Makeup I Traveled with and Purchased in Germany

I love “What’s in My Travel Makeup Bag?” type of posts for only one reason: wanting to see which products someone couldn’t be without. The products I took with me traveling were chosen for so many other reasons besides that one, so I reconsidered making this post. However, I thought about how I was able to pack the least amount of products for the longest trip I’ve been on and realized this could be useful to those wanting ideas of what to take with them and things to consider for extended stays. I will also discuss what I learned about shopping for makeup in Germany and I’ll review the items I purchased while there.

Anything Will Do

When it comes to lips, brows, and face primers, I find that pretty much any products in those categories will get the job done. They all work well, but I could have replaced them with any others in my collection. I chose the 15ml travel size of the Good Molecules Silicone-Free Priming Moisturizer because it can double as a primer and moisturizer, which saves space with its compact form and from having to bring a second item. The ELF Instant Lift Brow Pencil could have been swapped out for my Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz or the Benefit Precisely My Brow pencil, but the $3 price made it ideal so that if I misplaced it, it wouldn’t be much of a financial loss. The Tower28 Gloss was chosen because I am on an unofficial project pan and want to see if I can use it up within a year. Otherwise, I would have taken the Fenty Gloss Bomb or my other mini glosses with me instead. I did a lip declutter earlier this year, so any lip pencil in my current collection could have replaced the Mented Nude La La Lip Pencil, but I chose it because it’s the one I’ve used the least, is a shade I could use all over the lip and not just as a liner, plus it doesn’t require a sharpener.

Backups/Replaceable Items

Choosing the Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner was an easy decision because it was my holy grail eyeliner for a long time, it will last through different changes in weather, and I have multiples of them in my collection because I always get them at half price during Ulta’s 21 Days of Beauty sales or during the holidays. I knew I would be going back to Germany this year, so I didn’t want to bring a used eyeliner and have to worry that when I went back it would be dried up or run out on me. I also recently became reacquainted with my old holy grail lip balm, the Nuxe Reve de Miel, and went overboard buying three jars in total when they only have a 6 month shelf life once opened. So, I figured I could keep a spare in Germany as well. As for the brown mini lipgloss tube in the initial post photo at the top, I decided that I could use one of the empty tubes I had from my days of making custom products to store foundation in there. The tiny gift with purchase sample I had of the Nars Soft Matte Complete Foundation lasted me six months, so I knew the amount I squeezed in there would last through multiple trips. If you have a foundation in a glass bottle, it’s a great idea to store some in a small squeeze tube that helps limit the exposure of the foundation to air, has a small enough hole so that you won’t squeeze too much product out at once, and is of course more compact and won’t break during travel.

Speaking of broken things, I contemplated what to do with my repressed pan of Huda GloWish Soft Radiance Bronzing Powder in the shade 04 Tan since I was sent a replacement item. Although I got too dark on the trip to be able to use it, I figured I could keep the spare in Germany. Lastly, I only have one MAC Studio Fix Soft Matte Foundation Stick, but this item is replaceable in the sense that my holy grail eyeshadow primer is the MAC Paint Pot. This performs similarly to the Paint Pot but works better specifically with the Hindash Beautopsy palette I planned to bring with me. Also unlike the Paint Pot, it’s not in a breakable glass pot. Plus, I could use it as concealer in a pinch, though it isn’t dark enough for me to use as actual foundation. But if someone else traveling wanted to really pack minimally, the Foundation Stick could be used for all of those tasks.

Must Haves

If I wasn’t the type that loves having a variety to choose from, even on trips, I could have skipped bringing an eyeliner, brow pencil, blushes, and bronzers entirely because I took the Hindash Beautopsy Palette with me. I did skip bringing a contour and setting powder because I had this available. I use Beautopsy for so much more than eyeshadows and I’ve been raving about this palette for good reason. It could be a bit nerve wracking to take such an expensive product, but the packaging is intended for makeup artists, which means it should be durable enough to travel with anywhere. This is a must have for minimalists, but I took this because it’s such a staple in my makeup routine now that I didn’t want to be without it. Especially considering the fact that I got a little darker on the trip, my ability to customize the depth of shades came in handy and I used it more than all the bronzers I had with me. The only area which the Beautopsy palette lacks is having no shimmer options. I knew I would miss having shimmer shadows, so I used a custom magnetic palette to store my Devinah Cosmetics Eyeshadows. When selecting the colors, I wanted shades that would pair well with each other, could be used in subtle daytime looks or dramatic nighttime looks, as well as giving me neutral and colorful options. Of course it was tempting to want to bring my absolute favorite Clionadh shadows, but Devinah makes extremely similar quality of products with the added bonus of being made in the US with quicker restocks. This means that if for some reason my shadows broke irreparably (like the particles got mixed with each other and could not be separated), I’d probably have a replacement in weeks up to 2 months, as opposed to 1-6 months or more. Devinah shadows are also slightly lower cost per shadow with cheaper shipping for me. This choice was a combination of wanting my favorite eyeshadow quality while factoring the travel element. Of course, when using special shadows, the Nyx Glitter Primer is essential for keeping them in place and helping the shades pop. I always have replacement tubes (which is a good thing because my tubes keep busting at the top) so I brought this along as a necessity that happens to be inexpensive and replaceable.
What is definitely not inexpensive is the Dior Backstage Face & Body Powder-No Powder, but I absolutely had to bring it with me. I discovered that this powder is so fantastic for smoothing out the skin and blurring imperfections, which was crucial to have for this trip. The lighting at my boyfriend’s place was extremely tricky to see what I was doing while applying makeup. The lighting was either dim or yellow, which showed things differently than the LED lights in the main room’s 9-foot high ceiling, also different than the highly fluctuating natural light peeking out from grey and dark clouds most of the time I was there. Depending on the light, I could look like I had no bronzer or too deep of bronzer, no blush or looking like a flat out clown. When on a trip, you’re often in a time crunch, and I couldn’t keep waiting for the natural light to be sunny enough to complete my makeup. Having the Dior powder gave me confidence that the end result looked nice and fixed anything that needed fixing, even if the resulting look was more subtle than intended.

This may seem a bit extra, but I took two mascara tubes with me. Rather than just relying solely on a mini size for the trip, I needed a mascara like the Essence Volume Stylist 18 hr Lash Extension Mascara that would give me a false lash effect because there was no way I was going to bring falsies traveling. This is a very affordable mascara, so I could leave it in Germany and it will still hopefully be good when I get back. With a mini, I had no idea how many uses I could get out of it (considering I was there for three weeks), but it’s a good option to consider for those packing lightly. I happened to have a sample of the Benefit Bad Gal Bang mascara and I brought it with me because I remembered liking the original Bad Gal Lash mascara and hoped it would be good. The Bang version is even better! I love that it darkens and lengthens my lashes easily and without leaving any clumps. The brush also makes it so the lashes are separated and fanned out like a doll. I can also build up a little volume. It’s not as dramatic as the Essence mascara, but it’s enough to look like I’m naturally blessed with long lashes.

I have to name the Nabla Skin Glazing Highlighter in Amnesia as an honorable mention for a “must have” product on a trip, even though I didn’t bring it this time. I have taken that highlighter on all other trips since I first purchased it. It’s on the lighter side for me, but it still works beautifully on my skin tone to give me a subtle highlight or an intense one. It also matches both warm and cool toned makeup looks. The only reason I left it behind was because I ordered the Hatice Schmidt Labs highlighter in the Medium shade, which looked like a very close dupe and I did not want to have two nearly identical products on the trip, especially as I already had a usable highlighter in the Kaja Bento box I brought with me. Now that I have two similar products, I will likely bring the HSL on trips from now on because it’s slightly darker, slightly warmer, and with a slightly more transparent base which makes it that much more suited to my skin tone. It also has a mirror, which was helpful in the moments I was running around trying to see how my makeup was looking in alternate light sources. If I was more concerned about the weight of the products or the price of the products, the Nabla Skin Glazing would be a better choice. However, if something happens to my HSL product, I wouldn’t feel as upset knowing that I have the Nabla as my backup.

Made To Be On-The-Go

I could have put several of the products mentioned above in this category, but the ones I’m discussing here don’t really fit in any other category. For example, the Tarte Shape Tape Concealer is my holy grail concealer, so I purchased the travel size for the trip. It was ideal for it’s compact size (though at one tenth of the size of the larger one, it’s certainly not cost effective) and the assumption it would last me two trips. However, I suspect that the formula in the mini is not as full coverage as the full size tube. I had to use a lot more product to get the coverage I needed. Perhaps this is another situation of the lighting being an issue. I also brought a mini of a lighter shade in order to mix my perfect color, like usual, but there was no need to this time as Deep didn’t look as dark as the full size either. That’s why this is in the “made to be on-the-go” section instead of “must haves.” I have also mentioned that I like mixing the Shape Tape with Pat Mcgrath’s concealer, but that one is in a glass tube which I did not want to bring with me. In the future, I’ll just carry my regular full size Shape Tape on trips, especially since I also get them for half off during Ulta’s 21 Days of Beauty. In a past review of the Kaja Play Bento Sculpting Trio, I mentioned that this product was ideal for traveling, so I felt obligated to bring it. Honestly, the fact that I have the Beautopsy palette though makes it pretty redundant as I can make a bronzer out of that palette and create a similar blush shade. I love the cream bronzer, but I don’t trust wearing a cream product while on a trip for fear of transfer onto clothing or sweat. The highlighter is nice, but I will always want a more intense option too. I took this traveling with me because I wanted to test the durability, as well as having those other options, but I only used it once during the three weeks (besides keeping it in my small purse as a mirror). However, if someone doesn’t have a face palette or wants something more affordable, lightweight, compact, and travel friendly, this is still a good option.

In my photo at the top of the post, I have a mini bottle of the Koh Gen Do Cleansing Spa Water, but it’s actually filled with Bioderma Sensibio H2O Micellar Water. They make a mini version, but I didn’t want to buy one when I could just reuse a smaller thinner bottle in my possession by transferring it in from one of my many larger size bottles. I also have mini versions of the Original Makeup Eraser Cloth, but I brought a full size one with me on the trip. I also filled an empty package of SkinFood Rice Cleansing Wipes with some from a larger package. That way I could use a makeup wipe on a heavier makeup day that I was too tired to double-cleanse and also not carry a whole heavy package which has 80 wipes in there.

Lastly for this section is sunscreen. It’s not makeup, but it’s essential. I brought what I thought was a mini size of the Round Lab Birch Juice Moisturizing Sun Cream which came in the box with the full size sunscreen I bought. It turned out that the mini was the non-SPF version and I didn’t figure it out until I was back in the US. Since I was testing it out for the first time, I also brought my usual Neutrogena Ultra Sheer 70 SPF Liquid Sunscreen too. The Ultra Sheer is small enough that it doesn’t take up much room in my carry-on bag and is airport compliant at 40 mL out of 100 mL. I have since used the actual SPF version of the Round Lab and I like that it doesn’t leave a cast. It makes my skin look a little dull on the darker spots of my face with hyperpigmentation, but it’s barely noticeable on my bare face and it’s definitely not an issue under makeup. The Round Lab is twice the price at only 10 ml more, so I would have continued to purchase the one from Neutrogena if it sadly hadn’t just been discontinued a few months ago. I had been using it for seven years and was quite sad to learn it was gone before I could purchase one final backup. Since I haven’t even tested the Round Lab during a true Florida summer, I’m not ready to recommend it yet. When it comes to something as important as sunscreen, I wouldn’t feel comfortable recommending it unless I’d tested it through at least two summers.

The Ultra Sheer Liquid Sunscreen in the Sensitive version is not the same since it’s a mineral sunscreen which relies heavily on titanium dioxide, which is the main culprit that leaves a cast on dark skin. The Dry-Touch version of Ultra Sheer is definitely not the same (leaves a white cast on me), as well as other sunscreens from Neutrogena. I picked up several trial packets and sunscreen minis recently, so I will be checking to see if I can find anything that’s as lightweight and doesn’t leave a cast while also thoroughly protecting me from the sun. So far, the Round Lab is the best I currently own.

Additional Tips

When I was deciding what to pack, the first thing I did was write a list of all the makeup categories I could think of and filled out which products I would want to bring most. Then, in order to condense the list, I went back over my answers and thought about what things I owned that could accomplish more than one task to reduce the number of products I had to bring. I thought about which things I owned or could buy in mini sizes to save space and decrease the weight of what I’d have to carry. I kept in mind which items were easily breakable, replaceable, and what I would miss too much if I didn’t have it. I also debated about what items I could just skip bringing entirely and buy while abroad. One thing I forgot to consider was that even though I was leaving a lot of makeup behind in Germany, all the new products I purchased weighed so much more than what I initially took with me, so my makeup bag was heavier coming back. I could have skipped bringing the Kaja Bento as a backup if I thought about the fact that I was going to buy a highlighter and three blushes.
I also made the decision to skip bringing cream products. Although I knew it wasn’t likely to be hot in Germany, I was required to walk a lot more and figured I would probably work up a sweat. I intended to do a lot of hugging as well, so I didn’t want to risk taking anything that could transfer or sweat off. It was also windy at times and I wore my hair down a bit more than usual. Balmy products on the skin that don’t dry down would have been a bad idea. Thinking about how the makeup items will be affected by the weather and the activities on the trip is something to consider. Nothing I brought with me needed a setting spray and none of them (besides my eyeliner) were waterproof, but that might be necessary for someone else to pack.

Here is a sample list of the categories of makeup to think about when packing:

  • Face Primer –
  • Eye shadow Primer –
  • Foundation –
  • Concealer –
  • Color Corrector –
  • Eye shadows –
  • Brow Product –
  • Eyeliner –
  • Mascara –
  • False Lashes and Lash Glue –
  • Setting Powder and/or Finishing Powder –
  • Setting Spray (keep TSA requirements in mind) –
  • Blush –
  • Bronzer –
  • Contour –
  • Highlighter –
  • Lip Balm/Gloss/Stick/Liner/Stain/Plumper –

One other thing I wanted to mention is that I was paranoid about the possibility of having lost luggage, so I packed some of my makeup products separately. The more fragile items, such as eyeshadows and pressed powders, I kept in my carry-on. My eyeliner, the full size mascara, the lighter concealer, etc were kept in my suitcase.

Douglas and Got2B Makeup

When I was shopping for makeup in Münster, I expected to discover plenty of German founded cosmetic brands that I hadn’t seen before. Perhaps this exists online, but when it comes to makeup at retail shops, the brands under the umbrella of major parent companies like L’Oréal, Estée Lauder, and LVMH dominate worldwide. It’s one thing to always hear that and quite another to actually see it for myself.
When I stopped in the Douglas shop, ARTDECO Beauty and ANNAYAKE (as well as the actual Douglas brand of makeup) were the only ones I hadn’t seen in the US. It was the same for drugstores, that only the actual store’s brand of makeup (such as dm of dm-drogerie markt) is unavailable in the US.

Of those unfamiliar brands, my purchasing options were limited to universal products like eyeliners and mascaras, as the complexion ones weren’t deep enough for me. I did snag a blush from Got2B. I was familiar with the brand’s hair products, but I had no clue until that moment that they made makeup as well! I tried to find out when they launched the cosmetics, and I believe it was in July 2021, so just a month before I got there, but I don’t know for certain. The ARTDECO products didn’t appeal to me, so I decided to try the Douglas brand of makeup as well, which is of similar quality to the Sephora Collection brand of makeup.

Douglas Cosmetics Caramel Nudes Eyeshadow Palette mini

The full size Caramel Nudes palette reminds me of the Anastasia Beverly Hills Soft Glam palette. I didn’t see it available in-store, but the mini was there, which I thought was perfect to try out the quality of Douglas shadows without making a big price commitment. The eyeshadows swatched evenly on my arm and clearly looks pigmented on those with a lighter skin tone. I find the shadows to be on the thin side and I found myself craving a little more impact from the shimmers. The mattes blended nicely and were opaque with a satisfactory amount of pigmentation. I was also glad that the cream shade did not look ashy like some lighter shades can appear on darker skin. This palette lacks a color that can add depth for me if used on its own. This is more of a one and done type of palette. I did not use the tiny dual ended brush it came with, which is a miniature version of the brush that’s in the full-size palette. Overall, the quality is decent and I could see myself actually using this palette every so often if I’m in the mood for a soft look.

Douglas Cheek Me Up Cream-Like Powder Blushes in 02 Rosa Carolina and 07 Hollyhocks

I chose these blushes with the help of the staff at Douglas. They were very friendly and polite. Even though my boyfriend was there to translate, they didn’t solely rely on him for help and tried to speak as much English to me as possible. I also appreciated the fact that they didn’t try to sell me anything that clearly would not work for my skin tone, just to make a sale, as has happened to me in the past at other retail shops in the US. They were upfront about which lines they carried that had options for my skin tone. The two shades they picked for me were the ones I would have chosen for myself, and as a bonus they were heavily discounted, so even though they were similar shades, I decided to just get them both.

I used Hollyhocks quite a bit on the trip and figured it would be my preferred shade because I like brownish-pink type of blushes that look more natural on my cheeks. However, I still like the bright flush Rosa Carolina gives to my cheeks and how just two dips with my brush gives me easy color payoff. As I started to get darker, I began to favor Rosa Carolina more because it was easier to see on my skin, though they both show well on me and are easy to blend. They’re decent blushes that get the job done, and at 4 euros each, they’re some of the least expensive blushes I own. I have so many wonderful blushes though, that as nice as they are, they’d still rank in the lower middle of my collection.

Shoutout to my boyfriend for being my light arm model! Not that he volunteered. I swatched shades on him while he played World of Warcraft, haha.

Got2b Cheeky Bloom Blush Powder in Pink Velvet

The inner pink circle is a slightly shimmery pale pink that I can use as a highlighter/blush topper. The outer bright pink ring of blush is what I try to pick up with my brush to use all over the cheeks. I like how soft the powder is and that there isn’t much kickup in the pan, but it still feels and smells powdery when I apply it to my cheeks. It’s definitely lower quality than I’m used to, which is a shame since it was 8 euros, but it’s not terrible. And because it has slightly more sheen than the matte Douglas blushes, it’s more flattering on my dry skin. It still looks nice on my cheeks, lasts as long as I need it to, is as lightweight as it’s described on the packaging, and contains nourishing ingredients like Macadamia Oil and Vitamin E, though I don’t know in what amounts. I’m still intrigued by other products from the brand, but for now my curiosity is quenched.

That’s all for today! I appreciate so much anyone who has taken the time to stop by and read my posts. Thank you. I hope this has been helpful!

Also, I wrote nearly all of this post months ago, but I kept pushing the publish date back because of new exciting makeup I wanted to review as soon as possible. I’m actually going back to Germany in a few days and won’t return to the US until the end of January, but I’m not sure if I will even be back home until sometime in February. For now, I am still on track to continue with regularly scheduled weekly posts, but if at any point this changes, the next eventual post will be on a Monday.

– Lili

My Eye and Face Primer Collection and Declutter

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.

Face Primers

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.

End Results

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!