Even within a staff full of beauty nerds like Allure's, the final verdict on face primer is still out. Some refuse to go without it. Some use it here and there just because. Some are still struggling to see its benefits. Me? I like face primers about as much as I like Taylor Swift; if one of her hits is playing on the radio, I'll tap my foot along with the beat — but you'll never find me adding Lover in full to my Spotify playlist. However, sometimes an amazing primer happens to lands on my desk and I can't stare that gift horse in the mouth. That's exactly what happened a few weeks ago.
On December 27, Laura Mercier will launch the Pure Canvas Primer collection, which includes five makeup primers and one essence that operates more like a skin-care serum. Each primer has a silicone-free base of water and hydrating glycerin, plus a few key additions that give the individual formulas specific purposes: Hydrating, Blurring, Illuminating, Perfecting, and Protecting. The brand sent us the collection in advance of its release, and after toying around with one of these primers for a month, I am ready to go to church — Our Lady of Makeup Primer, that is. And I'm not the only one obsessed.
Before you let my doubts about primer sway you, let cosmetic chemist Ginger King tell you why they exist in the first place: "The cosmetic industry draws inspirations from all industries," shes tells Allure. "Makeup primer is a prime example from the paint industry. You prime the wall so the paint goes on better."
Just like the walls in our homes, our skin has itty-bitty bumps and divots that can be covered better if smoothed out. "Primers work to fill in pores and controls sebum so your foundation lays down smooth, and with the sebum-control, the foundation will stay put better," King continues. I can't really argue with that, especially after experiencing my favorite primer of this bunch.
I won't lie, it was totally the baby-pink color of the tube that ultimately swayed my decision to take the Perfecting Primer for a spin. Perfecting is a concoction of aloe vera, vitamin C, and green tea extract I can liken to many of my favorite moisturizers. It feels like a cream and a gel had an accidental love child and actually ended up in a really fulfilling relationship.
Though it appears white on first impression, it glides on clear and leaves behind my favorite kind of dewy sheen, the kind you always see on people who "just drink a lot of water." After it sits for a second, it goes slightly tacky, which I love in a primer when it's done right. I want my foundation to have something to grip onto, but I don't want to feel like I've just won a watermelon-eating contest, either.
My makeup application goes on smoothly, sure, but that isn't even really the kicker for me when it comes to this primer. Context time: I have really, really red cheeks. I'm pale and (apparently) have broken capillaries in that area, and it's a recipe for makeup disaster. I almost never wear blush. If I want to wear it, I have to pack on full-coverage foundation to cover up the rosiness that lies beneath — no, thank you. I find that when I use this primer my redness is pretty subdued, though, meaning I can go crazy with whatever complexion products I want. That's probably because one of the Perfecting Primer's main ingredients is aloe vera. Blessed be.
Digital assistant editor Angela Trakoshis, unlike me, is a big believer in makeup primer and likes her complexion as smooth and as matte as can be. "I feel like a lot of beauty editors think primers are not necessary, but I couldn't imagine life without them," she says. "You need, and I mean need, that barrier between your foundation and your skin."
Naturally, she took one look at the Blurring Primer and never went back. "This primer just hits different," she says. "It sinks into your pores, delivering a matte, blurring effect to the skin. No FaceTune needed."
That filtered look is thanks to the formula's algae, which promotes blood flow, plus what Laura Mercier describes as "blurring powder" that absorbs excess oil. Whether or not the primer helps her makeup last longer, Trakoshis isn't sure — but she's 100 percent confident her makeup stays in place better because of it.
Editorial assistant Gabi Thorne's complexion finish changes on a day-to-day basis, depending on her mood and what's going on with the weather. Like me, she isn't completely sold on makeup primers in general. "It's one of those makeup things that I use if I have it around, but doesn't seem like a necessary one," she says. Still curious and in the mood for a matte glow, she picked up the Illuminating Primer, which contains micro-fine pearls for added sheen and floral extracts for antioxidation. She might've ended up finding a new favorite.
"This primer may make me a believer," she says. "What I like about it is the radiant glow it gives my skin. It's a great prep for my foundation, especially matte ones, which can sometimes be dull if you're not careful."
Though we might not be the most... enthusiastic bunch when it comes to primer, Laura Mercier's Pure Canvas collection did end up teaching us a major lesson: When they're formulated well, primers can help us customize our makeup and attune our skin to our personal tastes all the much more. If none of the above primers sounds like it meets your specific needs, there's always the Protecting Primer, containing SPF 30 and vitamin E, or the squalane-rich Hydrating Primer. No matter your complexion type and habits, Laura Mercier now has a primer that might change your mind about the product genre altogether.
Each primer in the Laura Mercier Canvas Primer collection retails for $38 and is available now from lauramercier.com.
More on face makeup:
- How to Set Your Undereye Concealer and Prevent It From Creasing Forever
- The 45 Best Foundation Tips From Makeup Artists
- The Best Blushes for Darker Skin Tones, According to Makeup Artists
Now, see how foundation has evolved within the past 100 years:
Originally Appeared on Allure