Rant & Rave: Face Primer

Tell us what you love and hate about...

Face Primer

I so rarely wear it that I don’t really have any major rants! I think it can be a useful step for anyone who has skin that seems to break down foundation quickly or needs extra-long wear.

— Christine


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Susan Avatar

I love that it blurs my pores and makes my older skin look better. I need less foundation when I wear primer and sometimes wear only a tinted primer. Benefit’s Porefessional is my fave.

Joan Avatar

With my really dry skin I love to use hydrating primers, and I love trying different ones! I also don’t mind some of the radiance or smoothing ones. I think the only issue I have with primers is how many Benefit porefessionals come my way, I cannot stand that primer and I have soooo many samples.

Rachel R. Avatar

Mostly love! They are a godsend for my oily skin. They help keep foundations and other makeup from oxidizing on me, and they definitely extend the wear time.

A couple rants: It can be tricky knowing what types of primers work with which foundations. I’m not fond of super-heavy silicon primers such as theBalm Time Balm. They make me break out.

Nancy T Avatar

Unfortunately, I truly need to use primer due to having somewhat large pores, in order to keep foundation from pooling in them and also in my deep expression lines. So, even though I am not fan of the Benefit brand, I absolutely love how The Porefessional makes my skin look underneath my foundation! It keeps my natural oils from breaking it down and that unsightly pooling that results from that.

Lesley Avatar

I always always wear face primer and have done so as long as I can remember because I am sensitive about my pores, so for me blurring the pores on my nose and cheeks is an absolute requirement. Benefit PoreFessional is the HG and I also like Dr. Brandt but I need to find something new now that is cruelty free. I don’t mind silicone so long as it does not create shine and look too oily. I think so-called radiance primers are an abomination and magnify fine lines and poor skin texture. So called moisturizing primers are okay but I don’t see much difference between their effect. and that of a light moisturizer so I question whether they are needed. Finally products that combine sunscreen and primer like La Roche-Posay and Murad Invisiblur are much too heavy on the skin when you apply enough to get the sun protection. I think about primer a lot.

Sarah Avatar

I love a primer that can blur pores and fine lines, but I don’t like some the silicone based primers very much (the exception is the Smashbox primer, that’s good stuff). I find that they tend to pill and look unattractive under my foundation.

Primer isn’t a huge must for me, but I like having that step. I feel like it allows my makeup to last longer.

Another Deb Avatar

I wear primer without foundation! I’m devoted to Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer, but I keep meaning to try a few others as well. I’m too lazy to wear foundation except on very special occasions (and then it’s sheer and not done very well because I have so little practice) but primer softens the appearance of my skin, helps the rest of my makeup go on smoothly, and keeps my T-zone under control. It’s a little odd, but it works for me.

Mariella Avatar

I have a few primers that I like so much that I wear them even if I’m not wearing foundation! Lise Watier Base Miracle, Becca’s Backlight Filter and First Light Primers and even Hourglass Mineral Veil (though I am no longer purchasing Hourglass products). I love how they make my bare complexion look and I love how they help foundations apply smoothly and porelessly.

Mariella Avatar

My own personal boycott. I got really annoyed a few years back, when their Holiday palette of blush/ambient light powder/bronzer was priced to be considerably higher per ounce than their regular powders. At a time of year when other companies are giving customers a bit of added value, Hourglass was ripping them off. They’re hardly an “economy” brand in any case – their prices are fairly steep. So making things even pricier during the holiday season seemed really greedy. Then they did it again the NEXT year and the year after that…. As a consumer, it made me angry and I stopped purchasing from them. I noticed that at least at my local Sephora, many of these overpriced “special release” palettes didn’t sell out so I’m guessing others showed their displeasure by spending elsewhere also. And it was actually thanks to Christine, with her cost calculations/comparisons, that I learned they were charging something like $75 for $50 worth of product (or something like that).

CeeBee Avatar

I too, refuse to buy Hourglass.

I got irritated by the super spendy but low value blush powder palettes, the lack of suitable shades for deeper skin tones and then when I realized the holiday set for those lovely, expensive and ridiculously tiny Confessions Ultra Slim lipsticks is designed to look like luxurious cigarette packaging, that just sealed the deal for me.

Mariella Avatar

Exactly! It’s not like Hourglass is a bargain priced product so that a few extra dollars for something special isn’t that big a deal. I looked back to Christine’s review of the 2015 6 pan palette just to check the value. Not only were the pans so tiny that it was hard to get any sort of face brush into them, but the palette was priced at $80 (US – I think it was $95 here in Canada) for a measly $48.05 worth of product. Mineral Veil Primer is now $63 (CDN) and I used to be willing to pay that for a product that I liked but that all changed when that rip off took place (and, again, it’s a time of year when most other companies – even the higher end ones – seem to offer a little more for our money). And those slim lipsticks – just outrageous! So many companies offer lip products every bit as good, if not better, and at less insane price points.

Beth Avatar

I have ridiculously oily skin, and a primer plus setting powder does a great job of minimizing shine for me. I rarely wear foundation because my skin hates the stuff, but when I do I have to have an oil control primer in place otherwise the foundation slides right off and ends up a gooey mess on my face.

janine Avatar

I use primer every time with base but can’t really tell it does much. I work long hrs 12-14 days. I have big pores and wrinkles so I hope it helps. My skin feels a bit dry so I got the hangover one thought it was hydrating but can’t tell a difference.

I’ve used Smashbox, ordinary, Becca ( the shiny one), hourglass ( the white one) and a ton of Mac samples.

I have a Lancôme one that really blues but when you put makeup over it seems to negate the effect.

AB Avatar

Rant: Some make me break out, and I don’t know yet what the trigger is. The exploration is no fun.
Rave: Lately I’ve settled on using Laura Mercier primers, (blemish-free, protect, radiance) and I’m very happy with how I don’t break out as much as I did when I didn’t use a primer. Plus they give a bit of a smoother palette for foundation.

xamyx Avatar

I don’t use primer every time I wear foundation, but I love the fact it is available for when I need it. I have normal-dry skin, and if I need to pull out a heavier moisturizer, I will use a primer to keep my foundation from breaking down, since I don’t powder all over. The same goes for when I’m using a heavier sunscreen. Most days, however, I don’t always remember to bother with it…

Anne Avatar

I have pretty dry skin so I find a hydrating primer is a good idea if I’m wearing medium to full coverage foundations or if I plan on wearing foundation for more than say, 4 hours. I also like mixing certain illuminating primers in with my foundation as they can give that “natural” glow look without a lot of highlighter use.

Mariella Avatar

Hey, Genevieve, Nude by Nature is coming to Canada. Shoppers Drug Mart is discontinuing GOSH (a shame really) and replacing with Nude by Nature. Seeing this recommendation from you is good info for me because it’s a product line about which I know absolutely nothing (except that it’s “natural” – whatever that means – and cruelty free and from Australia). If there are other products you can recommend, I’ll be sure to check them out.

Genevieve Avatar

I know Mariella that lots of brands advertise ‘natural’ without it being natural at all. But this brand is well regarded here in Aus. as the quality is pretty good.
Products I have tried from them are their face primer (which was recommended to me by a makeup artist) and I have used this consistently for the past 2-3 years.
Another is their BB Creme in porcelain – excellent product.
My sister has their eyeshadow trio in Smokey and she loves it.
I haven’t tried their foundations as they are about to add in more shades and I wanted one light enough. But from the samples I have had it has been of really good quality – medium coverage, long wearing.
Their setting powders, brushes and blushes are meant to be really good too.

Mariella Avatar

I looked the up specifically to see the primer that you like. I saw their single eyeshadows and was instantly interested – there are 3 or 4 (or 5 or 6) that I really like. I looked at the 3 Trios they have – Natural, Rose Gold and Smokey – and while they’re not things I need, they look so nice, wearable and practical. I’m also interested in that angled blush brush (I really need to replace mine and bought an ELF one that I am not happy with at all)

Deborah S. Avatar

I use primer pretty much everyday or at least whenever I wear makeup. I like trying new primers, looking for the next best thing.
Rants: Very few or I wouldn’t wear daily but some really make my skin feel greasy and I am a dry skinned gal. Some feel heavy on the skin and I don’t like that sensation.
Raves: I love smoothing primers as they really help my foundation glide on and make my skin appear smoother than it really is. I don’t care as much about increasing length of wear as I use to when I worked a 12 hour day. I haven’t tried the Touche E’Clat primer and I really want to try that one. I also like the Smashbox Primer Water and their Primerizer. I like Benefit Porefessinal but the separation in the tube really annoys me.

anne Avatar

i wear foundation very infrequently. i have a drawer full of them, many high end, but none of them match my skin tone exactly and i really have to work hard to get them to look like skin, and not to emphasize pores and fine lines. to me, it’s not worth it. however, i do use primer every time i apply makeup, without foundation, but with a charlotte tilbury product called movie star glow (i hope that’s the correct name) for some color on my very pale skin. then blush and eyes and that’s it. so i like blurring primer without foundation.

Susan Dowman Nevling Avatar

I virtually always use primers. It smooths my skin and helps my foundation last longer..
My favorites are Too Faced (?) Hangover Primer, Dr Brandts primer that minimizes pores (my nose) and several of Laura Merciers primers.
I intensely dislike primers that pill either upon application or after foundation is applied.

bibi Avatar

I use them in the Winter because my dry skin gets extra dry. Although I’m usually a Dept store beauty snob I tried the new ELF Beauty Shield Primer with 50spf on the recommendation of a friend & loved it! It totally works as well as or better than my $$$’s faves like REN Perfect Canvas Silicone-Free & Urban Decay Optical Illusion Complexion Primer & blurs my pores & fine lines as well.

Fantaji Avatar

Rant: pretty much every primer that does anything but moisturize breaks me out. I don’t even bother anymore. Just use my moisturizing sunscreen (Kypris Heliotropic) as a primer.

Silvia Avatar

I have used a few and also they all brake me out. I have some left and will not bother to use again instead moisturize under foundation I been using Cera Vé and my light foundation hits on smooth. That’s all I need for now.

Bonnie Avatar

Ideally, I would use a few different ones for all my skin’s different needs – a line blurring one on my forehead, a luminizing one of my cheeks, and a blemish fighting one on my chin, nose, and area right under the nose. But in the real world, I just grab one, depending on which seems most pressing, or which one is most readily available, and use that.

Silvia Avatar

I tried a few and not trying another. I couldn’t say I noticed any great improvement of anything in my face having pretty goid clear skin. I use them instead for applying eyeshadowsxesoecually super shocks or any glittery ones but even then rarely only to finish them up. Just don’t find them necessary. and they’ll break me out also so goodbye primer invention.

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