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ESC, Primers You're Doing it Wrong

Primers—a layer of pre-makeup invented to that go on after skin care and before foundation—can seem superfluous. They typically don't give color payoff on their own. And if you've ever tried to use these skin smoothers to dismal results, such as foundation that balls up or makeup that simply does not blend in, then the whole concept can seem like a scam. 

The reality? You're probably doing it wrong.

Makeup artists swear by primers to create some of smoothest complexions in the biz (like Kim Kardashian and Selena Gomez). These silicone-equipped formulas help fill in crevices and create an even canvas upon which to apply base makeup. They're also used to lengthen the wear of foundation and help keep a makeup's shade true, since foundations can oxidize midday and emit an orange-y tint.

Finally, primers can help stretch the amount of foundation needed to cover your face.

All good things.

Here's how to harness primers' flawless-making powers just like the pros:

Start with clean skin: You wouldn't prime a wall for paint without removing it of gunk and grime first, right? Well, the same clean-before-you-cover concept applies to painting faces as well. After washing your face with a gentle cleanser designed to remove dirt and grime, like First Aid Beauty Milk Oil Conditioning Cleanser, apply your favorite moisturizer and let the skin sit a minute to allow moisturizer to absorb.

ESC, Primers You're Doing it Wrong

Choose the right formula: Primers come in gel, lotion, light diffusing and mattifying renditions. If you have dry skin, reach for a moisturizing gel formula, like Laura Mercier Foundation Primer, which is spiked with antioxidants. When looking to create a dewy finish, choose a primer with light-diffusing powers, like Eve Lom Radiance Primer (which is also stocked with SPF).

If you have oily skin, an oil-free formula, like Sunday Riley Effortless Breathable Tinted Primer will help prevent unwanted shine. (The product can also be used as a stand-alone tinted moisturizer on light-coverage days.)

Use a light hand: The rule of thumb with primers? A little goes a long way. If too much primer is applied, foundation may bead up instead of blend when applying. Pat a dime-sized amount of primer to the center of your face, spreading out to the perimeter and down through the neck to help ensure even and veiled coverage.

If using a more liquid primer, pat a dime-sized amount of primer onto skin to apply evenly without overdoing it.

Don't forget your lids: Eyelids contain more oil-producing glands than on other skin surrounding the eyes. To help eyeliners and shadows stick and hold onto lids—and better show their true pigments, use a conservative amount of eyeshadow primer on the lids before applying makeup. Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion is not only a high-performing cult classic, but every cent spent on the newest iteration, Enigma, benefits the company's initiative to empower women.  

Eve Lom Radiance Primer, $50; Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion, $20; Sunday Riley Effortless Breathable Tinted Primer, $48; Laura Mercier Foundation Primer, $33