Primers - What are they & are they necessary?

By Sarah - Saturday, March 15, 2014

"It is a crime not to prime."

Hey guys! Today, I will be babbling about the whole idea of makeup primers - the different types, their uses and why you should add them as a step into your daily makeup routine!

Firstly, to many people, primers seem like an unnecessary makeup product which the beauty and makeup industry creates in order to suck out more money from our pockets. It can also be viewed as an extra layer of makeup which is not necessary and should be skipped (specially in Singapore's hot swelting weather). Well, ladies and gentlemen, I am here to tell you guys that this ain't true.

Now, what are primers? Primers are basically a cream/gel/lotion that you apply before applying any makeup onto your face. Why? Simply put, this is because the main purpose of a primer to help prolong the wear of your makeup as well as help it to look better. There are many different primers out there with varying additional functions (such as minimizing the visibility of pores and fine lines) as well as varying price point.

There are also specific primers which are to be used on the specific areas of your face:

  • Face Primers
  • Eyelid Primers
  • Lip Primers
  • Lash/Mascara Primers

Let's dive into each category and let me explain the purposes and uses of each!

Face Primers

Face primers are probably the most important kind of primer out there and I highly do recommend using one before applying your makeup. It ensures your base makeup lasting longer and helps in the application of foundation/BB creams after as it smoothes out the skin surface. Especially with the hot weather in Singapore, primers are crucial in ensuring your makeup does not melt off your face or become splotchy. Yes, I know adding an additional layer of makeup on your face does not make any sense when it is so hot but let me try to reason with you; why bother to put on a whole face of makeup if within a few hours it is gonna melt off and be all splotchy and just, plain unattractive? Think about it, you spend money on your bb creams or foundations and you wanna look good (who doesn't??) - but all that ain't happening if it melts off, am I right? (Yeah I can feel you nodding right now). This is because it is true. I use to think that primers are not necessary but after I started using one, I could tell the difference straight away. 

Many face primers now have added functions in addition to helping your makeup last longer.

For example, there are mattifying face primers (which are super popular here in Singapore because it's hotand we're oily-skinned people, most of us at least). 

This is to help control sebum production and prevent your face from looking shiny throughout the day. Ladies who have to go to the washroom and powder your face every 2 hours - I'm talking to you. Try this and it will probably dramatically decrease or even eliminate the need to powder! 

There are also pore minimisers or erasers (not fillers!) which are primers with a silicon texture which has some formula that will reduce the appearance of your pores. Note: these primers do not reduce the size of your pores nor do they make them disappear. These primers merely form a layer over your skin such that the appearance of your pores are minimised!

Of course, some famous pore erasing primers include the Benefit Cosmetics' Porefessional and Smashbox Photo Finish Targeted Pore & Line Primer. I do own the Porefessional and though it is not supposed to be a mattifying primer, this primer does help to keep me looking matte longer which is a plus!

Eyelid Primers 

Eyelid primers are used to help your eyeshadow last longer, preventing creasing on the lids as well as to help the colours of your eyeshadows to appear more vibrant. Once again, I highly do recommend using this as it ensures that all that effort that you put into waking up earlier and applying eyeshadow does not go to waste! Without eyelid primers, I do find my eyeshadows fading way faster and the colours aren't as vibrant as I would like them to be (especially since natural ain't really my kind of tea ;)).

Eyelid primers range from high-end to drug store - but ultimately their purpose is the same (which once again, is to make your eyeshadows last longer). The only difference is the lasting power. For example, I own tons of eyelid primers and for me, my high-end primers noticeably differ from my drugstore ones by providing me with longer eyeshadow wear. In terms of colour vibrancy and creasing, I did not see a stark difference with the ones that I own.

Now, some people get really confused between eyelid primers and eyeshadow bases. Are they the same thing? Well, not really. Eyeshadow bases' main purpose is to make the eyeshadow which you will place over it to be more vibrant. Eyelid primers' main purpose is to make your eyeshadow last longer. But, these two catergories really aren't very different from each other. When you apply bases onto your eyelid, it will provide a clean canvas (by neutralising the uneven discolouration or veins on your lids) and provide something for your eyeshadows - which are powder in nature - to stick to. Quick tip: this is why you can also use your concealer on your lids as an eyeshadow base! Primers also work the same way but I believe that they are chemically formulated so that it can have an additional purpose of providing longer lasting power of your eyeshadows. Personally, I do not know the difference between the chemical compositions or the technical explanations of how primers or bases work. This is just me sharing my experience with you guys!

Here are some of my current eyelid primers and eyeshadow bases:

I really recommend:
Drugstore: ELF Eyelid Primer & Essence I Love Stage Eyeshadow Base
High-end : Mac Paintpots 

Lip Primers

Now, lip primers. These are less common as compared to face and eyelid primers but are still widely used. Lip primers are applied before any lip product and it is supposed to provide a clean and smooth canvas as well as to prolong the wear of your lipstick.

Personally, I do not use a lip primer. I usually just prep my lips for lipstick by applying a lip balm right before I start to apply my makeup to give it some time to do its magic. By the time I am done with my face and eyes, the lip balm should be pretty much absorbed and then I apply my lipstick!

Some tips :

  • To make your lipstick colour more vibrant, you can use your concealer or foundation to cover the pigmentation of your lips before applying your lipsticks. This is so that the colour of the lipstick applied on the lips will be truer to that in the tube! However, this may be rather drying on those lips so I wouldn't recommend this for those with dry lips!
  • To prolong your lipstick wear, simple take 1 ply of facial tissue and place it over your lips after applying your lipstick. Then, take a fluffy brush and simply pat some translucent powder over the tissue. This helps to set your lipstick in place so that it will not budge for a longer period of time! 

Mascara/Lash Primers 

Lash primers are applied onto the lashes before mascara to separate the lashes and prep them for mascara. It can also help in giving you a longer and more voluminous lash look as it provides a greater surface area for the mascara to cover.

I also personally do not use a lash primer. However, there is a tip I wanna share with you guys! For an illusion of thicker and longer looking lashes, simply take a brush and baby powder (yes, baby powder) and coat your lashes with this powder before applying your mascara! This has a similar function like the lash primer which is providing more area for the mascara to cover.

Alright, that is all for me today! Hope this helped you guys!
Check this out for a list of the best 12 primers by!
If you have any questions, just leave me a comment ;).

Have a great makeup day guys XO.

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