So, I have a confession to make. My current guilty pleasure is watching makeup tutorial after makeup tutorial on YouTube. I watch them all. From SFX looks, to using only children’s makeup, to doing your makeup backwards, to looks doing a cut crease for hooded eyes (and no I don’t even have hooded eyes), to letting my boyfriend do my makeup, doing my mum’s makeup, doing my makeup in the dark, doing only drugstore makeup… Well, you get the picture.
We all have our favourite YouTube MUAs and my subscription list is growing by the day. And, let me tell you, it’s also leading me to a lot of product investigation too.
See, I’m kind of a perfectionist when it comes to my product purchases. I always want the best luggage for my budget. The best false eyelashes. The best vodka for my vodka soda on a Saturday night. I also know that the most expensive isn’t necessarily the best.
I also know that plenty of these YouTube MUAs get their gear for free or get kickbacks through their links under the videos through affiliate marketing. Sure, they might say they love the product and it’s amazing, but I’m sure plenty of people would if they got paid for it.
So! While the products in these tutorials vary, one product that I sometimes see and other times isn’t included at all is primer.
Primer is that stuff you slap on your face after you’ve cleaned your face, used your BHAs, AHAs, Retinol, Vitamin C, Peptide Serum, Snail Enzyme…. Well, whatever 12 step Korean beauty routine you have or whether it’s just cleanse and moisturise.
The primer is supposed to be a better base for you to apply foundation on top of. It can help fill in pores and fine lines and make your foundation go on smoother. Well, this is the premise of primer, anyway.
In reality, if you find the right serum, or serum and light moisturiser over the top, this can do exactly this job for you – filling out your skin as a base.
So just what the heck is a primer for then, if you have serums and moisturisers that do the job and you probably already have in the makeup drawer anyway?
Primers actually can be useful if you have particularly dry or particularly oily skin – whether you have this type of skin all the time, at various parts in your cycle, or you get it in certain climates.
The majority of primers available on the market are specifically for dry skin, especially skin that’s getting flaky. There’s nothing hot about your foundation starting to flake off across the day, making you look like you’re slowly turning into a zombie from a B grade horror movie. Yuck.
If I’m in a dry winter climate I’ll put on a primer as part of my routine to avoid that skin flakiness. It really makes a world of difference. My primer of choice is Mac Prep + Prime. It goes unused in summer – it’s just not necessary as my skin is fine as it is.
There are also primers available for oily skin, too. These primers act to mattify the skin so you’re not looking shiny shiny all day long having to keep blotting and looking like an oil slick. Yuck. My skin can get quite oily if I’m off on holidays somewhere tropical and I’m about to get my period. Oily and zit city. What an awesome combination.
So, anyway, when the oil production starts in and I want to keep it under control while still having a full face of makeup I use some pimple spot treatment to dry those suckers out and Becca Ever-Matte Poreless Priming Perfector as my primer. It just makes sure people aren’t asking me why I’m so shiny all day.
Primers are generally only needed with liquid or cream type foundations. If you wear a mineral powder foundation, putting on a primer might be counterproductive.
As with all types of makeup products, it’s really all about knowing your skin, knowing the effects you want to achieve, and aligning the best set of products to help you achieve the effect you want.
Finding the perfect combination of products can take a lot of trial and error, as well as plenty of internet research. You can’t just blindly trust those YouTube MUAs because a) their skin is probably a whole lot different from yours, as we’re all unique, and b) they might be getting kickbacks for those products that they’re telling you are are amazing. Take everything with a grain of salt, and remember that just because someone else loves a product doesn’t mean that you’re going to love it too.
So, do you really need a primer? Probably not, but they can definitely be useful in some situations.