Everything you need to know about makeup primers

Everything you need to know about makeup primers

Model PHOTO: Carlyle Routh | Product PHOTO: Geoffrey Ross


Everything you need to know about makeup primers

Consider primer an important building block of your makeup look. It’s the step that holds everything together.

In the prime

You’ve no shortage of options to suit your needs when it comes to primer.


(Clockwise from top) L’Oréal Paris Magic Lumi Light Infusing Primer, $18, Sisley-Paris Instant Correct Color Correcting Primer in Just Rosy, $115, CoverGirl TruBlend Base Business Primer in Pore Minimizing, $14, Charlotte Tilbury Wonderglow Face Primer, $65, Lise Watier Luminous Correcting Primer in Green, $40, Guerlain L’Or Radiance Concentrate With Pure Gold, $82, Nude by Nature Perfecting Primer, $32,

PRO TIP: Wait one to two minutes (or until the primer is completely dry) before applying your foundation.


Find your colour correcting primer

Primers can even out skin tone, illuminate complexions and reduce redness. 


(From left) Smashbox Photo Finish Reduce Redness Primer, $50, Lancôme Miracle CC Cushion, $45, NYX Cosmetics Colour Correcting Liquid Primer, $18,

GREEN: Green-tinted primers will help neutralize redness, which is especially helpful if you have rosacea or you’re in the midst of a breakout. 

PURPLE: Primers with a purple hue help combat yellow or sallow tones. If you think your skin looks dull, this one is your best bet. 

PEACH OR PINK: If discoloration is your concern, opt for a peach or pink primer, which brightens while helping neutralize blue and purple tones. 


Prime directives

We tapped Victor Casale, cofounder and senior research and development adviser at Cover FX—a primer-rich Canadian brand—to answer some of our basic questions about primer.

What does primer do?

“First and foremost, primers are designed and formulated to help makeup wear better and longer,” says Casale. It’s the invisible step that truly makes your makeup application easier and your product wear longer.

When do I apply primer?

Primer is the first step of your makeup routine, which means it directly follows the last step of your skin-care regimen (which should be SPF). After applying primer, continue with the rest of your makeup application, including foundation and concealer.

Is primer really necessary?

“Although primer does add another step, it’s important, given the many benefits one formula can have,” says Casale. “Primer can alter the skin’s finish while also extending makeup wear; with its other skin-care benefits, it’s a true all-in-one product.”


Next-level primers

The chief trend? Innovative options that address more than just makeup by including skin-care benefits. “Makeup and skin care have been blending for some time, and primers are certainly at the forefront of that movement,” says Casale. 

FIGHTS: Pollution

This pick is cooling and quickly absorbed, but the real story is that it protects against pollution, environmental stressors and blue light (from your screens), thanks to plankton extract. 


Cover FX Water Cloud Primer, $46,

FIGHTS: Signs of aging 

If you’re looking for a primer that more broadly addresses a range of skin concerns—think fine lines, uneven texture and enlarged pores—opt for one with ingredients such as vitamin E and other antioxidants. 


BareMinerals Prime Time Foundation Primer, $31,


This primer helps minimize pores and control oil in the short term, but with the addition of tea tree oil, you can count on it to minimize future breakouts, too. 


The Body Shop Tea Tree Pore Minimiser, $20,



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Everything you need to know about makeup primers