Makeup Primer Definition

Foundation primer creates a smooth canvas for your skin.

Photo: Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images

If you could join the my-makeup-wears-off-by-noon club, then it’s time to dive into the world of makeup primers. Just like when you paint a wall, sometimes you have to add a little primer to make the application more even. However, not all primers are created alike. Finding the right one for you can mean the difference between faded and flawless.

How the Primer Works

Primers contain slippery-soft ingredients such as dimethicone, silicone and/or glycerin. If you rub the primer between your fingers, it should feel weightless. When applied to your skin, the ingredients smooth over imperfections (you know you have them) like fine lines, acne scars or acne blemishes. Just like after your trip to your facialist, your skin feels smoother and more even in texture after you apply the face primer. These ingredients also have some glue-like effects, helping to bind your foundation to the primer and, as a result, your skin. If extended-wear makeup isn’t quite working for you, primer can help you get there.

How You Wear It

Think of primers more like makeup and less like a skin-care product. This means you should apply your primer after you put on all your skin-care items like moisturizer, sunscreen, serums, gels -- you get the drift. But apply the primer before you put on the rest of your makeup. You can apply primer to any place you put your makeup. You may even find you need less makeup because your skin is so smooth.

Shine Control

Another function for your makeup primer, especially the oil-free varieties, is to control shine. This is because primers can act as a shield between the oil on your face and your makeup, so you will be less likely to get a case of oily face. Just to make sure your primer won’t clog your pores, read the label carefully for words like “noncomedogenic,” “oil free” or “won’t clog pores.”

Little Extras

You multitask in your daily life -- why should your primer be any different? Today’s primers can do more than just smooth your skin. Some primers are color-correcting, such as in shades of green to reduce redness in your skin. Others have aromatherapy benefits (think cucumbers and roses) to soothe a stress-filled day. If you love products that work hard for you, keep searching for a primer that can help you get the look you love.

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