Choosing a primer

A lot of people ask me “what’s a primer?”, “do I need a primer?” Or “what’s the best primer?”

There is no such thing as “the best” for any makeup product. I am not brand specific with my own work because different products work well with different skin, what suits my skin tone and type may not suit your needs.

I can, however, give you a guide on what a primer is and how to choose one.

Primer is a product applied to the face before makeup application. It usually has no properties that improve the condition of your skin, though it will act as a barrier to make your skin hold moisture from your moisturiser, smooth out uneven skin tone and prevent makeup from being absorbed into the skin, meaning you use less product and it will last much longer. Some primers also have colour correcting properties or make your makeup waterproof. Whether you need one depends on how much makeup you wear, the purpose of applying it (everyday looks may not require the same amount of preventative measures as night looks or photographic makeup) and your budget.

So what type works better for my skin? Well there are a few kinds or consistencies of primer. For very dry skin or mature skin that needs a little tlc, a more “wet” primer such as NARS pore refining primer or napoleon perdis autopilot are great for stopping your makeup from being absorbed into the skin (which will dry it more!), giving a more dewy finish and leaving your face feeling and looking soft.

Oilier skin types or skin with an uneven texture due to scarring, blemishes or deep set lines benefits more from a thicker, oil free primer with lots of silicone. It washes straight off with makeup remover, so it’s not the dirty word it is in the world of hair care. A thicker, more matte primer will leave a velvet like finish on your skin. It stops product entering your pores, has an extremely smoothing effect and this disguises any texture on the skin as well as providing a barrier from oil to keep your makeup looking fresh, not shiny, without an overly matte finish.

Combination skin or those who need some colour correction would benefit from a consistency somewhere in the middle of these too. Your skin will feel lovely and soft, look fresh without shine and you can get some great primers which will even out skin tone.

My picks of the primer world:

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NARS pore refining primer.
It has a luxuriously soothing feel and keeps dry skin from looking dull. It can be a little pricey, but a little goes a long way. Definitely an investment for drier skin types or those desiring a dewy finish.

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Napoleon perdis auto pilot primer.
Another moisturising primer for dryer skin, this primer is award winning with good reason. A little less expensive than the NARS option but by no means lesser in quality. Many women swear by the auto pilot range.

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Too faced primed and poreless “pure” primer.
This is my current primer of choice as I have extremely sensitive skin. It shields your skin from pollution, gives a flawless finish to makeup and still gives off a glowing finish to makeup without allowing oil to ruin your hard work. It also has an intense smoothing effect on blemishes or lines and feels lovely and rich against your skin.

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Stila one step correct primer.
This is a cult product worldwide. This hardworking primer not only has a semi matte finish, but also corrects the skin tone in three different ways. Perfect for those with combination skin types, making your makeup last that little bit longer or those with a lot of redness in their cheeks or skin that seems to look a little dull after makeup application.

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Smashbox photo finish primer.
My old favourite, this is a product I go to when applying makeup on various clients. There is a formula to suit every kind of colour correction you could think of, plus the original formula for those who just seek a natural glow in every look. The redness correcting version (which looks green in the bottle but comes out clear) is my saviour in winter time or if I have blemishes because it disguises them under the foundation so well that I barely need to conceal. It’s more moderately priced than the stila formula and it lasts ages, definitely a great investment.

I hope this has been a useful guide, let me know what you think.

Do you have a favourite primer not listed here or want me to review a product for you? email me .

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4 thoughts on “Choosing a primer”

  1. Have you tried Laura Mercier or Shu Uemura’s primers? I’m currently using MAC for my clients but it doesn’t help much in controlling oil, especially since Singapore is so humid. =\

    1. I’ve not yet tried the Laura mercier primer and the shy uemura primer is hard to find in australia, but an educated guess would be that the shy uemura products would suit your climate more as they are made for a south East Asian market where there is more humidity. Let me know what it’s like if you give it a try!

  2. Hello! I haven’t tried this yet but I heard the Benefit Pore Professional was a good one too and now thanks to your post, I also want to try the Too faced primed and poreless pure. Thanks for the info! 🙂

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