We Asked The Experts If Primers Are Really Worth It

Whether you’re a makeup lover or just started dabbling in the beauty world, you’ve probably realized that it gets expensive fast. How many NAKED palettes do you really need? Can’t you just use one liner to go with all your lipsticks? And do you actually need some sort of primer?

I wondered the same thing. I’m always looking to save a few dollas wherever I can, and I didn’t want to waste money on a primer that didn’t actually do anything, so I turned to the pros.

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I asked New York makeup artist David Birdwell and Milani national artist DeMille Michelle all about primers to see what’s worth buying, what’s a waste of time, and what products real makeup artists actually use.

They sell primers for so many different parts of the face, are they all really necessary?

David: I use one primer for all over the face. I like to apply with a foundation brush and sweep it all over the face and eyelids. Color correcting primers, in my opinion, are a waste of money — put that money into your skincare to correct the issue, not cover it up.”

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Demille: I suggest focusing on what you need for your everyday routine. If you wear mascara every day, then investing in a great eyelash primer would be beneficial to you. Also, if wearing a bold red lip every day is your go-to, you definitely need a good lip primer like our Milani Anti-Feathering Lipliner.

Which types of primers do you personally use and why?

David: I usually use a primer for special occasion makeup, if I need the product to last through dancing (i.e. weddings) or extreme heat. Only if I use cream shadows do I put an eye primer down for added insurance. Lots of skincare and foundations contain dimethicone, which acts as a natural primer, so it’s not always necessary to add a primer for daily wear.

Demille: I always want my skin to look fresh, so I use [face primer]. It gives my skin a luminous glow and I do not have to wear makeup on top. Also, I love a good eyeshadow primer! It prevents my eyeshadow from creasing and it makes color more vivid and long lasting, without the need for touch-ups.

What primers does the beauty beginner need (if any) and why?

David: A great rule of thumb is: if you are going to add another product to your routine, make it do more. There are primers now with ingredient stories to help either hydrate, anti-acne, brighten, etc., so go for one that will do more than just add extra wear to your makeup. It will help make the added step more worthwhile.

Demille: I suggest that a beauty beginner start with a great face primer that suits their skin type and beauty concerns. If you have dry skin, I suggest trying our Prime Perfection Hydrating + Pore-Minimizing Face Primer. This primer will give you deep hydration and a radiant, flawless finish.

Is there a big difference in drugstore primers vs. more expensive primers? What are some primers you currently have in your kit?

David: I do a mixture of both. I have the Jane Cosmetics Eye Primer and the Marc Jacobs (Under)Cover Perfecting Coconut Face Primer in my kit. The Jane is $11 and has the same, if not better, wear that my expensive eye primers have. The Marc Jacobs (Under)Cover is $44 and has a light texture that is so refreshing, and doesn’t feel like a greasy silicone primer at all. (Under)Cover is a newer find for me, and I love it so much, it made a way into my personal makeup bag too!

Demille: I believe that the main difference is only price, but it all depends on what you are looking for. There are so many high quality primers in the drugstore, such as our new Prime Correct Corrects Redness + Pore Minimizing Face Primer. It neutralizes redness while blurring the look of pores and gives a long-lasting matte finish, and it’s under $15! You can’t beat that.

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