Do Primers Really work?


Do primers really work or is it just another useless product?

I get asked that question all the time and the answer is YES primers really work. They can make your makeup look so much better and last longer providing you have chosen the right type for your skin.

What does a primer do?

There are different types for different reasons but basically they help the foundation to go on smoother and to stay on for longer. Most are made of silicone which give the skin that lovely smooth, velvety finish. They act as a barrier between your skin and the foundation to ensure the foundation doesn’t get broken down by your skins natural oils or absorbed by your skin. Many primers have added skincare benefits too. I would always recommend using your serum and moisturiser as well as a primer because they are essentially makeup products, not skincare.

How can I tell if the primer is doing anything?

If you are still sceptical I suggest you ask your local beauty counter for a primer sample (choose the right one for your skin type). In the morning apply the primer to half your face only and observe the difference through out the day.

There are so many primers on the market which one is right for me? I am not paid by any brands to recommend products so the ones listed are just ones tried and tested by me in my kit.

Normal Skin I suggest Hourglass Veil Primer, it is a favourite with many celebrity makeup artists as it calms down redness, makes the skin silky soft, contains SPF that doesn’t photograph white and keeps that makeup on all day. According to Madonna’s makeup artist it is the only thing that kept Madonna’s foundation on when she was jumping around on stage. Smashbox Photo Finish and Laura Mercier Original Primer are my other favourites. Models Prefer at Priceline also make a nice primer if you don’t want to spend too much money on your first one (I haven’t tested this personally but it has been recommended by a colleague).

Oily Skin you need to choose a mattifying primer. I like to use Lancome La Base Pro or Smashbox Photo Finish Light. For a really oily skin I suggest using Smashbox Anti Shine in the really oily areas underneath your normal primer. I swear it is the only primer that completely stops my shine (need to order online as it is not available in Australia).

Prone to breakouts (not including the once a month hormonal breakout on your skin/jawline)  you also need a mattifying primer and I recommend you choose one that doesn’t contain oil or silicone. I like By Terry Hyaluronic Hydra Prime or Smashbox Photo Finish Light.

Dry Skin you need a hydrating or illuminating primer. My recommendation is the Laura Mercier Hydrating primer for a dry skin or Hourglass Number 28 primer if you are really dry and flaky as it is a blend of essential oils that will hydrate you all the time. For a dry skin I also like to mix an illuminator into the foundation.

Red/flushed skin you need a primer that reduces redness. My recommendation is the Smashbox Green Photo Finish Primer.

Can I use my foundation primer on my eyes and lips?

No, they won’t work as well. It is always best to buy the specific product for the specific area, as a face primer won’t keep your eyeshadow on or your lipstick on.

Eye primers are a fantastic product to stop your eye makeup from creasing. My must have eyelid primer is Too Faced Shadow Insurance. Go for a jog, dance all night long, it doesn’t matter with this eye primer your makeup is not going anywhere.

Under eye primers are a great way to help keep your eye concealer on for longer, stop it from going cakey and it will make the skin under your eyes look smoother. I love Smashbox Hydrating Under Eye Primer.

Lip primers are great if your lipstick comes off easily even when you wear a lip liner underneath it. They also stop your lipstick from bleeding. I like Too Faced Lip Insurance. Be warned they can make your lips feel matte/dry.

What Primer do I personally use?

On myself I use By Terry Hyaluronic Hydra Primer as I am oily and dehydrated. It is my all time favourite primer. It isn’t for everyone though because it has a matte finish. Silicone primers tend to make me break out so that is why I personally avoid them. I also use Bare Minerals Veil Powder under my foundation to absorb my T-Zone oil.

As a makeup artist do I use primers in my kit?

As a makeup artist I would never apply foundation without using a primer first because I know the skin won’t look and feel as good and the makeup won’t last as long. I believe my use of under eye, eyelid, lip and foundation primers is why my makeups look as good as they do and why my clients comment that their makeup lasts so well. I have about 10 different types of foundation primers in my kit so that I always have the right one for my clients, sometimes I will use different ones in different areas of the face. Yes I am pedantic but on the plus side my clients always look great!