For some primer probably seems like an extra, maybe unnecessary step, but when you find the right one, there’s no turning back.  Here are some of my tips and products I have loved and hated over the years, as well as two new favourite products!


The first primer I ever bought was in 2008 from Napoleon Perdis on the Gold Coast. It came in black and gold packaging and I think if my memory serves me correctly it was called the Auto Pilot Skin Primer, or something similar. I had just weaned myself off using Maybelline Dream Mousse Foundation and wanted to invest in some higher quality products – I thought this would solve my erratic skin. Napoleon in hindsight wasn’t the right answer to this, but it was worth a shot.

The girl who looked after me that day had impeccable makeup. I felt rather self conscious at the time because I wasn’t very makeup savvy and I was growing out a terrible haircut I got the day before my year 12 formal. In my late teens, I was the master of bad beauty decisions – you’ve seen my eyebrows circa 2005, no?

When I got home, I hastily opened all my new purchases. I didn’t know how to use any of them, but figured I would quickly learn. I didn’t love everything I bought, the green eye shadow and liner was definitely a lapse in judgement and when it came to the primer, I really didn’t know if it was just a marketing ploy, or if it did as the girl had claimed. It just kind of felt like another product that I had to put on my face. It kind of felt like the toner of makeup products. You know, you buy it, but it just sits there because you run out of time or you just plain forget about it?

But then I used it and then I realised just how much better my make-up sits on my combination skin, if I prime first (even though now that I have used other primers, NP is my least favourite primer)


Over the years I have tried:

Napoleon Auto Pilot: I felt it made my skin oily and I am not much of a NP fan
Mac Prep And Prime: When I used this I didn’t like the “sparkly” coponent to it, but that was pre-highlighting days so I would probably LOVE this product now.
Laura Mercier Foundation Primer: I love this one so much, it is flawless. It’s been around for 19 years, so it’s safe to say they know their proverbial sh*t.
Dermalogica Primer: I still am sitting on the fence with this one. I love the velvety texture, but I feel like this one sits on top of your skin too much. It may just be my skintype though. The SPF+30 is great!
Benefit Porefessional: I just finished this one and it’s velveting and blends into the skin quite well. It’s thicker than other primers as it refines pores.

It really is about trial and error and working out what works for you.

TIP: If you’re allergic to silicon or find that it causes them to oil up, you’re better off sticking with a water-based primer, so make sure you check out the ingredients before you buy!



I don’t use a primer everyday – mainly because now I work from home and I don’t need to impress my computer. But when I do, I use a few different ones. There are so many now, but basically I like to mix it up depending on what I think my skin needs – minimize pores, smooth fine lines, correct skin discolorations, or create a dewy finish.

I picked up a couple of new primers the other day after finishing my Benefit one last week. For evening events I have been using the Pro Primer from Nars ($50) as it is a oil-free primer that refines the look of pores and smooths the skin to give the skin a velvety matte finish and for day time I have been using the Mecca Cosmetica ($40) one as it hydrates and fills fine lines. I’m yet to try the Smashbox one above, but bought it as I have read so many good things about it!


I do have an Urban Decay eye primer that I endeavored to use regularly, but then I realised I was too lazy to use so many different makeup products at once, so now just use a face primer over my eyes too. I figure my eyes are in fact part of my face, after all.


  1. It helps to keep your foundation in place
  2. It helps to create a smooth base for your foundation
  3. Depending on what product you use it can minimise pores and mattify oily skin
  4. It helps your skin look and feel more hydrated


  1. Without using powder, the water in your makeup and the silicones in most primers repel each other, so make sure you powder, girl!
  2. Put primer on your chest to minimise pores
  3. Less is more, don’t clog up your pores
  4. Use your fingers or a sponge to apply. I hate applying with a brush!
  5. Moisturise before you prime



Do you prime or do you skip this step in your routine? Which primer works best for your skin (let us know your skin type too).

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Author: Ally Carey

Hi, I am Ally, a writer and creative at Substance. I have worked in the fashion industry for 6+ years as a model and now on Substance. Substance is a lifestyle blog about fashion, beauty, health and self-improvement; hoping to inspire you to live a life filled with Substance. For more: @AllyMayCarey

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