What Is a Makeup Primer? See How to Get Long-Lasting Sheeny Makeup

Ever wondered what the transparent liquid your makeup artist applies all over your face is? Yes, the one she applies just before applying foundation. It is called a makeup primer. You can call it the behind-the-scene product because it influences the final appearance of your makeup.

How your makeup looks at the end depends on a lot more than the brands you use or how many products you apply. While some people can do without this step, it is everything to others, especially those whose skin has large pores.

As a makeup beginner, a primer is one of the items you should get yourself familiar with. Ahead, this article is a detailed guide to everything you need to know about makeup primers.

What Is a Makeup Primer?

A makeup primer is one of the cosmetic products in your makeup collection. It is a liquid-based product applied before other products like foundation, eyeshadow, and concealer. Different primers serve different purposes in a makeup routine.

For instance, a foundation primer works with your foundation, an eye primer works for eye shadow application, a lip primer works with lipstick or lip gloss. All these primers help to make products stick better to your skin and last long too.

Makeup primers are formulated differently to suit different skin types and needs. They are either made of oil, water, or silicone. The best way to use these products is to make sure the formula matches that of the cosmetic you’re applying after it. This means you should match oil-based primer with oil-based foundation.

What Does Makeup Primer Do?

1. No makeup days

Primers are not only for the days when you want to wear full makeup or just foundation. You can use primer alone on your no-makeup days to give your skin a polished appearance.

Using makeup primer alone can fill in for using foundation alone; it still gives your face a natural glow with smooth skin. It also reduces excess shine by hydrating your skin.

2. Smooth canvas for makeup

Apply primer before you apply cosmetics like foundation, eyeshadow, and even mascara. It smoothens your skin for easy gliding of your products. It also prevents your makeup from creasing or looking cakey.

3. Even coverage

Primers can fill up depressions on your face to allow for even makeup coverage. It smoothens large pores and wrinkles, corrects areas affected by hyperpigmentation, acne scars, and age spots to make your makeup look excellent.

SEE: What Is Highlighting in Makeup? Learn How to Use It for Beauty Enhancement

4. Skin protector

More than improving the appearance of your makeup, primers have protective functions. Makeup products contain heavy chemicals that can clog your pores and cause harm to your skin.

Applying primers before your products creates a protective barrier between your skin and the products. In addition, it allows your skin to breathe under the cosmetics you apply after.

5. Makeup longevity

Just like paint primers do, makeup primers create a smooth surface for makeup to stick to. This makes the products last longer without creasing or sliding off with sweat. Moreover, you can only enjoy this benefit when you use a primer with a product of the same formula.

6. Gives makeup more vibrancy

Primers work behind-the-scene to add vibrancy to your makeup. Eyelash primer, for instance, makes your lashes look thicker, longer, and stronger. It also creates a base for your mascara to stick on to.

Types of Makeup Primer

Mattifying primer

Mattifying primers best suit people with oily skin. They help to minimize the appearance of their large pores. This type of primer is silicone-based and this helps to shrink pores and prevent the production of excess oil. People with combination skin can also use this primer for an overly shiny T-zone.

Illuminating primer

An illuminating primer gives the final appearance of your makeup a radiant look. The glow is subtle and natural and can mimic your highlighter. It makes your foundation appear dewy and glassy. This primer is for all skin types and makeup artists usually use it when a client is going to an event.

Hydrating primer

The major ingredient in a hydrating primer is hyaluronic acid alongside other moisturizing ingredients like oils. It keeps dry skin hydrated underneath the makeup and prevents the makeup from flaking off. A hydrating primer still works to give your makeup a smooth and even coverage.

Blurring primer

This is the multi-tasking primer. While it keeps your makeup from creasing or sliding off, the primer evens your skin tone and texture. It also softens your skin, smoothens out fine lines and wrinkles, minimizes pores, and reduces excessive shine.

Color-correcting primer

This type of primers are tinted and they adopt the color wheel concept where opposite colors cancel out each other. This is how it covers skin complexion distortion. Moreover, they help to even out your skin tone and reduce skin redness.

SEE: Make Your Skin Pop With These Makeup Tips for Gorgeous Skin

Anti-aging primer

Some primers contain anti-aging ingredients that repair and protect your skin from free radicals. They contain SPF to shield your skin from premature aging. Together with this benefit, the primer also enhances makeup application.

What Is Makeup Primer Made Of?

Makeup primers are composed of waxes and silicone-based polymers. These ingredients are what help to minimize pores’ appearance, reduce sebum production, and make the cosmetic stick to your skin. Color correcting primers are color tinted. Additionally, mineral-based primers contain mica and silica.

Other ingredients you may find in your makeup primer include SPF, green tea extract, oils, preservatives, and antioxidants such as vitamins A, C & E.

Can You Use Primer Without Makeup?

One of the amazing benefits of having a primer in your makeup collection is that you can use it alone. Although primer was made for makeup application, you don’t always have to wear makeup over primer. And they’ll fulfill their specific purposes regardless.

For instance, you can use a hydrating primer on your dry skin to minimize skin flaking and keep your skin hydrated during the day. Also, a primer that contains SPF will boost the protective effect of your sunscreen.

Additionally, people with oily skin can benefit from using a mattifying primer alone to minimize pores and blue pores. Overall, the primer will smoothen your skin, even your skin tone, and calm skin redness.

Can You Apply Makeup Without Primer?

Yes, you can. Not everyone sees makeup primer as necessary, so you can apply makeup without using primer. If you have super smooth skin that will give a sleek finish after applying makeup, it’s okay to skip a primer.

Moreover, some people wouldn’t like to spend more time for an extra step on their makeup routine. But if you’re looking for an alternative for primer, you can prep your skin with a BB cream, CC cream, and tinted moisturizer.

However, you should bear in mind that these products will only give light coverage. That means, they may not perfectly conceal skin discolorations like hyperpigmentation and acne scars.

SEE: BB Cream vs CC Cream- Their Distinctive Differences

Should You Use Primer or Moisturizer First?

Moisturizers come before primer. To start with, skincare comes before makeup. And moisturizers are a part of skincare, so you should follow the order. More so, applying primer before moisturizer will be depriving your skin of moisture. This can leave your skin dry and dull.

Additionally, although primers can be hydrating, they are not formulated to hydrate your skin like moisturizers.

How to Apply Makeup Primer

  • Cleanse your face. Dampen a cotton pad with a mild facial cleanser to remove oil that your skin produced over the night
  • Afterward, apply toner (one that works with your skin type) to your skin. However, not everyone sees toner as necessary
  • After cleansing, you can exfoliate your skin for a radiant complexion and enhance products absorption
  • Apply other products on your routine- serum, moisturizer, eye cream, spot treatment, and face oil in the right order
  • Thereafter, squeeze out a pea-sized amount of primer onto the back of your hand
  • Apply the cream in dots all over your face and gently massage it into your skin
  • Make sure you cover everywhere. Apply eyelid primer (if you have one) around your eye area
  • Leave the primer to dry for some seconds
  • Then, you can start applying makeup, beginning with foundation

Pros of Makeup Primer

  • Makes your skin glowy and supple
  • Primer, when used alone or with makeup, smoothens your skin
  • Primers allow your skin to breathe underneath makeup
  • Hydrating primer boosts skin hydration levels
  • You can enjoy long-lasting makeup in any weather

Cons of Makeup Primer

  • Silicone-based primers can clog your pores and lead to whiteheads and blackheads breakout
  • Silicone-based primers can make your skin overly sweaty and oily
  • It’s an extra step in your makeup routine
  • Also, if you have sensitive skin, you are at risk of having skin congestion because some of the ingredients are questionable
  • A primer may not make any difference if you’re trying to use it with a base product that has a different formulation. For instance, trying to apply oil-based foundation over a water-based primer

SEE: How to Organize Makeup to Transform Your Space in Quick Steps


Is primer necessary in makeup?

No, it’s not. The necessity of a makeup primer depends on individual preferences and skin type. Some people will have great makeup with or without a primer. However, some people need this product for a velvety finish and long-lasting makeup.

Should you put primer under your eyes?

Primer may not be necessary for your under-eye, but if you must, then you should use a primer that is specifically formulated for the delicate skin around your eyes. A regular face primer can clog the pores around your eyes and cause your skin to age faster.

Can you mix primer with foundation?

Yes, you can. It is okay to mix primer with foundation before you apply it to your face. This does not only collapse two steps into two, but it also helps to make the foundation lighter. Release drops of both products on the back of your hand and mix them with a brush or your finger.

In addition, make sure you’re mixing primer and foundation that have similar components. For instance, mix water-based primer and water-based foundation, mix silicone-based primer and silicone-based foundation.


Makeup primer could be the missing item in your makeup collection. It could be the reason why your foundation wears off before halfway through the day. It could also be the reason why your face, especially your T-zone area is excessively oily.

Now that you know this, you can finally decide on whether you need a makeup primer or not. While you ponder, remember the protective layer it creates between your skin and makeup products, which contain a lot of chemicals.

Thanks for reading.

Africana Fashion has more related articles that give you relevant information on makeup products and how to use them.