Makeup Primer Basics

Makeup primer is often applied to increase longevity of other makeups applied over top.
Makeup primer is often applied to increase longevity of other makeups applied over top. See more makeup tips pictures.
© Aleksandrova

If you've ever wondered how models have such glowing, flawless skin, the answer may be in their makeup primer. Because makeup primer has the unique ability to fill in fine lines and wrinkles, using primer as a layer between your skin and foundation provides the base necessary to create the appearance of perfect skin at any age [source: WebMD].

"Melt proof" is a common buzzword associated with primers, but there are several benefits to wearing a layer of priming gel besides just extending the life of your foundation. Primer can help prevent unsightly creases in eye shadow and streaks in foundation, it can control the appearance of shine, and it can prevent makeup from flaking [source: WebMD].


There are a variety of primers available that can suit any skin type -- they can be transparent or tinted, moisturizing or drying and specially formulated for different parts of the face. In fact, selecting the correct primer for your skin type or tone is no different from selecting the correct foundation.

Although it may seem daunting to add yet another step to your morning routing, you may find the results of using primer are well worth the few minutes spent applying it. Whether you need a little dab or a large dollop, these quick-fix gels can be applied and set in the amount of time it takes to brush and floss your teeth. By following the same application technique you use for moisturizer, you can apply primer to your cheeks, eyes and lips. A little extra primer on the areas where color fades can eliminate powder touch-ups or blotting sessions later [source: Langton].

Primers minimize fine lines, temporarily remove dark spots and set the canvas for makeup coverage that lasts beyond the workday. Read on to discover other ways a little bit of primer can do wonders for your look.




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.


Types of Makeup Primer

When you shop for a primer, you may be overwhelmed by the variety of choices on the market. The first step is to identify whether you need an oil-reducing or hydrating base from which to start your makeup application. Primers come in many shades and several types, but they're labeled by function and where they're intended to be applied. If you like to keep your eye makeup in place and prevent creases, there are primers that are transparent and safe for eyes. If you want to avoid smearing or feathering lipstick, there's a type of primer that will keep your lip color in place.

If you're interested in full-face coverage, there are both translucent and tinted primers that go on like a moisturizer and keep your foundation from sweating or rubbing off. These primers minimize wrinkles and provide extra coverage for areas with dark spots or blemishes. If you don't have many lines or spots that require added cover, makeup primers could actually save you time -- they're tinted in many skin-matching shades, so you can skip foundation and go right for the finishing powder.


Once you've chosen the perfect primer, learn how to apply it by reading the next page.

Makeup Primer Application Tips

It's no laughing matter when your eye makeup makes you look like a clown, but makeup primer can keep everything in place on your face and get you through the rigors of the day. Begin the application process with a gentle cleaning and then pat skin dry. Rub a moisturizer into your face in outward strokes with a sponge, and then wait at least three minutes before applying a thin layer of primer [source: Langston].

When applying primer, use the same technique you use to apply moisturizer. Put a small amount of primer on the back of your hand, and then dab a makeup sponge into the gel and apply it to your face using sweeping motions. Wait a few minutes for the gel to sink into your skin before applying your next layer of makeup. In some cases, women opt not to use foundation and simply follow primer with finishing powder. If you're using an eyelid primer, you can also mix the primer gel with eye shadow for even longer-lasting color.


In areas where makeup feathers, creases and fades the fastest, and on hard-to-cover areas such as wrinkles around the eyes and mouth, experts suggest applying more primer and using your fingertips instead of a sponge [source: Hertzig]. If you're prone to breakouts or uneven skin texture, proper exfoliation each week coupled with the right primer for your complexion can help create a flawless look. In some cases, primer can even minimize the appearance of large pores.

Adding primer to your makeup bag can improve fine lines and wrinkles and provide long-lasting coverage for all skin types. For more information on using makeup primer, check out the links on the next page.


Lots More Information

Related Articles

  • American Academy of Dermatology. "Cosmeceutical Facts and Your Skin." 2005. (Accessed 8/11/09)
  • Associated Content. "How to Choose and Apply Foundation Primer". Nov. 3, 2007. (Accessed 8/11/09)
  • CosmeticsInfo. Silica. Nov. 28, 2007. (Accessed 8/11/09)
  • Hertzig, Alyssa Kolksy. "9 Summer Makeup Tips". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. May 29, 2009. (Accessed 8/11/09)
  • Kashuk, Sonia. "Step-by-Step Makeup Application". Ladies Home Journal. 2009. (Accessed 8/11/09);jsessionid=3BZRWO2P5Y2SMCQCEASB5VQ?page=2
  • Langston, Eleanor. "Meltproof Your Makeup". Self. June 2009. (Accessed 8/11/09)
  • WebMD. "Oscar Winner Beauty Tricks That Really Work". Feb. 23, 2006. (Accessed 8/11/09)
  • WiseGeek. "What is Makeup Primer?" (Accessed 8/11/09)