If you watch a YouTube guru or a makeup tutorial online, there is about a 50% chance they are going to be putting primer on their bare skin. Only about 20% of those people that do will explain why they use primer, which isn’t very helpful if you’re trying to determine if you need it or not.
If you go to paint your walls, you’re probably going to need a coat of primer first, which covers the old color and gives you a clean, dry slate to work off of. Makeup primer follows the same principles, but on your face instead of the wall.
Primer is a base that smooths your skin, helps fill in pores, and creates a good strong foundation for the rest of your makeup to stick to. A primer will help smooth problem areas and ultimately ensure your makeup stays in place for longer.
What primer does beyond that depends on what type you choose, and your specific needs. Some kinds help fight oil, so you don’t get shiny throughout the day. Some help to prevent dry skin, so you’re not flaking off makeup halfway through your day. It all depends on what you choose and what you need.
Your primer is going to go on first before you add any other makeup to the equation. If you have a normal skincare routine, follow that and give your skin a few minutes to let the products sink in. Lotion or sunscreen especially should be allowed to seep into your skin before you add anything else on top of it.
Once your skin is dry, clean, and ready for makeup, start your primer. Apply it to all the places you’re going to have makeup on that day, so don’t forget your neck and the area underneath your eyes. Don’t bother breaking out any tools, just use your clean fingers and gently rub it into your skin.
Depending on the type of primer you’ve chosen, your skin is going to feel smooth quickly. Rub the primer in completely and let it dry before you continue your normal makeup routine. If you have a big wet spot, your foundation could cling to it.
This is a harder question to answer because everyone’s needs are different. There are gel, cream, and powder primers, and they all work differently based on your skin needs. If you have sensitive skin, or suffer from cystic or chronic acne, make sure you patch test any primer before you use it. Some people report allergic reactions or outbreaks to silicone-based primers, though it isn’t very common.
If you struggle with redness, go with a green tint to help balance your skin. If you want something to smooth every piece of skin to help create that airbrushed all day look, go with a gel. If you don’t struggle with your makeup ‘melting’ off anywhere but your eyelids, check out the eye-specific primers on the market for eyeshadow.
You don’t have to spend a ton of money to include a primer in your daily makeup routine. There are drugstore and high-end brands both that do well, and testing some to see what your skin likes best, and what works best with your current makeup routine, is the best option. But primer should be standard in your makeup arsenal for long-lasting wear and a perfect finish!