What Kind Of Face Primer Should You Be Using? Water- v Silicone-Based

July 19, 2016
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I know that most of us want to eliminate steps from our beauty regimen, but a makeup primer shouldn’t be one of them. Primers can be key in facilitating flawless makeup application. They are not always necessary but if you have certain issues with your skin and wear foundation on a regular basis, a primer may just be what you need. If you’re not sure whether you should be using a primer, consider the following: are you interested in extending the wear of your makeup (prevent fading or movement), blurring fine lines and wrinkles, minimizing the appearance of pores, color correcting, and/or reducing dryness or oiliness? I would think we all are…but whether primers are new to you or not, how do you know which one is right for you? Let’s discuss…

How To Choose Primer

If you want your makeup to look its best, the formulation of your primer and foundation should match. The same applies to your moisturizer! If you use an oil-free moisturizer, follow with an oil-free foundation. Because as you know, oil and water do not mix. Therefore, if you’re using a silicone- or water-based foundation, your primer should be the same.

Water- v. Silicone-Based Primers

If the first few ingredients end in -cone, -silicate,-silicone, -methicone, or -siloxane, the primer is silicone-based. Otherwise, the primer is most likely water-based. Another way to tell if it’s water-based is if the label states that it is oil-free. However, even if it’s labeled oil-free it may still contain silicone. Also, one thing that is not made clear is that silicone itself is oily, so always look at the ingredients.

Silicone-based primers are very popular because they do wonders for filling in pores, fine lines, and wrinkles. However, if you have sensitive or acne-prone skin, you may want to avoid silicone-based primers. These primers may clog your pores and cause breakouts. But if you have a special occasion, I would say, go for it! Just make sure to pair it with the right foundation.

Try before you buy!

I highly suggest that you get samples of the primers you would like to try from Sephora. Every time I go there, they are so eager to help and happy to give me as many samples as I want. Keep in mind that even if a product is made for your skin type or intended to solve your particular problem, doesn’t mean that it will. Therefore, a little trial and error is required on your part. Check out some popular primers below that you may want to try out. Hope this post helped clear up any confusion! xo Sarah

Water-Based Primers

Tarte Clean Slate Poreless 12-hr Brightening Primer, $31

Clinique Pore Refining Solutions Instant Perfector, $21

Laura Mercier Foundation Primer – Radiance, $20

Becca Ever-Matte Poreless Priming Perfector, $36

Honest Beauty Everything Primer, $27

LORAC ‘I’m So Sensitive’ Soothing Face Primer, $32

Silicone-Based Primers

Tarte Clean Slate Poreless 12-hr Perfecting Primer, $31

Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer, $39

Too Faced Primed & Poreless Primer, $30

Urban Decay Complexion Primer Potion, $31

Benefit the POREfessional Face Primer, $31

LORAC POREfection Mattifying Face Primer, $32

Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer, $14 – 72

Sephora Collection Perfecting Ultra-Smoothing Primer, $15


  • Reply Sarah Etman July 20, 2016 at 5:48 am

    Thank you for this!

    • Reply Sarah Najafi July 20, 2016 at 5:52 am
  • Reply Loanle October 27, 2017 at 7:05 am

    Thank you so much for these informations. I hope it will help me.

    • Reply Sarah Najafi January 29, 2018 at 2:52 am

      Me too! Keep me posted and feel free to ask questions! xx

  • Reply Stef May 31, 2018 at 4:20 am

    Awesome information! Was struggling recently to understand the difference b/c all the information is so overwhelming. Thank you so much for this!

    • Reply Sarah Najafi July 15, 2018 at 7:40 pm

      You’re so welcome! So happy it helped!

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