I was a bit of a late bloomer when it comes to primers – it took me a surprisingly long time to get with the program, but now that I’ve figured it out – I’m completely devoted. As you can tell from the photo of my current primers, I use different primers depending on what exactly I’m hoping to accomplish on any given day.
In case you’re a late bloomer too, let me explain why you should consider primers. If you’ve ever painted anything, you know the importance of prep work. It saves time, money and creates a better end result. Your face is no different. Prime your canvas before you begin the artwork! There are a gazillion and one primers available on the market and you can find one for any purpose you seek – evening skin tone, adding hydration, creating a dewy finish, creating a matte finish or filling pores. Regardless of the specific application you are looking for, priming your face before applying your foundation will extend the longevity of your make-up, create a more even appearance and give a more refined end result – meaning that your pretty face is even prettier!
I have (and use!) a huge variety of primers depending on the end goal of my #MOTD. Here’s a rundown and round-up of some of the best! I hope you enjoy – and be sure to let me know which ones are your faves (and which ones you can live without!) in the comments!
To add moisture & create a dewy appearance
Too Faced HangoveRx Replenishing Face Primer – $32.00 – I discovered this primer years ago when there weren’t 1000 primers on the market and Make Up Forever and Smashbox had the market totally cornered. I wanted something super hydrating but that wouldn’t cause my foundation to slide off my face a la a Dali painting by 2PM. I saw this one at Sephora, and frankly, the cheeky name appealed to the ‘lush. This is a great hydrating primer. It smells like coconuts and the beach and contains coconut water, electrolytes and probiotics that I swear actually help when you’re hungover (or so I’ve been told….). Good stuff.
Make Up Forever Step 1 Skin Equalizer – $37.00 – Everything about this primer is amazing, much like everything Make Up Forever creates is amazing. While this is a hydrating primer, it is available in formulas specific to oily skin which is fantastic. It’s also available in 10 different formulas offering everything from color correction to pore filling and multiple colors for different skin tones. Thank you, Make Up Forever, for catering to women of all different skin tones. It’s a great product and you really can’t go wrong. But it doesn’t smell like coconuts. In fact, it doesn’t smell like anything which is A-OK by me.
Emite Make Up Diamond Heart Primer – $29.00 – You may not have heard of this European brand yet, but you definitely will soon. I have tried a couple of their products and all I can say is LOVE. This primer is both illuminating and skin perfecting and creates a beautiful, glowy, dewy face. I would not recommend this for every day wear and I would caution a very light hand in targeted areas (or else you’ll look like a lightbulb) but it’s definitely a good one to have in your arsenal for special occasions and date nights.
Smashbox Photo Finish Primer Oil – $42.00 (Not pictured above) – While I adore Smashbox primers (and will write a bit more about them in a few minutes), this is one that I really wish I had not purchased in the full-size without trying it out first. I love facial oils, and this is a good product, but the applications for this are fairly limited. In the middle of winter when your skin is parched, this is a good one to use. Otherwise, it’s just too oily and will have your makeup slipping and sliding away in no time. A better way to use this product then as a straight primer would be to mix a few drops into a full-coverage foundation, or to thin out a foundation that is just too tight for your liking. Smashbox suggests using a few drops AM and PM to recharge your skin – but there are plenty of facial oils that I like a lot better that would accomplish the same goal. You can read all about them in my previous post here. It’s a “meh” from me.
Nivea Men Post Shave Balm – $6.00-ish – If you’ve missed the buzz about this product as a primer, I’m going to revoke your VIB membership. Just kidding, I don’t have that power. But seriously, Everyone in the world of cosmetics is talking about this everywhere. Luckily for me, my husband uses this product routinely so I had the opportunity to give it a test drive without any effort at all. Does it work? Yes. BUT, it’s simply not as good as other primers, period. Sorry folks. If the other primers are too expensive (and they are super expensive!), this is a good way to help extend the wear-life of your makeup on the daily, for sure. But I don’t think it does a very good job of filling pores, blurring fine lines or hyrdrating. Plus, I like my husband to smell like a man – I don’t want to smell like my husband.
Perfecting Primers – To fill pores, blur fine lines and create a flawless finish
These are my absolute favorites! I adore something about most of these (and one is just a bargain that’s almost a dupe!)….
Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer – $36.00 – This iconic primer was the first one I ever tried and I was amazed at how fantastic it made my skin look. It truly does give you a photo-finish! Over the years, the line has expanded tremendously and, like the MUFE formulas, Smashbox includes color correction, light formulas and those designed specifically for pore-filling. I would have called this one an absolute must-have until I tried…
Perfectly Posh Under Wonder Matte Finish Pore Primer – $20.00 – This product is an absolute dupe for the Smashbox Photo Finish primer at about half the price. As an added bonus, it has a beautiful, light fragrance. I will always have this product on my vanity now that I’ve used it. Today, I did a side-by-side test using the Smashbox on half of my face and Under Wonder on the other half – in all honesty, the Under Wonder side wore better all day long and because it’s so affordable, I feel comfortable using as much of it as I want, instead of the sparing application I typically do with the more expensive formulas! If you order, be sure to check out the other products because if you buy 5 items, the 6th is free!
Benefit’s Porefessional Face Primer – $31.00 – Another amazing product, Porefessional has a slightly buff color that helps color correct and the thick formula does a great job filling pores, while spreading evenly. I know many people who consider this their “ride or die”, and I like this one a great deal.
NYX Pore Filler Primer – $13.99 – If you’re a huge fan of Porefessional, but find the price hard to swallow, this NYX product is *almost* a dupe. The texture is slightly drier and it looks almost flaky coming out of the tube, but once it warms up a bit in your hand it spreads nicely and does a very good job. I’m calling it almost a dupe because it simply isn’t as creamy as Benefit’s, but at half the price it could absolutely be a great option. It also has a slightly buff color to do a bit of color correcting, but not nearly as much as the next item on the list…
Stila Cosmetic’s One Step Color Corrector – $36.00 – While this is a color corrector and not technically a primer, I often use this product as a primer. The color correcting ribbons are suspended in a gel base that is very comparable to Smashbox and Perfectly Posh primers and I find that this product takes care of a whole host of skin concerns in one easy step. This is typically my every day primer because mornings are tough and I’m often running late!
Bits and Bobs
There are a few spray-on products that definitely don’t fall strictly into the “primer” category but that I use regularly as part of my skin prep routine and I feel that they deserve a mention here. I love to start my makeup routine with a spritz from these products because they wake me up and help get me going!
Urban Decay B6 Vitamin-Infused Complexion Prep Spray – $33.00 – This oil-absorbing spray helps to minimize pores and reduce redness.
Caudalie Beauty Elixir – $18.00 – This is a fairly astringent spray infused with essential oils that works to minimize the appearance of pores and imparts a dewy glow that lasts all day.
The Body Shop Vitamin C Energizing Face Spritz – $20.00 – This bright,citrusy spray imparts a blast of sunshine in the morning. I’m a huge fan of Vitamin C as a toner to reduce dullness. I’ve used this product for 20 years and it never gets old!
OK beauties – your turn! Tell me which ones you love and hate! xoxo