Hit Your Prime: How To Choose The Right Primer For Your Skin Type

It’s a primefield out there. Here’s how to navigate your anti-redness from your illuminating, and everything in between

It's a crime not to prime: here, our picks of the best primers to try in 2019, based on skin type. Photo / Rebecca Zephyr Thomas

Knowledge is power — and if we could offer our 15-year-old selves a nugget of the wisdom we now possess it would be this: always wear primer.

Sure, it creates a flawless canvas for makeup application and promises to extend the longevity of your base, but many of today’s formulations boast the added benefit of skin-loving ingredients to combat skin concerns and environmental stressors.

READ: 8 Great Eyebrow Grooming Tips To Live By

In the age of personalisation, it makes sense to opt for a primer targeted to your skin type. Depending on the formula, primers may serve to soak up any excess oil, blur the appearance of pores or imperfections, neutralise redness and smooth uneven skin tone, not to mention make your foundation stay where you put it.

And in this sticky heat, why wouldn’t you want your makeup to last?

Left to right: Clarins SOS Primer in 04 Green, Sisley Paris Instant Correct Color Correcting Primer in 02 Just Lavender. Photo / Supplied

Try these anti-redness and colour correcting formulas.

Respond to your skin’s S.O.S cry and combat redness with Clarins S.O.S Primer in 04 Green, $64. Clarins’ S.O.S Primer range looks to the principles of colour theory to imitate light on the skin’s surface to mimic a more radiant complexion. Couple this with an anti-pollution complex which protects skin from harmful environmental damage. Available in six colour-correcting shades. 

Sisley Paris Instant Correct Color Correcting Primer in 02 Just Lavender, $110, recruits to a cocktail of ingredients to not only provide a more even complexion instantly, but over time. This silky primer wears like a second skin and helps create a porcelain finish on fair skin with yellow undertones. 

Left to right: Josie Maran Argen Enlightenment Illuminiser, Mecca Max’s Bring On Bright Illuminating Primer, L’Oreal Infallible Luminizing Primer, Jane Iredale Smooth Affair Facial Primer & Brightener. Photos / Supplied

Opt for a primer that promises to brighten and illuminate a sallow complexion.

Mineral beauty maven Jane Iredale offers a two-for-one with the Smooth Affair Facial Primer & Brightener, $101. The skin-quenching formula seeks to brighten and nourish skin, while providing a smooth base for makeup application. If gluten-containing products are a concern, you’ll delight to note this primer is totally wheat-free. 

Josie Maran Argen Enlightenment Illuminiser, $41. This liquid luminiser fakes a dewy, beaming complexion in a snap. The secret lies in a powerful mix of Argan oil, Madonna Lily and Poet’s Narcisssus, that work in synergy to replicate the natural radiance of healthy skin. Mix with your moisturiser to achieve that magical ‘lit-from-within’ glow. 

Consider this your light bulb moment — incorporating Mecca Max’s Bring On Bright Illuminating Primer, $22, into your morning makeup routine. The 100 per cent vegan and cruelty-free formula creates a more luminous complexion by expertly diffusing light. 

Seeking pearlescent skin minus the designer price tag? On the more affordable end of the primer spectrum comes L’Oreal Infallible Luminizing Primer, $27, which recruits ultra-fine pearl pigments to offer an intergalactic level of glow. 

Left to right: YSL Top Secrets Instant Moisture Glow, Urban Decay Naked Skin One & Done Blur On The Run Touch-Up And Finishing Balm, Benefit Cosmetics The Porefessional Pro Balm, NARS Pore & Shine Control Primer. Photos / Supplied

These primers will blur imperfections and minimise the appearance of larger pores.

The industry is abuzz for this ‘B’ word — blurring. Create a soft focus glow using YSL Top Secrets Instant Moisture Glow, $99, under makeup or wear alone for a naturally luminous finish. The skin-smoothing primer serves dual purpose as it hydrates while hiding any imperfections.

It isn’t new, but there’s good reason why Benefit’s The Porefessional Pro Balm, $59, should remain your radar. It creates the kind of next-level silky finish to skin that even an Elizabethan poet would struggle to describe, and smooths over the appearance of pores in a flash. Use it before makeup application in the morning, or gently daub over your pore problem areas when they come out of hiding during the day.

Their knack for catchy product names isn’t lost on us, nor is our appreciation for Urban Decay’s Naked Skin One & Done Blur On The Run Touch-Up And Finishing Balm, $61. This multi-tasking balm promises to touch-up makeup on the go, faking the illusion of a ‘just applied’ finish. It blurs out perfections, absorbs excess oil and smooths out foundation that has settled into lines during the day. Mattifying but non-drying, this compact is ideal in humid climes. 

You’ve got African whitewood, oleanolic acid and peptides to thank for the skin-balancing properties of NARS Pore & Shine Control Primer, $57. More than that, this little tube offers an oil-free, mattified finish to blemished skin. 

Left to right: Smashbox Photo Finish Primer Oil, Sunday Riley Effortless Breathable Tinted Primer. Photo / Supplied

If your skin is crying out for moisture, look for primers that contain hydrating ingredients like essential oils or hyaluronic acid.

It’s no secret that oils are a boon when it comes to hydrating skin, and Smashbox’s Photo Finish Primer Oil, $67, does just that — thanks to the 15 essential and lipid-rich plant oils contained within. A few drops are all that’s needed to restore skin to its dewy best. 

From the same people who blessed us with their Good Genes All-In-One Lactic Acid Treatment, comes Sunday Riley’s Effortless Breathable Tinted Primer, $69, a tinted primer favoured by the likes of Stella McCartney, Preen and Temperley during Fashion Month. The breathable, hydrating formula produces a subtle tint on skin while evening out skin tone. 

Left to right: YSL Encre De Peau All Hours Primer, Guerlain Paris Blurring Active Base Smoothing & Blurring Effect Pore Refiner, Smashbox Photo Finish Iconic Primer Stick. Photo / Supplied

Make it matte with these long-wearing primers that will extend the wear of your foundation, no matter how high temperatures soar.

If your makeup has a tendency to slide off during the day, consider Guerlain Paris’ Blurring Active Base Smoothing & Blurring Effect Pore Refiner, $74, for extra staying power. The non-greasy formula mattifies the complexion, while combatting pollution with antioxidant actives.

Oily-skinned babes, this one’s for you. Smashbox’s Photo Finish Iconic Primer Stick, $51 claims to keep oil at bay for up to 12 hours if used before foundation. Plus, reap the benefit of mattified skin and the reduced appearance of pores. 

A pea-sized amount of YSL’s Encre De Peau All Hours Primer, $93, is said to shift your foundation into long-wear territory when applied first. The secret lies in the patented lasting complex, which improves the adherence of foundation, while oil-control actives promise seek to mattify skin without drying it out. 


Left to right: Revlon Colorstay Eyeshadow Primer, Nude by Nature Perfecting Eye Primer. Photo / Supplied

Acting as an extension to their ever-popular Colorstay range, Revlon’s Colorstay Eyeshadow Primer, $18, promises to extend the same staying power to eyeshadow with this primer specifically targeted at eyes. Say goodbye to eyeshadow that creases come your 3pm board meeting, and hello to all-day, vibrant colour for lids. 

Reading much like the ingredients list of your favourite salad, Nude By Nature’s Perfecting Eye Primer, $25, contains olive fruit oil and kakadu plum among other superfoods to soften, condition and offer antioxidant support to eyelids. This silicon-free eye primer creates an even base for eye makeup application. 

Left to right: Becca Lip Priming Perfector, M.A.C Prep+Prime Essentials Oils Stick. Photo / Supplied

Forget lipstick fading or feathering by swiping on Becca’s Lip Priming Perfector, $30, before daubing on your favourite shade of lippie. Hyaluronic filling spheres seek to plump fine lines around the mouth, and smoothing the skin on lips for long-wearing lip colour that doesn’t shift or spread. 

Sky’s the limit with M.A.C’s handbag-friendly Prep+Prime Essentials Oils Stick, $27. This multi-purpose balm provides instant relief for dry skin, and is perfect for use on hands, cuticles, face, elbows, knees or lips. The convenient twist-up stick means you can apply on-the-go, especially good for prepping lips for lipstick during rush hour. 

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