I’m excited to spend some time sharing what I’ve learned about primers, foundations and concealers. This knowledge is from years of touching, testing and trying hundreds of products and is coupled with the education I received from some of the top make-up artists in the country.
As I share what I’ve learned, I’ve also included highlighted links to check out the products for price and availability. I always like to add that just because it works for me, it doesn’t mean you’ll love it too.
But I hope with some thoughts on formulas, consistencies and desired results, you’ll feel a little more confident about the products you select and how to apply them.
So, let’s get started with how YOU should get started…and that’s with a primer.
*this post contains affiliate links
Before you even ask, the answer is yes. Yes! You need to use a primer. Makeup primers are designed to make your foundation apply more smoothly, wear longer and give a better finish. They should never feel heavy on the skin. And my biggest tip? DON’T APPLY TOO MUCH! I think it’s the biggest mistake women make with primer. You don’t need primer down your nose. Why? Because chances are down the front of your nose is already smooth. Start your application of primer on the trouble spots first….the areas where you see pores, where redness seems to come through foundation, areas where you feel like foundation coverage isn’t enough or unevenly textured areas. That’s where you dab your primer first. Then whatever amount is leftover on your hand or brush should be applied everywhere else. Smooth over your face, and then wait a minute or two to let your skin and primer become friends. Again, you want a light film of primer, not a heavy layer.
I’ve also found that the type of foundation you like to wear dictates the type of primer you should use. Surprising, huh? Liquid foundations don’t always do well over creamy primers, and stick foundations don’t do great over top of silicone based primers.
So here are some primer products I’ve really found work for me. Remember, if you want more information about them, (how/where to buy and price) click the highlighted blue description.
Primed and Ready!
Lancome La Base Pro Primer is my current favorite. I’m wearing liquid foundation these days and this gives me the absolute BEST finish on my skin. I never really liked silicone primers, but came to find that the reason I didn’t like them was because the foundation type I was using didn’t do well with a silicone primer. So this Lancome La Base Pro Primer is my pick for best primer to use with a liquid foundation. I would also suggest this under tinted moisturizers and CC creams. One to 2 pumps is all you need for your skin. Do not go crazy and overpump!
For most of my television career, I used Bobbi Brown Foundation Sticks. And underneath those sticks I almost always used Bobbi Brown Vitamin Enriched Face Base. I like this primer for those of you who don’t want a lot of steps and need hydration. This is your moisturizer that serves as a primer too..but really works best with foundation sticks, creamier foundations or cream compact type foundations.
Laura Mercier SPF 30 Primer is the answer for those of you who want to find a way to incorporate SPF into your regimen. This is a gel cream consistency, so it is cool on the skin and lightweight. I like this under most foundation types, and is very good under mineral powder foundations.
If you have extreme texture issues, meaning deeper lines and wrinkles, scarring from acne blemishes, “orange peel” issues, or crepiness, then I highly recommend the Silk Canvas Primer Balm by TATCHA. A little goes a long way with this product. You need the tiniest bit but it does create a wonderfully smooth canvas on your skin. I started using this towards the end of my tenure at QVC and found it really gave me a long wear for those hours under the hot lights.
If you have oily skin, or love the TATCHA brand and want something oil free and light as a feather, then their newest version, the Liquid Silk Canvas, is for you. Both of these primers work with liquid, cream and stick foundations. I like the Liquid Silk Canvas better for powder foundations. Powder foundations tend to “grab” onto the skin, so you want something light and evenly applied.
The Pearl by TATCHA isn’t a primer, but it is one of my most favorite beauty products, and since it’s not a concealer and you use it during your primer “step” I’m including it here. So what IS The Pearl by TATCHA?
It’s treatment in a brightening form. If you use this as an undereye primer, on bare skin, you’ll receive the treatment benefits of this product, which help with the appearance of crepiness, fine lines and wrinkles. The ADDED benefit, is that there is luminosity that helps to brighten the appearance of your skin. So here’s the thing with The Pearl. If you don’t have a lot of undereye darkness (lucky you!) you might be able to use this as a lightweight concealer for everyday wear. Truth be told, when I’m just scooting around in a lightweight skin tint on my face, The Pearl can be enough for me under the eyes. Remember, it’s not a concealer and does not have heavy coverage. But I’ve come to love and appreciate this product so much. If you want a little more coverage from this and a little more “glow” for under your concealer, then put this OVER a primer, followed by your concealer.
And a HUGE tip for application. A little goes a long way. And when you put this on bare skin (no primer underneath) it seems to break up in consistency on your skin and not spread well. Keep tapping or gently blending it into your skin…you’ll see. The wateriness at first is the bursting of the microbubbles of treatment for your skin. So once that has happened, then you have to keep blending so the formulation can become more spreadable. By the way, for my medium complexion, I wear the shade “soft light.”
Foundations of Youth
Foundations have one purpose~to make your skin look better. So be honest…do you really feel that way about the foundation you’re using? It should not make you look older. It should not drastically change your skin color or tone. It should not look heavy. It should not make you look gray or ashen or pinkish or even orange. It should make your skin look even, natural, flawless, and smooth. That’s what you want and when you find it, it’s like Wonka’s Golden Ticket.
The hardest thing about recommending a foundation is this…if a brand doesn’t have a shade that works for you, there’s no point in trying it. There are many lovely brands and formulas out there that I really wanted to work for me, but because their color tones didn’t compliment my skintone, they weren’t right for me. That said, I’ve found several types of foundations I like for different reasons, so here’s my list of current faves.
Born This Way by TOO FACED
I’m a little obsessed with Born This Way foundation by Too Faced. I don’t know what took me so long to try this brand! Why do I like this foundation? It glides on the skin and blends like silk. It offers buildable coverage. For a medium-full coverage product, it feels so light on my skin. And it is offered in 35 shades, so it was easy to find the right tone for me. In the summer, I’m wearing natural beige, but in winter when my tan has faded, I wear light beige. I wear this over the Lancome La Base Pro Primer.
You need a good brush for applying a liquid foundation. My favorite is the IT Cosmetics flat top buffing brush. It makes applying your makeup so easy and flawless!
I think I will have a Bobbi Brown Foundation Stick in my makeup bag for the rest of my life. For over 20 years, this was my go to for on air at QVC. Quick, creamy coverage in one swipe. It’s still what I travel with. I use it as my foundation and concealer. You can garner light or full coverage with this stick. It glides beautifully over the Bobbi Brown Vitamin Enriched Face Base. I do not like this with a silicone primer underneath…the stick slips around too much. I wear Warm Beige and Natural in this stick. If your skin tends to be dry, you’ll like the consistency of this on your skin.
Lancome’s Dual Finish Multi Tasking Powder Foundation has been in and our of makeup bag for 30 years. I recently rediscovered it and I’m so glad I did. On busy days, I can use this as my foundation over my moisturizer or SPF. I use the puff or sponge that comes with it, and swipe swipe, I’m done. It can be used wet, for fuller coverage, or dry. On most days, I use it to set my foundation by using a fluffy brush and lightly dusting on my skin. I also use this as an eyeshadow when I want a “naked” look…it neutralizes discoloration on my eyelids, and gives a great finish. The key to using this as your finishing powder is to use a fluffy brush.
IT Cosmetics makes some of the best beauty brushes around. This Airbrush Powder Wand Brush is perfect for a light dusting of Lancome’s Dual Finish Multi Tasking Powder Foundation to finish off your look.
Conceal For Real
The undereye area can tell quite the story, can’t it? It gives you away if you stay up too late, if you’ve been crying, if your allergies are acting up, or, if you’re exhausted. I think it’s really important that you have a good moisturizer for your under eye area (check out my skin care favorites blog for recommendations). If you are moisturizing, then the texture will look better. If the texture is better, concealers will apply better. The coverage you need depends on how dark those under eye circles really are. I’m sharing a few different brands based on different needs, so hopefully you’ll find one that works best. I highly recommend using The Pearl by TATCHA underneath all of these concealers.
The Bobbi Brown Concealer Kit comes with creamy concealer on one side and a superfine powder for setting on the other. This is excellent coverage. It is highly pigmented, wears very well, and isn’t going to make fine lines and wrinkles look worse. It’s also great for travel. It’s a natural to work back to the Bobbi Brown Foundation Stick. Bobbi created these products so that women would look like themselves, just better. If that’s what you want, give this a try.
When you want full coverage, want it to wear all day and through all the elements the day may bring, then you want Bye Bye Undereye by IT Cosmetics. Again, make sure you hydrate the eye area first, but this concealer gives you maximum coverage, long wear and doesn’t settle into the fine lines and wrinkles.
A friend turned me on to Huda Beauty and I’m glad she did. Their overachiever concealer is a full coverage product, so I think you’ll really like the coverage. It is creamy (by the way, also really pigmented, so a little goes a long way) so it glides well as it covers, and has more of a matte finish, which I like…I don’t have to pat down with powder to cut any shine. If you’re wanting to try a new concealer and they have your shade, this might be a new brand to play with.
So once I became hooked on Too Faced with their foundation, I became equally enamored with their Born This Way concealer. It works great with their foundation because the colors are complimentary. But I like the formula. I use this over the TATCHA Pearl, just a few dots and it covers great without being cakey or heavy or too much. I wear the light beige in the concealer.
One Last Tidbit…
In this day and age of COVID, it’s important to find a way to make your foundation or tinted moisturizer or full face of makeup last through all of the on and off of mask wearing. I think the best setting spray I’ve tried is Lancome’s Fix and Forget Spray.
Phew!! That was a lot of information…and I’m sure I didn’t answer all of your questions. But I hope this was a good start! I’d love to know if you try any of the products! And if you have any questions, please leave them in the comments below.
I’m already working on my next beauty blog, so stay tuned to learn more about eyeshadow, liners and mascaras! Coming soon!
From my beauty bag to yours,