Makeup Primer 101

22 February 2013

Makeup primer is one of those products that is either something you cannot live without, or something you cannot understand to save your life. While I definitely fall under the first category, I can understand how primer could be a little intimidating with so many options out there and very limited explanations as to what it truly does and how to properly use it. But I'm here to help!

Without further adieu, here is everything you need to know to get started with the magic that is primer!

What is makeup primer and how do I use it?
Makeup primer is essentially a product designed to create a smooth canvas for your skin and make your makeup last all day long. It generally comes in a tube or bottle, and can be applied similarly to a moisturizer or any other all-over skin cream. Put primer on after you have done your full skincare routine including cleansing, scrubbing etc., but before you start putting on any makeup like a foundation or powder.

Bonus Tip- Once you start getting a little more comfortable using primer, you can really play around with different ways to use it. As I've mentioned before, I like to mix my primer with foundation instead of applying it separately to lighten the coverage. Also, when I'm in a pinch for time or have run out of eye shadow primer, face primer works just as well for keeping eye makeup on all day.

Where can I buy primer?
Anywhere that sells makeup should also sell a pretty wide variety of primers. This includes cosmetic stores like Ulta and Sephora, as well as drugstores and supermarkets. I tend to buy most of my cosmetics from Ulta just because they send out coupons fairly often and I certainly will not pass up a chance to save money!

How do I know what primer to get?
It really all depends on what your specific skin needs are and what your budget is. With so many primers out there, I promise there will be one that is perfect for you. Sometimes it just takes a few duds to find the right one. I'll try to speed up the process with these suggestions:

If You Have Sensitive Skin- bareMinerals Prime Time Foundation Primer

If You Want to Minimize Redness- L'Oreal Paris Studio Secrets Professional Anti-Redness Primer

If You Have Oily Skin- Victoria's Secret Pro Airbrush FX Oil-Free Primer

If You Have Dry/Combination Skin- The Body Shop Vitamin C Skin Boost
P.S.- This one isn't labeled as a primer, but The Body Shop recommends you use it as one on their website. I use it all the time and I love how smooth it makes my skin! 

If You Need It to Last Through Anything- Shiseido Refining Makeup Primer

Have any other questions about primer? Feel free to ask below in the comments! 


  1. Ok, this may sound really silly but I'm new at this and don't want to be left in the dark! I have EXTREMELY oily skin with VERY large pores that is acne prone with redness. Is there a product perfect for my mess or can I mix primers to do everything I need one to do? Would mixing dilute the overall effectiveness?

    1. I would recommend sticking with a primer for oily skin. Generally, those formulations are also really good for reducing the look of larger pores as well. Here is a link to BareMinerals Oil Control Primer:http://www.ulta.com/ulta/browse/productDetail.jsp?productId=xlsImpprod4380093 Not only is it really great at keeping skin matte and pores small, but it's also formulated for sensitive skin so that will likely help with any redness brought on from skin sensitivity.

    2. You're the best, thanks!

  2. You should try using Monostat chaffing gel as a primer. I love it.

    1. Oh wow, I heard that suggestion ages ago and totally forgot about it! Thanks so much for the idea Rebecca, I'll have to give it a try! :)

  3. ELF has a really awesome eyelid primer. It is incredible and for just $3 you get not only the primer but also a sealer to turn any eyeshadow into a long lasting eyeliner! I have a problem with eyeliner running and eyeshadow not lasting long. This product duo solves these problems! I can use the eyeliner sealer over eye pencil and it makes it last all day.


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