addition to managing oil production throughout the day and increasing the wear time of whichever foundation I pair with it.
When the rest of my face is feeling normal and balanced, I don't apply any additional primer. When it's feeling a bit dry, either due to a change in the weather or the addition of a new skincare product (for example, when I first started using a retinol cream), the Too Faced Hangover Replenishing Face Primer ($32) is a fantastic hydrating, yet lightweight, primer option. It sinks in quickly and helps create a healthy and supple base. I was afraid a hydrating primer would be too heavy for my skin, perhaps even decreasing the wear time of my foundation or causing clogged pores or breakouts, but that wasn't the case at all. This is a great one if you have issues with foundation clinging on to dry patches or dry skin that makes foundation go on patchy and difficult to blend. The light and fresh coconut scent is just the cherry on top.
I don't use a primer everyday, but if I need my makeup to last longer than a normal working day (happy hour, anyone?), or if I think either my skin or foundation could benefit from some oil-control or an extra dose of hydration, I know I can always rely on these two.