Tuesday, 12 April 2011

How do makeup primers work?

Primers are used to create an ideal canvas for makeup - they fill in fine lines and pores so that the makeup doesn't pool in them, leaving the skin looking flawlessly smooth. They also help to stop makeup from sliding off the face so that it lasts longer. The primer should be applied after moisturising and left for a couple of minutes to settle on the skin, before applying makeup. There are primers available for the face, lips and eyelids.

So how do they work? Why is a moisturiser not good enough to be used as a primer? Well, where a moisturiser is designed to sink into the skin, a primer creates a layer over the top it. This layer fills in fine lines and pores to create a perfectly smooth surface for makeup. The main reason makeup slides off the face is the secretion of sweat and oil from the skin. A primer forms a barrier between sweat and oil, and makeup. It also gives makeup a surface to adhere to. According to WiseGeek a makeup primer mostly contains waxes, polymers and silicones. The waxes are what creates the barrier between oil and sweat and makeup. Jojoba is an example of a natural wax. Polymers are used to thicken makeup products. Look out for ingredients containing the word glycol. Silicones are used a lot in the beauty industry as they provide lubrication, or slip - when used in hair conditioners they make the hair slippery so that it doesn't knot, and in makeup primers they allow the foundation or eyeshadow to glide effortlessly over the skin. Another function of silicones is to bind to your skin. All substances have either a positive or negative charge based on the molecules they are composed of. The skin is negatively charged. Silicones can be given a positive charge (ionised). Opposite charges are attracted to one and other and form a strong bond. Therefore, the positively charged silicones in the makeup primer bond strongly to the negatively charged skin. If you are looking for silicones on the ingedient list of your primer look out for dimethicone, polysiloxane, cyclomethicone and phenyl trimethicone. So, a primer works by forming a film over the skin that is strongly bonded so that it doesn't budge and this film prevents skin oils and sweat, the main culprits of makeup loss, from coming in contact with makeup.

Some makeup artists think that wearing makeup without a primer will cause your skin to age quicker but I don't think that would be the case. Most makeup formulations these days contain some pretty high tech anti-ageing ingredients. This assumption probably came about by the fact that wearing makeup without a primer often causes the makeup to sink into the fine lines and wrinkles, inadvertently highlighting them and making skin look older.

The following are a few examples of primers that I hope to review in the near future, though just about every brand on the market would have their own version of primer.

Face primers
  • Napoleon Perdis Auto Pilot Pre Foundation Primer
  • Natio Pure Mineral Face Primer
  • Face of Australia Face Base Primer
  • Mirenesse Eclipse Age Defense
  • Clarins Beauty Flash Balm
Eye Primers
  • Natio Pure Mineral Eye Primer
  • BeneFit F.Y. Eye