Foundation Primers have become an integral part of our makeup routine. Some may argue that these are unnecessary splurges, and that moisturizers are just as sufficient, but primers do more than just ensuring makeup to last all day.

Aptly named 隔离霜 in Chinese, makeup bases form a barrier between skin and foundation; this barricade averts foundation pigments from being absorbed into the skin. Some foundations may also contain talc that sops up oil, drying out your skin in the process.

Some products, especially silicone-based ones, create a smooth surface to allow makeup to better glide on and adhere to the skin, as well as avoid too much foundation buildup that may result in a cakey finish. They also fill in pores and fine lines so foundation doesn’t settle and accentuate those flaws. Others may offer skin-correcting assistance such as reducing redness, or impart instantaneous radiance to sallow skin.

As what Lisa Eldridge had mentioned in her Make-Up Basics: Primer video, opt for products with skincare benefits – anti-aging, hydrating, skin-refining, tightening etc. I myself don’t layer on too much skin care products on makeup days; using only a silicone-based serum then skipped straight to primer (silicone or otherwise) and makeup.

Note that these products have been tried and tested. I would categorize them according to their textures and finishes, but it would mean clumping products in one shot, and singles in others.

L’OREAL Base Magique Transforming Smoothing Primer – my favorite drugstore primer; good to mattify oily T-Zone and fill in pores on my cheeks.

SEPHORA Smoothing Primer – its flaking tendencies is not recommended for dry skin. Note that it has been repackaged and renamed as Perfecting Ultra-Smoothing Primer, the version I have is still available at Sephora Singapore.

MAYBELLINE AngelFit Pore Zero Base – my very first primer; lends a hint of radiance whereas pores aren’t entirely filled up.

LA ROCHE-POSAY Cicaplast – designed to accelerate skin recovery post-cosmetic procedures, this silicon-based skincare does double-duty as a primer, creating a barrier between irritated skin and makeup.

CLARINS Beauty Flash Balm – a multi-tasker that offers skincare benefits; it can be used as a wash-off and leave-on mask that brightens your complexion and tightens the skin.

CLARINS UV PLUS HP – the pink-tinted version slightly saturates sallow skin, and its mineral foundation protects against external aggressors.

CLARINS Instant Smooth Line Correcting Concentrate – another silicone-based concentrate that fills in lines around my eyes and mouth for that airbrushed effect. Also contains light pigments and perfect for photography.

ESTEE LAUDER CyberWhite Brilliant Perfection Full Spectrum Brightening Makeup Base – what a mouthful! Contains a blend of fruit and vegetable extracts to correct sallowness, and mild spherical powders that refine skin’s surface.

ESTEE LAUDER Matte Perfecting Primer – a mild, silicone-based formula that keeps sebum at bay. Face starts to shine after a short walk under the sun, but stays pretty much matte for the rest of the day after one blotting session. [ REVIEW ]

ESTEE LAUDER Illuminating Perfecting Primer – silicone-based, pearlescent cream with subtle light particles. Those with oily skin may want to opt for the Matte version. Both Perfecting Primers are quite hydrating, my skin feels supple after application.

LANEIGE Snow Crystal Dual Base SPF22 PA+ – gives a shimmery, powder finish that visibly brightens the complexion, which is not recommended for oily skin. The formulation irks me too, because its tendency to flake, and the pumping dispenser is tricky to control. Comes with a brightening balm for highlighting purposes.

DIORSKIN Skin-Refining Pro Lighting Makeup Base – a runny consistency that cancels out sallowness with its pink undertones and offers a luminous veil over skin for better photography. There is another variant from their Hydra Life range; I can’t remember the exact product but might be the Hydrating Essence-In Lotion – I was tempted to get that last weekend but realized it’s almost similar with the RadiantBase in the sense that it promotes radiance with heavier hydrating properties. If you have dry skin, you might want to get that, and it contains SPF as well.

Do note that there’s a few RadiantBase variations that may no longer be available:
Sheer Skin-Lighting Refinishing Makeup Base (Front Row Beauty)
Sheer Skin-lighting Refinishing Makeup Base (Rouge Deluxe).

DIORSKIN Capture Totale Multi-Perfection Refining Base SPF25 PA++ – a creamier consistency with tightening properties, and instantly brightens the complexion. I actually prefer this over the RadiantBase, although the soap-ish scent can be mildly off-putting.

Some products that I’m gunning for in the near future:

RMK Smoothing Polished Base – covers the uneveness of open-pores with its gel formula; enriched with highly water-resistance Super Sealed Oil for makeup longevity.

GUERLAIN Meteorites Perles Light-Diffusing Perfecting Primer – gel-based formula containing pearls of light to “camouflage blemishes and discoloration, combined with pearlescent extracts to capture and reflect light and blur the appearance of fine lines without adding shine.”

HOURGLASS COSMETICS Veil Mineral Primer SPF 15 – a satin-finish formula that color-corrects, absorbs excess sebum and minimizes appearance of pores.

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10 responses to “Foundation Primers – What You Need To Know + Which You Have To Get”

  1. Cindy Lou says:

    very informative post! is the estee primers available now?

  2. Cassie says:

    Very detailed write-up you have there! The Dior Hydralife product you mentioned, any idea how much is it? I would like to check it out at the counters. Thanks!

    • Joyce September says:

      Hey Cassie, thanks for the compliment. The price is S$76; funny how I remember the price but not the product lol

  3. Rebecca S. says:

    I got the Flash Balm after reading your review and it is the bomb! Don’t recall seeing Laneige at the counters. Where can I get it? Thank You! And well done on another good entry!

    • Joyce September says:

      Woots! Glad you love the Clarins Beauty Flash Balm too!
      Laneige is a Korean brand, but I’m sure it’s available at some online stores.

  4. Jacqueline says:

    I didn’t think about using the Clarins UV plus HP (I have the one in beige) as a primer until I read your post, I thought it would be too heavy together with foundation. I tried it out and must say how much more flawless my skin looks and it keeps my foundation looking fresh. thanks so much to your post.

    • Joyce September says:

      Hey Jacqueline, I’m actually using the Beige tint as a foundation, because the coverage is adequate in covering my blemishes, although a little more concealer would help for a more flawless finish. I actually started using the Pink Tint as a base, after seeing how similar it is with the Dior RadiantBase.

  5. syaza says:

    Hi may i know where is the hourglass veil mineral primer available and how much??

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