Why you need a primer

Primers are the unsung heroes of your beauty kit. Working discreetly behind the scenes, especially compared to flashy foundations and brazen blushes, they smooth, brighten and blur the complexion. They also ensure the longevity of your makeup. In fact, they work so efficiently that they’ve been cloned in countless ways. Have enlarged pores? There’s a primer for that. So too for excess oil, dehydrated complexions and other skin concerns. This is prime time for primers. Here’s some guidance on selecting the right one for you.

Pore Minimisers

Prominent pores? No worries. There are plenty of options, with innovative ingredients and cashmere-like finishes, to reduce their appearance. One standout is Too Faced’s Primed & Poreless Skin Smoothing Face Primer, which smoothes, firms and hydrates the complexion. Happy, dewy skin holds makeup much more effectively. For a resurfacing primer that also diffuses imperfections, including fine lines and blemishes, look no further than NARS’ Smooth and Protect Primer. Laced with antioxidants and lightweight in texture, it applies evenly and prevents foundation settling in pores.

Too Faced Primed & Poreless Skin Smoothing Face Primer
NARS Smooth and Protect Primer
Smashbox Photo Finish Primer—Pore Minimising

Shine Deflectors

Mattifying primers are a blessing for those who prefer to keep shine at bay. Smashbox, the category leader with 15 primers to choose from, has a fanatical following for its oil-free Photo Finish Foundation Primer Light. It’s infused with peptides, antioxidants and vitamins that absorb oil, as well as light diffusers to help minimise the appearance of imperfections. Urban Decay De-Slick Complexion Primer also reduces shine, and it’s lightweight enough to even dab on top of makeup without disturbing the foundation underneath—perfect when you need to hit the refresh button.

Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer Light
NARS Pore & Shine Control Primer
Urban Decay De-Slick Complexion Primer

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Cold weather wreaks havoc on our complexions, so it might be wise to switch out your primer when combating patchy skin this winter. Hourglass No. 28 Primer Serum, a decadent oil formulation, ensures that foundation glides on effortlessly. Formulated with 14 essential oils, 10 plant oils and 4 vitamins (hence the 28 in the name), it’s deeply hydrating and remarkably nourishing. Another hard-working hydrator is Chantecaille’s Anti-Glycation Primer —consider it a liquid shield for your skin. It protects against the elements with an SPF, and even militates against the breakdown of collagen with anti-inflammatory ingredients.

Chantecaille Anti-glycation Primer
Hourglass No.28 Primer Serum
NARS Radiance Primer


When you want your makeup to have more endurance than a marathon runner, try a skin perfector that locks in your foundation. Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer SPF 15 is akin to a real-life Instagram filter that lasts for 12+ hours. This oil-free, mineral marvel preps the complexion, extends durability and blurs imperfections in just one pump. Little wonder it has over 50 five-star reviews on Tatcha Silk Canvas Protective Primer is inspired by the base formulas that geishas wear under their elaborate performance makeup. If you’ve ever seen a kimono-clad geisha perform, you know that keeping oil to a minimum is paramount.

Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer
Tatcha The Silk Canvas Protective Primer
Terrybly Densiliss Primer


Primers that address redness, sallowness and general dullness are inspired by the colour wheel. Green to neutralise red, purple for yellow undertones, and pink for luminosity. Stila One Step Correct Primer is a popular all-rounder. This lightweight, gel formula settles gently into the skin and provides a veil of balancing goodness. The green shade diminishes redness, the lavender hue counteracts sallowness and the peach elevates all over brightness. Meanwhile, Mecca Cosmetica Sun Kissed Bronzing Primer is ideal for adding a little Bali-inspire d glow, even if you haven’t deplaned at Denpasar. No need to resort to a darker foundation shade.

Mecca Cosmetica Sun Kissed Bronzing Primer
Stila One Step Correct Primer
Mecca Max 'Bring o n Bright' Illuminating Primer

Words by Emily Deacon
May 2018


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