3 Feb 2013

Primer: Do you?

Do you wear primer under your make-up?


The base before the base… I am told that all the celebrities do.

I have never really bothered about it… some would be shaking their heads already… I understand that… It’s just that I’m not a heavy foundation wearer… less is more and all that… Except that recently I have been introduced to primer from a friend in London, who also happens to be a make-up artist. She made me try it… promising that I would see the difference and that once I did… I would be priming myself up everyday… She was right… my skin did look better… so much clearer and smoother… I suppose if you think about the idea of primer there is a logic to it… We would never paint a room without first preparing the surface.

She told me there are many different primers… but there are three that are standouts… depending on skin type…. Laura Mercier  for a dewy and glowing look… perfect for a mature skin… Make up Forever that has a more matt effect… and one from Revlon… a great price point and a primer that gives a beautiful velvety finish to to the complexion… I have tried the Laura Mercier and the Revlon… my skin is a little dry for the Make Up Forever primer. I am using the Revlon by day and the Laura Mercier for the evening… It’s easy to use… a generous moisturise, a few dabs of primer spread evenly over the face and then foundation.

I have to say I am converted… Putting on the primer is now part of my routine… I’m late to the party… but now I have arrived, I will be taking full advantage… If you don’t already use primer… try it, I think you will be very happy with the results… xv

Prime, Prime, Primer

laura mercier  //  make up forever  //  revlon

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Hmmm… sometimes I do,
sometimes I don’t.
Maybe I should try to use a primer and really look if there’s really a difference. Most days I want to avoid putting a lot of make-up and that’s why i don’t put a primer.

Francine gardner

All these years, i have never even known of primers…I use a special face oil, then my moisturizer and foundation. I will try the Laura Mercier primer. In my travel beauty kit, always ready to go, I always include the Laura Mercier tinted moisturizer, great for a quick touch up before landing. Will be off to Sephora…


I love that tinted moisturiser too, Francine… and the even lighter one from By terry… That would suit you… maybe try it next time… with the primer…:)

Anita Rivera

Bonjour Vicki!

Like you my friend, I have never bothered with foundation or face make up. Mascara, a bit of eye-liner and eyeshadow were all I ever used with my one and only necessity at all times: LIPSTICK. My skin has been one of my best features from adolescence until about a year ago. I seemed to develop some mid-life acne! It is not bad, and a prescribed lotion took it away and actually made my skin look younger! However, you have me thinking. With approaching the mid-point of my fifties this year, I may have to start thinking about some of these gorgeous products you are sharing. I totally believe in dressing up, keeping fit and healthy, and what better place to start than with your skin?

By the way, Dame Helen Mirren is my favorite actress of this age group for her versatile acting ability AND for her appealing beauty.

Thank you again Vicki, for a post so full of fun and helpful things to keep us ladies always thinking about how we can put our best forward! Happy weekend, Anita


Since I use the primer (Clarins which is wonderful) my make up lasts from morning till evening and also the skin surface looks more even and light wrinkles disappear. So isn’t it a wonderful cosmetic discovery?


I never used a primer, but I think, I’ll try Revlon.
Yesterday I was in a Jane Birkin concert. She came off the stage and walked through the audience. She wore almost no makeup and looked fantastic.
Have a nice weekend – S.

Vicki Lee Johnston

I am late to it too but that’s why we have you :)
It does make sense I guess – wonder how it works in our terribly hot weather here in Australia – hard enough to keep the foundation on, which I have always worn!
Will give it a try – oh and Helen Mirren is just gorgeous!


I think it would be helpful in the heat… I am going back soon for a visit so I shall put it to the test…:)


I am using Smashbox Primer and their foundation together – love these products. I find I need only a dot of the foundation over the smooth, very easy to apply primer to get the natural look I need. We older gals look better without the heavy makeup look, especially at the end of the day – and I actually find this looks great even after hours of wear. I discovered and bought it from the Duty Free catalog when flying several months ago – and also found it at Sephora for around $38.

Vicki, I’m just back from the incredible Antarctic expedition – couldn’t blog that far away but am back to read your missed posts this morning………..it was an amazing trip but I’m happy to be home again.

Hugs- Mary


I shall be waiting to hear all on your blog Mary… I am so intrigued by what you have to say… I have always wanted to go…


Helen..she’s so beautiful:)
I recently tried a BB version in l’Oreal and enjoy it..
I think with stars..lenses and TV definition have something to do with it.
I recently caught parts of the SAG awards and one actress at 50 still had the skin of a 30 yr old..I saw the same actress in a movie last night..and she looked 50.
We are so fooled by so many things..
Pity for we women..who think we must age with artifice..
However I did buy that cream:)Out shopping.. tired looking day:)


There are no miracles… and we MUST age gracefully… but a few tricks and a little minor help never does any harm…:)


I don’t use a primer under my foundation. I do use some Oil of Olay lotion though. It helps the foundation glide on easier, and keeps my skin hydrated all day. Helen always looks fab! -Al

Anne Touraine

Hi Vicki!
I am “late to the party” too…. Just started to use primer a few months ago. And like you, I am definitely converted to it. I just try to keep it to a minimum. Nothing is more terrible than a heavy foundation.
Love Helen Mirren. What an elegant Lady! Wonder if she uses / needs foundation…
Have a great weekend,
Anne Touraine (Playing with Scarves)


I am sure she uses primer…;)
Truthfully, whatever she is doing… it’s working… she is very elegant and well put together …

cindy hattersley

I have always been of the “less is more” camp but you have convinced me more than once! I suppose I will have to go out and try them! I think Laura Mercier is a genius and I always love a bargain!


Ahh what a topic. For my niece’s recent wedding, my daughter insisted that I should wear primer, mainly because of the HD camera flashes and how they reveal everything you didn’t know you had under your skin.
I have extremely sensitive skin, it erupts on the easiest challenge, rather like a petite chien who likes to cause trouble … so finding a primer will entail risking a blow-fish face complete with rash for a week or two.
Did I wear the primer to the wedding? Yes, and as soon as I got home I removed every trace of it and didn’t use it again. I was spared the rash. If I use it again I could be allergic !

La Contessa

You are ALWAYS one step ahead!I just read about ADELE and her makeup artist using LA MER primer under her foundation yesterday!I too shall try as you suggested the YSL serum which Iam LOVING and on my second bottle!

david terry

Oh, Contessa…..it’s 11:25 at night, and I’ve just read your comment after finishing about five hours of drudgey household to-do chores (bathe dogs, repair lamps, wax 220 year old window runners, re-align picture mattings,etc)…..all the completely practical and ultimately uninteresting tasks that I set myself to doing when (as is the case this weekend) Herve’s off on a business-trip, and I find myself alone in this big, old house for four days.

I’ll be in bed with the dogs in about ten minutes, but I have to tell you that I’m pretty sure that I wont be able to get your phrase “!!!!!!!MUST GET HUSBANDS ON MY BODY BUT THINK IT willnot be a good fit!” out of my head.

That comment is just sooo Zsa-Zsa Gabor/Liz Taylor-ish……

thanks for the unexpected chuckle (all courtesy of a single, possessive apostrophe’s absence),

“Must get husbands on my body”, indeed!!!

David Terry

Heather in Arles

I admit that also elicited a raised eyebrow from me as well! ;)

And ps. I think that I have already mentioned that I am a BB cream fan–primer, tinted moisturizer and other good stuff for the skin all in one little tube…


Thank you for this info! I have never heard of primer, and I too like to use minimal foundation. I only have used moisturizer under my foundation before this. But I definitely want to try the Laura Mercier, and maybe the Revlon one as well. Would you say they have the same effect? I like my foundation to look as natural as possible. But as I age, I have noticed I need a little more “help.” Love Helen Mirren–such a beauty! Great photos!


The Laura Mercier gives a more ‘dewy’ look… a little more glow… The Revlon is slightly more matte… but not at all drying… :)


I have used the Laura Mercier primer under her mineral makeup for years. What I love: the primer fills in little lines and wrinkles so that the powder goes on so smoothly. I only wear real makeup for evening or going out. Laura Mercier tinted moisturizer, mascara and lip balm (Channel has one in a little white pot with a black lid that is amazing) are my lazy go to choices for everyday. If I can realize one of my beauty resolutions for 2013 – to stay out of the sun – I think I will be able to get away with my lazy, or perhaps I should say efficient ways for a few more years.

lisa thomson

I’m not surprised you recommend Laura Mercier, Vicki. I hear this name all the time as the wonder drug for youthful skin. I don’t use any primer or foundation but I should really start. I’ve never really worn it and am at a loss as to color match etc. Is it true that French women wear very little if any makeup? I wrote a blog last spring on ‘inner beauty’ and in it I reference your blog for getting tips on French woman’s beauty. I respect your (the French) way of life and attitude. Thanks for the post. I love the comments too, for extra tips.


I use primer everyday. I used to use Laura Mercier and really like it. Now I use Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer. I think it is the fabulous. While it is expensive, you don’t need a lot and it is wonderful. I love how it makes my foundation look.

Peggy Braswell

I also had never hear of primer-just started using it last month because of daughters suggestion, I am a convert. Try it you will like it! As always thank you VA. xxpeggybraswelldesign.com


Long time follower, rare commenter here :) I love primers. For my eyes I use Estee Lauder’s Double Wear Stay-in-Place Primer (I think that’s what it’s called!) and it’s the BEST eye base I’ve used. Simply amazing. My eye makeup lasts forever and I don’t have to bring an eyeshadow pallete with me to do touch ups.

For my face I’ve been using Prime Time by Bare Minerals and it works pretty well. I can notice quite a difference. But, I always keep some rice paper or powder with me just in case! :)

I think primers really help to show off good products. There’s also no sense in buying good quality products if they’re going to fall off our faces :) I am going to take your recommendation and try out the Revlon primer. I am looking forward to it! :)


hi vicki.

i just started wearing it. i like smashbox. and i have dark circles and found an incredible thing: erase paste by benefit. have you tried benefit products? velvety and sublime. i use their hello flawless powder on top to set it.

i could talk makeup all day…



No, I haven’t tried Benefit… but it sounds as if I should…I like the sound of them… :)

Shell Sherree

Ok, you’ve convinced me to try again, Vicki! My mum bought me a mineral primer and it did feel amazingly soft on my skin, but I started wondering if it was overkill, and perhaps just a great idea by the cosmetics industry to have us buying even more products! {Also, I don’t like loading a lot of cosmetics onto my skin.} So I have the jar loitering in the fridge but will trot it out again and persevere. I might as well endeavour to get the best possible results!

Faux Fuchsia

Dear Vicki

Thanks for commenting on my blog- am a long time fan and addicted to your lovely books.

Can I just say how much I luff Helen Mirren? In a world of too thin, fake looking women she is a true original.

Plus she has superior hair and rocks leopard print like No One’s Business.

Meanwhile I’d never use primer but I never use moisturiser either. I know. Controversial.



I don’t know how you can’t use moisturiser… I would be a prune within moments… I’t the one thing I can’t live without… :)

Marsha @ Splenderosa

You will die, but I’ve used Max Factor Pancake Tan #1, which is applied with a wet sponge, for many many many years. It covers everything in a beautiful matte finish, it evens out skin tone, you don’t see blotches. Then I use only NARS products, eye shadows, blusher, etc. on my face. I spritz on a bit Carita toner for the finish. It’s dewy, it’s fresh, it’s easy and it looks completely natural. I know this won’t work for everyone, but for me it’s perfect. And, I love the individual false eyelashes applied…once I have those I could really go without any makeup at all…but I’m blond, blue-eyed and very very pale…so I need my eyes.


I do remember ‘pancake’ Marsha… but my memories are not as chic as what you are describing… :)

Teddee Grace

I tried the Revlon primer several months ago and felt as if I had Spackle on my face. Had purchased it at Walmart luckily so was able to return for a full refund.


That’s a shame Teddee… I didn’t get that impression at all… and was pleasantly surprised how smooth it felt… Maybe try the Laura Mercier.. it’s slightly less dry..:)


Hi Vicki, I cannot believe it, how spooky. Last week I bought the Laura Mercier Radiance primer, brillent for someone like me, now 50. I used to use it years ago and gave up, but what a wonderful edition to the basic beauty routine that I use. Primer, foundation, Bronzer, mascara and lipgloss/stick. You do “glow from within”.

Love your blog, Margaret


Clarins makes a primer that is FAB for older skin. It’s kind of like spackle for under makeup – it fills in lines, adds moisture, makes you makeup look great and stay on for a long time!

Now that I’ve begun using it, I can’t ever stop.


I have various allergies and my dermatologist has suggested Almay cosmetics for their “pure” ingredients. Unfortunately, the brand is not easy to find and has limited cosmetic options. I wouldn’t mind trying a primer but would want to make sure it doesn’t aggravate/irritate. Any suggestions?


No I don’t know about allergic reactions… I wouldn’t like to suggest anything other than your dermatologist’s recommendation.. :)


Almay makes some good products and are generally safe for most everyone. You would have to try it; but it is readily available in many drugstores like Walgreens, etc.


I started using primer recently {makeup artist daughter gave me a tub – and probably a hint that I needed it}. I use Smashbox and really like it. I find it keeps my foundation and powder in place for the day. Then touch ups are for things like fresh lips only.
I’ve always worn moisturizer day and night, Neutrogena dry touch sunscreen between moisturizer and primer, eye cream, foundation and light powder in the day {Smashbox mineral powder which is divine}.
I firmly believe that wearing moisturizer and foundation helped keep my skin more protected.

I encourage everyone to go back and look again at the images you posted of Helen Mirren. The most impressive thing is how she extended her beauty routine to include her neck and decolletage – and it shows. She is stunning.

The Enchanted Home

When I am going out for a special evening or event,I do go all out and use products I normally do not use. I discovered the magic of a primer a year or so ago and tried a small sample from Laura Mercier that was given to me and have to say it was wonderful, made my skin feel like silk!! I don’t wear this kind of makeup on a daily basis but when you want that perfect flawless finish this is a great product to help you get there!

Gigi Thibodeau

This is such a timely post for me! I JUST started wearing primer this week, mostly because my skin tone is increasingly uneven with age, and I don’t always feel like my foundation looks good. I feel less than glowing sometimes. I bought “That Gal” primer by Benefit (LOVE their cosmetics), and have been amazed. I’ve used it twice under my makeup, and both times people have commented on how good I looked! Yesterday I was at the flea market, and my favorite vendor, who is a gorgeous woman, said, “you look amazing today! So young and bright!” Okay, I’ll take it. I’m totally hooked. Have you used Benefit’s products? They have several that have become my all-time favorites. xo Gigi


yes! i wear primer, but not every day…usually the days when I know I have a special event or a date!! Currently, I am wearing Jeremiah Bowen’s velvet primer…and it is velvet!


I love primer! I wear Prime Time (Bare Escentuals), but will try the Make Up Forever. Thanks for the great post.

Amy Kortuem

I’ve just broken down and gotten a touche eclat, as you recommended several months ago…give me time to get used to that before you start recommending other wonderful makeup toys!


Vicki I always love your skincare and make-up post. I just ordered the L.M radiance primer. I was wondering why you chose the regular primer over the radiance? Just curious, I hope I don’t regret not getting the regular LM primer. Because of you I am also a user of the Eucerin products from France, love, love it and highly recommend it on my blog now….
I think there might be a couple of things on that post you might like to try!!
Keep these post coming love them all,

Zaneta Bartosova Tung

Doing Make up professionaly I do use primer but on myself I have been less in need since using Armani silk foundation… It seems flawless but I wonder about the chemical content of the primers… Is it good for us every day?? Do you know?
Thanks z


Helen Mirren looks absolutely gorgeous in these photos. I hope I look half as good as her one day! I have never tried primer, I’ve read a few magazine and beauty books mentioning it’s benefits, I really should try it! I am wondering though if your skin ‘breaths’ well with primer on? If it really is a good idea to wear it daily or perhaps just for important events?
As usual, you always write such insightful and fantastic beauty posts!



Apparently my skin throws off too much pink according to my long-suffering Beauty Therapist. She steered me towards a Dermalogica primer product in a tube that when squeezed, ooozes out stuff the colour of green pond slime. After I applied it for the first time I looked like the witch from the Wizard of Oz, sans the warty nose. A quick panic phone call to my poor BT resulted in a lecture about Less Is More. Once I realized that a microgram of the stuff was needed, not a teaspoon, all was well. The unattractive rosy glow has gone, yippee! BTW I’m still loving my By Terry foundation – perfecto for my skin & the find of the century in my books courtesy of FE.
Millie xx

Shelley Evans

I use Estee Lauder’s Illuminating Perfecting Primer – it’s a relatively new addition to their skin care range – love it and wouldn’t be without it!

Barbara Lilian

I’ve only recently started using a primer under my foundation, and I’m 72. After being treated to a makeover, the beautician used a primer ( no idea what name brand ) and my skin had a lovely dewy look. I too thought it was just another way to get us ladies to buy more products, but after using it I beg to differ !! My purse doesn’t stretch to the expensive brands so I was advised at my local Sophora store here in Limoges to try their own and I’m happy with how it looks & feels.
Maybe !! we are brainwashed into buying the expensive name brands that are popular at that particular time ??
Now that’s a good question to ask your followers.

I’m a recent follower & Loving your blog. Like most of the comments I too think Helen Mirren looks fantastic. However I’m sure she would have been professionally made up to like she is NOT wearing makeup.
Barbara Lilian


Wow! So many comments and that’s only primer! I was introduced to”Le Blanc de Chanel” sheer illuminating primer when treating myself to makeover . Experimenting I bought it and loved it. Even though I live in quite hot region of Australia, I think it helps makeup stay on and evens out skin surface.Have had many compliments on skin since….not many before.
I TRY to let each product settle on skin before applying next and be sparing with amount. I used to be “more” must be better but have tried to moderate. Heat is an issue. A Bobbi Brown assistant once recommended Oil of Olay lotion spf30 as daytime moisturiser (AU$16)and I and my girls have used it for years. For me (59) serum+moisturiser+primer+foundation=all good but keep it light. Think the layers of product have added protection in hot climate over the years. Also addicted to Chanel lipsticks !
On cheap vs expensive: think you have to have recommendation/try. Example:Maybelline mascara supposed to be worlds biggest seller but I haven’t had success. Ditto Revlon photoshoot foundation =facial rash! Also, what is BB cream pls? Great to read others tips .Thanks Vicki and HNY !


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