What Do Primers Do?

Primers: they’re not just for your house or the white picket fence. They’re for just about every aspect of your beauty routine, from your face to your hair. Yes, your hair. Here are various ways you can use primers to take your look to a whole new level.

What do primers do?

Hair Primer

Living Proof has introduced a new Prime Style Extender ($20, livingproof.com): basically a primer for your hair that allows you to create styles that last twice as long. Think of the Extender as your hair’s everlasting gobstopper: With its moisture-controlling active ingredient, the product doubles the lifespan of any hairstyle and also perfects strands by smoothing the hair’s cuticle, which gives them overtime in the shine department, too. Plus, it’s formulated without any silicones or oils. An added benefit? Fewer shampoos needed.

Eye Makeup Primer

Since primers are problem solvers, “Using a primer can help your regular makeup perform,” says celebrity makeup artist Andrew Sotomayor. Eye shadows are more susceptible (than, say, the blush on your cheeks) to moisture and body heat, causing them to fade throughout the day. But primers give makeup a tacky surface to grip, which intensifies your shadow’s color and keeps it from creasing. Try primers like Base Ombres a Paupière from Chanel ($32, chanel.com) and Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion ($20, sephora.com) that help shadows stay put and blend easily.

Foundation Primer

Using a primer may seem like an extra step, but it will help minimize the look of pores and make your foundation go on clean. Eating healthy, moisturizing and staying hydrated can all help create smooth, glowing skin; however, adding a primer to your daily routine can help you achieve a truly flawless complexion. An anti-aging primer such as Almay Smart Shade Anti-Aging Perfect and Correct Primer ($13.99, drugstore.com) color corrects redness and sallow skin while helping to give foundation “slip,” so makeup doesn’t stick to dry spots. Sotomayor recommends Murad Oil Control Mattifier ($39.50, sephora.com) to minimize pores and reduce shine. Also, he advises to apply primers just where they are needed (think: T-zone). Tip: Use a foundation brush in long strokes to apply primer—this makes a dime-sized amount go a long way.

Lip Primer

Stop the presses…a lip primer. What will they think of next? In the same way that a waxy liner pencil will keep lipstick in bounds, these primers will help keep lip color from fading or feathering, and many varieties come with moisturizing benefits and protective SPF. Think of these primers as silky foundations for your pout, but with the convenience of a balm. Try Urban Decay Lip Primer Potion ($20, ulta.com), which comes in a slim, cigarette-sized tube with slanted bullet for easy application.

Lash Primer

Lash primers may sound as unnecessary as worrying about what swimsuit to wear on a trip to Alaska, but they really can be useful. An eyelash primer, such as Smashbox Layer Lash Primer ($17, sephora.com), is a good beauty tool for plumping and lengthening lashes, but its biggest asset is to prevent clumping and enhance curling. Some lash primers help enhance brittle lashes that previously were prone to breakage—how’s that for lash service? If using multiple tubes leaves you flustered, try Per-fékt Beauty Lash Perfection Gel ($28.50, perfektbeauty.com), which functions as a traditional mascara, lash primer, treatment, conditioner and enhancer all in one.

Are primers part of your everyday beauty routine? Have you found an amazing one that we didn’t mention?

—Charu Suri

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