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What does primer do? An expert explains the one rule you MUST follow if you want flawless makeup

14th May 2020 | Author: Abigail Beall

You’re already cleansing, toning, moisturising your skin and applying an SPF. There might even be serums and oil in your routine too. With all this going on, do you really need to add another product before you apply foundation?

Primer may seem like a waste of time – and money – but they play an important role in preparing your skin for makeup. When used correctly, they make your skin appear flawless and help your makeup stay on for longer.

READ NEXT: Best primer makeup

“Primer is a preparatory product that is applied to your skin after cleansing, toning and using an SPF and is used to create an ideal canvas on which you are able to apply your makeup,” Dr Rekha Tailor, skin expert and former GP, told mamabella.

The science of primer

Unlike moisturisers, which are designed to be absorbed by the skin, primers are designed to create a layer on top of your skin. This creates a barrier between your skin and your makeup, meaning less oil or sweat will get through to your makeup and it’ll last longer.

But finding a primer that works with your foundation is key.

READ NEXT: Best SPF products

“Some primers come in the form of hyaluronic serums, while others contain SPF, and some are silicone-based,” Tailor continued. The hyaluronic serums are mostly water-based, and these are the ones you should go for if you use a water-based foundation. If your foundation is silicon-based, use a silicon-based primer.

WATER, SILICON OR OIL: WHAT PRIMER DO I HAVE? 

If one or more of the ingredients in your primer ends in ‘cone’ or ‘siloxane’ it is silicon-based.

If there’s ‘oil’ or ‘oleate’ in the list, it’s oil-based and if none of these are present, your primer is water-based

We explained in detail how to tell whether your foundation is water, oil or silicon-based in our article ‘What’s really in your foundation?’ but, to summarise, the best place to look is at the first few ingredients. 

Another way of telling what the base is can be looking at what form the primer comes in.

Silicon-based primers are usually smooth gels, oil-based primers have a runnier consistency and water-based primers often come as sprays.

But this rule is not hard and fast, so check the ingredients.

Silicon-based primers provide the smoothest-looking skin, while oil-based primers tend to be hydrating. Water-based primers are great for those with acne-prone or oily skin, as they don’t clog your pores as much.

The number one rule is always match your primer and foundation base. If your foundation is water-based, you need a water-based primer, and the same goes for oil and silicon.

If your foundation looks patchy as soon as you apply it, the first thing you should check is whether you’re using a compatible primer.

A great primer and foundation combination can be the key to achieving a flawless look, at any age “because primer makeup has the unique ability to fill in fine lines and wrinkles.

Using primer as a layer between your skin and foundation provides the base necessary to create the appearance of perfect skin at any age,” explained Tailor.

You can read more about our best primer recommendations in our Best Buys list, but we’ve also handpicked a number of primers below that are oil-based, silicon-based and water-based to make things a little easier.

READ NEXT: How to get flawless skin

♥︎ Oil-based primers

Glossier futuredew

£23 | Buy now from Glossier

This is an oil-serum hybrid that will do your skin some good while also getting it ready for makeup. Glossier says it does not interfere with makeup, so it could be used with any kind of foundation, since it contains oil suspended in water. It also helps provide a soft glow.

Buy now from Glossier

Smashbox Primer Oil

£30 | Buy now from Smashbox

Smashbox is the champion of primers, and this oil is a great choice if you have dry skin and use an oil-based foundation.

Buy now from Smashbox

♥︎ Water-based primers

Too-faced Hangover Primer

£12 | Buy now from Cult Beauty

Made with coconut water, this primer is designed to soothe and hydrate dry skin.

Buy now from Cult Beauty

IT Cosmetics CC Cream

£32 | Buy now from IT Cosmetics

With SPF 50 and colour correcting properties, this primer does a whole load more than most, meaning you can remove other steps from your skincare routine including a CC cream, BB cream and moisturiser. Use it on its own for light coverage foundation, or underneath a tinted moisturiser. You can read more about why we love this cream so much in our best foundation makeup list.

Buy now from IT Cosmetics

♥︎ Silicon-based primers

Benefit POREfessional

£29 | Buy now from Benefit

Benefit’s silicon-based primer is marketed at reducing the look of pores. It is oil-free so will work perfectly if your foundation is silicon-based. Read more about why we love Benefit makeup in our Brand Spotlight.

Buy now from Benefit

The Ordinary High-Spreadability Fluid Primer

£5.50 | Buy now from Cult Beauty

An excellent choice for those on a budget looking for a primer, this lightweight primer is moisturising, but it’s also silicon-based. Read more about The Ordinary in our Brand Spotlight.

Buy now from Cult Beauty

Smashbox Photo Finish

£28 | Buy now from Smashbox

Smashbox primerSmashbox

 

A classic primer. This will create a smooth surface for your makeup to stay looking perfect on all day.

Buy now from Smashbox

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