My Top 5 Primers: Keeping My Face on Through Autumnal Drizzle and Anxiety Clamminess

My job is wonderful and it is hardly Dickensian having to look at couture for 12 hours a day, but it requires me looking pretty presentable even when I just want to lie down outside Cartier and hope someone will pick me up and carry me home.
Publish date:
November 16, 2012
makeup, beauty, anxiety, primers

It’s press day season at the moment, which means that I seem to be spending every waking moment travelling across London looking at S/S13 collections so that I can see them in real life rather than online or on runway.

This is making me a bit of an anxious wreck (read: clammy) – I am not a big fan of travelling around London all day, and it keeps raining and I am trying to look professional.

My job is wonderful, it is leagues away from actually miserable jobs I have done, and it is hardly Dickensian having to look at couture for 12 hours a day, but it requires me looking pretty presentable even when I just want to lie down outside Cartier and hope someone will pick me up and carry me home.

Basically, I need something to cement my makeup onto my face. Primers are incredibly tricky to get right. The first time I used a one, it had been recommended to me by an advertorial sneakily disguised as beauty advice and it sort of peeled off as I applied foundation over the top. I promise that none of these do that, and I have genuinely tried-and-tested these through London drizzle and Tube humidity.

The ideal primer allows your skin to breathe whilst helping control the facial oiliness throughout the day which could slick off your makeup. In my ideal world, it also refines pores and smooths skin for silky foundation application.

I am going to start with the Bobbi Brown Vitamin Enriched Face Base, which feels more like a day moisturizer than a primer, but I really love.

It smells like candy and you only need a tiny bit – because it is quite thick, it is easy to spread a thin layer all over your skin. It leaves you faintly glowy and healthy looking without being greasy in the slightest (which I put down to the Shea butter) and with vitamins A, C and E, it actually protects and penetrates your skin rather than just masking any problem areas (although it helps do that too).

I use this when my skin is feeling a bit dead and lackluster, and it does something lovely, and helps my foundation from just sliding off onto my neck, or wherever it goes when it disappears by around 2pm. It feels like it is enhancing what is already there, which I appreciate, because I think that having your skin visible through your makeup is the best way of looking natural and fresh faced as well as made up.

This isn't as heavy-duty as some of the other primers that I use. I love Dr Jart+ Recover Primer, which I love because it is pore-refining and my visible pores are a constant source of heightened anxiety in my life. It is fairly embarrassing how much I think about my pores, I could probably scoop all that time together and use it to write a novel on, say, pore-refining primers.

It is mattifying and helps control sebum throughout the day which is my central desire in a primer but it’s also good for when you have breakouts because it has sage extract which calms irritated skin and rosemary and witch hazel which act as natural disenfectants.

It is in a little pump tube so it is easy to apply and you don’t risk contaminating it with your dirty fingers (gross), and completely transparent. It does the trick; it is talc-free so it doesn’t dry out your skin but it makes makeup application easy, smooth and most important, it makes it stay.

Finally for a super heavy-duty primer application, I pick Arbonne’s Makeup Primer. This is heavily reviewed as a godsend and is my first venture into Arbonne products but, as a no-fuss, no-gimmicks-added primer, it works - it really keeps your makeup on.

Make sure that you apply it to completely dry skin and wait for it to set, and then just schlap the rest of your face on top of it, or delicately apply, or whatever. It even keeps cream blusher in place, which is a real accomplishment. Velvety and oil-preventative, it is pretty much what it says on the tin, and that’s all I want from an every-day makeup sealant.

My final two primers are for your eyes. First, for my under-eye circles, I am obsessed with Benefit’s Stay Don’t Stray, which both lightens my under-eye circles (it is beige, rather than transparent, so exclusively for Caucasian skin) and keeps my concealer in place whilst offering a smooth base to apply it to.

I find that keeping under-eye concealer put is the hardest part of my makeup application, particularly in Autumn when it’s windy and my eyes water and I’m all squinty in the half-sunlight. This is perfect for that, and you only need a tiny bit (which is a bit of a challenge, as the pump often dispenses far more than I need) to lighten up your circles and keep under-eye makeup in place. I often dismiss Benefit products as the packaging can seem a little gimmicky but so far, so good, I should stop being such a judgy bitch.

Finally, for eyeshadows. Oily eyelids keep coming up in the comments section, and, I suggest Urban Decay’s Eyeshadow Primer Potion. It stops your eyeshadow from creasing, which I dread, and keeps it in place and mattified.

For daytime I find it's best to pop this on and then using a matt flesh-coloured shadow (my favourite is Bobbi Brown in Bone), a combo which then prevents the oil slick under my eyebrows.You need a tiny, tiny amount and when you do use coloured shadows, it keeps the pigmentation strong throughout the day. It also helps keep eyeliner in place, which is a pretty impressive feat.

Et voila! My tips for keeping your makeup in place, even when you are clammy and anxious and tired and damp from the drizzle. Do you have any other recommendations to keep you looking impeccable? Am I the most boring woman alive for writing over a thousand words on translucent, unscented products?

I am talking about the consistency of my makeup throughout the day, and other fascinating topics on Twitter @oliviasinger.