It would be nice if every woman could look like Linda Evangelista to begin with–and then only need a touch of L’Oreal’s Studio Secrets Magic Perfecting Base to create a smooth, flawless finish on skin. That’s the promise behind the makeup primer that bears Linda’s face in ads right now. But do you really even need a makeup primer?
The answer: it depends.
Face, eye and lip makeup primers. There are three primary types of primers–those for face, eyes and lips. L’Oreal Magic Perfecting Base is for face–it’s to be worn under foundation (and over sunscreen, if you really want to get technical here). Most makeup primers are for face. Eyeshadow primers are obviously for eyelids and lip primers are for (drumroll please) lips. All three have a couple of things in common: they soften lines and creases and help makeup last longer. In fact, if you’ve ever painted a wall and used primer paint, you’ve basically mastered the concept behind makeup primers.
The magic primer ingredient: silicone. The majority of makeup primers are silicone-based–look for ingredients such as dimethicone, silica–they’re the silicone-based ingredients that give the primer its silky, slippery smooth feeling. If you’ve ever tried Smashbox Photo Finish which is more of a liquid-based primer than L’Oreal Magic Perfecting Base, you’ve felt the silicone. The idea behind silicone-based ingredients is that they don’t settle completely into the skin; rather they “sit” on the skin, creating a floating effect for anything that happens to rest on top of it. It’s like a pillowy foundation for your foundation.
You’ll find that lip primers and eyeshadow primers tend to be a bit more creamy in nature–with not as much of a slip factor. The reason is that with eyes and lips, you’re going for color payoff–so primer for these areas has to have greater ability to “hold” the color.
But do you need a primer? Chances are, no. For the most part, eyelids and lips can get similar results by using a dab of your regular foundation right on the eyelid or lips themselves–particularly now when temperatures have been on the rise in the northeast with no relief in sight.
However, a full makeup primer does help “set” makeup for a night out or a special event–and one in air conditioning. It will also help those with skin of a certain age soften fine lines for smoother foundation application. But the key here is that you really want the primer to be the first thing you’re wearing on clean skin for it to work best. So using a primer every day–when you need to first apply sunscreen–isn’t ideal. Best bet: use makeup primer when you really want to create a flawless look with makeup. Best tip: make sure you apply evenly and let it “set” for a minute or two before applying your foundation.