The Best Primers According to The Twenties Club


All prices are in New Zealand dollars.

You’ll have heard me say, once or a million times, that a person’s makeup will only ever be as good as their skin. That is to say, if you’re not taking care of your face, through a dedicated skincare routine, you can’t expect your makeup to look good.

I’d apply this same sentiment to primer. Your foundation will only ever look as good as your primer – the product that prepares your skin for the foundations, concealers, blushers and bronzers that follow.

With that in mind, I have a few favourites! In my mind there are two classes of primers: those that solely prepare the skin for what will follow, and then those that combine makeup and skincare. In the first class you have drugstore primers like NYX Angel Veil Skin Perfecting Primer ($25) that don’t give a damn about nourishing your skin but work hard to blur the appearance of pores and set your foundation up for a solid 8 hours at the office. Another hardworking affordable primer is Too Faced Hangover Primer ($23) which is water-based so works well with water-based foundations, hides dry patches and smells like coconut. And to love primer is to love MAC Strobe Cream ($70). It’s easy to forget about it when there’s so many new products launching every week, but this guy is tried and true. The cream works like a moisturiser and contains reflective particles that illuminate the skin.

Drugstore primers are a great price point, but it’s worth noting that if you have acne-prone skin I would highly recommend avoiding primers that contain an ingredient called “dimethicone”. Dimethicone is a smoothing silicone that can exacerbate acne because it works to fill-in pores, uneven texture and fine lines. This ingredient provides a smoother application for foundation but unfortunately can also clog the skin. Similarly, if you don’t have acne-prone skin but are as serious about primers as I am, then I’d still advise spending a little more money and buying a primer that boasts skincare benefits as well. In this class we have a few options:

Whenever I wear Victoria Beckham x Estee Lauder Morning Aura Illuminating Creme ($180) I get compliments on how good my skin looks. This limited edition product is part-moisturiser, part-brightening-primer and contains micro pearls that work harder than God. Despite the fact it sold out globally within a matter of weeks, if you ever see it resurface online – get it. Two of my other favourite primers (that you can actually buy now) are from Bobbi Brown, and combine this idea of skincare and makeup. The Vitamin Enriched Face Base ($110) is an oil-free, cushiony balm, beloved by celebrity makeup artists. It contains ingredients like shea butter, carrot extract and vitamin A complex, but more importantly it smells incredible and will make your skin feel like that of an infant. Bobbi Brown’s Extra Illuminating Moisture Balm ($120) also contains shea butter, as well as pearl particles and things like chamomile and evening primrose oil. Definitely not for those wanting a “matte” look, just FYI.

And where better to look for primers with skincare benefits than actual. skincare. brands. Case in point: REN Perfect Canvas Skin Enhancing Priming Serum. This silicon-free legend is to be used post-moisturiser, pre-makeup and is great for girls with sensitive skin. Lastly, top of my list of primers I’m dying to try, Dr Barbara Sturm x Monika Blunder Anti-Aging Primer. This product works in two ways, first by priming the skin for makeup, and secondly by protecting it against free radical damage (the stuff that makes your skin look weathered) through it’s impressive ingredient list including hyaluronic acid, purslane, and Vitamin B3. It’s also silicone free.

Image by Karen Ishiguro for New Zealand Fashion Week