Primer: Is it worth it?

For me, primer has always been one of those products that I’ve never bothered with. It just seemed like another unnecessary layer, an expensive one at that, and I prefer to keep things as minimal as possible. Whenever I read articles by makeup artists though, they always use a primer without exception, so I thought I should maybe give it a try to see what all the fuss is about.

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So what is a primer?

Primer should be applied after moisturiser and before foundation. It is supposed to smooth skin tone, hydrate, keep foundation in place for longer and generally give you a much better, glowing complexion. It can also be used by itself for a natural look during the day.

To sum it up, the two things I’m hoping my primer achieves is to keep my makeup in place for a lot longer and to give me a more even skin tone.

Is there a downside?

There is a big debate surrounding primer and whether it’s good or bad for your skin. On the one hand, the silicone-based ingredients which are normally found in primers such as Dimethicone are often used in skin-protecting products or for fighting spots. On the other hand, some complain that these same ingredients can trap oil in the pores and cause breakouts and irritation. Primers can also be quite expensive.

My Choice: NARS Pro-Prime Pore Refining Primer (£23)

I knew I wanted an oil-free primer, and after a fair amount of research I plumped for this one by NARS. It had a lot of good reviews and wasn’t crazily expensive.

I tried it before applying some Bare Minerals Original Foundation. This mineral-based powder foundation is beautiful and great for skin, but I sometimes find it can start to slide off during the day and it is very lightweight so doesn’t provide much coverage.

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Initial reactions: This primer actually feels lovely and glides on really easily. It’s very light and not too creamy, making it perfect for combination/oily skin. However, I’m not sure if I really noticed any difference in the appearance of my complexion. I don’t think it did anything to smooth or make pores less visible.

Later that day: Although I wasn’t impressed at first, I definitely feel it helped my makeup to last longer and stopped foundation from fading. Usually, after a few hours of wearing this Bare Minerals foundation, I have to dust on a bit of powder to keep it looking fresh. I didn’t need to with the NARS primer. I’ve also worn it a couple of times now and had no negative reaction.

Verdict: 7/10

I do think primer helps to keep foundation in place for longer, so I recommend using it if you’re going to be out for a while and need your makeup to last. I’ve been converted it seems! Although if you have very sensitive skin, the potential risk of irritation may outweigh the benefits.

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After some research on which primers seem to be the most popular with both professionals and amateurs, these are my recommendations:

Best for Dry Skin: Laura Mercier Foundation Primer  (£29) or Clinique Superprimer Face Primer (£20).

Best for Combination/Oily: NARS Pro-Prime Pore-Refining Primer (£23) or Benefit Porefessional Primer (£24.50).

Best All-Rounder: Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer (£28).

What do you think of primers? Are they worth the money in your opinion? If so, do you have any recommendations? Please comment below if you do!

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Hi, I'm Jo. A marketing girl with a love of bold lips, luxury skincare, delicious food, and travelling to new places. Continuing to blog all my adventures...

12 thoughts on “Primer: Is it worth it?

  1. Personally, I don’t wear foundation, so I don’t use face primer much either. I only use a CC cream on my face most of the time. But when use lip primer and eye primer, and those really help the products to stay longer and especially eye primer makes the eyeshadows look so much more vivid, I’d say. I have tried different ones and right now the too faced eyeshadow insurance is my go to primer.

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  2. Hey, great review!

    I have used the Clinique Primer in the past with the Clinique Foundation (Even Better) and it kinda helped. I have oily skin but I think it didn’t do much especially around the nose. I also used the L’Oreal Studio Primer and it was so much better than the Clinique. I use currently the Stila one and it is a very good product. I’ve heard about the NARS primer as well and I think I will give it a go. But I think the best are the eye primers I agree as well especially if you get oily lids. The shadows stay in place. I use the Urban Decay one. It’s great!

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    1. I’ve heard lots of people say the urban decay eye primer is amazing so I think I might have to buy it myself! At the moment I’ve just been using eye cream but I think I need something a bit stronger. That’s a shame about the Clinique primer though. I’ve seen some people say it’s good for dry skin but maybe not for oily? Thanks for the tips anyway! xx

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  3. I’ve tried so many primers and I have my favorites. The original Smashbox Photofinish is the first primer I ever used and it works really well with Bare Minerals. You can find lots of inexpensive dupes for it with a little research. Right now, I use the L’Oreal Magic Perfecting Base in my T-Zone then another primer (usually my Rimmel Stay Matte) on the rest of my face as I have combo/oily skin. Remember to give the primer a minute or 2 to absorb & set before moving onto foundation.

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