Your guide to makeup primers – what, why and how to choose!

Your guide to primers!

Each time I tell a client I’m putting primer on their skin to prep for makeup application, I get mixed reactions. Sometimes it’s a knowing smile that says ‘primer-me-up-baby’; sometimes I get asked ‘what’s that again?’ and sometimes I get a cynical frown accompanied with the comment ‘does primer really do anything?’

In short, if you get the right primer for your skin, you won’t look back.

What’s primer again?

Think of primer as a smoothing and protecting product which helps perfect the skin’s surface for makeup application. Primer can certainly be moisturising, but it’s not strictly a moisturiser. If you have normal or dry skin, you should put your regular moisturiser on first. However, if you have really oily skin, a layer of primer without moisturiser is usually enough. As with any product you introduce into your routine, it’s a good idea to trial how it works best for you. I would start by completing your normal skin care routine, with primer last, right before makeup. For most people, that’ll work! If oil is still breaking through by early afternoon, try ditching your moisturiser and use only primer. Remember primer can’t stop your skin producing oil! But if you get a good one, it should control the appearance of the oils on your skin.

Primer can be a cream, lotion, gel, even a powder. Most primer packaging explains which skin type that product is best suited to, i.e. anti-ageing, oily/combination, dry skin, etc. If it doesn’t state specifically it’s safe to assume it’s a multi-purpose primer for all skin types. I recommend trying to source one that suits your skin type specifically.

Does primer really do anything?

Yes, if you get the right one. Just like you probably didn’t find your Holy Grail moisturiser the first time, the same is likely going to be true for primers. But once you find one that suits your needs, you really won’t be able to go back to not using primer!

Primer can do many things, including:

  • Smooth the skin’s surface – blur lines and blemishes, smooth uneven surface and even fill in larger pores.
  • Illuminate the skin – if you’re all about the highlight, you’ll be pleased to note the growing number of illuminating (light-reflecting) primers on the market.
  • Act as barrier between oil and makeup – if you have oily skin you know the battle; oil breaking through makeup by lunchtime! Primer can help absorb oil and prevent it upsetting your makeup.
  • Seal in moisture – if you feel like daily exposure to air conditioning, heating, wind and sun sucks your skin dry, a primer can help seal in that lovely moisturiser you applied as part of your skin care routine.
  • Boost the staying power of makeup – think of primer like the mediator between skin and makeup. It controls your skin’s tendencies while keeping your makeup happy!

It’s safe to say I’ve tried lots of primer products and I do have some favourites. Read on to find out which ones I recommend!

Weleda Skin Food – best suited to dehydrated skin that readily drinks in moisture!

Weleda Skin Food Review

If you’ve got skin that absorbs moisturiser as fast as you can slather it on, then this is the product for you. No, it doesn’t specifically say ‘primer’ anywhere on or near the packaging or product! However, there are plenty of blogs and posts and evidence to show that this is a wonderful primer. The nourishing ingredients absorb deep into the skin, but leave the lightest protective film on top of the skin. This product seems to work especially well if you use natural, organic or mineral foundation!

I have this product in my kit as a lip primer too, to soothe and smooth dry or cracked lips!

Find it at: Health food stores, selected pharmacies, David Jones and online. Psst – Nourished Life currently has this item on sale in a gift pack with 30ml free!

Issada Canvas Foundation Primer – perfect for all skin types!

Issada Canvas Foundation Primer Review

Discovering Issada makeup has been a blessing and not one in disguise! I struggle to make decisions because I am such a perfectionist so it is no mean feat that this brand just speaks to me on every level! The quality, the ingredients, the performance – it’s all well above the standard of many products on the market.

The Issada Canvas Foundation Primer has a hearty dose of aloe vera, which soothes and cools the skin. I’ve even been told to keep a bottle in the fridge in summer to help treat sunburn! Natural extracts of rose, jasmine and violet provide a lovely floral scent that is soft and calming. Almost all my clients have commented on the lovely fragrant nature of this primer and I’m pleased to tell them it’s not synthetic!

Find it at your nearest stockist location.

Youngblood Mineral Rice Setting Powder – best suited for those with oily skin or who love a matte-makeup finish!

Youngblood Loose Rice Setting Powder Review

OK, so two out of the three recommended primers aren’t even strictly that! But you know what, that’s GREAT because multi-tasking products save you money!

This Youngblood rice powder is silky and soft and can be used before and after applying makeup to prime and then set. The rice powder absorbs excess oil throughout the day, helping promote a matte, oil-free finish.

By sandwiching your foundation between two layers of this wondrous powder, you can feel confident your skin is protected from the midday oil slick.

I have used this method successfully with both powder and liquid foundations, although I would suggest it works optimally with a mineral powder or baked/pressed powder foundation.

You should use a lightweight, oil-free moisturiser first and then dust the powder over the top once it has completely absorbed. Dust it over your whole face, including eyelids, lips and jawline to prime and smooth the surface for makeup application!

Find your nearest stockist online.

Hit list! Vapour Stratus Soft Focus Instant Skin Perfector – s902

Vapour Stratus Soft Focus Instant Skin Perfector Review

So I haven’t actually tried this one (hence the ‘hit list!’ part) but I have the Vapour Atmosphere Soft Focus Foundation and it is heaven in a bottle. It’s in my list of favourite foundations ever (another blog post perhaps?!).

I’m dying to get my hands on a bottle of the Instant Skin Perfector – a primer and illuminator in one. The product has rave reviews and the ingredients list speaks to my soul! It’s available on one of my favourite beauty/wellness websites (hmm another blog right there) – right here on Nourished Life.

If you get your hands on it before I do, please let me know what you think! And if you’re still reading this post it’s my birthday this month so if you’d like to buy me a bottle for my birthday, that’s perfectly OK too…

I hope you’ve enjoyed my guide to primers! As you might be able to tell I do my best to promote brands that are natural, organic, ethical or ideally all three! Everything in this post is at least one of those things, so I hope you love them as much as I do and please email me if you do try any of the products to let me know what you think!

This post is not sponsored in any way.