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Hair & Makeup

6 of the best primers

Models backstage at the Balmain FW18 show

It’s not always considered a makeup-bag essential, but the best primers will bring on a ‘why didn’t I use this before?’ lightbulb moment. Try one of these just once and you’ll be hooked, says CHANELLE HO


‘Do you really need a makeup primer?’ is still one of the biggest beauty debates. Sure, it might not be fundamental to your makeup bag, but the best primers can make an incredible difference when it comes to longer-lasting foundation (which can be applied with a much lighter touch when worn over primer) and smoother, more radiant skin.


BEST FOR GLOWING SKIN Charlotte Tilbury Hollywood Flawless Filter

We’ve waxed lyrical about Flawless Filter before, but we can’t not include it again here because it is, hands down, the best product for creating a seriously glowing complexion. You can wear it on top of your foundation as a highlighter, but our tip for achieving a supermodel glow is to wear it underneath your base to give skin a soft-focus finish. It adds a beautiful dewiness, and it’s not glittery or shimmery, so looks very natural.

BEST FOR THE OFFICE Make Beauty Moonlight Primer

If you spend most of the day staring at your desktop, iPad or cellphone, protect against ‘screen face’ – the aging effects of blue HEV light emitted by electronic screens – with Make Beauty’s Moonlight Primer. It’s enriched with marine algae to fight against damaging free radicals that break down the collagen and elastin in the skin. Despite being a black-colored gel-cream, the genius formula goes on sheer and mattifies skin without the use of silicones.

BEST FOR DRY SKIN Kevyn Aucoin The Sensual Skin Primer

If your foundation appears to ‘enhance’ fine lines, crepe-y skin or flaky areas, your skin is too dry. This nourishing primer acts like a second moisturizer, intensely hydrating the skin without feeling oily or heavy. It’s packed with antioxidants and hyaluronic acid to keep skin plump and protected throughout the day so that your foundation will sit smoothly on top. You could even mix it in with a full-coverage foundation to create a sheerer tinted moisturizer texture.

BEST FOR EYES By Terry Eye Base Prime to Fix

Love a smoky eye? Then this primer is a must, especially if your eyeshadow is prone to creasing, moving around the lid or wearing off throughout the day. Not only does it prep the eyelids and enhance the color of eyeshadows, it also fills in any fine lines or wrinkles around the eye area. Try smoothing it over the whole orbital area – lids, brow bone, crow’s feet and just under the eye.

BEST FOR OILY SKIN Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer

A cult buy for good reason, this is particularly great for oily skin types – the lightweight and super-silky texture doesn’t feel heavy on the skin, minimizes the appearance of large pores, fills in any fine lines and is oil-free. If you have sensitive skin that’s prone to redness, it’s also great for concealing any rosiness, including rosacea.

BEST FOR VACATION Chantecaille Ultra Sun Protection SPF45 Primer

Does layering sunscreen, primer and then a base sound like too much hard work? Then this is the perfect compromise. It has a completely invisible finish (unlike a lot of SPFs that leave skin looking chalky or white) and once you’ve blended it on it has a non-greasy finish, creating a smooth canvas for any base layered on top. Plus, it’s waterproof and full of anti-inflammatories and antioxidants.

The people featured in this story are not associated with NET-A-PORTER and do not endorse it or the products shown.