Do we really need it? A primer on foundation primers

Primer; it’s just one more layer in the many that come with putting on one’s face, if Instagram makeup trends are to be believed.  But do you really need primer?  That probably depends on your definition of need…but seriously, does it make a difference? The answer is a resounding yes.

Primer, or foundation primer as it’s sometimes known, works by creating a neutral layer between your skin and your foundation.  If you’ve ever painted a wall, or a blank canvas, with paint primer, it’s the same concept.  Primer creates a surface that’s neutral in color and texture, allowing whatever is painted on top to appear more uniform and true in tone, and long lasting in texture.  A face that’s primed before its made up will look fresher and last longer than a face without primer.  Whether you’re rocking some serious camouflage level contouring, or going for a fresh, natural look, either way you’re taking the time to create a look, and you want it to look great while you’re wearing it.  Adding primer helps lock that look in to keep it looking as fresh as when you applied it.  A product that does that is worth applying, and in some cases, worth splurging on.

I took some foundation primers out for a test drive under my favorite foundations, and here’s what I found out.

Smashbox Photo Finish Primer 

This product is the original HG (Holy Grail) of foundation primers.  It’s won awards, and it’s actually worth its high pricetag.  I’ve bought this primer more than once and it never disappoints.  A little goes a long way, so one bottle will last you ages (protip – save your PC Optimum points for this baby, it’s the gift that keeps on giving).  While I don’t love the gel consistency (my fellow combo/oily skinned fam will understand), Photo Finish dries to a matte finish and helps hold onto your foundation all day and/or night long.  It also blurs all those little imperfections so that even your prefoundation skin looks that much closer to flawless.  I also love the Photo Finish Radiance Primer for those days I just don’t want to wear a full face of makeup.  The slight tint and blurring effect are just enough to make me look slightly made up with very little effort, and the primer provides the perfect base to layer a little liquid highlighter and cream bronzer and blush.  Add a little mascara and tinted lip balm to complete the look and you’re off.


Fenty Profil’r Instant Retouch Primer

The newer kid on the makeup line block, every product Rihanna releases through her Fenty line causes a stir.  Many of the products are actually worth the hype, and at the top of that list sits the Profilt’r Instant Retouch Primer.  The consistency and finish are top notch, especially if your skin is on the oilier side like mine.  The finish is so smooth that it creates an incredible blurring effect.  I’ve worn the primer alone with just a swipe of bronzer and blush when I’m in a hurry, and it makes all the difference.  When used with any foundation, Instant Retouch does a great job of extending its wear, but when paired with its Fenty Beauty Bestie, Profilt’r Soft Matte Longwear Foundation, that’s a face meant to last all day and night.  If you’re looking for a way to achieve a long lasting, flawless look on the regular, then this is an investment you won’t regret making.  And because Rihanna is brilliant, she’s created an effective little bundle to get you started, complete with discountProtip: if you’re looking to splurge, grab the Fenty Instant Retouch Setting Powder in your coordinating shade to really lock your look in.  Lean towards a darker share for a bronzing, contoured look or grab a lighter shade to highlight, especially under the eyes).


Caryl Baker Natural Finish HD Primer

Another gel texture silicon based primer, the Caryl Baker Natural Finish HD Primer really stands out in terms of feel.  It applies beautifully and creates a smooth finish to apply foundation over, and has great staying power especially when used with its coordinating foundation.  This primer has a more refreshing, moisturizing feel to it, and would definitely be a winner for dry skin.  And as with the other products, a little truly goes a long way, another sign of a quality product worth buying.

Just about every cosmetics line worth its salt has its own primer now, so my recommendation is to narrow the field to products that cater to your skin type.  Dry and combination skinned folks, look for gel, silicon based products, and oilier skin, stick to products that give a matte finish and have less slip than silicon. Head to your local Sephora and try a few out (never be shy to ask for samples!) and see what feels best before buying.

Links to buy the above:

Got some primer picks to share with us?  Tweet to @thenadiae and @weraddicted with your faves.

Nadia Elkharadly

Nadia Elkharadly

Nadia Elkharadly is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of Addicted Magazine. Her myriad of addictions include music, fashion, travel, technology, boxing and trying to make the world a better place. Nadia is also a feminist, an animal lover, and a neverending dreamer. Keep up with her on social media through @thenadiae.
Nadia Elkharadly