I've been testing out a few new primers and smoothing products and thought I'd share my favorite staple primers along with some new discoveries. I'm not typically a primer kind of person. I've found most that I've tried don't really do much to extend the wear of makeup and end up adding an extra layer of product on my face that I don't really need. I've tried dozens of primers at makeover events and from tiny sample packets. There are so may different options on the market these days it can be a bit overwhelming. Different products offer a multitude of effects. Some will smooth the overall look of your skin, add a glow, give a matte look and then there are some that are just basic primers to help the application of your foundation. I have normal and sensitive skin. For your reference I've broken down my primer picks into two main different categories:
- Tom Ford Illuminating Primer ($72 for 1 fl oz) is one of the best glow primers I've ever tried. I tested this on numerous occasions each time I was able to visit a Tom Ford counter under both the foundation stick and liquid formula. The counters kindly made a few small samples for me to test before I caved and purchased the full size (I'm still in price shock). The Tom Ford primer is packaged with a clever twist pump dispenser. It has a soothing fresh scent with a slight herbal undertone. What I like about this one is that has a more yellow-like pearly glow which I found perfect for my needs (most I've seen have a pinkish glow). It helps extend the wear of makeup and adds a glow without making you greasy. It helps smooth the skin and adds an all over glow to prevent your makeup from looking flat. Be aware that this is on the dewy side, if you're oily I wouldn't recommend this one. I also found this one works best with the Tom Ford Foundations. See The Convenient Beauty's review.
- NARS Pro-Prime Radiance Enhancing Primer ($34 for 1.1 oz) is the next best alternative to Tom Ford's primer at a more affordable price. It has a reflective pearl quality that is the perfect mix of opal, gold and champagne. It has SPF 15 and a little goes a long way. I find this one photographs well with a flash. It has a creamy but thin and easy to blend texture to give an all over glow without being too glowy. Lasting power is better than average for me but it won't make your makeup last all day long (you will need a touch up in the afternoon). I really like this for the effect it gives and how it helps makeup look smoother.
- MAC Strobe Liquid ($32 for 1.7 fl oz) isn't really a traditional primer, but I like to use it as one over moisturizer and underneath liquid or powder makeup. It's another great smoothing glow product with a super thin liquid texture. It dries well to help makeup stay in place and prevents it from sliding around - but note you only need a tiny bit on the face. It's on the more glowy side so I would recommend topping with a regular powder or foundation. This one is also good for mixing in with foundations to add a glow without making you look white. It has a more opal/blueish sheen.
- Chanel Base Lumiere Illuminating Makeup Base ($45 for 1 fl oz) is one of the most fluid primer/bases I've ever tried. (I've repurchased this multiple times.) It has a blueish violet sheen but it disppears into a clear finish on the skin. The key to using this is to make sure you use a thinner lightweight moisturizer underneath otherwise it will make the skin oily. If you're a serum + moisturizer kind of person, I would recommend skipping one of the items before using this one. I like this best with Chanel foundations as it helps prime the skin with a subtle glow and also helps extend the wear of foundation. Make sure you use as little as possible - if you overdo it it will be too heavy and feel thick on the skin.
- Lancome Visionnaire 1-Minute Blur ($55 for 1 fl oz) is currently available at Sephora locations in the US. I received a press sample of this (hence the white lab tube). It's a skin smoother/finisher designed to smooth the skin, erase imperfections and pores. It has a creamy neutral colored texture that disappears on the skin. This video has a good visual of what this will do for the skin. I suggest testing at the store if you can, reviews indicate this is either a hit or miss. I saw a noticeable difference in my skin texture when using this and used it under a liquid foundation (tested with Chanel and NARS). I loved the results for the overall look and it truly erased any signs of pores on my face. It helped my makeup last all day long (quite impressive) well through the evening. There is a very light fragrance to this which I found on the subtle side. The only thing I didn't like about this was that I could actually feel the layer of product on my face - not necessarily a bad thing, but I tend to prefer face makeup that is more weightless and thinner in texture.
- Clinique Superprimer Color Correcting ($27 for 1 oz) I bought this at Sephora after reading rave reviews about the Superprimers. I was a bit overwhelmed with the color options and honestly have no idea if I picked the right one for me. I decided to go with the peach color corrector since traditional white ones are often too pale and white for my olive skin. I didn't notice any color correcting quality with this one but the color matched my skin pretty well once blended. It has a thicker airy creamy texture that has a velvety feel on the skin. The result: long lasting makeup all day long from morning until late at night (around 11ish before I took it off). The peach color disappeared and gave the skin a smooth matte look. If you test any of the options at the store you will see a noticeable difference on the back of your hand. I like that the primer didn't change the color of my foundation even though it has a peach tint. I'm not sure I picked the right option, if you've tried the any of the Clinique primers I'd love to hear your thoughts.
- Dior Pore Minimizer Skin Refining Matte Primer ($42 for 1 oz) is a primer that wins for most innovative packaging. It's a tube with a pump dispenser. I have not purchased this after testing a couple counter-made samples but wanted to share my thoughts. This offers the most matte finish that I've ever seen. It smooths the skin out similar to the Lancome but has a thicker feel on the skin (at least for me). I found this blended well on the skin and provided a lovely smooth look. There was a huge noticeable difference. I felt it was too dry for my normal/combination skin even though it didn't look dry at all. I suspect if you have skin that is on the oily side, the Dior Matte Primer will work wonders for you.
Packaging and dispenser details:
My top three picks:
- For the best glow, I like Tom Ford's Illuminating Primer
- For the price and performance I like Clinique's Superprimer
- For the most visible smoothing result, Lancome Visionnaire 1-Minute Blur is a winner