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NOW READING Why You Need to Break Up With Your Primer RN
July 30, 2019

Why You Need to Break Up With Your Primer RN

In beauty, there are a lot of “rules” that are made to be broken. Hyper-contouring is passé and matte faces have given way to a more glowy, dewy look. What’s next? Contributing editor Sheryll is here to tell you to say buh-bye to your pore-clogging primer.


Do you have oily skin? Do you absolutely refuse to wear makeup without using a primer? What if I told you that yes, you with the oily skin can actually wear makeup without a primer? Would you believe me? Well, you should. I’m here to start the NO PRIMER REVOLUTION because you absolutely do not need one.


I can feel the side-eye from the screen. People in the primer gang are a strong bunch. But trust me on this, you can save your money. I’m here to steer you to the light.




The first thing that needs to be addressed is WHY you are using a primer. Is your skin so oily that makeup just slides off your face? So you slather on primer to help makeup adhere to your skin.


Does your sunscreen kinda look weird under your makeup? Do you need to put on a primer to help your foundation from oxidizing?


Do you put it on because all of the cool girls on Instagram are doing it?


Well, whatever your reason, I have a solution.


istock/Kristina Ratobilska




If you’re someone who thinks you need a primer because you see everyone else using them, you don’t. Primers can clog pores, and clogged pores can cause acne. I know from personal firsthand experience that primers of ALL kinds caused my skin to break out. And now that I’ve broken free from the confines of the primer, I don’t break out when I wear makeup.


If you’re due for a sweaty night out or you live in a hot, humid climate, opt for a setting spray to seal your makeup instead. I’m a fan of the Swanicoco Lock Up Makeup Fixer or the Etude House Fix and Fix Mist Fixer.




If your skin is so oily that your makeup just melts off your face like hot cheese on pizza, there’s something more at play here. Oily skin is normal. Skin so oily that you can’t wear makeup is a sign of a pretty bad imbalance. This used to be me. I’d put on makeup and within five minutes, I could literally see it, like, pilling with the oils in my skin. But once I got my skin balanced, I stopped using primer.


How can you balance your skin? I know you might think I’m crazy, but you need to add oils into your skin. Oil balances oil. If you’re using high pH cleansers, all of the alcohol-laden toners that are marketed towards oily skin, “mattifying” moisturizers, and all that — these products work to strip the oils from your skin. And then since your skin is all dry and oil-free, you actually produce MORE oil. And then you keep producing more oil. And more oil. And more. Until you can’t even keep makeup on your face. So.


Here’s what you do.




1. Low pH cleansers & oils


Switch to low pH cleansers so you don’t strip your moisture barrier. Instead of all those oil-free products, use hydrating toners and moisturizers that are going to infuse your skin with much needed hydration.


And add in an oil to your nighttime routine. My favorites for oily/acne-prone skin are rosehip seed oil, watermelon seed oil, and squalane. Put some on your skin before your moisturizer and watch your skin transform into a happy, balanced friend.


2. Hydrate that ish


Before you put on makeup, prep your skin by making sure that it’s well-hydrated and moisturized. I usually wait about 10 minutes after applying my sunscreen to apply my makeup, so I can make sure my skincare is all nice and absorbed.


3. Pick the right sunscreen


I’ve also heard of people using primers because their sunscreens are messing up their makeup, so they add in a primer as a form of a buffer zone. If your sunscreen is causing your foundation to go all wonky, then you need a better sunscreen. My favorites that wear amazingly under makeup are the Klairs Soft Airy UV Essence, Earth’s Recipe Waterful Sun Gel, and the seaNtree Donkey Milk Waterful Sun Block.




You’re crazy, I’m not giving up my primer


If you’re reading all of this and thinking that I’ll have to pry that primer out of your cold, deads hands, well … just make sure that you’re thoroughly washing your face. Double cleansing is always essential, but it’s imperative if you’re using a primer. Make sure you’re using the 60 second rule to get all of the makeup and primer and stuff off your face.


Are you pro- or anti-primer? What are your tips for making your makeup last? Let me know in the comments!



Sheryll Donerson got her start as a beauty writer by writing K-beauty reviews for her blog, The Wanderlust Project. These days, she's lifting heavy weights, eating tacos, drinking (too much) coffee and is 1/4 of the beauty podcast, Beauty Beyond Basics (or Triple Bees for short). You can find her on Instagram and Twitter at @sheryllrenata.




I wear primer when I feel like wearing makeup, since the insane humidity here in sunny Singapore melts everything off in 3 hours otherwise 😂 otherwise, I have found my Missha soft finish sun milk to be a perfect mattifying and smoothing ‘primer’ for the days when I don’t wear makeup.


I loooovvvveeee the Missha soft finish. It really is matte and I also feel like it acts as a nice primer for my cushions. I wish the waterproof version were also more like it — that one's pretty shiny.


Ohhh I see. Guess I’ll stick to the soft finish then. Was wondering if the others would be as smooth and matte 😂


Reading this, I'm realizing that I only wear primer for two reasons: glow and smoothing. And tbh they are things I can live without. Especially with the right foundation, and hydration as you said. Gonna try rocking a beat without primer and see how that goes.


I also feel like primer gives me more clogs than usual. And I hate that slippery feeling. I've personally never really found that primer smooths out my pores either. (And I also don't like mattifying products with tons of silicone.) I only wear primer on my eyelids to prevent my eye makeup from smudging in the hot summer months — now THAT truly makes a difference for me. I swear by Jung Saem Mool's eye brightener right now.