As a makeup artist, this is a question I get asked a lot and it’s a topic that’s always met with a certain degree of suspicion from makeup artists. I don’t always use primer on my clients because I think whether or not you actually need a primer depends on your skin type. If I’m working on skin that is relatively smooth and a normal skin type then I always stick to prepping the skin with the correct type of moisturizer and follow with makeup. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you need perfect skin to get away with not having to use primer. I also believe that if you prep the skin with the right moisturizers and products that the skin needs, then you may not need primer. Let me explain what a primer actually does which will then give you a better understanding of whether you actually need it.

A primer acts as a barrier on the skin between your skin and the makeup. It ‘primes’ the surface of the skin ready for makeup. So for example, if you have visibly larger pores or uneven texture then a smoothing primer will help to smooth the surface of the skin which gives you the kind of surface that foundation glides onto better without sitting in all those dips or craters on the skin. If you have very oily skin then a primer can help to absorb excess oil underneath the foundation which prevents your foundation from separating on the skin. I often hear clients saying they have oily skin yet when I analyze their skin it’s far from oily. It really comes down to understanding your own skin better and this is the only way you will know what your skin needs. If you have dry skin then you may benefit from a hydrating primer to avoid your skin from looking cakey or the foundation separating on the skin. When you apply moisturizer to dry skin, your skin drinks up and absorbs the moisturiser fairly quickly so a hydrating primer can act like a veil on top of your moisturizer to avoid your skin sucking all the water out of the foundation which in turn then turns cakey.

When a primer claims to keep your makeup on for longer, I stay away. My rule of thumb is that if I want my foundation to last longer then I don’t apply as many products to my skin before hand. The more products you apply before foundation, the more likely it is that your foundation won’t look as fresh and last as long. The only primers you should entertain are mattifying, hydrating, smoothing or color correcting primers.

There are far too many targeted primers available on the market which make it confusing for the consumer to figure out what they actually need. I personally feel this is just clever marketing and there shouldn’t be so many options when you don’t actually need such a large variety of primers. I’m hoping this has helped you understand the world of primers a bit better and that you now know if you actually need one!