We’re constantly being told about extra steps and products to add to our beauty regimes. Some turn out to be important, and find themselves firmly planted in our daily routines, while others we dabble in, maybe even incorporate and run with. But are all these steps actually necessary?
Primer is one of these products. Hailed as a vital step in your make-up prep, Benefit Make-up Artist Lisa Potter-Dixon strongly believes a primer can transform your make-up. “It’s one of those products that, once you start using it, you’ll wonder how you lived without it” she says. But what does a primer actually do? Lisa tell us, “primers are great for many things, including giving you an even base ready for foundation, minimising pores and fine lines, taking away excess oil, and brightening.” If you have visible pores or fine lines, primer can be a perfect way to smooth them over, meaning your make-up is less likely to settle into them. Lisa adds that “one of the biggest dilemmas out there is open pores”, and recommends a silicone-based primer such as Benefit’s The Porefessional, which is specifically created to stop your make-up showing or settling into your pores.
It’s one of those products that, once you start using it, you’ll wonder how you lived without it.
Primer also helps your make-up stay put for longer. Amy Conway, Bobbi Brown Make-up Artist, says it “ensures you are creating that perfect barrier between skin and make-up”. After all, if you apply make-up directly on top of moisturiser, it’s more likely to slide off your face and not go on evenly. And, primer helps it stay on evenly, no matter what your skin type.
Those with oily and dry complexions will know, your skin can really impact on your make-up throughout the day. Amy agrees that primers can problem solve for all skin types: “for oily skins it stops the oil seeping through your make-up, and making the make-up slide. And for dry complexions, it stops your skin from almost acting like a sponge and soaking up the make-up, causing it to look patchy.”
Oily skin types find that excess sebum means their make-up doesn’t sit well on their skin, or stay put for long and needs constant re-application. Amy recommends silicon-based formulas: “it absorbs oil and reduces the appearance of pores and refreshes and smooths skin.” Tarte’s Timeless Smoothing Primer also has a mattifying finish – perfect for oilier complexions. Or if you have oily skin but still want that hydrated feeling, Laura Geller Original Spackle Make-up Primer gives the best of both worlds, keeping oil at bay while feeling light and refreshing on your skin.
If dry skin is your issue, primer can be your best friend. Amy says “dry skins should opt for a hydrating primer, these ensure you are locking the water into the skin”. These offer relief to parched complexions and help to even out any super-dry, flaky patches. Look for lightweight, moisturising formulas with skincare-specific ingredients like vitamins A, C and E, and hyaluronic acid – we love Nude by Nature Perfecting Primer (it has all those hydrating vitamins), while Bobbi Brown Primer Plus Protection has both SPF 50 and sodium hyaluronate (the sodium salt of hyaluronic acid), perfect for locking in moisture.
A primer can also correct unwanted tones in the skin, such as dullness, sallowness and redness. Bareminerals Vio-Lit Glow Primer is a universally lifting violet hue, illuminating any skin tone, while Laura Geller Soothing Spackle Make-up Primer features green pigments to help disguise redness. Amy adds that any complexion can benefit from a colour-correcting primer: “colour-correcting primers are not only great to even out skin tone, but a perfect way to give the skin a ‘pick me up’ in the winter months.” So if you’re missing your sun-kissed summer complexion, Amy advises: “opt for a pink tone to brighten and lift the skin” (try Bobbi Brown Primer Plus Radiance with its illuminating pink pearl pigments, or oily skin types should go for Benefit Porefessional Pearl Primer), or for red or uneven skin tones “a warm yellow undertone will cut out any redness and give a gorgeous winter glow with it.” We love Julep’s Blank Canvas Illuminating Treatment Primer, which adds a subtle radiance to skin.
So, the answer to our question is – a big, resounding yes. If you want your make-up to apply smoothly and evenly, not settle into pores or lines, and stay put evenly for longer – and let’s face it, we all want that – then a primer is a core prep step. Plus with additional benefits of colour-correcting, illuminating and troubleshooting oily or dry skin issues, they do so much more. It’s official, primers are an absolute make-up bag must-have.