- Face primer is used to make makeup appear smoother and last longer
- For combination skin, choose oil-free formulas with ingredients that promote long-term skin health
- Even if you have acne, avoid overly drying primers designed for oily skin
While some beauty products like blush or mascara have an obvious purpose, a face primer’s role in your makeup routine may be less clear. In fact, the face primer you use before applying makeup determines how not only how your makeup looks, but how long it lasts—or doesn’t last—throughout the day.
If you have combination skin, you probably experience shininess and excess oil on the t-zone (the forehead, nose and chin) and dryness on the rest of your face. This skin type requires a primer that won’t further disrupt the lack of balance of oil in your face.
What Makes a Good Primer for Combination Skin?
A good primer minimizes the appearance of pores and fine lines, creating a smooth canvas on which to apply your makeup. Primers are available in the form of creams, gels and powders.
For combination skin, you’ll need a primer that doesn’t aggravate your unique skin concerns. Luckily, choosing a primer for combination skin is less difficult than other skin care products.
Your combination skin should be able to tolerate primers offering both matte finishes and dewy finishes. The trick is to find a product that is neither overly drying nor heavy and will keep your face shine-free after application.
Do you actually need one?
The use of a primer is key to creating a flawless, long-lasting makeup look. Primer evens out your skin’s appearance to ensure that your skin does not look rough and bumpy once you apply foundation. Primer helps makeup adhere to your skin, making it last throughout the day.
It also forms a barrier between the other makeup products you use and your skin, making sensitive skin less prone to irritation.
Even if you don’t wear foundation, a primer worn on its own can subtly improve your skin’s appearance. Some primers must be matched to your skin tone, but most are essentially invisible and are suitable for all shades.
Ingredients to Look for in Primers for Combination Skin
Combination skin will benefit from a primer that contains anti-aging vitamins and antioxidants to support overall skin health. One way to think of primer is as not only a way to extend the life of your makeup looks but as a transitional step between skin care and makeup.
Vitamin E, another antioxidant, can smooth the skin’s appearance and works especially well when paired with vitamin C. If you have large pores, regular use of products containing these vitamins may reduce their appearance.
If you don’t like applying a lot of products in the morning, you can cut out an extra step by using a primer that’s also a sunscreen. This approach works well if your combination skin is on the oilier side and you don’t need a lot of moisturizer.
Ingredients to Avoid in Primers for Combination Skin
A few ingredients may exacerbate the issues commonly experienced by people with combination skin. While these ingredients may serve a role elsewhere in your skin care routine, you’ll want to avoid them in a product such as primer that is meant for use over your entire face.
Some makeup primers are oil-based. Unless your combination skin is mostly dry, these will likely add too much greasiness to your skin. The result is oily-looking skin and makeup that won’t stay put.
If your combination skin tends to be dry, you might spot-treat your areas of dry skin with a facial oil—but don’t use it in a primer.
Salicylic acid (SA) is an ingredient in some primers designed for oily skin because it reduces oil production in the skin.
Even if you have acne, a face primer containing SA isn’t a great idea for combination skin as the SA is too drying to be used across your entire face. Instead, reserve your SA use for a targeted serum or spot treatments as needed.
A Word About Oil-Free Primers
Primers with oil-free formulas are excellent for use on combination skin, especially if your combination skin is on the oily side.
However, if you’re using an oil-free, water-based primer, be sure to pair it with a water-based foundation as well. Otherwise, the application will appear uneven and your makeup won’t stay in place.
How to Use Primers on Combination Skin
Prepare your skin for primer by cleansing, drying and applying an SPF-containing moisturizer.
Unlike other products that are typically applied with a brush, primer goes on best when applied with the fingers because the heat from your hands helps the product absorb into the skin.
Apply about a dime-sized amount of primer (generally, the drier your skin, the more primer you might use) to the center of your face and work your way outwards and down, focusing on your forehead, nose, and the apples of your cheeks.
Allow your primer the time to dry completely, which may take a minute or longer. This prevents the product from moving around once you start applying your foundation. Once the primer is dry, continue with your makeup routine.
You don’t necessarily have to wear foundation to benefit from a primer. If the primer on its own is enough of a makeup base for the look you’re creating, you can simply use concealer on any blemishes before applying lip and/or eye products.
Primer is a crucial step in creating a long-lasting makeup look. The best primer for combination skin is one with ingredients that improve your skin’s texture and overall health without causing irritation or excess oil.
If you choose hydrating, oil-free products and keep long-term skin care goals in mind, primer can improve your skin’s appearance, regardless of how much makeup you wear.