Thursday, November 10, 2011

Inventory #2.1: Primers

Last year I was cursing the extra step of having to use primers under foundations (see the original primer inventory here), but now I've accepted that it's a necessary part of the routine. Having said that, I do not think everyone has to use primers, but for those of us with oily skin that will melt off makeup in an hour or two, a good primer can make a lot of difference.

Here's my stash from last year:

I did a pretty good job of getting rid of most of them, one way or another. I'm sorry that two had to be tossed -- ugh, hate waste. Resolved: I am never going to bother with any of Smashbox primers ever again. They are the absolute worst.

Here's my current stash:

Not bad, eh? There are so many different types of primers now that the field is getting difficult to navigate, but I think what I need are only two: one for mattifying and longevity and another for soothing and smoothing. Because I wear foundation every day (and I know no matter how good, they stifle the skin and contribute to my acne issues), I like the idea of a product that acts a barrier between the skin and the foundation. My good friend Latoya (Beauty Obsessed) and I agree that primers can act as an extension of skincare, straddling that grey zone between skincare and makeup. So, to me, a good primer is crucial. Not only must it perform well but I need to feel that it's actually good for my skin.

Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer SPF 15

I've talked about this one A LOT. But here's the lowdown from Sephora and my comments in bracketed blue text:

What it is: A mineral-based, water-resistant primer with SPF 15 that neutralizes the skin (not sure what that means), minimizes shine (YES), and creates a smooth, uniform canvas for flawless makeup application (YES, YES, MY GOD YES).

What it does: This clean, satin-finish formula helps keep makeup looking fresh and prevents fading. (Hell to the yeah.) Veil Mineral Primer also absorbs excess oils and minimizes the appearance of pores by evenly distributing light to help hide and soften skin imperfections and fine lines. (All of the above!)

Seriously. Without this, I have to blot my nose by the time I get out of the subway at 8:55am. With it, I don't blot until noon! Also, after I've worn it for days and weeks straight, I feel like I break out more when I skip it. It's matte without feeling chalky or silicone-y. The texture is like a really high-quality, silky and milky smooth sunscreen. I'm a fan for life.

Some bloggers (my friend Latoya and Sabrina (The Beauty Look Book)) have noted that applying this prior to foundation gives them a pale, chalky cast to the skin. So their solution was to mix it together with the foundation for a long-lasting flawless coverage. I've tried it both ways and personally don't see a difference to the appearance of my skin nor the longevity of makeup wear, but it's something to take note of if you're planning on trying this out. Sephora sells a travel size for those who are warded off by the big price tag.

Laura Mercier Foundation Primer

Despite the awesomeness of Laura Mercier face products, this one rarely gets the deserved coverage. FYI, Laura Mercier primers are offered in four different formulations: original (this one), Oil-Free (what I should have picked up), Hydrating and Mineral (to work in conjunction with mineral powder makeup).

I believe the LM primer was the second primer I was exposed to after Smashbox. I liked it very much but I was on a long quest for the most mattifying primer in the world and decided to return to this once I found the holy grail mattifier. Now that I've found Hourglass, I need a non-mattifying option for the dry winter seasons. Referencing Sephora once more:

What it is: A vitamin-rich, water-based foundation primer. (Certainly feels like it to me -- so light and nourishing!)

What it does: Creates a smooth, invisible layer that acts as a "buffer" to outside elements and expertly holds foundation. This water-based formula guarantees that your makeup stays fresh and color-true for hours. With vitamins A, C, and E added to protect the skin, Foundation Primer is ideal for all skin types.

I think that for my oily skin, I can skip even skip moisturizer on the days that I use this primer. Despite its light, moist, gel texture, I feel like it helps prep my face into a smooth canvas for foundation application. The downside is that it has no oil control whatsoever (so I should go for the oil-free next time) but I intentionally wanted a high quality primer for the days when I don't care to look matte. I think this is best for the normal-dry skin types.

Cover FX SkinPrep FX

This one's just a few more weeks of use away from moving from my bathroom cabinet to the empties bag. While I do like it very much, I've had it for over a year and will be glad to see it gone.

From Sephora:

What it is: A nourishing treatment and priming serum for the face. (I emphasize "serum" for a reason.)

What it does: Skinprep FX perfects the skin's texture for optimal foundation coverage. (Yep.) The formula helps to facilitate foundation, blending, coverage and wear. (Debatable.)

What else you need to know: Skinprep FX will reduce skin inflammation and is tolerated by the most sensitive skin. It is oil-free, fragrance free, and will not clog pores. (This is the GREAT part!)

I try to avoid applying rich products on my face during the day, when I'll be running around, accruing dirt and sweat on my face on top of foundation application. So the good, "nourishing" stuff is relegated to my evening regimen before bedtime when skincare absorption and repair is supposedly at its optimal while we sleep. To me, SkinPrep FX is a fabulous serum. While on a minimal skincare regimen last year, consisting of Cetaphil cleanser and just this product, I felt like my skin saw drastic improvement in texture and appearance. When warmer weather arrived, I had to put this on a break, but I'm hoping to see the same results in the next month or so while I finish it up. So, for the oily skin folks, I'll recommend it as a serum. For the dry skin types, it can definitely work as a primer.

How many primers do you use, if you use primers at all? Have you tried any of these? Am I being extremely close-minded if I stick to my beloved Hourglass and Laura Mercier from now on? Let me know!


  1. Hmm, you really made me want the Hourglass primer - I don't use any at the moment because I hate applying too many products onto my skin, but it sounds amazing for those more special days :)

  2. I don't use primers (I apply Clinique City Block before makeup, does that count?) because I've never noticed a difference with one on, and I think the ones I've tried have made me break out. I've only tried Tarte's illuminating serum (a tiny sample tube), a Boscia one, the BE one, and maybe a few others...but never with much enthusiasm. I've never really thought that they should have nourishing properties, but I think you're right - that's a fabulous way of looking at it! That Hourglass one is looking good, but I still don't find I *need* primer, per se, will probably wait.

  3. I really want to try the Laura Mercier one. Well done for reducing the stash!

  4. @Monika - You can either get a sample or try the travel size! Btw, I've been reading through your older posts and am so inspired by you and your blog! xoxo

    @Larie - I was thinking of including certain sunscreens that do double as primers but I think I'll keep them separate. So, yeah, Clinique City Block counts! I've recently had amazing result with the Neutrogena water light version. But like I said at the beginning, not everyone needs primer. I think you probably don't.

    @Gaelle - You should try! And thanks so much! :)

  5. Each time you've mentioned the Hourglass primer, my lemming for it grows stronger and stronger but it's so out of my price range atm! On a good day, I will remember to use primer but I seem to hoard the stuff more than anything.

    Thank you for reminding me to do my Hoarders posts again. Time to embarass myself :D

  6. I like primer, but often skip it. I am way too lazy. I tend to like a light foundation or even better, a tinted moisturizer. But I've been thinking about my pores as of late. I have some primers I should be using up and of course BB Cream. I'm undecided about those. I want to like them, but finding the right one is a bit of a challenge. I've been using one a friend from Korea sent plus the Estee Lauder day wear tinted moisturizer. Funny thing is the BB Cream can turn grey/ashen and the Estee Lauder orange, but together those bastards look fantastic (but too dewy for Winter). So I am tweaking it again.

    I am looking at Hourglass as a brand. I didn't have much luck with the foundation, but am so curious about the eye shadow. Hmm....

  7. @Ashley - Join the party! I talk a lot about reducing but I accrue a lot too! Also, you can check out the travel size of the Hourglass primer which is around $20 as opposed to $70. :x

    @D - I'm lazy as well, so this step almost made me angry last year. But I got over it. I guess I'm a little more vain than lazy. You're lucky you can get away with TMs and BB creams! I bet your skin is beautiful. And what was wrong with the Hourglass foundation? As far as I can tell, the brand's crazy high price is totally justified. Everything applies like a dream!

  8. Lately I haven't used a primer, just sunscreen. But I did really like the LM one when I did use a primer. The Hourglass one sounds great, but I don't know-if it had more sunscreen in it I'd probably shell out the cash for it. Can you tell I'm really into sunscreen?

  9. I know you are! I think a good sunscreen can definitely act as a primer. I love the Neutrogena Waterlight one - recent discovery!

  10. I have a few, but to be honest a couple of them have been hanging around a bit longer than they should have. I have a cheapie one I use most often from a brand called Face of Australia - it's just a light one that doesn't have any bells or whistles but it feels nice and keeps makeup on for most of the day. I also have the Benefit Porefessional and I still can't decide whether I like it or not, and a little jar of Clarins Instant Smooth Perfecting Wotsit. I probably should turf that but I've used it tons and it looks barely touched. I can't bring myself to throw it out. I generally only use it under my eyes.

    I have a sample of the Laura Mercier one I keep meaning to try. Might give it a go on the weekend.

  11. I've been curious about the Clarins Instant Perfector stuff in the past but always got the feeling it wasn't right for my skin. You should totally give LM a try. And I wish I could have found a cheaper primer, but the ones I've tried (L'Oreal, Sephora Brand) didn't work out. Doesn't matter what brand so long as it works for you!

  12. I've been using LM primers (both liquid and mineral powder form) for a long time now and I love it! The hourglass one sounds good too, might give that one a try next.

  13. Thanks for the shout outs, Liz!! You're doing awesome with the primer stash, only three!? Wowza. We know our feelings about the Hourglass, but I'm intrigued about the LM and CoverFX versions. I've always wanted to try one of the SkinPrep 'serum primers,' and the LM one sounds so luxurious! I'm good for now with the two (travel size) primers I have, but I'll be keeping them both in mind when the time comes to buy full size :)

  14. Thanks, Toya! It's kind of like one and a half at this point. :D Both LM and Cover FX are awesome! They feel good in the winter when skin is drier. But test them out first, don't just take my word for it. ;)


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