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Beauty Wars: We Searched For The Best Face Primer Ever

We put seven primers to the ultimate test. What we got were a few hits, a few misses and a couple of surprises.
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One of the biggest challenges when it comes to makeup is getting it to stay on your face for a reasonable number of hours or, even better, the whole day. You’ve put in the effort to blend your makeup seamlessly, the last thing you want is for it all to completely slide off your face before lunch break. Thank the makeup lords for primers, for which we would all be greasy puddles of melted foundations and powders if they didn’t exist.

Unfortunately, the plain truth is that not all face primers are good. Some are all fluff no substance, others cost a week’s worth of froyo and frappes yet do absolutely nothing for the skin. The perfect face primer is also not one-size-fits-all – just because it worked for you doesn’t mean it’ll work for someone else. Does the truly perfect, 24-hour wear primer exist? We don’t think so. Not yet, anyway. Until it does, we make do with what we can get. Six to eight hours of wear with a healthy glow on the side? We’ll take it.

To make your search for your perfect-within-reason primer a little bit easier, we gathered some of the most popular primers on the market and used ourselves, our office mates and a few readers to weigh in on. These were all put through rigorous tests across a variety of skin types. The result? Hits, misses and a few surprises. If you think you’ve found the primer that’ll put all the primers here to shame, leave it in the comments below.


Becca Backlight Priming Filter

“With its rave reviews and “holy grail” status, this one is the one to beat. Infused with crushed pearls, Becca’s Backlight Priming Filter imparts an instant, pearly glow with just one small pump worth of product. Makeup stays on for almost the whole day – I have oily skin, so blotting and light touch-ups are still necessary – and it doesn’t feel drying on the skin at all. The glow may be a little intense for the unacquainted, so go easy if you’re not a big fan of dewy skin.” – Candice (@candice_who), Team KULALA’s Head Writer & Web Manager


Marc Jacobs Under(cover) Perfecting Coconut Face Primer

“The Under(cover) Perfecting Coconut Face Primer is easy to apply onto the skin and has a delicious coconut scent. While I think that it does a relatively decent job of keeping makeup in place for a good part of the day, I find that it is more suited for those with dry skin because it is rather hydrating. Those with oilier complexions may find that it is a little greasy on the skin.” – Rachel (@xkismet), Exhibit Crew & Fellow Office Mate


Too Faced Hangover 3-in-1 Replenishing Primer & Setting Spray

“It takes a couple of sprays to get to the entire face, but after that’s done, you’ll notice that your skin starts to glow. Unfortunately, the Hangover Primer & Setting Spray doesn’t do very much for blurring pores or keeping your makeup intact for long hours. It does however double as a setting spray and rehydrating mist, so that’s a small plus point.” – Yoyo (@yoyokulala), Team KULALA’s Head Boss


Smashbox Photo Finish Primer Water

“The Smashbox Primer Water has a nice faint fragrance, and with each spray, the product is dispensed lightly and evenly over the face. You do need to spritz a few times to cover the entire face, however. It dries fairly quickly and leaves my skin feeling more hydrated than if I were to use just my moisturiser, and I feel that my concealer blends in a lot easier after using the primer water. Unfortunately, my makeup didn’t last longer than usual like I hoped it would, and cracked where there was a dry patch on my face. I think this primer water will be really good for quick and short days, or a mid-day freshen up, but for my makeup to last the entire day, I’ll look for other solutions!” – Xue (@grumpymeg), Reader


First Aid Beauty Coconut Skin Smoothie Priming Moisturiser

“Ever since First Aid Beauty’s Coconut Skin Smoothie Priming Moisturiser showed up on my doorstep, I’ve been obsessed. When I first tested out this vibrant tube, I was impressed by its tinted gel texture, and it smells divine! When applied, it gives my combination skin a nice, healthy sheen without being sticky. What I like most about this product is how hydrating the primer is while packed with superfood components that smooth and brighten my skin so effortlessly.” – Airin (@iamairinn), Reader


Cover FX Blurring Primer

“It’s an Instagram filter come to life. The primer is an instant fix that leaves skin with a satin-matte finish, imperfections blurred, pores and fine lines minimised. It’s also lightly tinted, which helps with redness, though you will need a concealer if you want more coverage. That said, it is not the kind of primer that lasts the whole day and it may be a little drying for those who have dry or sensitive skin, so a layer of moisturiser underneath is a must.” – Alverina (@aloebella), Reader


Burberry Beauty Fresh Glow Luminous Fluid Base

“I’ve never tried anything beyond lip products from Burberry Beauty, so Fresh Glow Luminous Fluid Base surprised me. The package, for starters, is the sleekest of any primer I’ve seen, so that’s already a plus point. One to two pumps are all you need for a subtle, radiant glow. It did the job of keeping my makeup from sliding off my face for at least six hours, but the biggest draw is its light, fluid texture that seems to glide over the skin and provide a decent level of hydration.” – Candice (@candice_who), Team KULALA’s Head Writer & Web Manager

What To Read Next: These Are The Eye Primers That Won’t Break Your Heart, 4 More Sunscreens That’ll Fit Right Into Your Skincare Routine and How To Stop Your Makeup From Melting Right Off Your Face | Main Image: YOYOKULALA.com

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