From the Beauty Closet

Do I really need a primer?

10 years ago by

Do I <em>really</em> need a primer?

NO! That’s what I told myself for a while anyway. My far-too-kind-voice-of-reason was telling me: “You have the beautiful glowing skin, a primer will only clog your pores and make you feel like you are wearing a cake on your face!”

Well turns out, my voice of reason was wrong.

On most days, some spot concealer and powder foundation (I use bareMinerals) just about do the trick, but on days when my skin needs a little extra TLC, I’ve been reaching for Sunday Riley’s Effortless Breathable Tinted Primer. It is super light weight, leaves my skin feeling silky smooth and it is paraben free. Either by itself (bonus!) or as a base under my foundation, it’s become one of my new go-to products. What about you? Do you use a primer?


Add yours
  • I do. I use the original Smashbox formula and like it a lot. ESPECIALLY on days when I don’t really feel like wearing foundation. I use undereye concealer + primer to smooth things out a bit and go. P.S. Alex, I am really enjoying all the beauty posts! Keep them coming!

  • I don’t, but I definitely should! It really protects the skin and makes it smoother. The make up stays much longer with a primer.
    I don”t use one because I’m lazy… Very bad, isn’t it??


    Cheers! Cory

  • je n’en ai pas le courage… Le maquillage pour en utiliser !!

  • Never hear about it before! But It seems that I should try it! :)


  • I have a Clarins primer which feels very velvety and makes my foundation easier to apply. I don’t apply it every day though – maybe once or twice a week.

  • good to know…I was wondering the same thing!!

    check out my fashion blog!

  • They just did a great article on this on Into The Gloss. Based on their recommendations I’m super curious to try the Hourglass Veil, but honestly I never use primer. I always just thought if I could avoid another layer on my face I’d be better off, but now I’m starting to realize that that made-up logic might not be the best. I do occasionally use Armani’s Light Master Primer from this little sample I have that I guard like it’s liquid gold, it really does make me more luminous, like I’m lit from within, like I’m 10 years younger, in a really natural believable way. Wow, sounds like I love the stuff. Why don’t I wear it again? Might just have to go buy some tomorrow!

  • je n’en ai pas le courage… Le maquillage pour en utiliser, je dois être en super forme car sinon, le soir venu, je n’ai pas le courage de l’enlever… Et oui… ;)

  • J’utilise assez souvent une base et c’est agréable. Aucune ne m’a déçue pour l’instant. Maintenant, j’avoue que je découvre la tienne… Merci du partage !
    Côté fond de teint, je n’aime pas trop ceux en poudre car je les trouve pas assez hydratants. Mais c’est très personnel ; je connais des personnes très contentes de Bare Minerals.

  • Alex, does it have titanium dioxide in it? I’ve been told by my Dr/Nutritionist that my body doesn’t like titanium dioxide, so I’ve been looking for products without (proving to be very difficult, it’s in everything, including most SPFs). REJUVA is working well for mascara & concealer/powder. And GOLDIE’S for lip/cheek tint. Merci!

  • Hi Jaime! Unfortunately, it does include titanium dioxide. I’ll keep my eyes peeled from primer options without it!

  • Bah je me dis comme toi en fait. En plus j’ai une peau qui a tendance à être capricieuse donc je me dis qu’ajouter une couche en plus de celle de mon fond de teint ça va pas être tip top. Du coup je n’utilise pas de base pour mon teint mais j’en utilise tjrs une pour mes yeux, un primer à mettre avant le fard, comme ça c’est bien fixé et ça va pas dans les plis.

  • I’m normally lazy with make up ( and hair, and heels and clothes…) but when I get in the mood I use primer, foundation, concealer, eye-shadow primer… the whole package! You know the only thing that I don’t use to make my skin look stunning? And just because it’s not possible in real life 3D faces… Photoshop!! ;)

  • J’adore les deux “bases” Idealist de Estée Lauder (eux ils appellent ca des sérums), elles sont tellement bien que je ne peux plus m’en passer.

  • yes I do, my sister gave me a whole lecture about it, now I use makeup forever hd primer. And it really does make a difference.


  • si je n’en met pas tous les jours j’adore les bases. Pour l’instant j’ai celle d’agnes b.

  • Je n’utilise jamais de base d’habitude, mais ça m’a donné envie d’essayer !
    Nouvel article sur mon blog:

  • Although it is not called a primer, I just discovered Vichy’s ProEVEN BB cream, which is a primer in disguise:

    I am totally addicted to it, it smoothes my ultra-sensitive skin like no other!

  • I really didnt see it before. Only now and I would like to try it. Nice day.

  • Most days I only use tinted moisturizer and I am good to go.

    However on days/nights where i have special occasions weddings, dinners etc and i know there is extra effort needed. …And also when i know there is going to be flash photography , I wear primer + a foundation with more cover.

    Try it. Do your make-up like normal and take a flash photo of your face.
    Then do this same flash exercise on a day when you are wearing primer. (A big difference.)

    Sooo… on days where I days where I am just in normal lighting/circumstances…. no primer necessary.

  • Non, je ne me suis jamais maquillé la peau ! Toujours l’impression que ca fait plâtre ou pas naturel, bizarre. Avant je me maquillais juste les yeux, mais plus maintenant, j’ai envie d’être juste moi sans ma cacher sous du maquillage., et pas encore dans une période où j’aurais envie de me déguiser et changer de personnalité chaque jour.

  • I have tried several primers and stopped using them because the effect wasn’t that amazing, I’m all about simplicity at the moment and the BB Cream from Bobbi Brown is doing the trick for me at the moment. xxx

  • You should try BB creams instead.

    “Beauty Balms or B.B. Creams were originally developed as a perfect post-procedure cream used to treat, hydrate, prime, protect, and camouflage the skin. Great for all skin types including those with sensitive skin, these versatile “five-in-one” formulas are designed to do it all: treat with high levels of active skin care ingredients; moisturize and smooth dehydrated skin; prime and perfect skin’s surface; camouflage and color correct the skin tone; and protect skin from the sun with SPF.”

    The best ones are sold in Asia. Most BB creams usually have one color that self adjusts to you skin tone. I love it!

  • What a coincidental post! I just purchased primer yesterday and have debated returning it. I mean, I don’t deny that when they do my makeup at the counter, using primer seems to work magic but on my own I try to put as little on my face as possible. Thanks for sharing, though, maybe I’ll keep my bottle and give it a shot.

  • Jane with the noisy terrier January, 14 2013, 2:02 / Reply

    Yep, I’m a fan of primers. My favorite is by Chantecaille — it includes SPF 50 and is oil-free. The key to primers is to match them to your foundation. In other words, use an oil-free foundation over an oil-free primer. I find it makes my pores appear less noticeable and my makeup stays on longer. If you wear eye-shadow, be sure to get NARS eye primer. It makes your eye shadow last all day without creasing.

  • Yes, i really love the smashbox primer. i need to restock though, i am totall out. LOVE how it makes my skin feel and glow. esp under foundation.

  • Jamais de base, jamais de fond de teint. Mais des Météorites, en pluie légère ;-).

  • Hi Alex,

    Yes, I cannot live without my primer. I had been using Clarins Lisse Minute for years and have tried many since then except for Sunday Riley so I’ll have to give it a try.

    I do sell exceptional mineral makeup & skincare products online. I love the .Mica Bella Makeup Perfecting Primer which is a gel formula but not at all greasy on the skin. Available at:

  • If you are on a night out and you know you are going to take pictures – then yes

    Special day where you are out for most of the day then yes

    If you are wearing bb cream then no need bc it is already included

    Otherwise, if you are a civilian like most of us are – i don’t really see the need. It’s just an extra step and more stuff on your skin.

  • I only use SmashBox BB Cream Primer all in one thing when I have an event to go to. Where I know my picture will be taken. Everyday I just use moisturizer. I also think primers, even powder might clog my pores so I just stick to the moisturizer and try to get lots of sleep and drink a lot of water.


  • What do you think about BB cream?

  • BBcream is awesome! It works just like a primer and the SmashBox one has SPF ~35 in it. It does have the same effects as a primer… makes your face look like a mask. BB cream hides all the imperfections and evens out your skin. I suggest going to Sephora and getting a sample. =D

  • dragoline January, 14 2013, 2:30 / Reply

    Sur les yeux, toujours une base, pour que mes “peintures de guerres” tiennent toute la journée. Important, car j’aime les fards pailletés. Et je suis le genre de femme qui n’a dans son sac qu’un baume à lèvre et un rouge à lèvre/gloss. Pas de retouche. (Mon sac pèse déjà assez lourd).

    Presque oui pour les lèvres. Un jour, un esthéticienne m’a appris que les gens avaient l’habitude de se mettre une crème hydratante avant de se maquiller le visage, mais rien sur les lèvres. Alors, que dans le maquillage ce qui agresse la peau : ce sont les pigments. La crème hydratante (de soin, etc) sert de barrière entre la peau et les pigments. Il en faut donc aussi une sur les lèvres.
    Là faut se la jouer sioux, et ne pas essayer son rouge chez le marchand de maquillage sans son baume. Avec ou sans les couleurs changent. Mais, pas de soucis on garde les propriétés “no transfert”, longue tenue etc.

    Pour la peau, je ne peux pas. Si je le fais, je la sens qui hurle “j’étouffe”. Déjà elle hurle j’étouffe pour un fond de teint. Donc, juste un peu de blush de temps en temps. Et une résistance non démentie face à mes adorables vendeuses de Séphora qui tiennent à tout prix me faire tomber dans la font de teint folie (et la base qui va avec). Pour résister, 2 armes fatales : 1/ il n’y a que dans les miroirs de chez Séphora que j’ai une peau aussi moche. 2/ je suis blonde avec une peau de rousse (des générations de roux dans la famille), donc si je me mets au fond de teint pour le visage, il faudra que je me mette à l’autobronzant pour le corps (et je suis certaine que cela le perturberait, même en été un cachet d’aspirine est plus coloré que lui).

  • I do not use a primer but I just discovered Vichy’s ProEVEN BB Cream, which is a primer in disguise for sensitive skins like mine:

  • I used to think primer was just another thing for the cosmetics companies to make money with. Now I always wear primer or a BB Cream that functions like a primer. My favorite is Dr. Brandt’s Pores No More tinted primer, and I also like Smashbox’s oil free primer. I haven’t worn Laura Mercier’s for a few years but I’m sure that it’s quite good. Someday maybe I’ll have naturally flawless skin and won’t need one. Realistically, I’ll probably have a giant pimple on the day I die. :-)

  • lol.

  • I think a Primer is something you can live without until you find a good one… I couldn’t be without mine now!

  • Samantha January, 14 2013, 4:50 / Reply

    Yes!! For my oily skin i think primer really does make a difference! I use Clarins Instant Smooth perfecting touch! it works a treat!

  • J’en utilise tous les jours ainsi que de l’anti-cernes… enfin une BB crème. Il parait que Chanel a lancé une CC crème et que le résultat sur la peau est bluffant. à voir ;-)


  • Hey Garance, sounds like a great product. Which colour do you use?

  • I just discovered Primer last August and I’ve been kicking myself in the butt ever since. I used to think the same thing Alex, it’d be an extra layer of goo on my face and I just didn’t get it. My coworker kept insisting about the awesomeness of the one from Smashbox Photofinish and it has been…

    I wear the same shade of foundation/ bronzer/ eye liner, mascara… but with the primer everyone and I mean EVERYONE stops to comment about how fantasticly glamorously glowing I look.

    It’s a little daunting. The primer is so light and silky and protective. I can’t wait for my moisturizer to sink in so that I could put on this layer of goodness. And can I say, I think it’s shielding my skin because I never break out unnecessarily anymore…

    Love love primer.


  • I was a skeptic too but now I use Nars primer and it’s great. Makes things go on smoother.

  • Yeah a beauty mini-post by Alex ! It’s funny because I recently stopped to use my primer everyday. I watched one of Pardon My French videos during the last Fashion Week and I saw Garance putting some free powder. I was curious and I tried. Best discovery ever ! At first I used it after my primer to have a very polish skin and I was also scared to stop my primer. Altought, I was tired of looking less natural than I’d like (yep cake face with natural brown smoked eyes is not the best combo). To my mind, it was impossible to find something as covering as a primer.
    But then I got tired to cover my skin since it was looking better and fresh. So I tried my free powder alone on a Sunday to avoid any catastrophe. I was astounded the minute after I put it on my face, it looks so fresh, natural, light and yet it covered my skin. It is now my go-to product and it is especially great when I don’t have the time. The only negative point to me is that the light powder has a tendency to spread all over my hands and clothes so I need to be careful when I put it. Mine is the Mineralize Foundation/Loose by M.A.C. It’s the first brand I tried and I loved it but if you have other brands to advice me, I’m listening. :)
    Thanks for this great post. I LOVE beauty post so much. I could talk about it for hours.

  • Mireille January, 14 2013, 5:45 / Reply

    Hey Alex! Non, je n’ utilise pas de base..
    Je chouchoute ma peau énormément avant le maquillage:
    crème hydratante et /ou nourrissante selon les saisons
    contour des yeux
    ensuite crème teintée Nuxe et un anti cerne quand c’est nécessaire
    A chaque fois qu’on me maquille et que j’y ai droit, ma peau est en asphyxiée…
    le produit a l’air intéressant.. A suivre! Merci du conseil:-)

  • Je n’en ai jamais utilise mais maintenant, je suis tentee.

  • francis ou gérard January, 14 2013, 6:52 / Reply

    A quand des conseils beauté pour les mecs ???? tes lecteurs sont mixtes Garance, nous aussi on veut des trucs et astuces (surtout que dans ta bande il y a quelques garçons non ? )

    bises, sur ta peau éclatante et magnifique.

  • Scarlette January, 14 2013, 7:00 / Reply

    J’utilise la base de maquillage Lise Watier, elle est géniale et laisse ma peau unifiée et douce!

  • Cat Novak January, 14 2013, 7:27 / Reply

    Burst’s Bee forever

  • I used to think the same thing about primer! I thought I was too young to start wearing primer already, but I was wrong! I decided to try it out a couple of months ago and I love it! It really makes a difference in how much skin feels and it helps keep my make up on all day.

  • NYSgonzalez January, 14 2013, 8:28 / Reply

    I love my Laura Mercier and I’m going to invest in the Laura Mercier radiant formula as well (secret behind the J Crew glow). But after reading this I have to try Smashbox BB cream. Using primer actually protects my skin and keeps makeup from settling in pores. I have better looking skin today than 2 years ago. :-)

    *i have dark skin and all the original BB creams were a variant of beige

  • Katherine January, 14 2013, 8:37 / Reply

    No thank you …. . I’ve tried both the Laura Mercier and the Nars primers and I just don’t like them. Of course, I have really dry skin, and anything “mattifying” just makes me look like a Pompeiian mummy …. So its BB cream all the way. Boscia’s is amazing.

  • only use primer when i need my makeup to last longer and i want it to be perfect. not really sure if they actually work tho. haha

  • I don’t, all I use is a tinted moisturizer with SPF 15 from Nu skin. It blends perfectly with my skin and I don’t feel like I’m wearing anything but with the plus of protecting my skin from the sun.

  • Dear Alex, I have never heard of a primer before, is it like a foundation? Really, what does it do? :D *awkward grin moment*

  • I don’t use a primer but think I should get on that. Especially if it can possibly be a one-step solution on most days. My make-up artist friend raves about primers. So, I guess I will give it a go. Great to know the brand you use is paraben free. Thanks!

  • Benefit’s Poreless Primer and Tinted Sunscreen, that’s it! The winter cold pinches my cheeks, so I don’t need blush ;)

  • This is a great primer that has never broken me out, ever, and it really works to keep makeup smooth and long lasting. Its basically pure awesome.

    Product review–>

  • Yes, I use a primer and most of all, since I love to use eyeshadows I can’t do without eye primer (I use Urban Decay). I don’t use primer everyday, only when I want my make up to last all day long, but even when I used to used it everyday I didn’t have problems with my skin. I think the most important thing is to clean it very well before going to bed.

  • Pour ma part quand j’ai besoin de chouchouter ma peau, je rajoute l’huile de rose de damas AESOP (qq gouttes) à ma crème de jour Aesop et hop ma peau revit et s’illumine à nouveau…

  • it’s a MUST! well if you want a glowing skin of course, i’m still trying but i didn’t find the right one for my skin yet, and i have a comp. skin.. any recommendation?!

  • Hello ! Je pensais comme toi et puis j’

  • Hello ! je pensais comme toi et puis mon avis a changé, j’en ai testé plein de différentes, pour différents effets (j’en ai d’ailleurs fait un article sur mon blog en septembre) et je dois dire qu’on voit la différence sur la tenue, c’est indéniable !!

  • Lorraine January, 15 2013, 6:37 / Reply

    Nop never. I only use a serum from Melvitta + a cream from Melvitta (French organic products) then a powder like you do, but it’s not Bare Minerals, it’s from an organic little French brand I really like called Les 3 Fees. Since I’ve started with this kind of make up I couldn’t stop. I really hate creamy foundations now. Powder is so light, you also have the corrector then the blusher… everything is great, I love it.

  • Tried primer from some big japanese brands and also Laura Marcier but swriously i did not find very significant difference…..
    I actually quite like BB cream from Garnier (the EU version, not Asian version. Many people have blogged about the battle among the two versions) and from Bobbi Brown. I am 99% lazy when it comes to makeup, but BB cream is an easy way to give a “full package” illusion when i wanna glam up my face a bit :)

  • No I don’t, but I don’t like to use a lot of make-up anyway (I think foundation is already too much for every day…). I only use mascara and an eyebrow pencil, and sometimes Clinique Almost Powder Makeup and blush. When I wear foundation, my face looks so strange to me, hahahaha – even though I can see why it looks good, it’s just not me. I don’t think any of my friends wear foundation either, so I’m used to seeing real ‘natural’ faces. Perhaps it’s different when you are surrounded by people who wear foundation every day?

  • Moi je n’utilise rien du tout, seulement une bonne hidratation matin et soir. Derrirèrement,chaque fois que je vois une fille avec du make up je trouve que ça viellit, il n’ya rien comme le naturel.
    J’ai essayé plusieurs fois les BB cream, et toutes sortes de crèmes avec couleur mais je me vois maquillée,
    vielle, deguisé.
    Seulement j’utilise une poudre hidratante de Dior, pour enlever la peau brillante, et seulement dans le front.


    PD j’ai 47 .et j’aime mes petites rides, et je pense a Brad Pitt, si lui il est beau, moi aussi….

  • Hello garance, since I use the wonderful BB Creams (Clinique or Dior) I don’t need a primer anymore! Never before had such a perfect skin!

    Love your blog a lot! Greetings from Germany!

  • Vitalumière Aqua – Chanel. Je sais, ce n’est pas une base, mais la meilleures chose que j’ai pu utiliser jusqu’à présent. Léger, facile à appliquer, discret, et il rend la peau naturelle, belle et fraîche. M-A-G-I-Q-U-E!

  • Vitalumière de Chanel! Je sais, ce n’est pas une base, mais c’est tout simplement M-A-G-I-Q-U-E! Facile à appliquer, frais, discret, léger… Une merveille qui rend la peau belle sans effet plâtre. J’adore!

    P.S: J’adore ton site… :) x1000

  • i use a primer from mac, it s soft, thin and yet pretty useful. i had acne back when i was younger, so i use a little primer and foundation to cover spots and even skin tones

  • Je n’utilise pas de base pour le moment mais peut être que je m’y mettrai prochainement :)


  • I use NYC Pore Filler. I’m like you, never thought I needed one. But I tried it and loved how smooth my face looked and felt! It’s very inexpensive, and can be found at Ulta. And it doesn’t clog my pores.

  • Angela D January, 15 2013, 4:53 / Reply

    I absolutely swear by Korean BB Cremes + some finishing powder afterward. It makes your skin look perfect and it … the easiest makeup I’ve ever had.

  • I must say, I used to be a primer and “multiple product” skeptic, but now I do use primer and quite a few wonderful serums I never thought I would rely so much on! I recommend Arbonne primer as well as Arbonne Revelage Intensive Pro Brightening Night Serum (which I use during the day on my neck to give it instant lift and radiance.) Both are vegan and cruelty free but have the lush quality of Claudalie, Clarins and Mercier. The products are water-based so do NOT clog pores! LUVVVV! If you need a free sample sent let me know. Bisous, Garance. May all your product searches end well! :)

  • yes smashbox is the best – skin is velvety soft and you dont feel it at all under foundation – i have sensitive skin and so far no clogged pores, it actually helps reduce the appearance of pores for me :)

  • Dear Alex – I think you wrote recently about your dry skin? If so, let me be the first to alert you that powder foundation is terrible for dry skin! Perhaps Caudalie tinted moisturizer? Perhaps Chanel foundation? (they really do make the best foundation – I think I’ve tried them all!). But never, ever, powder foundation….

  • Ma mère est une super dermato ici à Barcelone, et depuis que j’avais… euh, 16 ans, à peu près? Elle m’a interdit d’utiliser une base. Et EN FAIT elle a raison. J’en ai pas besoin! Là j’ai 19 ans, je n’utilise que du blush, du lip stick, mascara, eye liner and eye shadow.

  • je trouve que ça ne camoufle pas les imprefections tout en donnat l impression d être maquillé…
    je préfère ajouter une goutte d huile pailletée style nuxe apres une poudre minerale pour ajouter de la lumière et bonne mine,

  • Sunday Riley Tinted Primer is my absolute favourite! I use it like a matte tinted moisturizer rather than a primer tho. Normally, I find primers to be a terrible, detestable, pore clogging, thick, plastic-like nuisance… the Sunday Riley one; however, is extremely light, silky, and my skin looks even better the day after. No congestion whatsoever. I’ve bought my second bottle (after attempting to break open the last one with a hammer! It’s that good!).

    Unfortunately, it doesn’t do much to actually keep foundation on. When I do want greater coverage with long wear, Hourglass Veil works well under foundation. Since my skin is so bright and clear lately, foundation hasn’t been necessary.

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