Smooth Operator: Primer 101

I can’t remember how I got by before discovering foundation primer. Those were dark, dark days. My makeup would look perfect when I applied it in the morning, but by the end of the day, I would look like an extra from the Walking Dead. It was not pretty. Finally, I decided to see what all the fuss was about and bought myself a bottle of Prime Time…the difference was striking. Not only did primer provide a smooth, even canvas for my foundation, but it kept my makeup in place throughout the day and into the night. I knew immediately that I would never go back.

Since then, I’ve learned a lot more about the different types of primers and what works best for my face. I’m hoping my years of product testing will help you find your perfect primer, too! Here are my thoughts on some of the primers I’ve used over the years.


Primer 101


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1. It’s when your skin is red, blotchy or broken out that you need foundation the most – and also when you need to NOT wear foundation the most. Cover FX Calming Primer is the solution to this skincare catch-22. Smooth a little on before your foundation to soothe sensitive, dry and inflamed skin. Your foundation will stay put all day without causing additional irritation. I got a sample of this recently, and it’s my new favorite for winter.

2. Benefit Stay Flawless 15-Hour Primer feels amazing going on. It creates a velvety soft, matte texture (somewhat reminiscent of Dr. Feelgood), but unfortunately it doesn’t quite give my dry skin the moisturizing base it needs. This one works best for oily skin, especially if you’re using liquid foundation. You can also use it on its own if your main goal is to tone down shininess. Note: I personally find this primer stick a little more annoying to apply than its liquid counterparts – ensuring that it’s spread evenly across your face is a bit of a hassle.

3. Smashbox Iconic Photo Finish Primer is an industry favorite for a reason; it smooths lines and minimizes pores while evening out skin texture. However, it’s silicone-based and can cause breakouts if your skin is sensitive. You also need to be careful not to over-apply silicone-based primers like this one – if you use too much product, it will pill and cause your foundation to clump. Start with a tiny little bit and go from there!

4. Another silicone-based primer, BareMinerals Prime Time is not ideal for those with sensitive or breakout-prone skin. However, if your skin can handle it, this stuff will leave your face insanely soft and help foundation glide on seamlessly (and stay on all day). Packed with antioxidants as well as vitamins C and E, it’s an excellent option for both oily and dry complexions. And if you’re in the mood to experiment, you can combine a small amount with loose powder eyeshadow to create a creamy, highly saturated eyeshadow that stays put for hours.

5. No surprise here, I saved the best for last. To say that Laura Mercier Foundation Primer in Radiance is perfection in a tube is an understatement. Formulated with vitamins A, C and E as well as skin-softening Jojoba, this creamy water-based primer both moisturizes and smooths skin flawlessly. It also boosts radiance, giving you an enviable glow that seems to emanate from within. (Strangers have commented that my skin is glowing when I wear this.) Guys, seriously, this one is amazing. And the best part? It’s frequently available as one of the 100-point rewards at Sephora, so I’ve never had to splurge on a full size tube.

Do you have a favorite primer? I’d love to hear your recommendations!

♥ Mil

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