Makeup primers are a funny topic. It seems like everyday there is a brand new one released from another makeup or skincare brand, all boasting new and wonderful things. If you asked me 10 years ago what a makeup primer was I would have shrugged (and then googled it so I could buy it. Hello, the word makeup is in it!). Would you have been the same? What about, are you there right now? Let’s clear up the basics first.
What Is A Makeup Primer
These days there are many variations of makeup primer. Some combine multiple purposes like coloured tints, moisturiser or even SPF. You can also now get primers for specific purposes such as eyeshadow or lip priming, which makes the makeup adhere better to the skin and amplify the colours.
Most primers contain any number of ingredients, with the most common being polymers, waxes and silicones. While these ingredients are often things many avoid in their make-up, they do have some benefits. For example, they are great at filling in gaps and can reduce the size and visibility of pores. Some ingredients also have the ability to bond with makeup which means your look will last longer. Who doesn’t love that?
My Thoughts On Primers
I absolutely love them. I rarely apply makeup without having applied a face primer and an eyeshadow primer. Even though my skin is now in top notch condition, I still refuse to skip over priming because I want my make-up to last.
Smashbox – Photo Finish Foundation Primer
This primer is an absolute classic and probably one of the most popular face primers in the world to date. They come in a range of colour correcting formulas but I picked up this little tube of the original in a Christmas gift set some time back.
The formula is on the thicker side but it applies easily so you can get a thin, matte coat all over. As you can see in the photos, this one is super clear, 100% transparent. As a base I fine it does smooth out fine lines ok, fills in large pores beautifully but doesn’t have as strong ‘sticking’ power as some of my others. There is no fragrance and it dries almost instantly, two things I love.
I use this primer when I want to look awesome for a short time not a long time.
Emergin C – Red Carpet Primer
With a name like Red Carpet Primer I did expect a lot from this primer. It comes out very dark and that scared the hell out of me because I am so white, luckily it does blend away to nearly invisible. You only need a tiny dot of this to do your entire face because it spreads super easy, so the 30ml tube will last you a lifetime.
I find the formula to feel very moisturising on the skin, it fills in large pores nicely and it has some pretty good staying power when make-up is applied but makes my face quite matte (I usually prefer a dewy finish for my skin). It also has a noticeable scent which can be attributed to the fact it contains pure plant botanicals. It also dries quite quickly, about 1 minute for a full face.
If you are a greenie than this is the primer for you. The boxes are made from certified paperboard, milled without chlorine and printed using vegetable inks. It is 100% vegan and paraban free, plus they donate 20% from every tube sold to Global Giving.
Face Of Australia – Face Base Primer with Vitamin E & Chamomile
AU $11.95 – Available Priceline, Kmart, Big W and selected pharmacies.
Definitely the least expensive primer I own, but would have to say it is probably the best for my skin. It is an oil free formula and contains Vitamin E and Chamomile for extra soothing-ness.
The formula is a fluid, so it is runny and applies more like a moisturiser, and you only need a small amount. It takes a minute or two to completely dry but then you are left with a smooth and slightly dewy surface. This is the feeling I like from a face primer (at the moment) because I find makeup really grips to it. It is extremely hydrating and perfect under my full coverage foundations which can be a little unflattering on the dry areas. There is a light, almost unnoticeable ‘cosmetic’ scent but I didn’t even notice it until now when I shoved the tube up my nose (in the name of journalism of course!).
If you have never tried a primer before, this is a great one to start with. If you have tried primers before, still grab this one. It is amazingly good for dry skin.
Benefit – That Gal Brightening Face Primer
Benefit are always a stand out at doing something unique with a rather un-unique product. When I bought into the hype around That Gal last year I wasn’t expecting it to be as wonderful as people claimed. I was wrong.
This primer comes in a wind-up tube that pushes the creamy formula out through tiny holes in the top to create pretty pink worms. Hours of fun right there! Apart from that, the pink cream looks like it has iridescent micro shimmer through it to give a glowing effect on the skin. To touch, my skin feels smooth with it on but there is no visible difference in texture which I like.
I was using this all over my face as make-up grips to it nicely, but lately my skin is glowing so much naturally that adding this on top is just a little too much. Instead I am using it as a highlighter because I just love the added shine on my cheekbones. Plus I love the fruity scent so I just want to keep smelling it. If you have really dull, lifeless skin than give this primer a go.
DMK Cosmetics – Crème Glacé HD Occlusive Makeup Primer
When I first opened the jar of this primer I literally said “What The Heck?”. It looks rather like a lump of powdery goo, but true to the DMK way, it is not about pretty packaging, it is about doing the best job.
If you have pimples, bumps, lumps, large pores, fine lines or wrinkles than THIS is the primer for you. I always thought primer having the ability to smooth fine lines was just an insiders joke until I tried this primer during the Bihaku Treatment. Some days the lines around beneath my eyes were just crazy (one of the effects of the peel) and putting foundation over it made it a million times worse. The only thing that truly filled in and evened out my skin was this primer.
A little more than a Q-tip amount will do your entire face. It feels like somewhere between whipped cream and a lightweight gel (super strange) but once spread out it leaves my skin sooooo smooth. It has a matte finish (so it is also good if you are an oilier skin type), and you do need to blend it a little better than clear primers or you will see little traces of white. There is no smell and it only takes about 30 seconds to completely set.
Make Up For Ever Professional – HD Microperfecting Primer in Yellow
Coloured primers are great for targeting specific skin problems. Last year while in the US I had a Sephora sales assistant point me towards the Yellow version of Make Up For Ever’s extremely well-known HD Microperfecting Primer. I hadn’t tried any Make Up For Ever primers before but I love the brand so much that I bought it.
The formula is a thick creamy-gel that is a little more difficult to move around your skin with your hands but I find works much better with a foundation brush. I would say I need far more of this product to get a full application than any of my other primers, mostly due to it’s thickness. It takes a couple minutes to dry and then you are left with a semi-matte finish but with a bit of dewiness at touch. I find make-up sticks to this primer like glue but it isn’t great at soothing fine lines or bumps. It has a faint cosmetic smell on application but it dissipates once dry.
I got the Yellow one which is designed to lighten dark complexions, and yes, it sounded strange to me when the lady recommended it because I am actually so pale. Luckily I was at a Sephora because they really take the time to go through the product with you, and she explained that the Yellow colour can work to even out my pigmentation issues that made my skin look patchy. Brilliant, and it did just the trick …. until a few months ago when my pigmentation issues were eradicated by DMK. Now i find it adds actually a rather noticeable tinge of colour so I have put it aside for ‘bad days’.
Make Up For Ever Professional – HD Microperfecting Primer To Go
At the same time as getting the Yellow version of this primer, I picked up a cute travel size version of the original formula. Strangely though, I find them completely different.
This primer is liquidy and more like a creamy serum. It is white in colour but blends away almost instantly. It is very easy to move around the face and you only need a tiny amount, plus it dries a lot quicker than the Yellow version. The finish is matte and to touch it feels very smooth, not as ‘gripping’ but it does in fact hold make-up amazingly well.
I like that this one alone has quite a visible effect at minimizing pores. If I had to pick between a coloured version or the regular I would go with this one.
Do you use a primer? If so, which ones? If you haven’t tried a primer before, did you like the sound of any of these? Will you give one a go? Let me know by commenting below!
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Products from Emergin C, Face Of Australia and DMK Cosmetics were provided for consideration, in accordance with our Disclosure Policy. All opinions and thoughts expressed in this review are my own and remain 100% uninfluenced.