Before starting tango, I was never much of a believer in primers - now, I'm a total believer. Especially since so many of the products I use are waterproof and transfer-resistant, getting skin smooth before application is essential because once that make-up is on, it's not moving.
For dancers, the benefit to using primers is basically just keeping make-up where you put it. I would have thought using the above-mentioned waterproof and transfer-resistant formulas would be enough, but I found that many of those products applied unevenly or didn't stay as true to color as I would have liked. Whenever I danced outside, even the waterproof stuff didn't always hold up.
A fellow makeup artist suggested a primer to keep my color products in place, and at first I scoffed. Most of the primers I had seen on the market were just overly-shiny silicone lotions that did little for my skin or for the performance of my makeup. My friend made it clear that I needed to be updated on the far more sophisticated products that are available now. So I asked her what she recommended, and asked a few other makeup artist friends, hit the stores and read reviews. (Two sources of reviews I really enjoy are InMyKit.com for makeup artists and Paula Begoun's BeautyPedia.com .) Here are the results of my
- For photography: Avoid high SPF/titanium dioxide formulas unless you absolutely have to have it for outside wear. Titanium dioxide and other mineral based sunscreens/sunblocks tend to flash white or ashy in pictures. If you have to wear a high SPF primer, you may want to consider going slightly darker in your foundation, just for the photo shoot. Always do some test shots to see how the color actually looks under the lights and in the picture.
- Always apply primer according to directions. Some go on as a first step in your skin care regimen, some go one right before your foundation, and some can even be applied after you've put on your foundation and powder. Read the directions carefully for best results.
- Try to match formulations. You'll usually get the best performance by pairing oil-free skin care with oil-free foundation and vice-versa. Some products, particularly "oil-control" products, will actively break down oils in the other products or treatments you might have used on your skin.
Favorite Eyelid Primers
Urban Decay Eye Shadow Primer Potion Original, Greed (gold), Sin (champagne-pearl) and Eden (Nude): Eden is the most useful option if you have discoloration or darker eyelids - though it seems to take a little longer to set than the original formula. I go between Nude and Original depending on how much coverage I want - Greed is a bit too shiny for my no-longer-20-years-old eye lids, as is Sin, but they're a beautiful option if your eyelids are smooth. The formula is oil-absorbing and now finally comes in an easier-to-apply tube.
Smashbox Photo Finish Lid Primer The Smashbox lid primer has only one color, but works very, very well. The color starts off a little dark on my fair skin, but blends out completely natural looking. The consistency is slightly thicker than the Urban Decay, but the texture feels a little silkier (though still matte) to me. It's probably best for oilier eyelids, rather than drier skin types.
MAC Prep + Prime (available in Light, Medium, and Medium-Dark): Great texture that can be used under cream, liquid and powder eye shadows. The Light color isn't really light enough for very fair, or porcelain skin tones.
Too Faced Shadow Insurance (Original, Candlelight, and Glitter Glue): The Original and Candlelight are both oil-absorbing and keep a silky texture that you can still blend eye shadows over. Glitter Glue is best saved for the glittery (rather than shimmery) eye shadows, as it stays fairly tacky feeling to really grab "chunkier" eye shadows.
Mass Market Alternative - L'Oreal De-Crease Eye Shadow Base: talc-based, cream-to-powder no-frills, but still very reliable, eye shadow base. It only comes in one (peachy) shade and doesn't have quite the silkiness or ultra-gripping qualities of some of the other options, but it still holds its own against the pricier competition.
Cover FX Skinprep FX: Basic, though very reliable, silicone-based primer with a few key skin care ingredients to round out the formulation. It's not fancy, but it is very reliable.
Laura Geller Spackle Under Makeup Primer: A make-up artist and beauty editor favorite! This formula camouflages large pores and fine lines, keeps foundation very smooth, moderately controls shine, and comes in an airless pump that keeps the product fresh.
OC Eight Mattifying Gel: One of the more expensive options, but truly outstanding for very oily skin. It can leave a slightly white cast if not blended carefully and well, so I only recommend it for seriously oily skin - and not for photography makeup.
Urban Decay Brightening Potion Complexion Primer Lotion: Silky texture with ingredients that not only smooth the skin, but have (a few) ingredients to improve skin tone. It doesn't replace a good tone-evening treatment, but it can enhance the effect of another one if you've already got one in your regimen.
M.A.C. Prep + Prime Brightening Serum: Similar idea to the product above from Urban Decay, but the usage is a bit different. This product actually goes on before your treatments, not as the last step before foundation. I've noticed that this one not only improves the clarity of my skin (after about 6 weeks of use), but the hydration, though minimal, keeps my skin from trying to pull the moisture out of my foundation. (If you end up with slightly powdery streaks in your foundation by the end of the day, your skin may need more hydration - even if you have an oily complexion.