Hi Everyone. I’ve realized in the last few weeks that my posts tend to fall into the same pattern every week. Yes, I am a creature of habit. Remember how I ate tomato soup for lunch 28 days straight? Anyways, knowing what to expect can be great, but it’s also good to branch out. So, I’m thinking I may start doing a little 101 series. I.e. breaking down a certain product (& of course discussing my favorites). I’ll kick off the series today with Primers 101!
What are primers exactly?
Well, as the very functional name implies, primer’s are meant to be applied before foundation. Like a paint primer, they essentially create an even surface for the foundation to adhere to. Depending on the type of primer you apply, they can also color correct, smooth, mattify or even luminize.
Are primers necessary?
It depends. I personally don’t use a primer on a daily basis. I tend to use them when going out with friends or for special events. Because primers can definitely enhance the look and longevity of your makeup, some people use them every single time they use foundation. I like to think of primers kinda like a setting or finishing powder. You don’t absolutely need them, but they can certainly help.
Different Types of Primers
If I really wanted, I could probably come up with 8-10 different types of primers. But, for the sake of keeping this simple, I’m focusing on the four most popular & widely available primers.
1. Hydrating Primers
Primarily marketed for those with dry skin, hydrating primers are well… for hydrating. They tend to have a consistency closest to a light moisturizer. For this reason, I find these to be the least helpful/life-changing type. I feel like using a hydrating primer is the same as just using your favorite moisturizer. Generally, I don’t find that hydrating primers have anything extra or special that a moisturizer wouldn’t have.
Plus, they are probably marked up just because it’s a “primer” versus a face lotion.
I’ve used my fair share of hydrating primers either in lieu of my regular moisturizer, or if my skin is feeling extra dry and I need a little something extra.
My Pick: Too Faced Hangover Primer – $32
This primer feels so good on the skin! it’s extremely light weight yet really hydrating. Plus it smells like coconuts. Also, the packaing is A+ (comes in a tube with a pump)
2. Mattifying Primers
And in the other end of the spectrum of hydrating primers are mattifying primers. These babies are marketed primarily for those with oily skin & claim to keep your face shine free.
They act similarly to moisturizers labeled as oil control or shine control. Usually they contain ingredients such as salicylic acid, willow bark, aloe, licorice root extract, etc.
People with very oily skin really love these since they stop foundation from breaking up or sliding around your face from your skin’s natural oils. However, if you have dry or combination skin, these could dry your face out.
My Pick: none.. I don’t really use a lot of mattifying primers since I have combination skin. I usually just apply a little extra powder on the areas that tend to get oily throughout the day. I have a couple of these primers on hand but I don’t love them enough to declare them my picks.
3. Illuminating Primers
Illuminating or luminizing (is this a real word?) primers have been all the hype the last couple of years. The dewy (not shiny) look is in and this type of primer will help you achieve that look.
Most illuminating primers I’ve tried leave your skin with a pearlized sheen. Like a very subtle shimmer. Once you apply foundation on top it leaves a nice dewy/glowy finish.
I love the look of luminizing primers, BUT (and this is a big but) it’s pointless to use them if you are going to use a matte finish foundation or if you will apply powder on top. A matte foundation or powder will just cover any glow or luminosity from the primer.
Bottom line, if you are oily and will need to use powder – skip the illuminating primer. It will be a waste. It’s like buying a dewy finish foundation and just covering the dew with powder.
Since I have combo skin, I tend to use illuminating primers on the perimeter of my face & a smoothing primer around my T-zone.
My Pick: Cover Fx Illuminating Primer – $38
This particular primer leaves a nice pearlized finish without being overwhelming or glittery. It’s not drying or oily and it doesn’t break me out.
4. Smoothing Primers
I’ve left the best for last. This is my FAVORITE type of primer.
Smoothing primers help fill pores, minimize the look of fine lines and overall leave an airbrushed look to the skin. Unlike all the primers discussed above, the texture of smoothing primers tends to be thicker & more silicone-y.
I have pores galore around my nose & nothing takes care of that better than smoothing primers.
Also, because of the texture & ingredients in smoothing primers (namely silicone) they usually help foundation go on smoother and stay put longer.
My Pick: Make Up For Ever Step 1 Smoothing Primer – $37
It was hard to pick just one favorite in this particular category. However, the Make Up For Ever Step 1 Smoothing Primer is by far my most used primer. First and foremost, it gives the most poreless look out of any primer I have. Second, the texture is the lightest out of all my smoothing primers which I great because it doesn’t feel heavy. And lastly, I really think it helps my makeup last longer. What else do it need?
Other Random Thoughts on Primer
+ I’m sorry I only picked expensive ones. Unfortunately, I haven’t had the best of luck with drugstore primers. However, for primer in general, you only need the smallest amount. As in, a pea sized amount is more than enough. I’ve had my Make Up For Ever primer for about a year now and it’s still more than half full. For me, the $37 are worth it.
+ You don’t have to use just one type of primer. I tend to use a smoothing primer in my T-zone and an illuminating primer everywhere else.
+ Sephora always has the mini sized primers either as point perks or as promotions for purchases over $35. Make sure you create a free beauty insider account & sign up for emails so you can keep an eye out for the mini versions.
Alright, there you have it! My primer 101 breakdown.
Hope you have a great weekend!