Started from the Bottom: An Introduction to Primers

Depending on your skin issues (if any) or however long you anticipate needing your makeup to stay put, primers can be either superfluous or a godsend. Most people do not really know about them though, let alone use them; furthermore, primers are not reserved solely for face makeup. In this post, I’m going to discuss types of primers, how to effectively utilize them, items I have tried, and recommendations for others.

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Smashbox, Too Faced, Laura Mercier, Hourglass, MAC, Benefit, to name a few.


Face Primer


Anywhere you put foundation. (I hope that is just your face, but whatever, you do you.)


Before you apply foundation, concealer, or any kind of face makeup.


A dime-sized amount of lightweight face primer can take your skin and finished look a long way. It can help smooth out your skin texture (pores, lines, etc.), keeps facial oils at bay, and just generally provides a smooth canvas upon which to work. As someone who sweats an abnormal amount, if I am preparing for a long night out with cameras, I make sure to put some primer on before any concealer or foundation.


from left to right:
Smashbox Iconic Photo Finish Foundation Primer$36

Too Faced Primed and Poreless Skin Smoothing Face Primer$30
Monistat Soothing Care Powder Gel$6

There are lots of great options out there, but I currently use Too Faced’s Primed and Poreless because I got a sample a while back, and because I realized it is the best I have used thus far. I have also included Smashbox’s Photo Finish though because I used it several years ago and distinctly remember that it felt wonderful on the skin. It is mattifying, silky, and lightweight. As a “dupe” for Smashbox, I actually included this Monistat chafing gel because I have been reading about it for years as a cheap alternative primer; having actually used it for its intended purpose, I can say that it does produce an effect reminiscent of Smashbox’s Photo Finish. You just have to, you know, get over the fact that you’re putting a Monistat product on your face instead of in your crotch.


Too Faced, Urban Decay, NARS.


Eye Primer


I hope you can figure this one out on your own.


After finishing face makeup but prior to putting on any eyeshadow.


If your eyelids are oily, your shadow is prone to creasing/melting/blurred/gnerally coming off, or you are super sweaty all the time (sensing a pattern, yet?), eyeshadow primer will ensure that your color stays put. It provides an even base that allows eyeshadow colors to really pop, and primers in other (subtle) shades can add another dimension to your eye makeup (such as a subtle glow, or a hint of glitter). You can even wear a bit by itself if you have a primer in a pretty shade. Both Too Faced and Urban Decay offer a bunch of different shades to check out.

eye primersfrom left to right:
Too Faced Shadow Insurance$20

Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion Tube in Sin$20



Too Faced, NYX, MAC.


Lip Primer




Prior to putting on lip products.


It smooths out the lips, provides moisture, and prevents bleeding and creasing. To be honest, I have never used a lip primer myself since I typically don’t have those problems, but I have heard excellent things about Too Faced’s product.

lip primerfrom left to right:
Too Faced Lip Insurance Lip Primer$19

MAC Prep + Prime Lip$16
NYX Lip Primer$7

Now you’ve been primed on primers; hope this demystified these products for you!

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