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

June 8, 2009

Kei: “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?”

Makeup bases and primers are not necessary for everyday 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 and primers on the market nowadays so to figure out the right one for you, you need to look at your skin type and concern.

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 or 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 HD Microperfecting Primers (pictured above) 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.


  • Reply Valley Girl June 8, 2009 at 4:59 pm

    Awesome post! I’ll def. give these a shot. What do you think about Smashbox’s Photo Finish?

  • Reply Kei June 9, 2009 at 4:00 am

    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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