Every masterpiece starts with a blank canvas. The same concept applies to makeup – when it’s done well. But to start with a truly fresh face means more than just moisturizer. Primer is a crucial step in perfecting your makeup and creates a smooth complexion to work with. Skipping primer can make the difference between flawless makeup that stays put and smudgy makeup you have to babysit. Read on for our guide to primer and how to find the right kind for you.
What a primer does
A primer is a pretty self-explanatory tool – it primes your skin for makeup. Most primers don’t do much in terms of moisturizing, so it’s important to differentiate between a moisturizer and primer. While a moisturizer is crucial to maintaining healthy skin, a primer helps smooth out your complexion to help your foundation, powder or concealor go on more evenly. It can also act as a sort of glue – minus the sticky part – to help your makeup stay on better and get the most out of its longevity. The extra step may seem like a pain at first, but the difference is noticeable and makes it well worth it.
There's a primer for everyone
As primers become more popular, cosmetic companies are releasing primers with varying bases (gel, lotion or cream) and with added benefits. Many primers have light-reflecting particles to make your skin look more radiant and give you an overall glow. There are also tinted primers for those looking to add some subtle colour (hello, pasty winter complexion). The rule of thumb for choosing your primer base are the same as moisturizer:
For oily skin types: Stick to a gel-based or light lotion primer. Some primers tote extra protection for those plagued by oily skin complications. Try Bare Escentuals Prime Time Foundation Primer Oil Control, $21.
For dry skin types: A lotion or cream-based primer will help fill in and smooth any leftover dryness your moisturizer doesn’t take care of. Try Laura Mercier Foundation Primer – Hydrating, $30. It’s lightweight but it keeps skin hydrated.
The best go-to: Veteran makeup artist Cheryl Gushue touts the Cover FX line of primers as her favourite. Try Cover FX BritePrep FX, $45. It’s SPF 50 and helps skin look brighter – plus, it’s gentle for those with sensitive skin.