I was first introduced to the wonder that is a makeup primer about nine years ago when getting my makeup done for a photo shoot in my former life as a journo. I was already writing about beauty at the time but was not as
obsessed interested as I am now.
I was always curious though and when the makeup artist started the whole process with the application of a smooth gel, I was quick with the questions. What’s that? And what’s it going to do for me? Are you just re-moisturising my skin? Tell me more.
That smooth gel was Napoleon Perdis Auto Pilot Pre-Foundation Skin Primer. Back then it came in a white tube – a white tube I promptly bought and incorporated into my makeup routine. Now, it’s all flashy in a gold and black tube but it’s still the same fabulous product (one is sold every four minutes somewhere in the world). Last month marked 10 years since it was launched.
Napoleon’s catch cry “not to prime is a crime” became part of my makeup manifesto. I don’t use a primer everyday (mainly because now I work from home and don’t have a full-scale office “face” on when it’s just me, the computer and the school run) but I do always prime if I’m doing a full face that I know I need to go the makeup distance.
I’ve also tried and tested many primers since that first day and whenever I’m asked, “do you really need a makeup primer?”, my short answer is always yes.
With so many primers now available and each potentially offering something different (even Napoleon has expanded its range to now include six different priming products as well as a range of options in his diffusion range NP Set), it really is about trial and error and working out what works for you.
You’ll also find separate eye primers available (I do like Jane Iredale Lid Primer and Benefit Stay Don’t Stray) and I think these are highly beneficial if your eye makeup needs help staying put. I’m generally a little lazy-girl and just use the face primer around my eyes too. If you have any sensitivities in this area, only try this with care.
How a makeup primer works
1. It helps to keep your foundation in place. It’s the velcro that keeps your foundation attached to your face. The formulas of waxes and silicones create that bond – and a barrier – between your skin and makeup product.
2. It helps to create a smooth canvas for your makeup application. I find that this not only means that the overall finish of your foundation is better but that you do use slightly less product.
3. It can help to colour correct your skin. This is where primers have taken off in recent years. Want to correct redness? Look more radiant? Or look like you’ve been on holidays not just at your desk? There is a primer out there for you.
4. It helps to disguise and minimise pores and mattify oily skin. For some of us this isn’t an issue but for others after a more smooth canvas, a primer that works to fill in and smooth over your pores is worth seeking out. Try Becca Resurfacing Line + Pore Minimizing Primer or for mattifying, Australis Matte Out Mattifying Base.
5. It helps your skin look and feel more hydrated. You still wear a moisturiser (preferably with an SPF if it’s for daytime … see below for details on the Dermalogica primer with an SPF 30+) under your primer but most primers also contain hydrating properties to help keep you looking fresh all day.
10 primers I love
1. Napoleon Perdis Auto Pilot Radiance Boosting Primer $46.75: Love this for its luminising tint. Goes on beautifully smooth and perfect for a little boost if going out at night and not feeling or looking so fresh after a long day.
2. NP Set Pre-Foundation Bronzing Primer $35.10: This is great for me to have in my kit for when I’ve had a spray tan. I do get a light spray tan on my face so this helps with blending that colour with the rest of me.
3. Jane Iredale Smooth Affair Facial Primer and Brightener $61.20: Love the cooling gel-like texture – it really does provide a smooth canvas for whatever I pop on top.
4. Maybelline NY Dream Smooth Face Primer $15.95: This is a power pot of goodness, giving fabulous smoothing qualities at a budget price. Makeup doesn’t budge either.
5. L’Oreal Paris Lumi Magique Pure Light Primer $29.95: Looks white on application but blends to create a radiant glow you never knew you had.
6. Smashbox Photo Finish Colour Correcting Foundation Primer $21.95: The Smashbox range of primers is extensive – there is truly a primer for everyone’s skin concern. This one is great for me to use on any patches of redness.
7. Benefit Stay Flawless 15-Hour Primer $47: Unlike the others featured, this is a primer “stick”. It looks tinted but goes on clear and really does do the job it claims to – keeps your face in place for a very long time.
8. Dermalogica AGE smart skinperfect primer SPF 30 $65: Oh how I love the SPF 30 in this one. It gives me licence to skip the sunscreen step if I’ve got a day or afternoon out where I also want my makeup to stay put. Oh, and it addresses my skin’s mature-age needs. Love that.
9. Laura Mercier Foundation Primer $45: Now this primer has been around for 18 years so it’s the stuff of legends. You’ll also now find different variations of this product to suit your needs.
10. Bare Minerals Prime Time Foundation Primer $21.95: Love wearing mineral makeup? Then this is an ideal primer for popping on first to help keep loose mineral powder in place. You’ll also find different varieties to suit your skin type.
What about BB creams, you ask? Glad you did.
BB creams are not makeup primers – they can colour correct and hydrate but they don’t have the velcro properties I talk about above. I don’t generally wear a primer under my BB but you could if you wanted. When I’m wearing a BB cream I’m generally have a casual day and just wear it by itself or with a dusting of powder over the top.
Do you prime? Which primer works best for your skin? (When sharing your recommendation, can you please share your skin type, age bracket etc so it may help someone else with similar skin)
Hair, Beauty and Spa Directory
The Styling You Hair, Beauty and Spa Directory is up. You can check it out here. It’s been created by you – SY readers – so if you’re still to add in your fave hair salon, beauty therapist or spa then head over to this post and leave the details. We’re aware that some people tried to do this when the post was first published but it could be that your comment went to spam because of the links. Leave links out if your comment doesn’t show up. I’ll be drawing on this directory for inclusion in my book – the deadline for my manuscript is next Monday so get in quick if you’d like to be considered for inclusion.