I have tried my best to post consistently every week for a year, and in order to do that, I have to work on posts in advance and have them scheduled and ready to go each Monday. In doing so, I sometimes run into issues where I say I’m not going to buy something but end up getting it by the time that post is due. Or I just need one more item to review, but the shipment was delayed and I have to postpone it. Sometimes I’m further ahead and sometimes I’m further behind than anticipated.
In this case, I forgot to swatch some of these primers and take close up photos before decluttering.
Below is what the collection looked like at the start of 2020, though I couldn’t find one of my MAC Paint Pots at the time and took the photo anyway. I also have the deluxe sample of the Tatcha liquid primer in the photo and forgot to include the larger Mini Size that I also have. Lastly, the MAC NC45 Foundation Stick I skipped reviewing in my foundation declutter will be included here as an eye base.
There are only a few categories of makeup that I use up enough that I have to replace them. Eye primers are one of them, though it’s rare to go through an entire tube or jar before the textural changes (drying up or oil separating) force me to replace them. When I do run out of products, I tend to replace them with something new, but this is one category that I have made repurchases of my favorites.
Also, my tube of Nars Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base is not pictured above because it has the same rubberized packaging as other Nars Products and it became so sticky and gross to look at that I didn’t want to show it. I threw it out, but the tube was pretty much empty anyway. I like that it was clear-white (though they have tinted versions) and it did the job well enough, but I have others I like more and for a lower price.
MAC NC45 Foundation Stick
I got the idea to use this as an eyeshadow primer when I was looking into the Make Up by Mario Master Eye Prep and Set in Deep. The ingredients between the two products are so similar but I knew I could get the Stick from MAC for significantly cheaper. This was Mario’s most universally liked product from his initial launch, so I was curious. Is it possible he intended for it to be similar to the MAC stick? Personally, I think so considering his Master Metal Manipulator liquid may as well be Mehron Mixing Liquid.
I don’t have the Mario one to compare with, but this MAC stick works beautifully! I find that if I leave it unset, I can get a very pigmented application of product right away, but it takes a bit longer to blend. Because it’s easier, I just prefer to lightly set it with powder first and then I have no issues with blending. I’ve used concealer before as an eye base and I was never really a fan of that, so I’m surprised this works. The Paint Pot is creamier and more opaque than the foundation stick. However, the foundation stick doesn’t need to be fully opaque considering the shadows will cover the skin there anyway. If I just want to cover the pigmentation spots on my eyes with a liner and mascara, I can layer the stick enough to give me the coverage to do it. It’s important to note that this does not crease until too much product is packed on the eyelid.
While it’s usually cheaper to purchase an eyeshadow primer, if anyone has their perfect foundation match in MAC, it would save you from having to buy two separate products!
MAC Paint Pot in Groundwork, Layin’ Low, and Rubenesque
In the last year or two, Groundwork became my favorite eyeshadow base. It deposits enough color to easily conceal my hyperpigmentation without altering the tone of the eyeshadow that gets applied on top. One of the issues I had with concealers as primers, for example, is I felt it altered the shade color. I recall there being one time that the Groundwork color made the eyeshadow darker, but I can’t remember which eyeshadow formula it was. I believe it was a pastel shade. That’s why, to be safe, I figured I should probably go with the Layin’ Low shade next. However, I’ve only used it a few times because I’m trying to use up the rest of Groundwork first. Rubenesque is a beautiful shimmery shade that does brighten up shadows applied on top of it and it’s such a beautiful shimmer shade on its own that I prefer to just use it as an inner corner eye brightener or like a cream shadow. As beautiful as this color is, I’ve had it far too long. By the end of 2021, I will only have Layin’ Low, unless I cave on my primer no-buy and order some of the new limited edition Paint Pot colors MAC released this year.
Gerard Cosmetics Clean Canvas in White and Cocoa
This primer is really hyped among some of the “smaller” creators in the beauty community. I bought the White shade as a replacement for my Nyx Milk Jumbo Stick and ABH primer. At the same time, I purchased Cocoa because I wanted to get a shade closer to my skin tone and in case I wanted to mix it with White to create a custom color. Cocoa is such a close match to my skintone that I’ve actually used it as concealer and it works amazingly well for that purpose! I prefer how it looks without powder though under the eyes. As a concealer, it isn’t full coverage, but it conceals enough that I could see myself continuing to use it that way.
As an eye primer, these are quite nice as well. The ultimate test was using the white shade with my notoriously troublesome Nomad Cosmetics Toyko palette. It couldn’t make the palest shades work, nor did it make me like the shades I originally struggled with, but this primer helped them perform the best of all the ones I tried. I could actually blend the shadows and layer them with each other! That really impressed me. I need to use these bases with more eyeshadow formulas though because it seems that although I can blend the shadows easily and it can make more subdued shadows pop, this also has the reverse effect and can actually dull some of my shadows. I believe this happens when drier eyeshadow formulas are used on top of this base because this product isn’t very tacky or emollient, so there’s less for the shadow to stick to. I will need to continue testing this out. So far though, this seems like the type of primer that will be amazing with some formulas, but not all of them.
Anastasia Beverly Hills Deluxe Sample Eye Primer
I love how bright the shadows look with this on. It definitely helps eyeshadows that are harder to see on darker skin tones to pop and also with pastels. For an every day kind of primer, I wish this came in other shades because I look crazy if I leave any area where this is applied without putting an eyeshadow on top of it. Meaning, applying this isn’t just cancelling discoloration on my lids. It’s very much a shade to cut the crease with. A little goes a long way. The absolute tiniest amount is needed to cover the eyelid and crease. Also, unlike regular primers where I can seamlessly join shades where it is and isn’t primed, there is a clear demarcation between where the primer stops and my bare eyelid begins. Even if I try to blend the edges to the thinnest layer, it still shows a major difference. That’s why this is better for lining and cutting the crease. Also, I wish this primer didn’t emphasize the texture of my eyelids and make them look so dry. While some shadows stick to this just fine, certain eyeshadow formulas have a harder time adhering to this as a base. So, for this reason I both like and dislike this product. When I finish using up this sample, I will not be purchasing it.
Urban Decay Primer Potion
This specific tube was part of a gift set from a friend and is only five months old, but the first eyeshadow primer I ever bought was the Urban Decay Primer Potion. I used it for quite a while until discovering the Too Faced primer, which I felt worked a little better for me. In using this tube again, I see why I liked it but certain eyeshadow formulas don’t work as well with this one, whereas I rarely have to worry about an incompatibility between primer and shadow when I use the MAC Paint Pot. I still intend to use this tube until it’s completely done. Despite being in such a large tube, I feel like I’ve used up a significant amount already. One very important thing to remember when using this, if you have a darker skin tone, is that this doesn’t dry completely clear. It has a beige tinge that will effect how the eyeshadow looks on top of it if it isn’t spread in a thin even layer. If there are any areas when applying that is thicker than the rest, be sure to blend that part out or else color deposited on that spot will show up lighter than the rest of the eye.
Nyx Glitter Primer
Too Faced Glitter Glue Eye Shadow Primer is highly praised. I’ve only used samples of it, but I think the Nyx Glitter Primer is an amazing and affordable alternative that works just as well. It is a must-have when it comes to using flakier shimmers and multichromes. Of course, anyone who has visited my blog before knows my stance on glitter and that I have not used this with loose glitters. I apologize if that’s something you were hoping to know. I suppose this would be great to use with loose glitters considering that’s the intended purpose of this primer. This primer dries clear and since it’s incredibly sticky, I do not recommend using natural hair brushes with this. Honestly, I have used some of my Sonia G brushes with it, and while my brushes are still fine, it does risk the bristles being stiff and breaking off. I have noticed a slight prickly feeling with my Builder Three Brush that wasn’t there when I got it, which is probably due to a snapped bristle. This is why I don’t condone it, even though I’m guilty of doing it myself. Synthetic is safer, or allow the glue to dry down to a slightly tacky consistency and finger pat a light layer of shimmer onto the lid with the finger first before using a brush after (that way less wet primer gets on the bristles).
Nyx Pigment Primer
My tube is very old and partially dried out, so I won’t be using this on my eyes to test further, even though I only used it a few times. The reason I bought it is because I was using Nyx’s Loose pigments and wanted something that would work well with them. I also thought this would be nice to use with my pressed pigment shadows. I honestly did not see any special results when using this, which is why I quickly returned to my usual go-to primers instead.
Nyx Proof It Waterproof Eyeshadow Base
The waterproof claims are legit! I put a Viseart shadow on top of this primer, ran it under a faucet, and when I rubbed the swatch with my finger it stayed put! It basically takes an extreme amount of rubbing with a cloth to get it to start wearing down, but it removes fairly easily with my Bioderma Micellar water. When you place a shadow on top of this, it goes on very pigmented and true to color! Despite being so stuck into place where I can literally feel when my brush drags across this primer, I can still get a decent enough blend. I tried this against the UD Primer Potion with the Club Nebula palette, and I was surprised that I liked the Nyx side better! Although the UD side was more emollient, that didn’t make it easier to blend. Also, the lightly tacky base caused the shadow to show better because the colors deepened up slightly, whereas the Nyx primer could get good color payoff without changing the shade.
Nyx Jumbo Eye Pencil in Milk and Black Bean
I still don’t know what these pencils are really intended for. Nyx describes them as an eyeshadow and eyeliner all in one. The first of these pencils I ever purchased was Cottage Cheese because it was a little darker than the Milk shade and I thought it would go better in my waterline the way I’d seen Beauty Gurus use Milk. I thought it was the shimmer in the product that made it look awful on me, so I purchased Milk next. I realized it was too bright of a white and my eyes looked very unnatural with it on. Plus, the pencil was way too large to apply directly to my water line. I used a thin pencil brush, which was more precise, but the formula never dried down and wouldn’t stay put on my eyes. I started using Milk as an eyeshadow base instead to brighten up eyeshadows or help pastels show better on me, but the fact that it wouldn’t set on my lids became problematic with certain eyeshadow formulas. I somehow convinced myself it would be a great idea to purchase Black Bean as a dark base for multichromes. While I did prefer it to the other shades, I just did not like the consistency and finish of the product. So, I threw them away. I wish I remembered to take shots of them swatched before I tossed them.
Too Faced Shadow Insurance
I’ve owned many sample sizes and full size tubes of this primer, in addition to the discontinued Lemon Drop shade. The consistency and performance reminds me of a slightly less emollient Urban Decay primer potion. The fact that I kept getting these in gift sets is why I originally stopped purchasing the one from Urban Decay. This was my eye primer of choice until I started using the MAC Paint Pots. I don’t have a swatch of this because the tube was nearly empty, so I threw it out after taking the primer group photo.
I previously owned one color correcting primer from Make Up For Ever. I used it almost exclusively under my eyes. It was very sheer, but it gave that extra bit of help to conceal my dark under eye circles. I liked it, but not enough to repurchase it once it was too old to use.
Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Skin Booster Serum Deluxe Sample
Although it has serum in the name, it’s marketed as a skin prep for makeup. It has hyaluronic acid to hydrate the skin and it does say to use this before a primer. I have used it on its own and there’s no difference between this and a moisturizer as a primer. When combined with another primer on top, I don’t see any added benefits either. This primer is very similar in texture to the Too Faced Hangover, but the one thing I didn’t like about the Too Faced one is how quickly the coconut scent turns and hence why it isn’t shown in my initial stash photo.
Sisley Paris Double Tenseur Sample
This gel primer has the consistency of a serum. It is nice and lightweight. I’m happy I received this sample in my Beautylish order because I’ve always been curious as to why the full size bottle costs $200. After using this three times so far, I still don’t know why it’s so expensive. There are many positive skincare ingredients in this product that are supposed to tone, firm, and lift the skin after four weeks of use. I’ll never be able to see results like that from a sample, if it even works at all. I’d like to think that skincare benefits aside, I would notice my makeup lasting longer or looking smoother or something special. My makeup always looked nice with it on, but I haven’t seen anything extraordinary.
Milk Hydro Grip Primer Deluxe Sample
I despised this primer initially because the first few pumps were incredibly sticky. Everything was harder to blend on top. Perhaps this was just due to the sample bottle because the rest of the time I’ve used it, I no longer had that problem and began to enjoy it more with every use. This adds a slight dewy finish that is a little noticeable even with a matte foundation, but not enough to make it truly glowy. I believe this does extend the wear of my makeup, as products do seem to grip more to the primer and appear more full coverage on the skin. This deluxe sample that I have is almost finished and I’ve debated whether to buy the mini, but I don’t believe I will. I still have plenty of other primers to go through and between the Tatcha and Milk, I still prefer the Tatcha. I will keep this until I use it up.
Guerlain L’Or 24K Gold Radiance Concentrate Base / Hydrating Primer
This is the most expensive primer I own in the full size. When I visibly watched Tati Westbrook’s skin lift in a video when she wore this, I was sold. Well, I at least waited until a VIB sale from Sephora and then I purchased it. In the beginning, I really did think this was essentially contouring my face wherever I put it. I honestly don’t know if it was a placebo effect or not. I continued to see results until I started gaining weight. Naturally, I blamed my weight gain for why the product no longer worked. I told myself, “There’s too much skin to snatch!” Perhaps it just lost its efficacy as it had been around the year mark that I questioned if it was still working.
The product description does claim to have hydrating and tightening effects. Perhaps the alcohol in the primer made my skin feel tighter and I imagined my skin looked tighter too. I don’t know. I’d like to think what I saw was accurate over the course of that year that I regularly used it. At the same time, I remember how confident I felt when I used it, and that fact already made this product worth the price tag.
The texture is similar to the YSL Touche Eclat Blur Face Primer in that it feels like a gel and also comes in a version with flecks of gold. I had the YSL as a mini and I remember liking the Guerlain much better because of the firming element and how the Guerlain sunk into my skin better. These brands say the gold flakes add luminosity but that element is just a gimmick and an excuse to bump up the price. There is no evidence that gold as an ingredient helps the skin and whenever I get some of the flakes on my face, it looks accidental and not intentional. It’s the kind that someone would walk up to you and say, “Hey you have a speck of something on your face!” It does have a knack of showing up in photos too. There are many times in the past that I had to retake pictures because it looked like I had some glitter fallout on my face and it didn’t look cute.
The other thing I didn’t like about this is that it contains fragrance. The perfume smell is okay and fades quickly, but I wish it wasn’t present at all. My bottle smells even more strongly of perfume, which is an indication that mine is too old. Even though I’m no longer using it, I’m keeping it on my vanity because it’s admittedly so pretty with the glass bottle and gold elements.
As a primer for makeup, this worked well with every product I’ve ever put on top of it. I rarely wore makeup longer than 8 hours, so I can at least say everything I wore over it lasted at least to this point. The texture left on the skin didn’t make for the smoothest application process though, but it always looked nice in the end. I can’t say for sure whether it’s worth the price, as that comes down to the individual’s needs and if someone would get the same results I did.
Bobbi Brown Vitamin Enriched Face Base Deluxe Sample
I’ve heard this primer raved about almost as much as the Tatcha Silk Canvas. While it does help my skin to feel moisturized, I don’t see any additional benefits in terms of wearing it under my makeup. To be fair, the product description only promises it, “hydrates, softens, and cushions skin…and fends off environmental damage.” I also didn’t realize, until I checked Sephora’s website, that this product is recommended for normal, combo, and oily skin. Perhaps I’m failing to see what makes this special because my skin type is dry-normal (leaning more dry), but my personal experience with this product is that it’s just okay. I would never spend over $30 for the full size, yet this retails for $62 at 1.7 oz/ 50 mL.
Tarte Timeless Smoothing Primer
This is another Tati Westbrook recommendation, although, by the time Tarte sold this in the mini size it was said by Tati that the formula was already different. I tended to love 75-80% of her recommendations, so I had high expectations that this primer failed to live up to. For one, it didn’t do anything for my makeup. It gave me the same results I would have had if I applied foundation to my bare face. I don’t like the texture of it either. It’s difficult to smooth onto my skin (warming it up by rubbing it in my hands doesn’t help) and will pill up if I have too many moisturizing ingredients on my face. I didn’t like it with my initial first uses and now that I’ve had this for a long time and tried it again recently, my opinion hasn’t changed. I’m not keeping this. This has a little bit of a lemon scent.
ELF Poreless Putty Primer
In my ELF review, I mentioned that I liked using this in the smoother areas of my face and that I would continue to use it. Honestly, I haven’t. I’ve been working on finishing my MILK Hydro Grip Primer and Tatcha ones (which look nice no matter where I put them), so I haven’t had the desire or chance to use this much. I still stick to my belief that this is a decent primer. I do feel it helps my makeup stay put longer, but it doesn’t have the added benefits of making my skin look smoother or looking nice over fine lines, so it’s not on my list of favorites.
Tatcha Silk Canvas Mini in Original and Liquid forms
Deluxe Sample of 5g versus the 10g Mini
What I love about the liquid form is that it has all the benefits I loved from the Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer but without the white cast. This one is a white liquid as well, but it melts fully into the skin to leave no trace of white behind. My foundation and blush looks so much smoother when I apply them over this primer. The Silk Canvas in the jar form performs the same way, but it takes a little more effort to smooth it and absorb into my skin. I’ve continued to use this up, but I put it exclusively under my eyes to add extra hydration and help my concealer look a bit smoother. Also, this had a light non-overpowering lemon scent that I can smell when I hold it up to my nose, but it doesn’t linger once it’s on my skin.
Cover FX Illuminating Primer Base Deluxe Sample
I have no idea how long ago I got this sample because I believe this is a discontinued product. This looks shiny when I first put it on my skin but as I rub it in, the shine disappears and I’m left with a barely detectable shine that disappears when foundation is put on top of it. Since it’s probably old and doesn’t work well enough anyway, I’m tossing it.
MAC Strobe Cream Deluxe Mini in Pinklite
I have this sample in the original shade. Although I’ve never been a fan of pink highlighters, the pink isn’t very strong on my skin. This is the kind of product I’d wear on no-makeup days to just add a bit of luminosity to my face. As a primer, it has more of a shine than the CoverFx primer I mentioned earlier, but it dulls down quite a bit with foundation over it. This is unlike the Charlotte Tilbury Hollywood Flawless Filter which I can wear under foundation and still have a glow to my skin. This product can also be used as a liquid highlighter, not just as a primer, so adding it back on top of my skin looks nice and works too. It doesn’t disturb my liquid foundation too much, but I did try it once over powder and it definitely lifted my foundation off that time. I’m tossing this tube but I have another more recent sample. I may or may not continue to use this because my skin does look very smooth with this as a primer, but I don’t think I like this enough to buy a full size bottle. I’m happy with the Charlotte Tilbury Hollywood Flawless Filter as my glowy base primer and liquid highlighter.
Becca Backlight Priming Filter Base Deluxe Sample
While this does give a mild glow to the skin, it emphasizes texture a bit when used on its own. When under foundation, the glow is even more minimal and by the end of the day, my skin actually looked dry. I got this in either a subscription box or mini set. While mine is currently too old and should be thrown away, I used it on two other occasions when it was still new and I wasn’t impressed. I held onto it so I could give it another chance in the future, but time didn’t change my mind.
Becca Skin Love Brighten and Blur Primer
The texture of this primer is what I imagine a liquid version of the Tarte Timeless Smoothing Primer would be like, but better. I didn’t notice any blurring or brightening, but it made a smooth base for my foundation to glide on top of it. I was expecting at least a glow, considering the “brightening” claim, but my skin just looked matte. I’m not impressed with how my skin looks until I put other glowy products on top of it. It still doesn’t look its best until a few hours later when a little oil begins to show. I will continue to use up this sample, but I don’t think it does enough to make me want the full size. Unfortunately, Becca Cosmetics will shut down in September 2021, so I’d rather not get used to their primer anyway.
Laura Mercier Pure Canvas Blurring Primer
This primer is more liquid-like than the Becca Skin Love, but when it’s rubbed into the skin, this reminds me even more of the Tarte primer than the Becca! It starts to pill on itself the more it’s rubbed into the skin, so I’m careful with how much rubbing I do to get the product to stay on my face. This primer is mattifying. Other than that, I don’t see any special results when I use this, blurring or otherwise. I don’t want to let this go to waste, but I’m also unwilling to keep using it, so it’s being decluttered.
Smashbox Original Photo Finish Primer
This reminds me of the Too Faced Primed and Poreless Pure (discontinued). It’s a standard silicone primer. There are plenty like this on the market and if your skin works well with silicone primers, this is pretty much guaranteed to work too. I purchased a mini of this once but between subscription boxes and free gift with purchases, I’ve never had to buy another of these again. In fact, I tend to save these minis and samples for one of my best friends who loves this primer. This was a holy grail pairing with the Make Up For Ever Ultra HD foundation I used to use. This always kept my foundation in place and while it’s one of those dependable products that are great to have, I prefer to use primers with additional benefits. I gave this unopened tube to my friend, so I don’t have photos of what it looks like swatched but there isn’t much to see anyway. It’s clear and goes onto the skin perfectly clear as well.
Good Molecules Silicone-free Priming Moisturizer Travel Size
Although I have dry skin, I cannot have too heavy or too many moisturizers on my face or else I will start to get pimples. This product definitely moisturizes my skin and isn’t totally lightweight, but it isn’t a thick cream either. It’s basically right in the middle and enough that I wouldn’t apply an additional moisturizer to my skin if I was going to use this. I would apply this to my bare skin (plus sunscreen) before putting my makeup on. Besides the Bobbi Brown Base, the only other skincare-like primer I’ve used before is the Embryolisse Lait-Creme Concentre, which was much thicker than this. The Good Molecules primer is very smoothing and hydrating. The skin looks moisturized without adding dewiness. Although this has a silicone alternative, I don’t believe this helps extend the wear of my makeup the way a typical primer would, so I recommend using a setting powder or setting spray with this if you need your makeup to last a full day.
I intended to have a section for primer foil samples, but I have no idea where I put them, as they’re not in my usual sample spots. In any case, these photos show how the declutter ended.
Although I kept the Layin’ Low and Groundwork Paint Pots (and got rid of Rubenesque), I estimate that I will have used up the entire jar of Groundwork in a month or two. My Urban Decay primer also feels like it’s half empty and the ABH sample is almost finished as well. So, I’ll have even fewer by the end of this year.
Because it’s so easy to get a free sample or mini of primers, I don’t foresee myself getting a new full size one anytime soon. It will still take a while to get through the samples I’m keeping (though the Sisley and Milk only have a few uses left), and I’m holding onto the L’Or because of the bottle. So, realistically, I expect to run out of primers by the end of the year and I will likely buy another travel size/mini Tatcha liquid silk canvas to use in addition to the samples I feel will likely accumulate again.
Primers aren’t super exciting, but I hope this has managed to be a useful post!