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What Does Makeup Primer Do?

The underrated product is the key to keeping your makeup intact all day long.
December 02, 2022


While there’s almost nothing more frustrating than checking the mirror midday and noticing that your makeup has started to fade, the good news is that adding a makeup primer to your routine is one of the best ways to banish melting makeup.

But with the amount of primers on the market, you may not know where to start, or if you should be using different types of primers for the different areas of your face. Here, the key information you need to know about makeup primers, as well as how to use them properly.

What Does Makeup Primer Do?

Generally, primers are applied as the first step in your makeup routine to help create a smooth canvas on which to apply the rest of your products, as well as to help keep your foundation, eyeshadow, mascara, and lipstick in place. Primer — for face and eye makeup in particular — can also be useful for those with oily skin who tend to have issues with their makeup moving around. 


How to Choose the Best Primer

There are different types of makeup primers, specifically for the face, eyes, lashes, and lips, each of which can help your makeup stay in place. Primers often have formulas that resemble serums, creams, or tinted moisturizers, but they can even come in the form of gels and face mists. The type of makeup primer that’s best for you will depend on your skin type, as well as personal preference.

Dry skin types will benefit from a cream primer to increase hydration, while those with oily skin can opt for a gel primer to help with shine. If you have combination skin, you can actually use two different types of primer to best suit the different areas of your skin.

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How to Apply Makeup Primers 

While each part of your makeup routine needs a different kind of makeup primer, the good news is that each step is pretty simple.

How to Apply Face Primer

After completing the final step in your skin care routine, apply your primer dot by dot onto your skin. Blend in a gentle, circular motion using your fingers or brush over your entire face or to targeted areas. You can wear the primer alone or under foundation for a smoother, more even application and to prolong your foundation’s wear time. 

If you have a preference for matte makeup (or you have oily skin), try the L’Oréal Paris Infallible Pro-Matte Makeup Primer to stop shine and blur imperfections. For a glowy finish, the L’Oréal Paris Infallible Pro-Glow Lock Makeup Primer primes the skin for makeup while also illuminating it. Certain primers can also be mixed with foundation, in which case you can apply the concoction with a makeup blender, like the L’Oréal Paris Infallible Blend Artist Foundation Blender, using quick dabbing and rolling motions to blend it out.

How to Apply Eye Primer

If your eye makeup tends to smudge easily or your eyeliner fades as the day goes on, try using an eye primer first. Using an eye primer to prep for your eye makeup can serve a few purposes: Helping to create a smooth base for easier eye makeup application, locking your look in place, and even making eyeshadows appear more vibrant. And while your concealer or face primer can double up as your eye primer, reach for a dedicated eye primer for the best chance of making your eye look last all day.

Apply a tiny bit of eye primer onto your eyelids, gently blending it with your ring finger. And if you wear eyeliner along your lower lash line or like to smudge a little shadow beneath your eyes, don’t forget to apply primer there, too. 

How to Apply Lash Primer

If you can’t go a day without coating your lashes with mascara, you might want to consider adding lash primer to your beauty routine. Lash primers like the L’Oréal Paris Voluminous Lash Primer can help make lashes look longer and more voluminous, which creates a blowout effect, building volume and length on each lash.

To give it a try, place the brush at the base of your lashes and gently sweep up to the tip. Give the primer a moment to dry, then layer your mascara on top. Just be sure to completely coat your lashes since lash primers are typically light in color.

How to Apply Lip Primer

Before you swipe on your lipstick, use a lip primer to help smooth things out. After your lips are primed, follow with lip liner and a long-lasting lipstick, then you can rest easy knowing your lip color isn’t going anywhere.

Editor’s tip: If you don’t have a lip primer on hand, your lip liner can serve double duty. You can achieve a similar priming effect by filling in your lips entirely — not just outlining them — with a lip liner like the L’Oréal Paris Colour Riche Matte Lip Liner.

3 Makeup Primer Hacks That Really Work 

Now that you know how to apply primer, keep these three primer hacks in mind so you have the most long-lasting makeup as possible.


1. Mix It With Eyeshadow

If you want to turn a powder eyeshadow into a cream, you can use primer to do so. Just mix the eyeshadow with a little bit of primer until it turns into a paste, then apply as a cream shadow. 


2. Try It on Your Brows

Pat primer directly onto your eyebrows before brushing through with a spoolie to help keep brow hair in place.


3. Use It to Clean Up Mistakes

If you make a mistake with your eyeliner, you can actually use primer to clean it up. Apply a dab of primer onto a cotton swab, and gently rub it on the eyeliner mistake that you want to remove. This way, you won’t have to worry about accidentally erasing any foundation or eyeshadow along with your liner.

Next: How to Fix Cakey Makeup Without Removing It

Edited by: Témi Adebowale, Photographer: Chaunte Vaughn, Art Director: Hannah Packer, Associate Creative Producer: Becca Solovay, Prop Stylist: Catherine Pearson, Prop Assistant: Lindsay Jones

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