Makeup 103: All About Face Primer

all about primer

Now that I’ve shown you my go-to videos on how to do your brows, we’re gonna talk about face primer. After you complete your brows, you have to get the skin ready for foundation. Primer for your face acts similar to primer for walls: it helps to prep the surface before applying the next layer. Face primers can also extend the wear of your makeup and is an important step in perfecting your base. There are different types of primers, each with it’s own purpose. Keep reading to learn about them.


The main purpose of hydrating primers is to hydrate the skin. Some people find that their moisturizer or sunscreen is enough for them, which is fine too. They are usually water-based and are good for most skin types, as we all need hydration. These lightweight primers can have a consistency that is watery, serum-like (slightly thicker than water), lotion-like (thicker than a serum but lighter than a cream), and gel-like. With each of these, you apply them to your face with your hands or spray them onto your face and let dry completely before applying the next product.

A few hydrating primers that I like:

  • Smashbox Primerizer – watery; available in full and mini sizes
  • Milk Hydro Grip – gel-like; available in full and mini sizes
  • Maybelline Master Prime Hydrate + Smooth – lotion-like; only one size available
  • Fenty Pro Filt’r Hydrating Primer – serum-like; only one size available
  • Wet n Wild Photo Focus Primer Water – watery, comes in a spray bottle; only one size available


Pore-filling primers help to fill-in the surface of the skin to give it a smoothing and blurred effect. Most contain silicone to achieve the smoothness and are best applied to small areas of the face. I personally wouldn’t recommend using it all unless you absolutely need it. And even then I suggest going in with a light layer to prevent your foundation and/or concealer from looking cakey or pilling. I tend to use this type of primer on my cheeks where I feel my pores may be more visible and then a different one for the rest of my face.

A few pore-filling primers that I like:

  • Elf Poreless Putty primer – balm; only one size available
  • Tatcha Silk Canvas Filter Finish Protective primer – balm; available in full and mini sizes
  • Maybelline Master Prime Blur + Pore Minimize – lotion-like, can feel like silicone; only one size available
  • Smashbox Photo Finish Pore Minimizing primer – lotion-like, can feel like silicone; available in full and mini sizes


These types of primers help to control shine and can be used with or without makeup, especially if you have oily skin. You have to be careful with some of these primers because they can suck all the oils out of your face which will cause your skin to produce more oil. The best way to prevent that is to make sure you’re properly hydrated beforehand and to use a light layer of this product. During the summertime when I tend to get more oily, I’ll use a mattifying primer in my t-zone and a hydrating one for the rest of my face. If I know I’ll be outside for a long time, I’ll use it all over with a setting powder.

A few mattifying primers that I like:

  • Rimmel Stay Matte – lotion-like; only one size available
  • Fenty Pro Filt’r Mattifying primer – lotion-like; only one size available (this one is super matte, best for very oily skin)
  • Fenty Pro Filt’r Instant Retouch primer – lotion-like; available in full and mini sizes (this one gives more of a soft matte, best for combo skin)

Color Correcting

Color correcting primers use color theory to neutralize skin discoloration. This can also be achieved with color corrector/concealer, but more on that later. More than likely, these primers are used in targeted ares of the face as shown below. Color corrector usually fall in the category of concealers and I’ll go into more detail with the concealer post. You can use one or as many as you need in different areas, as shown in the correction tips from the Stila Cosmetics website:

Image source: StilaCosmetics.com

A few color correcting primers:

  • L.A. Girl PRO.Prep Correcting primer – multiple colors; only one size available
  • Smashbox Photo Finish Reduce Redness primer – reduces redness; available in full and mini sizes
  • Elf Lavender Face primer – neutralizes discoloration on yellow skin tones; available in large and small sizes

Wrap Up

I forgot to mention that if you ‘re going to get started on this makeup journey, sign up for rewards at the stores and websites you’ll be frequenting. Ulta* has the best rewards program to date and Sephora has good options for samples with each online order. Individual brands also run promotions if you sign up for their emails or purchase directly from them so check those out as well.

Next we’ll be going over foundations. That will probably have to broken down into 2 or 3 posts because there’s so much to learn about it. As always leave all your questions below. Happy shopping!

*Ulta’s prices are sometimes slightly higher than other retailers. Be sure to shop around for the best deal and try to find a coupon on anything you get here that’s not on sale.


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