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Makeup Essentials: How to Apply Primer

Written by MasterClass

Last updated: Oct 2, 2020 • 3 min read

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Bobbi Brown Teaches Makeup and Beauty

Primer is a step that many skip in their makeup routine that many may overlook or skip, but applying primer can make your skin look great and help your makeup stay on longer.

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Bobbi Brown Teaches Makeup and BeautyBobbi Brown Teaches Makeup and Beauty

Bobbi Brown teaches you the tips, tricks, and techniques for applying simple, natural makeup that makes you feel beautiful in your own skin.

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What Is Primer?

Primer is a step in between your skincare routine and makeup application that creates a smooth surface on your face, preventing makeup from caking around blemishes or wrinkles. Makeup artists have long used makeup primer to help makeup stay put longer. Because it acts as a barrier between your skin and your makeup, you can use less foundation—and you might even find that after primer, you don’t need any makeup at all.

8 Types of Primers

The best primer for you will depend on your skin type and makeup look. When shopping for a face primer, you’ll probably come across subcategories like:

  • Blur primer: Blur primers produce a soft-focus effect via light-reflecting pigment for a photo finish.
  • Color-correcting primer: Color-correcting primers are tinted to neutralize colors opposite each other on the color wheel, minimizing discoloration. Choose green primer to counteract redness or yellow to minimize dark circles.
  • Illuminating primer: Illuminating primers are kind of like highlighter for your entire face. They can add a natural-looking glow and help your foundation look more real, since skin is not naturally matte.
  • Pore-minimizing or mattifying primer: Ideal for oily skin and large pores, mattifying primers use silicon or other ingredients to minimize the appearance of pores and prevent skin from producing the excess oil that can mess up makeup around the T-zone.
  • Hydrating primer: Formulated with moisturizing ingredients, this type of primer hydrates dry skin and prevents primer from flaking off.

Primer isn’t just for face makeup. If you’re serious about makeup, you may want to invest in:

  • Eye primer: Also called eyeshadow primer or eyelid primer, eye primer provides an even base for applying eyeshadow. For those with mature skin or fine lines around their eyes, using an eye primer under your eye makeup will be immensely helpful to prevent any of the color from creasing.
  • Lip primer: Lip primer ensures your lipstick will go on smoothly—and stay on.
  • Lash primer: Lash primer looks like mascara, but it’s typically white. It can help mascara go on more smoothly, and is sometimes formulated with ingredients to promote lash health.
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How to Apply Primer: Step-by-Step Guide

  1. As with any beauty product, skincare always comes first. Wash your face, then apply moisturizer and SPF (unless you’re using primer with sunscreen, or a moisturizer/primer hybrid).
  2. Apply a small amount of primer with your fingers or a makeup sponge in a thin, even layer, avoiding the eye area (unless you’re using eye primer!).
  3. Wait a few minutes for the primer to set before applying foundation.

When layering products, always make sure your primer is compatible with your moisturizer and foundation to avoid pilling or a cakey look. Try to use products with a similar texture, and give each layer time to dry before applying the next.

Want to Learn More About Makeup and Beauty?

Whether you already know a blush brush from a bronzer brush or are simply looking for tips on bringing glamour into your daily routine, navigating the beauty industry takes knowledge, skill, and practical experience. No one knows their way around a makeup bag better than Bobbi Brown, the makeup artist who built a career and a multi-million dollar brand with one simple philosophy: Be who you are. In Bobbi Brown’s MasterClass on Makeup and Beauty, learn how to do the perfect smoky eye, find the best makeup routine for the workplace, and hear Bobbi’s advice for aspiring makeup artists.

Get the MasterClass Annual Membership for exclusive access to video lessons taught by masters, including Bobbi Brown, RuPaul, Anna Wintour, Marc Jacobs, Diane von Furstenberg, and more.

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