Makeup Basics: Primer

Guides, How to Makeup

Makeup Basics: Primer

Part two of the Makeup Basics series.

Now that we’ve discussed foundation, let’s back up a little bit. I know, I know, it’s out of order, but I didn’t want you putting your primer on and then going “now what?”¬† It’s rude to just leave people hanging, don’t you think?


What is it?

Primer is a colorless or very lightly tinted product that you put on after your skincare routine and before your foundation.

Why might I want to use this stuff?

Primer can serve different purposes, depending on what issue you’re trying to solve. Does everyone need it? Not necessarily. But it can definitely help with certain things, such as-

  • Skin texture – primers, especially silicone-based ones, can help fill in uneven textures in the skin like fine lines and large pores. This makes your foundation appear more smooth.
  • Oily skin – some primers contain oil-absorbing ingredients like silica to help keep your skin from looking shiny as the day goes by. These are generally labeled as “mattifying” primers.
  • Dry skin – at the opposite end of the spectrum, you can get primers that have extra-moisturizing goodies like ceramides and hyaluronic acid. These are often labeled as “serums” or “anti-aging” primers.
  • Foundation wear and oxidization control – primers help create a barrier between your skin’s natural oils and your foundation. Since oils can contribute to oxidization and eventually cause your makeup to break down a bit, creating a barrier helps keep your foundation looking good longer.

How do I choose the right one for me?

The things you want to consider when choosing a primer are function and ingredients. Consider what issues you’re trying to solve (above) and select one that meets those needs. When looking at ingredients, you’ll obviously want to watch out for anything that you know your skin has a problem with. For example, I know that very heavy silicone-based primers have a tendency to clog my pores if I wear them every day. Conventional wisdom also says that in order to get the longest wear, your primer and foundation should have the same base ingredient (ie, water-based or silicone-based). That said, I’ve used primer & foundation combos that have different bases before and been perfectly happy with them.

My favorites

My biggest skin concern (aside from breakouts) is oil control, so that’s the main thing I look for in a primer. I do have some pretty visible pores around around my nose & cheeks, but they don’t bother me a lot – everybody’s got pores. My holy grail primer for everyday use is Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer, since it helps control oil without dehydrating my skin. I also use Benefit POREfessional occasionally to hide pores and acne scars if I’m going for a really flawless look.


You made it to the end! Feel free to comment below if you still have any unanswered questions.

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