Posted: Jun 16, 2013 9:00 PM
When I have a long or important day ahead of me, I take the extra step of putting on makeup primer under my foundation, eyeshadow and lips. The products claim to make your makeup last longer and look fresher. But do they really make a difference?

As a work-at-home mom, days go by when I don't wear makeup at all. When I do have the occasion to put my best face forward, I want the results to last. I've tried several brands of makeup primers over the years, and the results are mixed.

Here is what is even more important than wearing primer: thoroughly cleansing, exfoliating, and moisturizing your face prior to makeup application. Nothing makes such a difference in the way my makeup wears than those three things. If I have a lot of dead skin from lack of exfoliation, or flaky, dry skin from lack of moisture, nothing can save the way my makeup looks.

Assuming I've taken the important steps to prep my face to look its best, primer can keep makeup sitting on the top of the skin looking fresh instead of sinking in or wearing off. Makeup primer fills in the small lines and obvious pores and gives your face a more flawless look.

makeup primers

A few popular makeup primers

  1. Smashbox photo finish ($36)

    This is considered by many makeup artists to be the best makeup primer on the market. I tried it years ago and I liked how matte the finish was, it never made my face feel oily or like I had yet another layer on.

  2. Laura Mercier oil-free foundation primer ($32)

    Laura Mercier created the original foundation primer. This is the one that I have been using for the last couple of years. I like the formula, but you have to use it sparingly. Despite the name, my face does get a little slick feeling if I use too much.

  3. Sally Hansen luminizing face primer ($20)

    Created by makeup artist Carmindy from What Not To Wear, the reviews of this product have been very good. I'll be trying this soon.

  4. Bare Minerals Prime Time ($23)

    If you're a mineral makeup fan, you might want a formula that works directly with it. I'm not sure that there is a big difference between primers that claim to work best with mineral makeup versus other makeup primers, but this is a great brand that makes products to look and feel good on your face.

  5. Mac Prep + Prime for lips ($16)

    I was skeptical, but there's no denying that using primer under my bright lipstick kept it from bleeding and definitely kept it on longer. It feels a bit like a chapstick going on, and one tube lasts a really long time.

  6. Urban Decay eye shadow primer ($20)

    I don't usually wear a ton of eye makeup, unless I'm specifically going for a smoky eye look. But when I do, Urban Decay makes my favorite eye shadow palette, so naturally I looked to them for an eye shadow primer.

  7. Sonia Kashuk Extreme Wear eye primer ($9)

    To try eye shadow primer for less cost, I would easily give this little pot a whirl. I've been really pleased with the quality of the Sonia Kashuk products I've used in the past.  (Her concealer brush is also a favorite.)

I'm lazy about my beauty routine most days of the week, so primer is not something I pull out daily. But when I need to look my best for a long day or event, it's a must.

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