Battle of the primers

I’ve accumulated a few priming products in my collection, i use them both for my kit (makeovers) or for my personal use. Being an oily type gal, need to use a primer under my foundation to keep the shine away as much as possible.

The line up:

From left to right: Shu Uemura UV Under Base Mousse, Lancome La Base, Mac Prep and Prime Spf 15, Smashbox Photo Finish Spf 15, Smashbox Photo Finish Light, Smashbox Photo Finish Color Correction in Blend, Smashbox Photo Finish Color Correction (old packaging), Smashbox Photo Finish Color Adjust, Shiseido Smoothing Veil, Clarins Instant Smooth Perfecting Touch.

Before showing you the textures and giving you mini reviews about them, i want to tell you a bit about the whole primer philosophy. I’m aware that all the beauty aficionados and beauty bloggers are going to roll their eyes, but dealing with ladies on the counter, most of them are not fully clear about what a primer does.

A Primer is a smoothing silicone based (most of the times) gel or lotion that is used under your foundation, to fill all the little pores and fine lines so when you apply your foundation everything will appear smoother.

  1. What im asked about 90% of the time is if a primer can be used alone, without foundation. The answer is No, because it will not do anything for you in any way. See it as a filler or a film, you have your little lines or pores, this will fill them up so when you apply your foundation or tinted moisturiser, it will be a smooth surface. If you don’t apply anything on top, your appearance will not be changed in any way. I tend to joke and call primers, Photoshop in a bottle.
  2. A primer does not act as a moisturiser. Yes when applied, your skin will feel super velvety but that’s just the silicon film. Some of the primers are more moisturising then other (Laura Mercier, the new Smashbox Hydrating Primer) but will not double up as a anti-age or hydrating treatment.

Shu Uemura UV Under Base Mousse SPF 30

Ive been eying this cult product since Shu Uemura set foot in Brown Thomas! It is very different to the gel primers I’m used to, it comes in a slightly tinted mousse (the shade is beige) and it has a whooping high Spf 30.  You have to be careful when pumping the product not to get too much out, literally an olive size of product is more then sufficient for the entire face and eyes. The skin tone its improved, the foundation lasts longer and goes smoother and it doubles up as a sun factor too.

Ideal for oily-combination skin, not great on dry types.

Mac Prep and Prime 

Prep and Prime its a lotion type primer with light reflecting properties. It doesn’t have any shimmer or glitter in it, just tiny, tiny particles that reflect the light for a dewy, radiant complexion. Raging to be honest that i didn’t get the Spf 50 one, wasn’t aware of its existence. Its not as slippery as a gel type primer, works excellent on a dry skin.

Lancome La Base

La Base is the classic gel primer, that gives an instant velvety feeling to your skin. To be honest i find the formulation and result to be identical with the Smashbox PhotoFinish, only at a cheeper price (La Base is €30 and Smashbox is €35). The formula its quite heavy, in the sense that you need a pea size amount for the whole face. Works on all skin types.

Smashbox Photo Finish Primers

Im a massive fan of Smashbox Cosmetics, love their primers, shadows, lipsticks…everything! Smashbox is my Mac if you wish :).

Photo Finish UVA/UVB Spf 15 – doubles up as a primer and a sun factor, if your day time foundation or moisturiser doesnt have one. Smart!

Photo Finish Light – for sensitive complexions and very oily textures, its a lighter formulation (doh!) that doesn’t block up the pores or irritates.

Photo Finish Color Correcting different colors: Blend (salmon shade to even out skin tone), Green (against redness or rosaceea), Purple (for dull complexions, instant brightening effect).

Shiseido Smoothing Veil and Clarins Instant Smooth Perfecting Touch

Clarins Instant Smooth Perfecting Touch – this is my primer to go for a mature, dry skin. Its best to be used with your fingers, working it into the skin. Here’s a little test that you can do in the shop, to see for yourself the power of this type of primer: take a pea size of product and apply it on the interior of one of your palms, working it in the lines. Then compare. Comment bellow if you are amazed or not.

Lancome has a very similar alternative out in two shades (fair porcelain and sallow skin), it primes and evens out skin tone.

Shiseido Smoothing Veil – feels more like a light moisturiser rather then a priming product. It evens out the skin tone, brightens and smooths the skin surface. Ideal for fair, dry complexions.

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  1. October 18, 2011 / 6:23 pm

    Oooh I love primers! Have you tried the Catrice one? It’s amazing especially for the price. I really want La Base xx

  2. Andreea
    October 18, 2011 / 6:25 pm

    Haven’t tried that one, had the Gosh with apricot and it was nice too. Want to try next some of the UD ones, especially the pore minimizing one xxx

  3. October 18, 2011 / 7:38 pm

    Oh wow! So jealous at your primer-stock there! Ahhhh, that Shu Uemura looks so interesting! xx

  4. Andreea
    October 18, 2011 / 7:44 pm

    Its a beauty Andreea, really nice for oily skin. The thing i like the most about it its the high SPF 30. I’m a bit notty and im using moisturisers with spf 15, so adding the Shu to my routine makes me feel better :).

  5. October 18, 2011 / 8:21 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing such a great piece. I have been debating about a primer for a bit. Think I will give the smashbox one for pigmented skin a go… really battling with it at the moment… makes matching a foundation a pain.

  6. Andreea
    October 18, 2011 / 8:36 pm

    Try to get some samples first to get the color right and maybe invest in a good coverage foundation, with a natural finish.

    There are some good skin treatments that could help with the pigmentation – Shiseido White Lucency, Clinique Laser Repair Serum, Lancome Visionnaire etc. and use a high spf daily.

    Let me know how you got on xxx

  7. October 20, 2011 / 11:22 am

    I really need to start buying and using primers! I am useless when it comes to stuff like that!!!

  8. Andreea
    October 20, 2011 / 12:55 pm

    Im depending on primers or you’ll see my foundation dripping from my face after a couple of hours :)). Its not pretty :p

  9. October 24, 2011 / 8:05 am

    Amazing post Andreea! That is one serious primer collection. I am on the hunt for a new primer and this was really useful – thank you! x

  10. December 21, 2011 / 12:13 pm

    Hi Andreea! I loved your article and I wanted to know two things. Do you ever mix your primers, as in does that even work? And, I suffer from sensitive and dry skin so I always have some redness going on. Does the Smashbox Primer (Green one) make a sufficient difference to my complexion or would I still have to use concealer? Thanks much and keep up the good work! 🙂

  11. Andreea
    December 21, 2011 / 11:52 pm

    Hi Machelle,

    To be honest it never occurred to me to mix them, i suppose you can use different ones on different areas e.g. green on the cheeks, matyfing on the t-zone. I’m not sure if layering the silicone would work great, never tried though.

    The green Smashbox is good, but you would still need your concealer. It tones down the redness, but if you have broken capillaries or pigmentation variations i would still use a concealer.

  12. Chalene
    March 8, 2012 / 10:13 am

    Hey I live in South Africa,and we have a few foundation
    primers here.I would just like to know which primer you think is
    better for oily/combination skin(I get oily around my t-zone area)I am
    looking at Lancome and Smashbox Photo Finish Light Primers.Any one of
    those two??

    Thank you very much ) BTW I love the blog!!!

  13. Andreea
    March 8, 2012 / 11:13 pm

    Hi Chalene,

    I would go with the Smashbox Light if your skin is sensitive and oily and if you are more combination with dry patches, with the Lancome La Base. Both of them are very good, should keep your skin perfect all day long.

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