Primer fills wrinkles and pores so that the foundation can glide evenly across the top. A moisturizer will fill the grooves as well but because of the absorption factor, it will improve the look of dryness and not necessarily create an even texture. If you have very dry skin, or even normal to dry like mine, I recommend using both if you want a perfectly smooth application.
On the left side, I used Too Faced Primer before adding Estée Lauder
Double Wear Stay-in-Place Makeup. I was able to quickly apply and buff the foundation into the back of my hand and it remained true to color. The side without primer set quickly, but was drier than my bare skin.
Primer helps keep foundation in place, especially in outdoor conditions (heat/humidity, rain, etc.). I rarely wear makeup for longer than 8 hours, so I haven’t tested how much longer the makeup will last. However, the other benefits are reasons enough for me to invest in primers.
* = Silicone free
*Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentré – 65th anniversary Gold Edition
$28 at CameraReadyCosmetics
This product is the jack-of-all trades for makeup. One simple word for it, is that it’s a moisturizer. According to the makers of this product, it doubles as a primer and can also be used as a makeup remover, repairing mask, after-shave cream, and baby-care product. Celebrities and famous makeup artists like Scarlett Johansson, Karli Kloss, Demi Moore, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Lisa Eldridge (the list is huge) have credited this product as a favorite of theirs.
This is my best recommendation for uneven skin texture. The only problem that I have pertains to the packaging. If you twist the cap too much in one direction, it loosens up and you have to twist it again to tighten it back. Also, I have to keep mine in the upright position (cap facing up) at all times, otherwise too much cream would spill out once uncapped. A little bit goes a long way so you can’t squeeze too hard.
Too Faced Primed and Poreless Pure Primer
$30 at Ulta
This is my go-to product. When I’m testing a new foundation or I’m in a rush and don’t want to spend time analyzing my skin to decide how much or how little moisture I need that day, this is what I will grab. If I’m going to be outside or I know I’ll need makeup for an extended amount of hours, I reach for this. The regular version of this primer comes in a pink bottle but I prefer Pure, even though I don’t have sensitive skin nor a problem controlling oil. This is a visually obvious silicone-based primer and a heavier version (an element that I like) of the Smashbox Photo Finish primer. Too Faced also has a Hangover Primer but I have not tried it yet.
Make Up For Ever Step 1 Skin Equalizer – Caramel Primer
(the sample 4 pack: top left is mattifying, top right is smoothing, bottom left is hydrating, and bottom right is for redness)
$36 at Sephora
I must have been hypnotized during the Breakfast Before Brunch VIB Rouge event because I did not realize this primer was so expensive! That being said, I don’t intend on returning it.
I own color correcting products but this is my first in the form of a primer. It’s as orange as the bottle but once blended it becomes nearly undetectable. This sounds like it would be ineffective as a CC product, but it works the same was as an eyeshadow transition color; although you don’t notice it among the darker, brighter, and bolder colors, it is what ties them all together.
There are 4 primers in the MUFE collection that tackle textural issues (mattifying, smoothing, hydrating, and nourishing) and 6 color correcting shades (green, blue, pink, yellow, peach, brown/orange). MUFE recommends combining one texture and one tone primer for the best results. I am confident that anyone could find comparable results for less than $72.
*Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer
$18 travel size at Hourglass
Oh, how I wish I could use this all over my face! This is a holy grail primer with a holy grail price tag to match ($52 for 1 ounce or $72 for 2 oz). It leaves a smooth, almost powdery finish, has 15 SPF, and I can vouch that the claims of being water repellent are true.
The downside, and the reason I don’t wear it, is because it leaves a whitish-blue tinge to my skin. I could not capture it fully on camera (just looks ashy) but there is no denying it when seen in person.
If I use a tiny amount, it still shows underneath my foundation (making the foundation look too light for me as well). Any less of the primer isn’t enough create that smooth canvas that I could get with another product. So, I use it as an eyeshadow primer instead.
For those with lighter skin tones, I highly recommend this primer. Sephora often has samples of this available, so I encourage you to at least give it a try.
Yves Saint Laurent Touche Éclat Blur Primer
Full Size: $52 at Sephora
This deluxe sample was a gift with purchase ($25 minimum) from Sephora.
It’s a clear gel mixed with different kernel, seed, and bran oils. Gold glitter/shimmer is suspended in the fluid. It leaves the face feeling very soft and surprisingly not oily. I give it credit for being even better than the Embryolisse in that regard.
However, I do not understand how this will add luminosity beyond the type of shine that a facial oil or moisturizer could also give me. If the glow is supposed to come from the gold shimmer, well, it fails when used alone.
I can control the placement of shimmer when using a highlighter, but I don’t want random flecks of glitter spread awkwardly over my entire face. If you prefer a glittery look but find that the amount of sparkle in this is not enough, you can use it in conjunction with the matching touche eclat foundation.
These are the five I have currently in my collection. There are affordable primer alternatives on the market, but I have not tried them yet. It takes me at least a year to use up a single bottle!
One final tip: if you find that your primer and foundation are not working in harmony together, check the ingredients to make sure that both products have the same base (water, silicone, oil).