Beauty road test: makeup primers

Beauty road test: makeup primers

B BeingcoolBeauty 33 Comments

Editor’s note: I’m heading to Sydney today to speak at the Digital Parents Conference. Helping me out over the next couple of the days are the first of some semi-regular freelance blogger contributions you’ll see here on Styling You. Because I’m commissioning these posts and these bloggers are helping me to keep my blog running while I’m away from regular duties, I’ll also be paying them for their contributions. Today, say hello to the beautiful B from B Being Cool.


Now, I am the kind of girl who wears makeup most days, doing the school run means I have to be out the door early and then on the hop most of the day. Even if it is just some BB cream and a light dusting of mineral makeup with some eyeliner, mascara and lippy (which takes all of five minutes) – I don’t often leave the house without makeup.

Over the years I have been dreaming of a product that helped to keep my makeup in place, so it didn’t smudge, didn’t need re-applying during the day and let me have the coverage I thought I had applied in the morning. I have combination/oily skin, so I found that my eye makeup would smudge off and my foundation would just vanish, I was frustrated.

I decided to try some new makeup and was given some free samples in a gift pack, which is always lovely, thank you very much. I was intrigued by the ‘ Airbrush Primer’. I tried it and immediately loved that my foundation was still in place in the middle of the day, and then still at school pick up time.

Having oily, acne prone skin, I am very dubious about trying new skin products. I have a very simple beauty routine that does not involve a lot of products as I am always worried about clogging and then trying to hide blemishes. I was so surprised to find that when I used a primer, I was getting less breakouts and my makeup was easier to wash off. Win!

According to an extremely helpful beautitan at a beauty counter, makeup primers were developed by the magazine industry as a way of speeding up photo editing time. They wanted their models to have make-up that lasted longer and provided a smoother finish, so that they did not have to do as much post-photo shoot (just arm and midriff slicing 😉 ). So Primers were developed. There is debate about who first developed primers. Was it Napolean Perdis, Smashbox or Max Factor? The argument can boil on for me, I am simply thrilled to have found a product that keeps my makeup in place without clogging my pores!

Here are the three makeup primers I have been road testing, all from different stores, all bought with my own money, all tested on my own face …

Primers Complete

1. Nude By Nature Undercover Airbrush Mineral Primer

Price Range: Mid (around $30)

Coverage: Good coverage, lasts for several hours.

Good Points: Made from 100% naturally sourced
ingredients, no parabens or other nasty things.

Bad Points: I found it ran out really quickly, I
found I had to use more to get good coverage.

Where to buy it: Myer, Priceline and some major
chemists. I have found more and more places stocking this brand.

Website: Nude By Nature

2. NPSet Pre-Foundation Pore Perfecting Primer

Price Range: Mid (around $30)

Coverage: Okay, I felt I had to use more of the
product than recommended to cover my face.

Good Points: Made by Napolean Perdis, a great way to
get some of his good work in a local department store! It certainly
had moisturising qualities, not totally suited to my skin, but would
be great for dryer skin. Really lovely soft texture.

Bad Points: Slightly oily feel, I had a little shine
by the end of the day (but, still a huge improvement from those non
primer days)

Where to buy it: Big W is the only place I have found
it in my big country town.

Website: npsetcosmetics

3. Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer

Price Range: High (around $55)

Coverage: Great. A little goes a long way.

Good Points: Non greasy, easily absorbed, the longest
staying power.

Bad Points: Umm…. Perhaps the price? But, I have
been using this tube for months with no sign of running out soon.

Where to buy it: I bought mine through Kit Cosmetics
in Myer in Brisbane City.

Website: Smashbox via Kit Cosmetics

So there you have it: three products, three major brands. I am loving the whole idea behind primers, love the added coverage, love the smoother appearance of my face, love the staying power of my make-up and love that they don’t actually clog up my skin, in fact, they seem to protect it.

Do you use a primer? Should I try any other brands?


B BBeingcoolI am B. I write over at I write about fashion, food, home and life. I am a mother of three, a teacher and I love life and love, love, love, writing about all manner of things. Last year, I wrote a post about ‘How To Wear Orange‘ for Styling You and I am very chuffed to be writing for Styling You again today!

Comments 33

  1. I bought a sample size of the Smashbox primer at Sephora in Hawaii and oh man, it has LASTED! I also love the Laura Mercier primer – I find that one is my favourite to use day after day.

  2. FM makes a gorgeous, long-lasting primer that is light and smooth on the skin. A tiny bit goes such a long way and it’s only $19.50! I love wearing and sharing my FM Cosmetics and Perfumes.

  3. Nikki, I’ve always loved the Laura Mercier foundation primer – it lasts forever, but I am now alternating with the Bobbi Brown illuminating face base SPF25 under my BB cream, and I love it. I’ll be picking up another tub of it next time I go thru duty free!

  4. I love the Youngblood primer. Beautiful silky texture and love the way it makes my makeup look more “polished”. Definitely worth a try 🙂

  5. Hi, I am using the Modelco primer at the moment, it is called Face Base Skin Primer. First time I have used a primer, so can’t compare to others. I bought it at David Jones in Perth, I think it was around the $30 – $40 mark. Am very happy with it, it definitely helps your makeup last and adds moisture. I love Modelco products!

    1. I haven’t come across that brand before.

      Glad you have found something that works. What did we do before primers when our make-up eeked off all day? *shudder*

  6. This is really helpful info B, thanks. I haven’t tried makeup primer at home, but have had it applied for special occasions. I love how it helps your makeup to last the day and into the night. I’m going to try the Smashbox – many thanks for the info about coverage, good/bad etc – really helpful!

    1. Thanks Kathryn! I do love sharing things I have learnt. When I bought my primer, I thought I would save it for special occasions, but, now I use it pretty much every day. I love the added confidence that my make-up won’t smudge off.

  7. Great reviews B. Thanks for sharing. I can recommend the Napoleon full price one – it is a bit pricey but works well. I have the Arbonne one – it is great but I find under different (ie other than Arbonne) foundation my skin becomes quite oily (my skin tends combination to oily though). However the Arbonne foundation is the best! And it lasts forever.

    1. I haven’t used a foundation for years! I have found that a good BB cream and mineral make-up gives me the level of coverage I like. I don’t use a concealer, so that will be the next thing I look into. I think there are some bags I would like to hide a bit more the *ahem* older I am getting.

      Thanks for sharing!

  8. Hi B,

    Thanks for the great article on these Primers ( I havent tried any of these brands before so it’s good to get some inside knowledge before you buy) but I do use Primers with my make up most days.

    My Favourite is Clarins Instant Smooth Perfecting Touch followed by Dermalogica AgeSmart Skin Perfecting Primer and Youngblood Mineral Primer. I have different ones for depending on how much makeup I am wearing and what the temperature is like as some of them run off really quickly in the humidity here in Queensland. The Clarins one is by far the best I have used and is great for when you need your makeup to look flawless and airbrushed. I have recommended this to so many of my friends and they also now swear by it. The Derm one has an SPF in it which is so important for your day to day makeup and wears really well under BB creams and the Youngblood one works great under your everyday mineral make up look for disguising all the little imperfections and tiny lines. Hope that has been of some help as well.

    1. WOW! This is great, thanks for sharing Jen! I am in Queensland too, so primers mean my make-up stays put longer.

      I love that the Dermalogica primer has SPF, that would save another step in the things I have to remember to put on my face in the right order in the mornings!

  9. Great info, I’ve never tried a primer before but sounds like what I need! Just wondering though, would you use it with BB cream or just with normal foundation? If its just with foundation, do you then use a different moisturiser rather than BB cream as a moisturiser? Thanks!

    1. I use it under a BB cream if I want it to last longer on my face. Mostly I’ll use it with normal foundation if I want my makeup to really go the distance. And in which case I’ve also used just a regular day moisturising sunscreen.

        1. I would go, sunscreen, primer, BB cream. I don’t use a moisturiser and find that the primer and BB cream offer me enough moisturising for my combination skin. (If you find a BB cream with a high enough SPF you could forego the sunscreen under the primer.)

  10. This is very timely for me I always use a primer and I am on my last bottle ,i know I like to have reserves of products so when I run out I have some more,the last primer I used was Chanel,given to me as a gift! I am currently using Bloom prep and prime primer it does the job,I am a bit more “ahem” mature than you ,but I also have a couple of samples to try a smashbox one, I love smashbox products very much 🙂 and a Dermalogica one ,but I think next on my list is the NP one because I do have dry skin,but I will see what the other ladies have to say as well,Thankyou for this post B.
    Nikki have fun in Sydney you are going to love the weather ATM crisp cool nights and mornings and beautiful sunny Autumn days hopefully this weather stays ,love it.

    1. You are welcome Lisa! I was happy to share my findings!

      Hmm… I am now about to google Bloom Prep – I will stay away from the Chanel one though – I am a sucker for Chanel but do not have the pocket money for it! *wink*

      1. I would not waste my money on the chanel one B,it doesn’t do anymore than the other ones,and I have just been in Priceline and was talking to the girl about Primers and came home with 2 very decent sized samples of Almay Correcting primer it is 3 colours gren,purple and clear and Revlon Photo Ready Primer,they do samples now if you ask! they just squirt it into a bottle for you to try and with my very sensitive skin that is a winner, I will let Nikki know what they are like.

  11. Hello B, great post! I use the Nude primer, not everyday, just on days where I need extra staying power…although I’m not sure if I would buy it again {the jury is still out}. I agree with you with regards to the amount needed to get the desired effect. The next on my ‘to try list’ is the Arbonne primer – it has very good reviews…and I’m a sucker for a good review 🙂

    1. Oh, great to hear of another product! I am always on the look out for products with good reviews.

      Glad I am not the only one to find that the Nude primer ran out quickly, I wondered if I was just using too much.

      I was only going to wear primer on those days I wanted that extra ‘staying power’ – but – I then became addicted to the fresh feel and look of my make-up!

  12. Thanks for your review. I love the NP primer- my skin is slightly dry, so I’ve never noticed it being oily. Although is the one from Big W different from the one sold at Napoleon Perdis store? Because I’m sure I pay more than this, and the packaging is different.

      1. Yes, the NP set is for the masses – I do love the word ‘Diffusion’! I have a friend who uses the Napolean Perdis Primer (not the diffusion line) – and she loves it! Might have to have a look into that too!

        1. Do you mean moi? It’s called Auto Pilot and it is fab.u.lous. About $45 from memory and it lasts for ages. I just buy it from DJs but you can probably get it online. I’m not a fan of the NP Set primer, which was a disappointment because it is cheaper. Great post, B!

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