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Prime Time: How To Pick The Right Makeup Primer

18 Apr 2022

If there’s one product that’s a must-have in your makeup bag, we think it’s makeup primer. Straddling the line between skincare and makeup, a good primer is the glue that holds your whole look together. In addition to making your makeup products easier to apply, primer can help keep said products in place. But just slapping on any old primer isn’t enough: You need to pick the right primer for your skin. If that sounds like a tall order, don’t worry—we’re here to help.

In this guide, we’ll give you the details on what primer makeup is, what it does, and how it works. Plus, we’ll teach you how to choose a primer that complements your skin (and signature makeup style, of course). Read on for NYX Professional Makeup’s crash course on choosing and using makeup primer for a flawless finish that lasts.

What Is Makeup Primer?

First things first: What is primer makeup, really? Essentially, primer refers to a formula used to help prep your skin for makeup (think of it like your mani’s base coat, but for your face). Most often, primer comes in cream or gel consistencies, but it can also be a balm, spray, or even oil.

When applied before your base makeup (read: foundation and concealer), primer is designed to help makeup apply more easily and evenly. Plus, there are primers that can multitask, too!

Here are a few things makeup primers can help with:

  • Smoothing and blurring the appearance of pores
  • Color-correcting minor discolorations, like redness or blotchiness
  • Reducing excessive shine
  • Helping your makeup stay put

Generally speaking, the numerous types of primer fall into two main categories: Water-based primers and silicone-based primers. Water-based formulas tend to be a bit more hydrating (great if you have dry skin), while silicone-based primers help reduce shine and give the skin an airbrushed look (super helpful if you’re prone to oiliness). To choose one, you want to consider your skin type, as well as what makeup you’re wearing and how you want it to look.

Do I Need Primer?

If you ask us, primer is a must—at least, if you want your beat to look its very best (and we know you do). At NYX Professional Makeup, we have many primers to choose from depending on your skin’s needs, including hydrating formulas for dry skin, mattifying formulas for oily skin, and brightening formulas for those who want to get their glow on. Keep reading for a rundown on our very best face primers for every skin type and makeup vibe.

The Marshmellow Smoothing Primer

If you’re looking for a soft-focus finish, try our Marshmellow Smoothing Primer. This primer is as sweet as it sounds. Formulated with marshmallow root extract, the 10-in-1 primer smooths, softens, extends makeup wear for up to 16 hours, hydrates, soothes, evens tone, minimizes texture, blurs lines, adds a soft focus finish, and keeps makeup fresh.

Plump Right Back Primer + Serum

Streamline your AM routine with Plump Right Back Primer + Serum. This two-in-one primer for all skin types is formulated with hydrating hyaluronic acid along with a mix of skin-friendly electrolytes and vitamins, including magnesium, potassium, vitamin E, and pro-vitamin B5. It helps plump the look of tired skin with moisture, without leaving it looking oily. Designed to grip onto makeup, this primer is perfect for budge-proof, all-day wear. The fluid formula absorbs into the skin quickly, making it one of our favorites for busy mornings.

Bare With Me Cannabis SPF 30 Primer

Keep your skin calm, cool, and collected—plus protected against UVA and UVB rays—with our Bare With Me Cannabis SPF 30 Primer. The formula with cannabis sativa seed oil and SPF 30 provides 24-hour hydration while helping soothe and protect skin.

Pore Filler

If visible pores are ruining your vibe, you can give them the boot (albeit temporarily) with Pore Filler, a skin-smoothing primer that helps minimize the appearance of pores and uneven skin. Formulated with vitamin E, this smoothing primer helps prevent cakiness and creates a soft-focus filter effect that makes skin look picture-perfect—on camera and IRL. Use this cult classic any time your skin texture needs a little smoothing out before your makeup goes on.

Bright Maker Primer

Before applying your base makeup, try out Bright Maker Primer, which helps to brighten the appearance of dull, dry skin. The sheer, peach-tinted formula with papaya extract helps skin look instantly hydrated and smooth, creating the ideal canvas for your makeup application. It leaves skin instantly brighter-looking and helps keep your foundation in place for up to 17 hours. Use it daily for an unbeatable lit-from-within glow.

Shine Killer

Slay the day with Shine Killer, a silicone-based primer for oily skin that helps control shine for a matte finish (yep, even your T-zone). This vegan formula, which is infused with charcoal, applies easily and dries down to a translucent finish that preps the skin for makeup application.

Pore Filler Targeted Stick

Busy mornings don’t have to mean skipping steps in your routine. With Pore Filler Targeted Stick Primer, you get the benefits of your go-to primer in an ultra-convenient stick formula that can be applied anywhere, from the office to the bar. Just swipe the lightweight formula onto uneven or overly-oily areas to blur imperfections for a soft-focus, naturally-filtered finish.

Hydra Touch Primer

Hydrated skin is happy skin. Treat your skin to some TLC with a moisturizing water-based primer, like Hydra Touch Primer. This lightweight formula provides all-day hydration and prolongs the life of your makeup look. It leaves skin feeling instantly refreshed with a dewy, your-skin-but-better finish.

Angel Veil Skin-Perfecting Primer

Put your best face forward with our silky Angel Veil Primer. The formula has a super comfortable, lightweight texture and helps blur the appearance of imperfections. It boasts a natural-looking satin finish, diminishing excess shine without dulling your natural angelic glow. Yes, please.

How To Apply Primer Properly

Once you’ve got your primer picked out, you need to figure out how to use it. Luckily, that part is pretty easy. First, dispense a dime-sized amount of your chosen makeup primer onto your (clean!) fingertips. Apply the primer to your face in a thin, even layer, targeting any areas that need a little extra help (like your T-zone if you’re using a mattifying primer or dry spots if you’re using a hydrating primer). Then, chill for a few minutes to let your primer do its thing—once the formula absorbs fully, you can go ahead and apply your foundation and other base makeup as usual.

Pro Tip: We’ll let you in on a little secret: If you have combination skin, you can mix and match primers to suit your skin’s needs. For example, use Pore Filler on your nose to blur the appearance of pores and drench the rest of your face with moisture with Hydra Touch Primer. Just be sure to blend evenly and let both formulas sink in before applying the rest of your beat.

Next: Why Setting Sprays Really Work

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