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The Gloss Report: Skin primers

February 18th 2015 / 1 comment


Looking for a good primer? This week the Glossy team test out the best primers around so you don't have to - read on for the verdict...

Benefit Stay Flawless 15 Hour Primer


Price: £24.50

Buy online: www.feelunique.com

Feedback: “This was my first experience using a primer and I am now a primer convert! I tried Benefit Stay Flawless primer for a casual day outside running errands (around eight hours). The stick is pink but rubs on clear; it feels quite light on my skin so I couldn’t really feel it on my face. I tried it with my BB cream which went on quite smoothly and blended fairly easily. Some of it did rub off and my face got very slightly oily, but it was minimal. The next day I used it with a foundation for a night out and it lasted the whole night without getting greasy. I was pretty impressed and will be using it frequently from now on.”

Reviewer: IM

Score: 9/10

Clinique Superprimer


Price: £20

Buy online: Available exclusively from Selfridges (and Brown Thomas for Ireland) from the 16th August

Feedback: "I've always thought of primer as the first step in make-up application but after trying this, I'm thinking of it more as the last step in skincare. This new primer from Clinique looks like a normal face cream when you apply it - a fluid, white lotion - but WOW does it feel good. It sinks onto, rather than into, the skin beautifully and left my face feeling like silk - I almost didn't want to put any make-up on. Given the gorgeous feel of it though I was hoping to look in the mirror and be stunned by newly flawless skin, but sadly this was not the case. My skin looked a little smoother but it was still patchy and not particularly 'glowing'. That said, my make-up glided on pretty smoothly and my skin felt incredible all day - I also lost some of that T-zone shine that tended to appear when applying foundation straight over my moisturiser. I've never bothered with primer before but now I won't go without it, if only for the feel of beautifully baby-soft skin."

Reviewer: JJ

Score: 8/10

Proactiv Solution Smoothing Primer


Price: £14.95

Buy online: www.proactiv.co.uk

Feedback: “This primer looks like a gel but felt quite greasy on my skin when it first went on. I thought Proactiv would be good as I'm prone to breakouts and have quite oily skin. I used it with my BB cream and my face became quite greasy as the day progressed; it also came off in places so it wasn't great for staying power. I tried it again with foundation and it's much better - no breakouts, or greasy skin to speak of. It's slightly more durable and it blended really well with my foundation. It’s incredibly light and my face feels like I'm not wearing any make-up which is always a plus. It’s not as long wearing as another primer I tried though, so not so good for when you need your make-up to stay put all day.”

Reviewer: IM

Score: 8/10

No 28 Primer Serum by Hourglass


Price: £62

Buy online: www.liberty.co.uk

Feedback: "I have never really been that into serums under my make-up as I don't like feeling that I have tonnes of layers on my skin. However, I have recently become hooked on this super hydrating glow potion. Called No.28 as it is infused with 28 skin plumping, nutrient-rich ingredients, including fourteen essential oils and 10 lipid rich plant oils and four skin rejuvenating vitamins, when it glides on it feels like your skin has been drenched in moisture which soon sinks in and the skin really appears more youthful, luminous and supremely silky to touch. My make-up glides on and somehow just looks much better than when I don't use it."

Reviewer: ST

Score: 9/10

Wild About Beauty Botanical Skin Prep Serum


Price: £22

Buy online: www.houseoffraser.co.uk

Feedback: "I used this serum right before going out for the day after slathering on a very creamy moisturiser which in hindsight may not have been the best idea. My make-up didn't settle very well on top and when I headed out into the summer rain I found it ran a little, especially around my eyes. I'd recommend letting the primer sit for a bit before you apply anything as it is quite thick and a tad oily - it's good for the face overall but not so much for around the eyes. It does smell lovely though which is always a bonus!"

Reviewer: CH

Score: 5/10

Clarins Instant Smooth Perfecting Touch


Price: £26

Buy online: www.clarins.co.uk

Feedback: "As someone who is nearly always running late, I like to keep my morning beauty routine to the bare essentials. As a result, I’d always skipped the primer step, naively assuming that it was similar to a toner – a nice addition but not particularly necessary. However, I often find that applying foundation straight onto a freshly moisturised face can leave you with a less than desirable shine and your make-up is likely to have slipped off before your first morning tea break. It had never occurred to me that a primer might be the answer to all my woes but after trying this one, I’m officially a convert. While there wasn’t a dramatic difference in tone nor did I magically begin to glow like Gwyneth, my skin did felt immediately softer and my pores - especially around my nose – vanished. The crowning glory? My make-up stayed put well past my mid-morning custard cream. My only tip: use sparingly, not only because a little goes a surprisingly long way but because the pot is rather small and you’re going to want it to last forever!

Reviewer: ER

Rating: 7/10

Kevin Aucoin Sensual Skin Primer


Price: £34

Buy online: uk.spacenk.com

Feedback: "I adore the packaging of this primer as it's handy enough to slot into my make-up bag as well as looking good on the dressing table. I'd only ever used eyeshadow primer before so I was intrigued to see if this could work for my foundation in the same way. Using the pump I put a dot of product on each area of my face and then rubbed in gently. It feels super soft on the skin and left my face silky and smooth - it even looked a bit brighter and gave a lovely uniform texture to the skin so there were no patches; I’d even go so far as to say the pores around my nose looked a little less obvious. I added my foundation over the top and though I wouldn't say it gave it much more staying power than usual, it did give a better base for it to go onto; I always moisturise first but can find that the foundation or concealer will cling to some areas more than others. The way this transforms your skin into an even canvas is much like using a base coat for nail polish; you should, and from now on I will!"

Reviewer: JJ

Score: 7/10

Shu Uemura Tsuya UV Underbase SPF 30


Price: £29

Buy online: www.selfridges.com

Feedback: “I was expecting this to be a very light mousse but it was actually quite sticky and I was really aware of the product for a good few hours after putting it on. The packaging is a bit difficult - there’s no control over how much comes out. A little bit goes a long way yet I had a handful of wasted product that I didn't need (and I only gently pressed the pump). The overall result however is good; my skin had a lovely peachy glow and I didn't have to wear as much make-up as I usually do as it evened out my skin tone really well. I even managed to avoid the 11am ‘slide’ as my make-up was still in place by lunchtime (a first!). I would say though that I’m not sure it would suit all skin tones as it is quite peachy - definitely one for those with fairer complexions.”

Reviewer: RM

Score: 7/10

Estee Lauder Illuminating Perfecting Primer


Price: £22.50

Buy online: www.esteelauder.co.uk

Feedback: “The Estee Lauder primer has a soft cream texture that smoothes onto the skin easily. It’s very lightweight and blends well, making it quick to apply and leaving a non-greasy finish. It’s not overly hydrating but It does give an even finish to the skin tone. It claims to illuminate and brighten the skin but I don’t feel it made a noticeable difference – my skin looked slightly brighter but it was very subtle. I’m usually in a rush in the morning so I tend to apply make-up before my moisturiser has even sunk in, making it difficult as the skin feels a bit greasy and my make-up doesn’t last perfectly all day. However, using the primer after the moisturiser gave a good base for my make-up by evening out the skin tone and giving a smoother base - my make-up definitely stayed put for longer throughout the day. I felt that there was a hint of shimmer to the product which I wasn’t a fan of as my skin was left with a bit of shine, but then it is supposed to illuminate so it does what it’s set out to do - perhaps it’s just not right for my skin type.

Reviewer: SM

Score: 6/10

Clinique Super Primer Colour Correcting


Price: £20

Buy online: Available exclusively from Selfridges (and Brown Thomas for Ireland) from the 16th August

Feedback: "As I have some hyperpigmentation I hoped this would be the answer to giving me a better base for my sheer foundation or even for going make-up free and it really did make a difference. The primer is thick and peach in colour with the consistency almost of a dense mousse - I found I needed quite a lot because as soon as I rubbed it on it would just disappear onto the skin. However, it did give me the complexion I was after - smoother, brighter and more even than before - and it delivered that lovely velvety soft feeling that only a primer can give. I still applied a very light layer of my sheer foundation because I felt I needed a bit of coverage, but on lazier days I would just dab on a bit of concealer where needed. Skin confidence in a tube - I'm sold!"

Reviewer: JJ

Score: 9.5/10

YSL Top Secrets Flash Radiance Skincare Brush


Price: £38

Buy online: www.yslbeauty.co.uk

Feedback: “This primer is brilliant for creating a smooth base for make-up that is long lasting while giving an even skin tone and a brightening effect. Its gel-like consistency was extremely moisturising on the skin and gave a flawless surface for my make-up. I don’t use foundation but I do use a powder as a base, which doesn’t always stay in place for the whole day in the city! However with the YSL primer first my make-up had real staying power and better still my skin didn’t look dull by the end of the day. I think it’s especially good for dry skin as it revitalises and softens the skin as well as creating a soft and smooth layer for make-up to be applied to. The best bit is that it is super easy to apply as it has a built-in brush and a generous amount comes out with one squeeze. It has a subtle fragrance too which is not overpowering - all in all I will definitely be using this in my routine and although it’s a little pricey I think its worth it.”

Reviewer: SM

Score: 10/10

Stila One Step Correct


Price: £24

Buy online: stila.co.uk

Feedback: “You know the greying, bobbly underwear at the back of your dresser? This is not that. This is the sexy, bright lingerie of the primer world that you slip on when you’re in the mood for fun. It will brighten up your morning with its rainbow triple-swirled helix delivery system and keep your 7am make-up looking flawless until the wee hours. Granted, I was initially a bit nervous about applying the greenish lotion to my freshly washed visage, but once smoothed on the primer did in fact brighten and neutralise redness as promised. What impressed me the most was its ability to put my recent jawline breakout into soft-focus- angry pimples were airbrushed out and my skin appeared to glow with health thanks to the primer’s lifegiving lavender tones. Texture wise it’s creamy yet very light and made my skin feel lovely and soft. This one’s as beautiful on the inside as it is on the outside - top marks.”

Reviewer: AH

Score: 10/10

Garnier 5 Second Perfect Blur


Price: £9.99

Buy online: www.boots.com

Feedback: “It might have been the girly pink packaging or perhaps the ‘5 second’ guarantee but I had a feeling I was going to like this product from the off – and my instincts weren’t wrong. Much to the delight of my inner princess, the primer comes out in an almost identical shade to the packaging and the excitement doesn’t end there. While it does feel a little greasy on application (this soon disappears) and may not feel quite as velvety as some of the other primers, the results more than make up for it. The elusive ‘flawless’ and ‘glowing’ properties that are so often promised by primers are actually achieved, leaving you with a Hollywood finish and a genuinely noticeable difference in skin tone.”

Reviewer: ER

Rating: 9/10

Becca Resurfacing Primer


Price: £32

Buy online: uk.spacenk.com

Feedback: “Becca disappeared from our shores for a while which made me sad as it’s a brilliant Australian brand that really caters for all skin tones and makes wonderful neutrals. This primer is sleek, polished and professional, preparing skin for make-up and erasing dilated pores. I found I needed to use quite a bit to achieve the promised velvety effect, but my foundation smoothed on brilliantly and imperfections were perceptibly toned down. My skin stayed matte all day, with no need for powder or touch ups. If radiance and luminosity is the order of the day I wouldn’t necessarily opt for this one, but it certainly does the job when it comes to keeping make-up in place and shine at bay.”

Reviewer: AH

Score: 8/10

Lancome La Base Pro


Price: £28

Buy online: www.lancome.co.uk

Feedback: “Usually come the end of the day, my nose is so shiny that it could double up as a slide down the local park. However after finding this particular primer, I’m glad to say that this is no longer the case. I applied my make-up at around 10am on one of the muggiest days of the year so far and following a walk in the mid afternoon sun, a nap in front of the TV and dinner in the evening (party animal – that’s me!) I surprisingly didn’t feel the need for any extreme make-up touch ups as it kept my skin matte, silky and smooth throughout. It came with a handy pump, not much was needed and it instantly melted into my skin. My sister actually commented over dinner how nice my make-up looked (at an impressive 9pm) which sealed the deal for me – I will definitely be using this primer again.”

Reviewer: AM

Score: 10/10

Givenchy Mister Smooth Smoothing Primer


Price: £25

Buy online: www.houseoffraser.co.uk

Feedback: “Firstly, what a great name! My search for the Mr Smooth in my life has often produced mixed results, so I was eager to see if this would fill the void in the interim. The texture of this particular primer was creamier than others that I’ve used in the past, however it wasn’t greasy and glided on smoothly and sank in well too. On the whole, I found that my make-up stayed put for the majority of the day, but I did feel the need to powder my nose a few times (my oily T-zone could only be subdued for so long before it decided to make its presence felt). It was lightweight, created a great canvas for my make-up and as a result, I would definitely recommend it to a friend. If Givenchy could only work on creating the real life version now, then I’d be eternally grateful.”

Reviewer: AM

Score: 9/10

Urban Decay Pore Perfecting Complexion Primer Potion


Price: £19

Buy online: www.debenhams.com

Feedback: "The downside of having a naturally olive skin tone is that it generally means you have a rather oily T-zone. As this is precisely my skin type a great primer is a must and while I am rather devoted to Hourglass primers (they have the most hard-working primers around) I was keen to try Urban Decay's offering after hearing countless rave reviews. Though this primer did a very good job at making my make-up stay put for several hours, I was most impressed by its ability to make my bare skin look more even, less shiny and, dare I say it, rather flawless. So much so that I've now taken to wearing just the primer sans foundation - almost like a colourless BB cream. For me, this product is a great complexion corrector which I will definitely continue to use."

Reviewer: KB

Score: 10/10

Dr Lewinn's Skin Perfect Primer


Price: £22

Buy online: www.drlewinns.co.uk

Feedback: "The non-greasy formula of Dr Lewinn's Skin Secret Primer worked wonderfully at absorbing excess oil (of which I unfortunately tend to have a lot of) before applying my base. While I did still have to touch up my make-up during the day, it wasn't until much later than usual (normally midday) so I'm convinced of its power to hold it in place. I also love that it has so many anti-ageing benefits which for me is a definite bonus."

Reviewer: SB

Score: 7/10

Laura Geller Beauty Spackle Trio - Eye, Lip & Face


Price: £26

Buy online: www.laurageller.com

Feedback: "What exactly is spackle? According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, it's a "compound used to fill cracks in plaster or drywall and produce a smooth surface", so for a primer, this name is genius in my books! A handy, portable 3-in-1 product providing separate primers for eyes, lips and face, it also comes with a compact mirror in the lid for easy on-the-go touch ups. The texture of the face primer was a little more watery than I would have preferred, so probably best to avoid if you have particularly oily skin. I would have also preferred a more streamlined applicator over the spatula too, however I did find that it made my foundation glide on more easily than if I hadn't used it all. The eye primer melted into my lids and gave my eyeliner some extra staying power - I would have liked a better shade range though as it was perhaps a little too light for me. The lip primer, though, was great at making the colour of my lips more uniform and for providing a great base which brought out the true colour of my lipstick. Overall, I'd recommend it for eyes and lips, but perhaps not for face."

Reviewer: AM

Score: 6.5/10

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  • Ria Harris
  • September 12th 2013

Excellent informative article! I thought I might see Smashbox included in the line up (I've just bought one) as they seem to specialise in primers but I have now decided on reading this I'm also going to buy the Lancome La Base Pro.

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