Monday, March 9, 2009

Foundation Primer: Do You Really Need One?

In the last 10 years or so, a new product has emerged on the makeup scene. As "professional" lines like MAC, Make Up For Ever and Smashbox have gained popularity, foundation primer has become a much recommended addition to the home kit. The question is, what does it do, and do you really need it?

Foundation Primers are most commonly gel-like potions designed to be applied before you put on your face makeup, as the name would imply. They claim rather vaguely to prep your face for a perfect, glowing finish. Depending on the brand, you'll see claims of velvety smoothness, reduction of the appearance of pores, fine lines, even scars. They say makeup glides on better and will stay on better. Despite all the varying claims, at their core, all foundation primers are pretty much the same. Sad, considering they can be priced anywhere from about $8.00 to $60.00

Primers are generally composed of a blend of silicone derivatives. Those most commonly used are Cyclomethicone, Cyclopentasiloxane and Dimethicone Crosspolymer. Used as emollients, they create a barrier to help hold moisture in the skin. This barrier is also water resistant, and imparts a matte look to the skin- great for those with oily skin whose makeup melts off midday. Because of the chemical composition of these ingredients, they sit on top of the skin, and can act as a temporary "filler" to smooth out fine lines, large pores, even things like acne scarring.

Some primers employ light reflecting ingredients that act as tiny mirrors, bouncing light away from problem areas. You may have even seen the newest incarnation in the primer market- primers that are tinted with odd colors like green, yellow or violet. These products are certainly not a new idea, they're just more user-friendly versions of the color correctors that pros have been using for years to reduce redness or add tone to overly sallow or pallid complexions. (My next post will fill you in on color correctors, so stay tuned!)

So, primers do much of what they claim. The thing you need to know is that you may already be using a product that does the same thing. Many serums and anti-aging products have the same silicone-based ingredients that primers do; they too fill in problem spots like large pores and fine lines. Using a primer over these products would not only be unnecessary, but it could actually cause your makeup to "roll". If you've ever put your makeup on and had it literally ball up as you apply (or thought your skin was peeling off, but saw no flakiness when you washed your face) you may have experienced silicone overdose.

Likewise, most primers that promote anti-aging benefits have the same basic antioxidants that any good treatment serum or moisturizer would, like retinyl palmitate (vitamin A), tocopheryl acetate (vitamin E), or ascorbic acid (vitamin C). Some do have higher-end botanicals, moisturizers or anti-aging ingredients, but chances are, if you're willing to shell out an extra $50 for primer, you're probably already using skin care treatments that contain them.

If you're plagued by large pores, oily skin or need a color-correcting product, primers can be useful, provided you're not using a skin care product that contains the same ingredients. If you're thinking of a primer for it's anti-aging properties, check out a treatment serum that contains one of the silicone-based ingredients listed above; chances are they'll have a higher concentration of the anti-aging ingredient and you'll be much more likely to notice results.

1 comment:

Lee said...

Thanks for taking the time to write this article very informative! I saw on youtube a woman who uses Olay Regenerist serum as a primer because of the same ingredients it has as many primers.

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