Makeup Basics: Primers


Okay, reader, now that you’ve got your lexicon down we’re gonna start with primer. Primer used to be something that you knew about only if you went to the specialty stores like Ulta and Sephora, but since the beginning of the year drugstore brands (L’oreal, Maybelline, etc) have been rolling out face primers for the masses.

In addition, Wet ‘n Wild has two, count them two different eye shadow primers. NYX, which has a few different really good primers is also now being sold at many Target and CVS stores, as opposed to being almost exclusively online as they were recently.

Now, I know. That’s great and all, but what exactly is a primer, and why do you need one for your face and another for your eyes? Well, the answer is under the jump!

Primer does what it says, it primes your skin for what comes next. Face primer helps your foundation go on smoother and last longer. Foundation is very tricky, and often you can put it on in the morning and notice it coming off either completely or on spots by mid-day. A good primer is supposed to reduce or eliminate this.

Some face primers say they will shrink your pores (which may not actually be scientifically possible), or give you the appearance of smaller pores. Others will claim to minimize your pores by filling them in.

There are clear facial primers, “flesh” colored ones (if your flesh is pale and Caucasian), green ones to counteract redness, purple ones to brighten your skin, golden or almost shimmery ones to give your skin a “glow,” ones that promise to leave your skin matte and not shiny at all, ones that promise to leave you skin dewy and fresh, and more and more coming out every day.

Mid End Primers

These are the main ones you will hear about:

Maybelline Baby Skin Instant Pore Eraser: Drugstore, usually between $5-$8. It’s clear and people often try to claim that it’s a low-cost dupe for Benefit’s The POREfessional, though I personally think it resembles Smashbox Photo Finish more.

Rimmel Stay Matte Primer: Drugstore, usually between $3-$7. This one is a white cream that blends out to invisible on the skin. It gives your face a matte looking, meaning that there’s little to no shine to it. Some people feel this makes them look too flat, but I have some seriously oily skin, so this is one I enjoy using a lot.

E.L.F. Studio Mineral Infused Primer: Drugstore, $6, available online and at Target and some Walgreen’s stores. I would recommend buying anything you want from ELF online, because they are incredibely low cost to begin with and are constantly having sales of 20%-50% off, or free shipping, or gift with purchase, or something else. It comes in clear, green, purple, and gold.

Pixi Flawless Beauty Primer: Mid end sold online and in Target, $22. This is one of the ones that has a slight golden sheen to it (microglitter) that catches the light judt enough to mimic a kind of glow on your face.

Benefit’s The POREfessional: Mid end, $31 for .75 oz. “Flesh” colored primer that fills your pores to smooth them and minimize their apearance. I’m very pale white, so I don’t know if the colors fades into nothing on medium and deeper skin tones, but on mine it does disappear.

Smashbox Photo Finish: Mid end, $10 for .4 oz, $36 for 1 oz, and $49 for 1.7 oz. Pay attention to those sizes, because the smaller is cheaper than the medium size, ounce for ounce. Smashbox is one of the most famous/popular ones, and the primer people tend to know even if they don’t really know exactly what primer is.

Drug Store Primers

There are others, but I’m not gonna talk to you about things I don’t have or don’t have personal experience with when we’re talking specific products. I will, however, give you a rundown on how these products preform on me. Once again, remember that I have very oily skin, and YMMV (Your Mileage May vary).

Baby Skin: After 13 hours my forehead (which gets the most oily) and chin gets that oily, kind of slimy feel to it where it hasn’t held the foundation as well to the oil on my skin. It lasts a decent amount of time, but at the eight hour mark is where it started to break down on me. If you’re planning to go to school or work and come right back, it’s good. If you plan on going out after, I would definitely touch up my foundation before that.

POREfessional: After 13 hours my nose and cheeks (the next oiliest places, and the ones with the most noticeable pores) are still dry and holding the foundation well. No shine, and my pores still look very well disguised. If you’ve got a wedding or a long day (or a hot day, because I live in Arizona and heat will melt your makeup right off), this is very much worth the price.

ELF: Started giving out at around the five hour mark for me. For someone with less oily skin and/or in a less hot climate it may last longer, but I personally don’t use it unless I only need it to look good for a few hours.

Smashbox: Lasts about ten hour before breaking down. Once it does, it doesn’t break down as badly as the ELF does on me. I don’t have much else to say about this though, because the Smashbox may have broken me out pretty badly and I haven’t worked up the courage to try it again after that twelve-hour test I did of it.

Now, just because the Smashbox primer broke me out doesn’t mean it will do that to you. There are a lot of people who can’t use the Baby Skin because it breaks them out, though I haven’t had that issue. Unfortunately, when it comes to acne, you can’t really tell what’s going to break you out in advance, just going by what breaks out other people.

My biggest tip is just making sure that when you try something new you only try out one thing at a time. Don’t use a new facial cleaner, and primer, and foundation, and makeup remover all at the same time, because then if you have a reaction you won’t know what caused it.

Eye Shadow Primer

Eyeshadow primer is similar to face primer in that it’s supposed to help lengthen the wear of your eyeshadow. In addition to that, though, it is also meant to improve the vibrancy of the eyeshadow color.

There are many, many different eye shadow primers out there, and Robyn over at Brightest Bulb In The Box has two very extensive posts putting various drugstore and high end eye shadow primers against each other, and she says everything that needs to be said.

Bonus Tip! When I’m wearing colors I want to show up as close as true to pan as I can make them I use primer, and then a thin layer of NYX Milk over it before I add my shadow. The white color of the Milk vastly improves the vibrancy in whatever shadow I’m wearing.

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