Easy Guide to Makeup Primers


In the same way primer on your wall lets the paint go on smoother, makeup primer lets your foundation go on more smoothly.“In the same way primer on your wall lets the paint go on smoother, makeup primer lets your foundation go on more smoothly.iStockphoto/Thinkstock

It’s so easy to overdo makeup that many people shy away from primer. I know that I always live in fear of sporting an uneven, cake-faced look, complete with spidery, over mascaraed lashes. Although it’s certainly possible to overdo the products you slap on your skin, modern primer is actually very natural-looking and an effective key to extending the longevity of your look.

So, what is primer, anyway? Depending on the product, primer is typically a liquid or cream that is applied to the face, lips or eyes to maximize the life of your daily makeup. The idea is that it provides a clean, even slate of sorts for you to work with as you put your face on for the day. Primer achieves this feat by filling in the various creases, cracks and other imperfections on your face to create a smooth, makeup-friendly palate. As an added bonus, primer also reduces shine and gives skin tone a nice, even color. It also helps to cover blemishes, plus it minimizes pores. Be sure to select an oil-free version, however, to avoid clogging pores inadvertently. If overwhelming texture is a concern, take heart — many brands are reportedly no thicker than a light moisturizer.

All of these perks are gravy on top of the main purpose of primer. Possibly the most important function is that it helps makeup last much longer than it would normally. For the working professional or the mom who goes a million miles an hour from early morning till bedtime, this is a major bonus.

Depending on your makeup needs, there are several different types of primer to choose from:

  • Eye primer: Eyeshadow has the annoying tendency to fly off or gradually sink down into the crease of your lids. A thin layer of primer applied to the lids keeps it all in place where you want it.
  • Lip primer: If your lipstick fades faster than your morning coffee buzz, perhaps it’s time to employ a bit of lip primer to keep things in check longer. Since primer also moisturizes it’ll help prevent the dreaded "cracked lips look."
  • Face primer: No matter what your occupation, you probably run around a lot, which quickly wreaks havoc on your carefully applied makeup. Foundation, concealer and blush often need a little help from primer to do their jobs and stay put.

Primers are formulated to help with specific skin types; for example, some treat dry or oily skin. Others have special ingredients to help skin look more youthful, if wrinkles and lines are a concern. Most are colorless, but some have a hint of color. Primers specifically designed to neutralize red-toned skin are often mint green, but don’t appear that way once applied.

As with any makeup product, it often takes time and trial to learn to use primer properly. Fortunately, most lines are fairly inexpensive, so if one brand fails to suit your fancy, you can shop around!

Lots More Information

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  • Glamour. "Beauty Tips: How to Do Foundation Like a Pro." 2012. (Sept. 4, 2012). http://www.glamour.com/beauty/2011/02/beauty-tips-how-to-do-foundation-like-a-pro
  • Gonzalez, Alexandra. "Choose the Best Makeup Primer for your Skin Type." Real Simple. 2012. (Sept. 4, 2012). http://www.realsimple.com/beauty-fashion/makeup/face/best-makeup-primer-00000000057587/index.html
  • Jackson, India-Jewel. "Poll: Is Primer a Typical Part of Your Makeup Routine?" Glamour. Feb. 8, 2012. (Sept. 4, 2012). http://www.glamour.com/beauty/blogs/girls-in-the-beauty-department/2012/02/prime-time-is-primer-a-typical.html
  • Lee, Christa Joanna. "Face Primer: Six Good Reasons Why You Should Get Your Hands on One Pronto." Glamour. Aug. 11, 2010. (Sept. 4, 2012). http://www.glamour.com/beauty/blogs/girls-in-the-beauty-department/2010/08/face-primer-top-six-reasons-wh.html
  • Yi, Sharon J. "12 Best Makeup Primers." Total Beauty. 2012. (Sept. 4, 2012). http://www.totalbeauty.com/content/gallery/best-makeup-primers


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