What Is Primer, and What Does It Do?

BY Stephanie Capretta · July 25, 2017

woman applying lip gloss

Whether you like to apply a full face of makeup every day or prefer a more simplistic approach to beauty, primer may be the best new addition to your makeup bag. If you’re someone who completely skips the use of primer, you’re not alone! In most cases, we either aren’t sure how to use it or just don’t think that we need it. To get more specifics on the importance of primer, we spoke with Nashville-based makeup artist Chelsea Reynolds, who creates looks for fashion, beauty and special events.

What Is Primer?

Primer is a cream, powder, gel or liquid that is applied as a base for your face makeup, nail polish or hair products.

6 Types of Primer & What They Do

Primer allows products, like foundation and lipstick, to last longer and go on smoother. Adding this step to your beauty regimen will create the perfect base and will give your products extra staying power throughout the day. See how Reynolds suggests using each type of primer below.

1. Face Primer - Hydrates & Creates a Smooth Base for Foundation

“Primer not only has additional skin benefits like hydration and oil control,” Reynolds explains, “but it provides a base for makeup to stick to.” Think of using face primer just as you would of paint primer for your house. The goal is to create a smooth base coat before applying the final coat. Face primer can also prevent makeup from looking caked on. “Primer really increases the longevity of your makeup and prevents creasing throughout the day,” Reynolds adds.

For a lightweight, sun-protecting and complexion-enhancing canvas, try Colorescience Skin Perfector Brightening Primer SPF 20.

2. Lip Primer - Helps Lip Color Last Longer

While lip liners and exfoliating can help prevent a lipstick faux pas, Reynolds explains that lip primer is the trick to ensuring long-lasting color. “Lip primer is key to filling in fine lines and reducing lipstick feathering,” says Reynolds. Just like face primer, lip primer acts as a smooth base so your lipstick can go on evenly and boldly.

For a hydrating lip primer that prevents color fade, try Supreme Lip Spackle by Laura Geller New York.

3. Eyelid/Eyeshadow Primer - Keeps Eyeshadow From Creasing

Do you notice that your eyelids get a little oily throughout the day? Have you ever realized that your eyeshadow has become creased or that the pigment fades too quickly? Eyelid primer may be exactly what’s missing from your makeup routine. “Eyelid primer not only enhances pigmentation of your shadow, but also prevents creasing,” says Reynolds. Eyelid primers will allow your eye makeup to glide on smoothly and keep it fierce throughout the day.

For a hydrating primer that also doubles as an under-eye treatment, try the Hyaluronic Eye Primer from BY TERRY.

4. Eyelash Primer - Makes Your Mascara Work Even Better

If you’re looking for stronger, thicker lashes (aren’t we all?), eyelash primer is a great choice for you. Eyelash primer lengthens your lashes, and, in some cases, can also stimulate lash growth. It also creates a nice base for your mascara to grab onto, making your makeup last longer. Reynolds says, “I love eyelash primer because it is great for conditioning lashes and getting them ready for mascara.”

To enhance your lashes from root to tip, we recommend the PureLash Extender and Conditioner by jane iredale.

5. Nail Primer - Protects Your Nails & Makes Polish Last

News flash! Primer is not just for perfecting our makeup. Primer can also be a game changer for our nails. This multi-use product helps our polish stay on longer and protects our nails from yellowing (for those of us who like a bold-colored mani). “I love nail primer because it helps strengthen my nails and protect them from the polish, so there isn’t any discoloration,” says Reynolds.

Our favorite fast-drying nail primer is the butter LONDON Nail Foundation™ Priming Basecoat

6. Hair Primer - Protects Hair From Heat & Humidity

Last, but not definitely not least, is hair primer. Slightly different from makeup primers, this product creates a barrier to help protect hair from heat styling, humidity and more. “Hair primers are great for creating an additional layer of protection,” explains Reynolds. She also recommends using a hair primer to “minimize heat or chemical damage.”

To guard your hair from heat before a blowout, try the Blowout Primer by Fekkai.

Stephanie Capretta

Stephanie Capretta is an account manager at a tech company in Playa Vista but has always had a passion for creative writing. In her spare time, you’ll find Stephanie playing beach volleyball, adventuring/hiking outdo... Read More >

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