Weekly Q&A: What Are Makeup Bases and Primers?


This week, we will look at a question from Kei about makeup bases and primers.

“Hi Phyllis! I want to ask about primers/makeup bases. How important is it to use one and do you have any recommendations? Do most makeup bases have SPF? And what different kinds are there? I have seen makeup bases in pink, green, white etc. How do you know which one is right for you?”

Answer:- Makeup bases/primers are not necessary for every day but they are great if you want your foundation to go on smoother, last longer or for color correction.

There are many different kinds of makeup bases/primers on the market nowadays so to figure out the right one for you, you need to look at your skin type and concerns.

For oily skin, go with one that mattifies. MAC Prep and Prime Skin Refined Zone is great for zapping oil on the t-zone.

Those with dry/mature skin should use a hydrating primer to fill in wrinkles, fine lines and plump up the skin for a smoother base for foundation. Laura Mercier Foundation Primer and RMK Make Up Base are my top picks.

If you need color correction, Make Up For Ever’s newest HD Microperfecting Primers come in a nice selection of shades.

* Blue – Adds translucency to the skin and can make it appear lighter.
* Green – Tones down redness, most suitable for acne-prone skin or those with rosacea.
* Purple – Counteracts sallow skin.
* Peach – This is used mostly under the eyes to camouflage bluish undereye circles.
* Pink – Adds warmth onto your skin, best for those with a really pale complexion.
* White – Lightens a foundation that is too dark. Can be used for highlighting.
* Bronze – Darkens a foundation that is too light. Can also create a healthy tan on the skin and be used for contouring.
If you are going to be spending a lot of time in the sun, look for a primer with high SPF value like MAC Prep + Prime Face Protect SPF50. The product is specially formulated with oil-absorbing powder to help prevent oil breakthrough and the high SPF value means you will stay protected for a longer period of time.

Phyllis Li is the Founder and Editor-in-chief of Makeup For Life, one of the top 50 beauty blogs that focuses on celebrity makeup breakdowns, product reviews, makeup tutorials and all things beauty. Having lived and traveled in North America, Europe and Asia, she was exposed to different techniques and products at an early age and hopes to put a global perspective towards beauty. Phyllis won the Best Content Award by Total Beauty in 2008 and has been featured in various publications and websites including ELLE, Glamour.com, Yahoo Shine!, AOL Stylelist, Nylon Korea, VOGUE China, Ming Pao Daily (Canada) and Shanghai Weekly. In 2010, she was appointed one of the nine Real Women Ambassadors in the United States to take part in the Latisse® Wishes Challenge, working with Hollywood celebrity Kathy Ireland and raised over $400,000 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation to grant wishes for approximately 54 children. In 2012, she teamed up with luxury skincare brand TATCHA and released a limited-edition 3-Piece Set of her favorite beauty products. Phyllis currently lives in Chicago, US. She is a regular contributor to Shanghai Daily's StyleHai Magazine and a member of the Glam Beauty Network.


  1. Thank you for answering my question! I didn’t know it would be answered so quickly. :) This post was very helpful.

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