A Do-it-all Solution?

Many primers claim to reduce wrinkles and fine lines, fight acne and provide sun protection. Is it possible all these benefits can come in one $40 bottle of primer? Before you dump your makeup bag for an all-in-one fix, take a closer look at a sample of a typical primer's ingredients -- beyond preservatives, botanical oils and water -- and what they're meant to do:

Cyclomethicone is a silicone grease reducer

Dimethicone crosspolymer is a skin protectant

Retinyl palmitate is an ingredient that reduces flaking and restores suppleness

Tocopheryl acetate is a skin conditioning antioxidant

Propylene glycol is a moisturizer [source: Cosmetics Info].

Benefits of Makeup Primer

Covering the color crimson with tan can be an impossible feat when painting a room, unless you first paint the room with primer. White and opaque, primer is a preventive measure that can treat walls with bright colors before you paint them a lighter shade. It also functions as a primary layer of coverage, smoothing out any nicks sanding might not have fixed.

The purpose of facial primer is no different from paint primer -- just think of your skin as the wall with its natural imperfections and color challenges. Makeup primer, a gel applied after moisturizer and before foundation, provides a smooth surface on which to apply makeup, and it can also help keep your makeup in place, which is especially important during humid summer months or long days at the office.

When using certain brands and types of primer, the benefits can go beyond smooth, flawless skin. Many primers contain minerals that can even out skin tone, decrease breakouts and prevent dryness. Silica, also known as silicone dioxide, is the mineral commonly found in primers to control shine [source: Cosmetics Info]. In addition to silica-type ingredients, primers that contain waxes and polymers help makeup stay put by creating a stronger bond between your skin and your foundation.

Finding a primer that works for all occasions and skin needs is a process not unlike choosing a foundation. Keep reading to find out how to choose the primer that's right for you.