When you get to be a certain age—oh, I don’t know, maybe once the zits are gone for good, replaced by some indelibly etched crevasses and craters and laugh lines—it’s time to admit you might just maybe just need a teeny bit of help with your skin.
Okay, a lot of help.
Enter the primer. Of all the tricks in your beauty bucket, knowing how to properly use primer should be at the top (along with eyebrow grooming). Professional makeup artists know this, which is why they never leave home without them; they have learned that primers are to your skin what gesso is to a canvas: they prep the surface so what you put on top goes on smoothly, evenly, and with color as close to what you see in the package or bottle as possible. Primers even out skin tone, erase imperfections, and give you the perfect base for makeup application. They allow your makeup to stay put for hours longer than it would otherwise, and you’ll find out you need a lot less of your regular products, so it’s a cost-effective purchase. Plus you should use it only where you need it; if your cheeks are smooth and the color is even, save primer for crow’s eyes or fine wrinkles around your lips or on your forehead.
To use, first apply your moisturizer and let it absorb completely. Then smooth on the primer where needed. A little goes a long way. Let that sink in too. Put foundation next, if you like, and a subtle hint of blush (did I say subtle? Yes, I did). Some primers are also safe for eyelids, and they’re great if you have a crepey texture anywhere. They’ll also keep your lipstick in place.
In other words, primers instantly make you look a whole lot better. Especially if you have visible pores—another consequence of aging skin–that become even more noticeable when you put on foundation, powder, or blush. And if you’re prone to redness, look for a color-correcting primer with a green undertone, which will neutralize the red.
I’ve also found that as you get older, primers can often be used in place of foundation, if you want to add some polish to your look without laying it on with a trowel. Try one of these and see for yourself: