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During my make-up lessons, one of the questions I am frequently asked is “what is a primer, and should I be using it?” I know that this is an area of uncertainty for many women, and perhaps the root cause of this is that whilst primers are wonderful products for certain purposes, they are not essential for everyday usage (a fact that the product industry won’t be falling over itself to publicise!) In this blog entry, I want to share my thoughts about when to use it, and which are the best primers on the market today.


Starting with the basics, primer in most of the cases is simply a moisturiser with silicone. As such, when it comes to preparing your skin before applying foundation, you should decide whether you would rather user a primer or your normal moisturiser. I don’t believe there is any merit in looking to use both a primer and a moisturiser, as over-moisturised skin causes significant problems when it comes to applying your foundation on top.


In theory, you should consider using a primer when you need your make-up to last as long as possible. As an example, If I am working at a wedding or giving a client a makeover ready for the red carpet (which in both cases make-up needs to last 12 hours plus) I tend to use 2 types of primers: one for t-zone and one for the cheek area to keep the skin glowing. This said, I should stress that a primer isn’t in itself the holy grail for long lasting make-up – in my experience even the best primer on the market needs a little help from good setting with loose translucent powders to stay immaculate all night long.


The reason I prefaced the last paragraph with the words “in theory” is that regrettably the primer market isn’t overflowing with products that will give a fantastic result and therefore justify the investment in them. In my work I’ve found that many of them offer no better longevity than a good quality moisturiser, and therefore would never justify the extra bulk in your make-up kit. This said, there are some excellent products out there, and so here are three of my favourites which can deliver excellent results, and will give you a fighting chance of having your make-up look almost as good when you come home at the end of the evening as you did when you stepped out of the front door.


1. Laura Mercier Primer Radiance.

THE SECRETS OF PRIMER Lina Cameron Make-Up Artist London

This primer is perfect for daily use. I recommend you apply it generously all over your face, but avoid your t-zone as otherwise there is a risk you can end up looking greasy rather than glowing.


2. Shu Uemura Beige UV Under Base Mousse SPF 30

THE SECRETS OF PRIMER Lina Cameron Make-Up Artist London

There are 7 types/shades altogether in the Shu Uemura range. I have tried them all individually, and whilst your mileage may vary I haven’t personally seen big difference between them (I have the original beige shade in my kit). The one thing to be aware of with this product is that when it dries it becomes a little “plastic”, and it therefore changes the texture of the skin as the sebum stays under control for longer. For this reason, if you are very sensitive about the texture of your skin, you may want to consider alternate options. This said, personally I love it, as it stays put and is particularly good for people with oily and combination skin.


3. Veil Mineral Primer SPF 15 Hourglass

THE SECRETS OF PRIMER Lina Cameron Make-Up Artist London

This mineral based, water resistant primer with SPF 15 is ideal for giving a clean satin finish to the skin. I love the fact that you only need a very small amount of it for the whole face, and therefore a single bottle can last for a long time. This product also (to me at least!) feels luxurious on the face, which along with being great at its primary purpose means that it is a personal favourite.


I hope the above helps, but if you have any primer related questions please feel free to ask me in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer.

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