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Primer Pandemonium – What I’ve tried

Primer Pandemonium – What I’ve tried

A smooth canvas to work on. That’s what every artist needs, right? Well if you didn’t already know, makeup is a form of art and your face is the canvas. The creativity and precision to express yourself like a painter to his artwork or a photographer to his pictures. Some have mastered the art and well, some of us need the right tools (like primers) to perfect our skills.


So firstly, what is a primer and what does it do?

A primer can either be a water-based or silicone-based solution that you apply after you moisturise your face. Its intent is to smooth out the skin by filling in pores, fine lines and wrinkles. It extends the longevity of the foundation and makeup you apply afterwards and can aid in absorbing oil for a matte finish. Some primers are tinted to even out skin tone and some may contain an SPF for added protection. The reason it is applied after your daily moisturiser is so that once the moisturiser soaks into the skin, the primer creates a sort of barrier between the makeup and the oils (or lack thereof) in our skin therefore relieving us of the cake face or having our makeup melt off halfway through the day. There are many types of primers formulated for eyes, lips and mascara. Today I will be focusing only on face primers which are primarily used to create a smooth base for foundation to be applied on.


So over the last couple of months I’ve been testing out a couple of primers and although some seem to be targeted to specific needs, it is very hard to find an all round primer that does it all.

In the first round of primers, these primers have more of a cream or lotion feel to them. They are absorbed into the skin upon application more so than the next lot even though some of them are silicone based. They create an almost non existent film on the skin that you would not even notice it was there.


Stila One Step Correct Primer

This helix shaped primer is a real multi-tasker. The water-based formula contains three different shades that combat redness, counteract darkness, brighten and illuminate the skin. Provides all day long hydration but doesn’t minimise the appearance of pores. You can read my initial review here. Retails for R395 ($33) from Zando.

Almay Smart Shade Perfect & Correct Primer

Also in a helix shape, this water-based formula smells funky like burnt rubber since the day I got it and reviewed it here. The green shade does combat redness but that’s about it. Nothing more to love about this primer. Available on Takealot for R149 ($12).

Catrice Prime & Fine Anti-Red Base

I love mixing this water-based primer with a clear silicone-based one when I don’t have a lot of time to apply foundation. The green tint covers up any redness I have around my nose and it has a slight shimmer which makes my skin glow. The formula is thin and doesn’t smooth over fine lines and pores hence in mixing it I get the best of both worlds.

Catrice Prime & Fine Pore Refining Anti-Shine Base

This water-based primer really knocks the socks off oil. I have dry skin so in the interest of testing and research, I applied Vitamin E oil on to half of my face and Almond Oil to the other half. I then applied this primer and the shine went away within seconds, leaving my face matte and dry on the areas I applied it. I would definitely recommend this product as a budget friendly primer for anyone with oily skin.

Catrice Prime & Fine Smoothing Refiner

My most used primer when I’m in a hurry. The silicone base of this primer fills visible pores and creates a barrier for me to lay my foundation on. It’s mousse like texture makes it easy to apply and with it being so inexpensive, I don’t have to be shy when using it. You can read more about it in my 5 favourites guest post over at Gee Whiskers blog here.

Catrice primers are available at Dischem or Takealot for R80 ($7).

Smashbox Photo Finish Pore Minimizing Primer

After seeing this silicone-based oil-free primer over on Pink Peonies blog in her November 2014 favourites post, I’ve tried to get my hands on it and for months no one had stock. One day a friendly sales consultant at the Red Square store in Cresta handed me a sample size after I complained there had been no stock for two months and she probably felt sorry for me after seeing the dismal look on my face. The primer it great a filling smaller pores and lines but has the greatest staying power of the lot. Makeup looks fresh and flawless as if it was just applied. Once it is smoothed on to the skin, it mattifies and feels like you’ve lightly dusted powder to create an oil free canvas. Available at Smashbox counters in selected Edgars and Foshini stores for R395 ($33) full size.



Palladio Herbal Foundation Primer

This was the first primer I ever owned. Its silicone-base creates a hydrating barrier on the skin and holds makeup steadfast all day long. Another inexpensive option that works great for sensitive skin. Available at Dischem for R115 ($9).

Bodyography Foundation Primer Clear

I received this silicone-based primer in a Beautique Box from Rubybox. A bit thicker than the Palladio one, this feels like wax on the skin and doesn’t really set to mattify. While I do like the texture and feel of this primer, I have found my makeup to still smudge and melt a bit when wearing it. Available on the Rubybox store for R199 ($16).

Maybelline Baby Skin Instant Pore Eraser

I ordered this silicone-based primer from BlueScandal in the USA. It fills all pores, large and small and creates a beautifully smooth canvas that keeps makeup looking great all day long. This primer is currently not available in SA stores but you can purchase it from Muse.SA for R220.

Benefit the Pore fessional

Another silicone-based primer not available in SA. I’d been wanting to try out some of Benefit’s products but the shipping fees are way too high for my liking. Nicole from Princess Noo’s Boutique often sells items that are new or slightly used. When I saw this available on her Instagram page I really wanted to buy it but couldn’t justify the price of R380 just to try it out. She then had a great sale of 33% off all items and I managed to snatch this up for R254 along with a NARS and Tarte blush. I find the texture of this primer a bit powdery and if you add too much it can create flakes on the skin. It works great on minimizing pores so I usually just add this around my T-zone before applying a clear silicone-based primer.

L’Oreal Revitalift Magic Blur

Last and definitely not least, the magic-blurring power of the silicone-based Revitalift Magic Blur moisturiser. If I wasn’t on medicated skincare, this would be my go to everyday moisturiser and primer in one. It blurs fine lines, pores and wrinkles leaving behind a flawless finish. I added this to my list of primers as it is the perfect under makeup base a girl could ask for. It hydrates the skin, creates a barrier so that no makeup can get into your pores and has an anti-ageing formula that makes the skin appear younger. Available at L’Oreal stands for R199 ($16). There is a finishing cream (I guess they didn’t want to use the word primer) also available that is to be used in conjunction with the moisturiser. It retails for the same price and I want to get that soon cos it sounds like a winning combo.


Overall I think I’ve tried enough different types of primers to say that I prefer silicone-based ones. For me smoothing out the skin and creating a barrier counts way more than the hydration and evening out of the skin tone. I also find, once blended, the water-based primers leave a whitish tinge to the skin similar to sunblock whereas the silicone-based ones do not.

Some silicone-based primers are great for dry skin because the film it creates does not allow the foundation to look cakey, seep into lines or allow moisture to be drawn from it. The clear silicone-based primers have a waxier, oily feel to them and allow the blending of foundation to be smooth and streak free.

I’ve just recently purchased the Inglot Under Makeup Base primer and I’m still seeing if it works for me and that’s why I didn’t include it in this review. Hope you enjoyed this post and learnt a little something along the way. Please comment below if you have any suggestions of ones I should try and you can’t live without.

Do you use a primer daily? Which is your favourite one?


Belle BluSHH <3