e.l.f. Discovery

What Does Makeup Primer Do and Why Do I Need It?

By Victoria Benitez

Sleeping on flawless makeup should be a thing of the past. Makeup primers are an essential skin prep step you don’t want to skip. The girls that get it wear makeup primers. So set your foundation down, and let’s take a step back and properly learn how to prime the face first. After your skincare routine, a makeup primer should always be your first course of action before applying makeup.

Leave your skin instantly hydrated and moisturized over time by incorporating this essential layer. This prep step is a powerful treatment, a burst of hydration, and a skin-loving first step to a flawless application. So, let’s dive in and talk about how makeup primers can be easily added to your beauty routine.

Understanding Makeup Primer and its Benefits

It’s easy to get overwhelmed when building a pro makeup kit or even a daily beauty routine you can rely on. A smooth canvas prior to applying makeup should always be the goal. One product we recommend never missing out on is a makeup primer, as it serves as a critical step in any beauty routine. After applying your skincare and before foundation, next, reach for a makeup primer to ensure an even skin surface for applying makeup.

Most makeup primers are typically clear in color and silky in texture. They act similarly to a serum but are designed to reduce pores and fill in any fine lines or wrinkles. We love primers most for their ability to enhance the longevity of makeup for those long days and all-nighters. Its smooth texture and formulas are made to make any makeup application instantly easier and, most importantly, have a lasting flawless finish.

Read more on understanding face primer and how to choose the right primer for your skin type.

What is Face Primer Used For?

Beyond aesthetics, depending on your skin type, you can find a specific primer formulated for your skin. Many primers are now formulated with your skincare first in mind and are made with high-performance ingredients to address different skin concerns, from dryness to excess oil and blemishes to even early signs of aging. By creating this barrier between the skin and makeup, primers provide an extra layer of skin care benefits through hydrating properties and nourishment for the skin. We like to call it food for your skin!

Keeping your skin barrier balanced and hydrated will allow a foundation to adhere better to the skin. A primed face will provide an even makeup base that will make the application much easier and visibly look better on the skin. Understanding a primer’s purpose is the key to mastering your own canvas.

Check out Power Grip vs. Putty Primer: What’s the Difference?

What is the Difference Between Face Primer, Foundation and Concealer?

Whether it’s your first-day priming, let your skin speak for itself. After all, humble beginnings always lead to flawless results! Most makeup routines' three most important steps involve a primer, foundation, and concealer. Each serves different roles, but the first to act as a base is your makeup primer. Applied before your foundation, the primer will set a smooth base, treat personal skin concerns, and extend makeup wear.

Following a primed face, your foundation will typically be the secondary base layer to even out skin tone and complexion. For more targeted areas like dark circles or blemishes, concealers are brought in to be used as concentrated coverage for specific areas. For a long-lasting polished makeup look, simply pair all three together in order. In summary, remember primers prep the skin, foundation sets the base, and concealers target specific imperfections for a signature skinlike coverage.

What Does Makeup Primer Do For Makeup?

Soon to become your holy grail and staple in your beauty bag, makeup primers are an essential preparatory step in a makeup routine. Whether you’re looking for longer makeup wear or enhancing a better application, primers offer several benefits. It’s the first thing we reach for before applying makeup and a beloved go-to. You’ll quickly find yourself coming back to it daily for longer-lasting looks and healthier skin.

Simply bathe your skin with good-for-you ingredients and prep the skin with a primer for better product absorption. Its lightweight barrier between the skin and makeup locks in essential moisture for long-wear makeup and treats the skin for any specific needs. Support a healthy-looking skin barrier over time with a suitable primer made just for you. It’s an all-in-one treatment and comfy base for your skin.

How to Apply Face Primer?

Get ready to serve face! Always begin with a clean and moisturized base before applying a makeup primer. Once you’ve completed your religious skincare routine, take a small amount (about a pea-size!) and gently massage the product onto your face. You can use either your fingertips or a makeup brush for this step. Remember, upward and outward motions only here, please! Pro-tip: apply more primer to targeted areas where your makeup often fades or creases for extra barrier support.

If you use daily sunscreen, primer should be applied to the skin afterward. You’ll want the sunscreen to fully absorb into the skin for a few minutes prior to applying a primer to form a protective sun-blocking base so that the primer can create a smooth base for your makeup application.

Why Should You Use Makeup Primer and Types

POV: you cracked the case to better makeup, so here’s a run down to finding your perfect primer.

Cooling Primer

Say hello to our coolest new primer: the Stay Cool Primer Stick. This gel primer stick delivers a burst of hydration while prepping your skin for smooth makeup application. Infused with refreshing aloe water, plus hyaluronic acid, spring water, coconut water and marine water, the chill-as-e.l.f. formula has a watery feel and delivers a cooling sensation that soothes skin, all while gripping your makeup in place.

Smooth Operator

The OG of the Putty Family, the Poreless Putty Primer, has been well-loved since its debut. This makeup-locking primer seamlessly applies to the skin while minimizing the appearance of pores. Its velvety texture is a go-to choice for a smooth application. We can selfishly say we truly knew what we were doing when making this face primer, and that’s why we created it again but in a liquid form.

The Dewy Effect

Say hello to Power Grip Primer! Rated five stars for a reason and hailed as the #1 primer in America, this coveted translucent gel-based primer hydrates the skin and secures your makeup for all-day and night wear. Its non-comedogenic and innovative gel formula is suitable for all skin types looking for that extra, long-lasting makeup hold.

Its sister, Power Grip Primer + 4% Niacinamide, is also formulated with the same sticky texture for extended makeup wear but delivers the benefits of 4% niacinamide. This infusion helps to brighten and smooth dull skin while evening skin tone.

Prime & Protect

Your skin and SPF just make sense together! Our Suntouchable Whoa Glow SPF 30 primers are a hybrid of illuminating glowy primers and sunscreen in one. Choose from three shimmering shades: a sheer peach, champagne, and bronzer. Each primer is infused with soothing aloe, hydrating hyaluronic acid, and nourishing squalane, made to prime, protect, and glow!

You can also opt for our Suntouchable Invisible Sunscreen SPF 35 if you’re looking for extra protection. Hydrate and protect with this lightweight sunscreen blended with skin-loving ingredients like aloe and meadowfoam seed. Here’s to many more sunny days ahead!

Glow Enhancer

We were on a mission to bring you our most illuminating skincare-powered primer yet, and we have to say Operation: Glow Getter accomplished! For a hydrated and radiant makeup base, use the Luminous Putty Primer. Infused with hyaluronic acid and vegan collagen, it was made to hydrate and plump the skin while providing the most luminous base for makeup.

Breakout Barrier

Acne? We’ve got a primer for that! Make your skin happy with a primer that doubles as skincare and a primary step for makeup. The Acne Fighting Putty Primer is fortified with 1.8% Salicylic Acid, which is ideal for acne-prone skin. Its acne-fighting ingredients combat breakouts first while soothing skin for a flawless base.

Complexion Corrector

It’s giving skin but with a little extra help. Lastly, meet our Tone Adjusting Face Primer, which is designed to smooth away the look of imperfections. Its sheer green tint counteracts redness and promotes an even skin tone. Doing your makeup on the go is easy with this primer as it effortlessly smooths complexion, allowing you to wear it alone or under makeup for face-perfecting coverage.