What Does Makeup Primer Do and Do You Need to Use One?

They say that flawless makeup starts with a flawless base. A flawless base comes with hydration, eight hour sleeps, plates of greens and skincare regimes. While this may be true, at Illamasqua we believe that many hands make light work. So, when there’s a makeup product that helps to achieve that smooth-looking base, we welcome it with open arms. Enter: the primer. For years people have been asking, what does a makeup primer do? Is it really necessary? Since it is not as instantly apparent as foundation, bronzer, or a mattifying powder, the role of a makeup primer is often unfairly questioned.

So, what does a makeup primer do, and is it worth adding to your routine? Here’s everything you need to know.

makeup primer

What is a face primer?

A face primer is the product that comes directly before foundation. It’s a cream or gel that goes underneath all the other makeup products to help set them in place. Face primers can also have multiple other benefits for the complexion, such as hydrating dry skin, giving a lit from within finish, and mattifying oily areas. Not to replace a moisturiser, a face primer is it’s own, equally essential step. Underneath foundation, the right face primer should smooth away any unwanted texture, such as fine lines and open pores, and ultimately give your makeup increased long wear.

What is makeup primer used for?

What a makeup primer is used for is usually to give a boost of hydration to the skin which in effect makes makeup easier to apply, sit better on the skin and more likely to last longer. This is what makes it a particularly handy addition to a makeup routine when you’re expecting a long day ahead.

However, different makeup primers are used for different skin types and concerns. For example, if you find your skin gets shiny throughout the day, and not in the glowy radiant sort of way, you may be inclined to reach for Illamasqua Matte Veil Primer. This primer is used for prepping the skin while giving a matte finish. If a dewy base is your finish of choice, you may prefer the Illamasqua Hydra Veil Primer.

Alternatively, if you would like the best of both worlds- a primer that give a matte finish while also leaving a lit-from-within glow, look no further than the Illamasqua Beyond Veil Primer. A combination of Illamasqua’s two iconic formulas, the Hydra Veil Primer and Beyond Powder, this primer is used for helping to smooth the skin, ensuring makeup sits flawlessly on an even base and leaving a radiant finish.

How to use a makeup primer

Now let’s look at how to use a makeup primer.

The best way how to use a makeup primer is to apply a small amount using the fingers on top of cleansed, moisturised skin. Make sure the majority of the product is around the T-Zone and then blend the rest out. After a few seconds, the freshly primed skin will be ready for your foundation application.


You can also use a makeup primer specifically for trouble areas that you want to cover, such as blemishes or pores. Simply use a small pea-sized amount on the back of your hand and dab it on with your fingers with a light patting motion.

To avoid build-up of product or patchiness, the key is to wait a full minute after applying makeup primer before following with foundation.

Can you wear primer without makeup?

So we’ve established that primers work well to achieve a smooth canvas and allow foundation to last- but can you wear primer without makeup? The answer is a strong yes. To achieve that flawless, natural base, you can certainly wear primer without makeup. The end result will simply be a smooth, clear-looking complexion with fine lines and pores evened out.

makeup primer

What’s more, wearing a primer without makeup can often work well to achieve that glistening summer skin look. On those hot days when heavy makeup can become uncomfortable, an luminating primer can be all you need for that sun-kissed radiance. The Illamasqua Beyond Veil Primer consists of a lightweight formula that contains sodium hyaluronate, gardenia Florida fruit extract and vitamin C to help smooth the skin. Combined with its fine shimmer pigments, it gives the skin a natural, glowing finish with a lit-from-within glow. The perfect way to add some zest to your skin on makeup-free days.

Is a primer necessary for makeup?

Considering what a makeup primer can do for a finished look, both with and without foundation, we certainly vouch for this simple post-skincare step. Whether a primer is necessary for makeup is entirely up to your preference. However, once you know what primer best suits your skin-type, this overlooked makeup bag secret may be exactly what you need for that glassy, smooth looking complexion.

For more inside advice on how to keep your skin fresh during the summer, take a look at our Summer Makeup Tips blog.

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Josie Wilkins

Josie Wilkins

Writer and expert

Josie is an online content creator with a degree in journalism. In her free time, she's jade-rolling or buying over-priced candles. When she's not doing either of those, she's digging deep to find the latest makeup essentials.