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Foundation/Primer Combinations

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Knowing which primer to use can be a real pain to figure out, but it doesn't have to be: just look at your foundation. The main trick to be sure both products have similar ingredients: you should use a silicone based primer with a silicone based foundation (and pair water based products together as well.) It can be tricky to figure out which products are which (just because a product's first ingredient is water doesn't mean it's water based), but a lot of popular foundations, primers and concealers are categorized here (most of them are silicone based, so it's pretty fool-proof, although there are some surprises there!)

It's also important to consider your end-goal for your foundation: whether you want a dewy finish or full-coverage, your primer can help you get there and looking like a million bucks. I've come up with some pairings for a couple different finishes. I haven't used all these products. and there were a few that didn't work for my skin type, but as always I made sure to do my research and check the reviews.(I got a lot of help from this post, as well as this resource for dry skin and this one for oily skin.)

Matte Finish



Drugstore picks

Maybelline Fit Me Matte & Poreless - I personally use this foundation all the time and love it. I use it with a more luminous primer, but with the right primer, even oily skin could stay matte all day!

NYX Angel Veil Primer - This primer may not the most mattifying on the market, but it got better reviews than most of the mattifying primers on the drugstore level. It's supposed to moisturize a little bit too, which is important for every skin type, even oily skin.

You will still need a sunscreen with these two because neither has SPF.


High-end picks

Tarte Amazonian Clay - This foundation stays matte all day and has a pretty decent color range as well. It's not the fullest coverage foundation in the world, but it's buildable. It's SPF 15 too!

Hourglass Mineral Veil - This primer gets rave reviews and is supposed to be good for oily skin.

Setting it

While primer should help your makeup last longer, you may still need a little boost. I would recommend using either a powder (Rimmel's is supposed to be great) or a mattifying setting spray (like the one from NYX.)

Dewy Finish



Drugstore picks

Neutrogena Healthy Skin - I tried this foundation (in a shade too dark for me) back in my oiler skin days and while I didn't love it personally at the time, it comes highly recommended by Makeup Geek, who always has great makeup picks! It also has SPF 15.

Loreal Magic Lumi Primer - This primer is illuminating, which is a great second step (after moisturizing) for any dewy skin routine!



High-end picks 

Too Faced Born This Way - This foundation gets great reviews and is supposed to give your skin a glowy finish that makes you look naturally dewy.

Hourglass No 28 Primer - This primer is supposed to be great for dry skin and is illuminating as well. (You'll still need sunscreen though.)

Setting it

I love the Vitamin E Mist from the Body Shop to add a bit of a glow to my foundation, but Urban Decay All Nighter is a cult favorite! There are also cheaper alternatives from NYX and e.l.f.

Full Coverage



Drugstore picks

Revlon Colorstay - As far as I know, this is just about the fullest coverage drugstore foundation available and it comes in more shades than most drugstore foundations. It is fairly matte, although I think there is a version for drier skin as well.

NYX Pore Filler - I think a pore filler can be a really great companion to a full-coverage foundation so you don't look too cakey and this one is supposed to be a dupe for Benefit's Porefessional primer.



High-end picks

Kat Von D Lock-It - This and Estee Lauder Double Wear are supposed to be the best high-end full coverage foundations, I would recommend trying both before you commit to buying a bottle of either. (Estee Lauder has a better shade range though, so if you have dark or very pale skin, it may be your best bet.)

Benefit Porefessional - I'm not in love with this primer for me, but a lot of people swear by it, so it's definitely worth requesting a sample of next time you're at Sephora (or I guess you could buy it and return it if you don't like it...but that's kind of a hassle.)

(You'll still need SPF with all the full coverage picks!)

Setting it

I feel like a spray is usually a better pick with full-coverage foundations, because you don't need the powder to cover anything and you don't want to risk looking cakey. I opt for dewier ones, but you could definitely use a mattifying one if you have oilier skin.

Sheer Coverage



Drugstore picks

Loreal Studio Secrets BB Cream - This BB cream had the best shade range of the ones that had at least four stars on Ulta's site, which is pretty sad seeing as there are only four shades, but most brands had only two. You don't need as precise a match in BB Creams, but it's still pretty awful that there are no options for non-Caucasian women (or even darker white women) in most brands. There is a trade-off, though, in the sense that this one doesn't have SPF (which seems to be pretty common for BB creams.)

e.l.f. Mineral Infused Face Primer - When you're going sheer, it's usually a good idea to have your primer do some of the heavy lifting. Depending on your main skin concern, you might want to opt for a green primer to correct redness, or a lavender one to brighten your skin.


High-end picks 

Tarte Amazonian Clay BB Cream - This BB cream has 7 shades, which is pretty impressive for this kind of product (as a reference point, the IT Cosmetics one only has four.) It has great reviews to boot.

Smashbox Primer - Again, choose the primer that works best with your skin type, whether you need color correcting, moisturizing or mattifying, Smashbox has them all. (If you're choosing between primers, you can request up to three samples at a time at Sephora.)

Setting it

If you're in a hurry (as many women are when they opt for BB cream), you might not want to bother setting your makeup (the primer helps it last anyway), but powder can be a great option if you're seeking a bit more coverage. It's also really helpful if you end up spot-concealing to make sure the concealer stays in place.

As always, I would love to hear your thoughts, especially if you've tried any of these products or have a trick up your sleeve I don't know about!

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