Why your face, lips and eyes need them


Words: Foyin Ogunrombi | Photography: Supplied

Primers are easily one of the most underrated makeup products in a routine, mostly because many people don’t quite understand what they are, what they do and why they need one. In essence, a primer is designed to prepare your skin for the makeup that’s about to be applied. It creates an ideal canvas for foundation to stick onto and can even protect and treat the skin beneath it. Primers also allow your makeup to last longer, smooth out or blur skin imperfections, control oil production, moisturise dry skin and make colours appear more vivid. And just like foundation, they vary for different skin conditions.

Normal combination

You’re free to use any type of primer. The priming stage (or just before it) is also the best time to apply SPF to protect your skin, so the ideal primer contains it in its formula. Apply your primer and then give your face a full minute to dry before continuing with the rest of your makeup routine. Rule of thumb: use a primer from the same collection as your foundation. Primers are often created to complement a foundation, so if one of your foundation seems to be underperforming, this may be why.

Oily skin

The keywords to look out for on your primers are “mattifying”, “pore blurring” and “oil-free”. These types of primers control the shine that your skin produces, instead of drying it out. If your skin is incredibly oily or you want to extend the wear of your makeup, set your primer with translucent powder (before applying the rest of your makeup) to absorb any excess oil. Having oily skin often means that your pores appear larger or give you visible texture, so to counteract that, pore-blurring silicone-gel primers can smoothen out your skin’s appearance.

Dry skin

You’ll need primers that are hydrating and illuminating. These primers double as moisturisers to give your skin as much hydration as possible. This will ensure that your makeup doesn’t appear dry or patchy or crack throughout the day. Primer oils are a great way to make sure your skin is hydrated before you apply your makeup, which will ultimately make your skin appear plumper, with a healthy glow. Your products will also apply more smoothly and blend with ease.


A colour-correcting primer is the way to go if you struggle with redness, hyperpigmentation or an uneven skin tone. These primers will make your skin appear more radiant and counteract the contrasting colours on your face for an even tone. If your issue is redness, look for a green-toned primer. For those with dark circles under their eyes or hyperpigmentation, a red or peach tone can help to neutralise that. If your skin appears to be dull, a yellow-toned or illuminating primer will add vibrancy to your appearance.


Primers aren’t only for your foundation and there are many options for other areas of your face, such as your eyebrows, eyelashes, eyelids and lips. Priming your eyelids can prevent your eyeshadow from creasing, as well as increase its pigmentation. Primed lashes can amplify your mascara and primed eyebrows can stimulate growth and extend the wear of your brow products. And on your lips? The extra moisture before lipstick application prevents matte lips from drying out and extends the wear, too.

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