Makeup Primers: Don’t Wear Foundation Without One!

Filed in Cosmetics

We are skeptics, we admit it. When the salesperson at the department store tries to sell us the full line of skin care because all the products somehow work “synergistically” together, and only together, we scoff in disbelief. When the anti-aging moisturizer label claims we will look 10 years younger in 4 weeks, we know it’s a bunch of marketing nonsense. So when the makeup artist at our favorite beauty shop tells us we absolutely must wear a primer under our foundation, we are ready with our best eye roll. Can you blame us?

Fast forward to a recent episode with a less than cooperative foundation. No matter how well the shade matched our skin, or how clean the makeup sponge was, or how perfectly moisturized our skin was, our favorite foundation did not want to blend nicely and settled into the fine lines we pretend we don’t have. Grrr. A little voice reminded us about makeup primer. Maybe we should just try it?

The purpose of makeup primer is simple: to create a smooth, even surface as a base for foundation so the makeup doesn’t settle into fine lines and pores. If you have trouble with your makeup wearing off by midday, or if you are sick of foundation settling into the lines around your eyes, a primer is a great tool to help your favorite foundation look even better.

Revlon Beyond Natural Smoothing Primer
Oddly enough, we bought this at Target not that long ago and now it’s suddenly hard to find. Thankfully, it’s a standard silicone-based clear gel formula that many other brands make, so if you like this style, finding another similar product will not be difficult. About the size of a small pea is enough for your whole face (more than that will feel like a slippery mask), and it works well with cream or liquid foundations. Here are some similar choices: CoverGirl Simply Ageless Serum Primer, Philosophy The Present Clear Makeup, Vincent Longo Water Canvas Gel Cream Base.

Laura Mercier Foundation Primer
We got a .5 ounce tube of this from the Beauty Insider program at Sephora, and we really love it. It’s a peach-colored cream gel, and as with all primers, you only need a pea-sized dab (if that) for your whole face. We like how light and smooth Laura Mercier Primer is, more like a moisturizer than a silicone mask. We’ve also found that it’s compatible with all the foundations we have in rotation (CoverGirl Simply Ageless Anti-Aging Foundation, Smashbox High Definition Healthy FX Foundation SPF 15, CoverGirl Natureluxe Foundation). We’ve found it makes foundation glide on more smoothly, last longer, and we even use less.

Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer
We have been very happy with the coverage and blendable texture of Smashbox High Definition Healthy FX Foundation that we got in the Smashbox Complexion Perfection Kit, but the Photo Finish Foundation Primer really only works with this foundation. We tried it with all our other options and oddly the formulas just don’t seem to work together; we end up with a streaky mess. That said, the combination of the Smashbox primer and the High Definition foundation look ah-mazing together. With this primer more than the others we tried, it’s critical to use the smallest amount possible or it just doesn’t work properly. We’ve found success with a dab about the size of a grain of rice. The texture is very satiny and soft, and it should feel light and comfortable if you use the right amount.

It looks like we need to apologize to our friendly neighborhood makeup artist and admit that, yes, a foundation primer really does make all the difference. Since this series of product testing, we have become devotees and can’t imagine going back. We hope you find a primer you love, too!

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