We used to cleanse, tone and moisturize, then wait a while for our faces to re-calibrate before slapping on the foundation which was kept in place by powder (if we were lucky!) This worked quite well but then there were always cases when the foundation didn’t quite stick and the beautifully primed party face ended up sliding gravity aided towards our chins while we frantically tried everything from standing on our heads, dabbing on more powder or wiping in an upward motion what was left of our make – up artistry.

Well, I for one am happy to say that those days may well be behind us. While moisturizers are great, not all of them are actually any good under make-up. This is where we all say “Thank the beauty gods for Primers!”

A primer, like a moisturizer comes in all shapes and sizes. Most often sold as part of a mineral make-up regime they are also useful for the liquid foundation lover. Unlike moisturizers, primers have been developed with the prime focus of keeping your make-up where you put it.  Technically speaking the primer will still be formulated in a similar way to your traditional moisturizers – there will be a water phase and an oil or silicone phase that are brought together in an emulsion.   Often formulated as micro-emulsions, (smaller particles so quicker to rub in)  primers are designed to leave the surface of the skin dry to touch and with a  matt finish that has a chemical attraction for the pigment in make-up allowing it to adhere (or stick) to the surface of the skin more effectively.

The dry to the  touch finish of the primer can often (but not always) be attributed to the presence of silicones. There are some amazing silicone based ingredients out there that allow “oil free” moisturization claims, give a cashmere like softness to the cream or serum and make for a quick drying formulation. Even better is some silicones ability to “fill in” slight imperfections such as crows feet, open pores and lip wrinkles.  Your primer can really work miracles for your skin.

In addition to silicones, primers  often contain silica which is an ingredient added to help absorb excess oil from the skin. Silica  (also known as silicon dioxide or hydrated silica) are both of mineral origin.  Silica is often added to powdered cosmetics to prevent them “cakeing” or clumping up. The silica is very good at soaking up excess water and is therefore used to keep powdered cosmetics dry. In a primer they soak up water and oil from the skin and may also act to give the primer a slightly abrasive surface upon which the foundation pigments can stick.

If that is not enough, your primer may also contain other useful goodies such as UV actives, botanical extracts and vitamins which help to feed and protect the face under your daily make-up.

In general primers are not fragranced (or are at the very least minimally fragranced). This makes them good for problem skin as fragrance can often be the source of irritation, especially when used around the sensitive eye and lip area’s. Some primers are also formulated to be waterless and are presented as serums. These can often get away with a fairly low level of preservative due to their innocuous nature (water and aqueous botanicals are the most common ingredients requiring preserving). As preservatives are the other ingredient most likely to cause a skin reaction, a serum would make for a great choice for those with sensitive or damaged skin.

So, what is the best primer to go for?  Check out your current foundation range to see if they also make a primer. It will be highly likely that companies have designed a primer to be used with their range of foundations and minerals. While you probably don’t need to go with the range in all cases, it would be a great place to start.  If you are new to primers I would suggest trying out the  Becca primer and make up range as this has a fantastic SPF 30 courtesy of Zinc Oxide, Ubiquinone (aka Coenzyme Q10 – a  powerful anti-oxidant that feeds the skin from within and fights free radical damage).  Sounds yummy!  Just be aware that the Becca primer contains a low level of perfume – make sure you sensitive souls do a patch test first.

If you have more sensitive skin and want to avoid perfums go for the Laura Mercier Foundation Primer which contains vitamins A, E and C. This primer does contain a mix of preservatives but is not fragranced.  Another choice would be the Iman Cosmetics Under Cover Agent Oil Control Primer. This is a water in silicone mixed emulsion that contains a heavenly cocktail of natural extracts. While it doesn’t contain perfume it is preserved so again, try a patch test.

In the Professional Beauty world primers have been making models skin look flawless for decades. For some tips on how to apply your primer check out Professional Make-Up Artist: The Makeup Muse’s website.

Ready to get Primed? Check out the deals this week on the Adore Beauty Website here.

Can’t afford to add a primer to your regime?  Applying make-up over the top of  a traditional moisturiser can work well but try to avoid barrier creams,  heavy oil-based formulations, night creams and creams that are heavily perfumed.  Something as simple as an aqueous cream from your pharmacist  – give it a try!

Have fun!