There’s nothing worse than spending a lot of time mastering a makeup look, only to have it disintegrate on your face a few hours later. That’s why investing in a cruelty-free makeup primer is so important—a great primer can help set the stage for a lasting look that’s smooth, blurred, and absolutely flawless.
Below, you’ll find everything you need to know about makeup primers so that you can make an informed purchase without wasting money.
What is a makeup primer?
A great, skincare-infused makeup primer has the power to truly transform your look—it can help create longevity in a look, helps with the stability of the makeup, helps smooth the appearance of the skin, and can help with blending makeup in more easily. “Makeup primers didn’t always exist (before, you had to use skincare to prime the face) and you had to use the right makeup for the right skin type,” explains Sébastien Tardif, an internationally-acclaimed makeup artist and founder of Veil Cosmetics. “A primer can also be somewhat of a shortcut if you have a limited skincare budget or don't have a big skincare collection or many different types of makeup to use for your skin type, depending on the seasons.”
What to look for in a makeup primer?
When shopping for a makeup primer, you first want to find a vegan and cruelty-free makeup primer that hasn’t been tested on animals. Our skincare-infused Sunset Light Primer Serum is a vegan makeup product that’s cruelty-free, not tested on any animals, and is free from parabens, sulfates, and glycol.
Next, you’ll need to choose between a silicone- or water-based vegan makeup primer. Silicones and silicone derivatives found in primers can be versatile and offer a range in viscosity from liquids to solid pastes. Silicone-based makeup primers are used as emollients to provide unique sensorial properties, but they don’t always have a pleasant or natural feeling to them. When purchasing a silicone-based makeup primer, you’ll find that silicone is the first ingredient on the list, meaning it’s the most abundant ingredient in the formula.
“I find that [silicone-based formula] tend to be on the thick side, with a weird texture that feels a bit artificial to the touch and not the most comfortable,” explains Tardif. Silicone-based primers “don't always let your skin breathe and they feel a bit tight—definitely not suitable for dry/combination skin types.”
On the other hand, water-based primers can feel lighter, fresher, and more hydrating than a silicone-based primer. While our skincare-infused Sunset Light Primer Serum does contain silicones, the first ingredient within the formula is water to help blend into the skin more seamlessly and feel more weightless. “A water-based makeup primer will feel fresher and more natural to the touch, and I find those more compatible with all skin types,” says Tardif. “A great primer should be hydrating ( not drying), shouldn’t feel sticky, and should leave a nice, smooth finish.”
While our skincare-infused makeup primer does contain beneficial ingredients to help hydrate and plump the skin, it shouldn’t be used in place of your regular skincare routine. “If you have dry skin, dry patches, or haven’t exfoliated, [your skin concerns] will still be an issue, regardless of the primer you use—especially a primer that's silicone-based,” explains Tardif.
What happens if you don’t use a makeup primer?
Without a cruelty-free makeup primer, your makeup might not last as long, it might not be as intense or buildable, and it might even appear blotchy. “I also find that foundation can easily crease in the fine lines and catch into pores more easily [without a primer],” says Tardif. “The primer will also act as a sort of cushion and protective layer between your skincare, your skin natural oil production, and the makeup.” A vegan makeup primer can easily absorb excess oil production, prevent the oil from separating your foundation, and prevent it from “disappearing,” too.
How to apply a makeup primer
Before applying a makeup primer, you need to make sure you’ve applied all of your skincare first. Cleanse, tone, moisturize, and then add your sunscreen before applying your cruelty-free makeup primer. “If there's any sort of excess moisture, your primer will take care of that in creating that barrier and protect the makeup from being too watery or smudgy,” explains Tardif.
To apply the primer, you can either use your fingers to blend the formula into your skin, or you can use our Buffer Brush to apply the primer throughout your face and neck. Make sure you wait until the primer has dried down before applying your Sunset Skin Liquid Foundation.
Most common makeup primer mistakes
When it comes to cruelty-free makeup primers, there are a lot of mistakes you can make before nailing this step. According to Tardif, the most common primer mistake is not trying different types of primers, since they’re not all made equal. “Some of them are very specifically geared toward a certain skin type, and textures and finish may vary greatly,” he says. “Primers are not all made just to deal with oiliness and to mattify the face.”
Another big mistake some folks make is to apply the primer underneath an SPF. “Sunscreen products can leave such a sticky feeling or residue that may greatly affect the wearability of your makeup,” says Tardif. Also, avoid applying makeup primer only on your nose or T-zone area. Primers go beyond oil prevention and smoothing of pores—the makeup adherence and spread/blend will be affected, too.
Lastly, don’t confuse your moisturizer or SPF as a makeup primer. Our cruelty-free makeup primer has skincare-infused ingredients to not only help hydrate the skin, but it also has smoothing ingredients and skin conditioner to provide a more complete priming experience, too.
Investing in a great cruelty-free makeup primer is key to nailing any makeup look, especially if you want it to last. Look for primers that are water-based and feel lightweight, and don’t forget to apply all your skincare products before priming your face. Lastly, there’s no wrong way to apply a makeup primer—don’t be afraid to use your clean fingers, a vegan makeup brush, or even a makeup sponge.