- Makeup primer is a beauty product designed to improve the performance of makeup by enabling a smoother and long-lasting effect.
- For combination skin, choose oil-free formulas with ingredients that promote long-term skin health.
- Primers with oil-free formulas work best for combination skin with acne.
Face primers are a base used before applying makeup to help products adhere evenly and remain longer on the face.
If you have combination skin, you have probably noticed shininess and excess oil on your forehead, nose and chin, and dryness on the rest of your face. A primer can greatly benefit this skin type by evening the imbalance of oil on the face.
Primers are available in the form of creams, gels and powders, and can be found in drugstores and beauty supply stores.
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 makeup.
Those with combination skin can choose primers in both matte and dewy finishes. The challenge is to find a product that is neither overdrying nor too heavy, and will maintain a shine-free look after application.
Do you actually need one?
An application of primer is key to flawless-looking, long-lasting makeup. A primer evens out the skin’s appearance to smooth out rough and bumpy areas before foundation is applied. Primer helps makeup adhere to skin, enabling it to last throughout the day.
Primer also forms a barrier between other makeup products you may 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 tones.
Ingredients to Look for in Primers for Combination Skin
Combination skin can benefit from a primer that contains anti-aging vitamins and antioxidants to support overall skin health. A good primer can be viewed as an effective way to extend the wear of makeup, and is a transitional step between skin care and makeup.
Vitamin C is an antioxidant and one of the best overall ingredients you can use on your skin. It fights damage from free radicals while brightening the skin and reversing collagen and elastin loss.
Moisturizing vitamin E, another antioxidant, hydrates and smoothes skin’s appearance. It’s effects are increased when paired with vitamin C. If you have large pores, regular use of products containing these vitamins may reduce their appearance.
Hyaluronic acid is a natural humectant. It improves the skin’s ability to retain water without adding excess oil or shine. While hydrating and plumping the skin, it reduces fine lines and wrinkles.
Silicone primers are highly effective at smoothing out fine lines and reducing the appearance of large pores and acne scars. The downside is that their formulas tend to be on the heavy side, which can lead to blocked pores and breakouts.
If you prefer not to apply a lot of beauty products in the morning, you can eliminate a step by using a primer that’s also a sunscreen. Choose a primer containing at least SPF 30 to protect your skin from harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation.
Ingredients to Avoid in Primers for Combination Skin
Several ingredients may exacerbate some skin concerns—such as oiliness and dryness— commonly experienced by those with this skin type.
The following ingredients are not recommended for any products that you apply to your entire face and wear all day, such as primer. However, they need not be avoided entirely as they can serve a role elsewhere in your skin care routine.
Some makeup primers are oil-based. Unless your combination skin is mostly dry, these will likely be too greasy for your skin and result in is oily-looking skin with makeup that won’t properly adhere.
If you would like to include oil in your skin care routine, you can spot-treat areas of dry skin with a facial oil – but don’t use a primer with oil as an ingredient.
Salicylic acid (SA) is an ingredient found in some primers designed for oily skin, as it is a common treatment for acne.
Anti-acne face primers containing SA do not work well on combination skin as the SA is too drying to be used across the entire face. Instead, reserve your SA use for a targeted serum or spot treatments on your T-zone, as needed, to manage acne breakouts.
A Word About Oil-Free Primers
Primers with oil-free formulas are excellent for use on combination skin, especially if you have acne-prone skin.
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, toning 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 emitted from them help the product absorb better into the skin.
Apply a dime-sized amount of primer (generally, the drier your skin, the more primer you use) to the center of your face and work your way outward and downward.
If your skin tends toward dryness, use a hydrating primer with a dewy finish and focus on your forehead, nose and the apples of your cheeks.
If you have more oily combination skin, use a mattifying primer and focus the product on the T-zone or forehead, nose and chin.
For mature skin, primer can help smooth and conceal areas prone to fine lines such as around the eyes and mouth.
Allow your primer time to dry completely, which may take a minute or so. This allows it to set before you begin 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. Worn on its own, primer evens out fine lines and rebalances oiliness for subtly, smoother-looking skin.
If primer on its own is enough of a makeup base for the look you’re creating, use concealer on any blemishes before applying eyeshadow, highlighter and lip products.
A primer can help your makeup go on more smoothly and last longer. The best primer for combination skin is one with ingredients that improve your skin’s texture and overall health without causing added oiliness or dryness.
Those with this skin type can use primer with either a matte or dewy finish; the oilier your skin, the more matte your primer should be.
The best primers for combination skin contain hydrating, nourishing ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, vitamin C and vitamin E. A makeup primer can also serve double-duty as sunscreen if it contains SPF.
Avoid primers that contain oil or salicylic acid as these ingredients can further imbalance the natural oils in your face.
If you choose a hydrating, oil-free product, primer can improve your skin’s appearance in both the short and long term.
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