How to Choose the Best Makeup Primer for You

April 05, 2024 logo
By: | by L'Oréal
Person with primer

Regardless of whether you opt for a full canvas of makeup or merely a touch of concealer, face primer stands as an indispensable component within the realm of cosmetics. While a diligently executed skincare routine possesses the capability of enhancing the endurance of your makeup application, primer emerges as the quintessential element in securing its optimal performance. If you are uninitiated in the art of utilizing makeup primers, permit us the privilege of presenting you with a succinct introduction.

Immerse yourself in this comprehensive guide to makeup primers, where you'll discover an array of captivating options tailored to your unique beauty needs. Unravel the secrets of their applications and unlock the gateway to a flawless, radiant visage.

What Does a Makeup Primer Do?

Think of primers as a form of protection for your makeup. While they have various functions such as evening out, covering, safeguarding, and preparing, their primary purpose is to extend the wear of your makeup and leave your skin looking flawless and polished. Any fading, bleeding or blotchiness that can occur throughout the day can usually be prevented with the use of a little bit of primer under your foundation. Even better, a lot of primers these days contain SPF, meaning they not only give your skin a glow, but also shield it from harmful UV rays.

In addition to a face primer, eye primer is a must in any makeup routine. Think about it: What's worse than creating a perfect masterpiece on your eyes, only to have it crease, fade or smudge just an hour or so later? Eye primer is quick and easy to swipe on and makes a world of difference in the pigment and longevity of your shadow. Our pick for an eye primer that creates a crease-free base and dries invisibly is the Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion.

Urban Decay Original Eyeshadow Primer Potion

Is a Makeup Primer Really Necessary? 

This product may not be essential, but it can significantly improve the longevity and vibrancy of your makeup application. A primer can also offer a plethora of other benefits, such as deep moisturization, skin smoothing, broad-spectrum SPF protection, the ability to blur the appearance of pores, and color correction, all of which vary depending on the specific formula you select.

Types of Face Primers

Blurring Primers

Blurring primers — like the Valentino Beauty V-Lighter Face Base Primer and Highlighter — often use light-reflecting technology to create a soft-focus effect that airbrushes flaws, making them easier to cover. We also love the Maybelline New York Face Studio Master Prime Primer Base, a drugstore beauty buy that holds up all day, and at less than $8, won't break the bank. Do not miss the new NYX Blurscreen SPF Primer, the perfect combination of SPF and primer in one. Never get stuck without your sunscreen again.

NYX Blurscreen SPF

Color-Correcting Primers

These rainbow shades erase skin concerns by using the concept of the color wheel — where shades on the opposite side of the wheel cancel each other out — to conceal your complexion issues. Try the YSL Beauty Nu Tone Corrector in the golden shade to improve dullness and dark spots. 

The L’Oréal Paris Prime Lab Up to 24H Redness Eraser is a green-tinted drugstore gem that is formulated with niacinamide to instantly color correct redness and even skin tone overtime.
loreal color correcting makeup primer

Anti-Aging Primers

Anti-aging primers have both protective and reparative qualities. Many feature skin-healthy ingredients, like the L’Oréal Paris Age Perfect Blurring Face Primer Infused with Serum that work to improve skin texture and tone.
L’Oréal Paris Age Perfect Blurring Face Primer Infused with Serum

Illuminating Primers

One surefire way to make your foundation look like skin and not makeup? Primers with illuminating properties. Apply these formulas on bare skin, all over the face or on the high points of it (nose, brow bone, cheekbone and cupid’s bow) to add life and dimension to your complexion. If you’re having a low-key makeup day and don’t want to wear foundation, you can still use a highlighting primer to fake a lit-from-within glow. We recommend the Giorgio Armani Beauty Luminous Silk Hydrating Primer, it’s a splurge but this holy grail face primer works magic for dry skin.
Giorgio Armani Beauty Luminous Silk Hydrating Primer

Pore-Minimizing Primers

Tired of your pores taking over your complexion? Give a pore-minimizing product a shot. These skin care heroes blur pores for a more subtle appearance. As an added benefit, they also provide a matte finish, eliminating shine and excess oil with just one application. We love the Maybelline New York Fit Me! Matte + Poreless Mattifying Primer for its lightweight feel, smooth finish and broad spectrum SPF 20 protection.

Maybelline New York Fit Me! Matte + Poreless Mattifying Primer

Mattifying Primers

For truly oily skin, we recommend a primer that's downright mattifying, like the NYX Shine Killer Mattifying Primer, known for its oil absorbing properties this controls shine for a matte finish! It's long-wearing, lightweight and gives skin that highly sought-after blurred, filtered effect.

NYX Shine Killer Primer

Hydrating Primers

Dry, dehydrated skin can make wearing foundation a challenge — it settles into rough patches and gives your complexion a flaky appearance. If that sounds like you, try the Lancôme Priming Serum. The smoothing, balm-like texture blurs the skin and helps to extend makeup wear time. It’s serum-infused with hyaluronic acid and niacinamide to hydrate while providing the perfect canvas for makeup.
lancome priming serum compact

How to Apply Face Primer

After discovering the perfect primer for your skin, it is important to learn how to apply it correctly. The most important rule is to always moisturize before applying primer to ensure a smooth application. Allow a few minutes for the moisturizer to sink in before starting to apply primer, beginning from the center of your face and moving outwards.

  • STEP 1:

    Start with a cleansed and moisturized face. Apply sunscreen of your choosing, and then you’re ready for primer.

  • STEP 2:

    Squeeze out the primer on the back of your hand, mix it with your finger to warm up the product and then dab it all over your face.

  • STEP 3:

    Gently rub the primer in. Make sure to get every area and crevice of your face — from your cheeks, to around your nose, temples, forehead line and chin.

  • STEP 4:

    Once the primer absorbs, you’re ready to apply your foundation.

Photographer: Chaunte Vaughn

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