Do You Really Need a Makeup Primer?

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Whether or not you really need primer is something I’ve always wondered. My sister, it seems, can’t do her makeup without it. She’s actually watched me do my makeup with a horrified look on her face when I don’t use one. After years of wondering about primers, I figure it’s about time that I actually find out.

The textbook purpose of a primer is to prepare (or prime) your skin for the rest of your makeup. It’s supposed to smooth out any skin imperfections and make your makeup last longer.

While that all sounds pretty perfect, do you really need it? It turns out that whether or not you actually need one depends on your skin type. “I like to use a primer for people who tend to have uneven or oily skin,” says celebrity makeup artist Lina Hanson.

On the other hand, celebrity makeup artist Sabrina Bedrani says she uses it on all of her clients all the time. However, she agrees there are some people that can benefit from it more than others, in addition to those with oily skin.

“It’s especially good for more mature skin [because] it helps prevent the makeup from creasing by filling in fine lines,” says Bedrani. “Same for people with larger pores, it will fill those pores and leave the surface of the skin smooth.” 

Basically, while makeup primer isn’t absolutely necessary, it offers so many benefits that why wouldn’t you use it? It definitely won’t hurt and could actually help you get a more flawless end result than if you didn’t use one. So I guess that means I’ll have to let my sister win this battle. (I’ll get you next time!)

If you’re in the market for a good primer Bedrani recommends NARS Pro-Prime Pore Refining Primer ($34) and Hanson recommends Lina Hanson Global Face Serum ($85). Another good option is La Roche Posay Anthelios 50 Daily Anti-Aging Primer ($39) because it contains SPF 50 as well.