There are makeup essentials and then there are makeup essentials.
And my friends, primer is one of those products that every woman should own, potentially in even more than one variant to cater for changes in the state of your skin. It’s not just because of the most commonly known reason—and still the most important one—that it creates the perfect base for your makeup, allowing it to remain fresh throughout the day, explains Sephora’s National Artistry Lead Alphie Sadsad. “Primers are also amazing for when you have dry, oily or uneven textured skin, as they give the illusion of an even canvas thanks to their blurring and smoothing properties,” he explains. “They also hydrate, control oil and conceal.”
So in case you haven’t yet managed to ace your base (see what we did there?), Sadsad tells us how to find a formula, apply it and share a few of his tips and tricks.
Alphie, we owe you one.
APPLY IT: Contrary to popular belief, primers are generally best applied with your fingers, explains Sadsad. “This helps to warm up the product and allows it to melt into the skin to create that super smooth, blurred effect. However if you’re concerned about controlling oil, I’d suggest using a foundation brush so you don’t add any additional natural oils from your fingers to your skin,” he adds.
KNOW YOUR SKIN TYPE: Just like finding the perfect shade of foundation is crucial to your overall makeup look, uncovering a primer that suits your skin type will help your makeup last longer and remain fresh, says Sadsad. “When you find the right primer, there’s no need for a mid-afternoon touch-up. Better still, most primers address specific skin concerns so they’re working twice as hard.”
PAUSE BETWEEN LAYERS: We talk about allowing your skin to absorb each layer of your skincare on the reg, so it’s important to take this into consideration when you’re adding a primer to your makeup repertoire. For skincare, it’s recommended that you wait at least one to two minutes to allow each layer to settle into your skin (real talk: even if this means brushing your teeth, or starting to style your hair on rushed mornings). The same goes for primer—Sadsad recommends waiting a minimum of two minutes for it to sink in, otherwise it can start to ‘ball’ or ‘pill,’ making foundation application virtually impossible.
MAKE IT LAST: If you have oily skin, you likely fall into the category where your makeup wears off by your lunch break. “With oily skin you need to be really conscious of the texture of your products,” explains Sadsad. “Water or gel-based textures that are oil-free are ideal because if you’re using a cream moisturiser that contains oil, your makeup will have a tendency to separate throughout the day. You could also match a mattifying silicone-based foundation with a silicone-based primer.”
MIX AND MATCH: While it might be more suitable for special occasions—when you have the time and the resources—much like the concept of treating different sections of your face with skincare, you can apply a selection of primers to each area of your complexion. It’s perfect for those who have multiple skin concerns or a combination skin type: “Consider a mattifying primer for your T-zone, a blurring primer for your jawline, and an illuminating option for your cheekbones!” says Sadsad.
Here are some of our go-to formulas…
- FOR BLURRING: Try BECCA’s Velvet Blurring Primer to blur imperfections, even texture and create the illusion of a photo filter,” says Sadsad.
- FOR HYDRATION: “Hydrating primers are great for delivering moisture and also giving you a soft glow. If you have dry skin and are after a dewy finish, they’re for you.” Try Too Faced Hangover Primer or Charlotte Tilbury Brightening Youth Glow.
- FOR RADIANCE: Sadsad advises only applying illuminating primers to the high points of your face. Try Laura Mercier Foundation Primer Radiance—this cult primer is known for its glow-boosting properties.
- FOR OILY SKIN: As Sadsad suggests, opt for an oil-free formula—we love Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer SPF15, which helps to minimise shine and even out the complexion.