Ready for Prime Time

Unless you have a smooth, lineless and poreless complexion (raise your hands, please!) before you reach for your foundation, you need primer. So says makeup artist Napolean Perdis, famously quoted as saying “Not to prime is a crime!”

After cleansing, toning and moisturizing, if you are anywhere north of 40, your next step should be primer. Here’s why:

  • Like base coat and ridge filler for nails, primer smooths the surface of the skin, by filling in fine lines and pores.
  • It helps keep oil at bay (mattify-ing primer), evens skin tone (color correcting primer), and increases the lasting power of your makeup, especially in warm weather.
  • Primer gives your foundation better adherence and more flawless coverage.

    Time to start priming

    Time to start priming

A recent article in Bazaar magazine names primer a makeup essential and celebrity beauty secret. Every interview I’ve read with a makeup artist has stressed primer as the first stop on the way to a beautifully made up face. Beauty industry veteran Andrea Robinson, author of Toss the Gloss, names it one of her insider secrets and swears she couldn’t live without it.

And neither should you. Good foundation can be expensive (ala Armani,Chanel and Yves St. Laurent, to name a few) so you want to get the most bang for your considerable foundation buck.

Now, if I’ve convinced you, it’s time to give it a try. There are primers for oily, dry and normal skin, so investigate the claims before you open your wallet. Personally, I use two: one which calms shine and one that promotes radiance. I use the first on the T-zone, forehead, nose and chin. The second is reserved for cheeks for a glow-y visage in the evening. is a good resource for cosmetic products. They rate various categories based on real user comments and give you a point rating and price for each. Arbonne topped their list of  recommended primers at $40 and that happens to be my favorite. It kills the shine and feels invisible and silky as it glides over my many imperfections. I think it makes my skin look and feel smoother and more polished, even without makeup.( My radiant primer of choice is Laura Mercier Foundation Primer Radiance, $19.50, not on the list. )

Most of those that got TotalBeauty’s recommendation sell for between $22.50 and $52. Targeted especially to aging skin, Clarins Instant Smooth Perfecting Touch costs $35, but Rimmel London Fix and Perfect Pro received a high rating and costs only $7.99!

L’oreal’s Revitalift Miracle Blur, $24.99, is widely hyped and has SPF 30 to boot, but I found it too heavy and occlusive feeling. I don’t want to actually be aware of my primer, I just want it to work its magic. Laura Mercier also makes a protective primer with SPF 30 but in a light, creamy texture, not unlike moisturizer.

Some tried and some true

Some tried and some true

If you have rosacea or other redness issues, you might consider trying a green primer which cancels out the flush. (Remember the complementary color wheel??) Mauve or pale lavender does the same for a sallow complexion (think post stomach flu). Smashbox makes 4 different colored primers for color correction and is a pioneer in the primer category.

Pick your favorite brand: Makeup Forever, Smashbox , MAC, Philosophy, Benefit, Too Faced, Chanel. They all make primers and you can try before you buy by sampling at the makeup counter. Or go the drug store route. No samples, but if the investment doesn’t pay off, you haven’t broken the bank either. You pays your money, you takes your chances!



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3 Responses to Ready for Prime Time

  1. Diane White says:

    Zoe, I love your topics and your recommendations! I will start my primer search………

  2. Johanna says:

    Had samples of 2: Clarins – smooth and nice but too expensive for me, and Miracle blur which makes me look pastie, ghost-like. Primers work in winter for me, but in summer it doesn’t- looks weird.

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