Does primer make your makeup look worse? Here’s why!

Why is primer peeling your makeup?

Many makeup artists and beauty editors have praised the benefits of a primer, but many women are still unsure if they should use it.
If you’ve ever tried a primer that seemed to make your foundation look bad, then you know how frustrating this problem can be!

We often use primers to create a smoother surface for foundation, apply makeup more evenly, and make our skin look amazing. But not all primers are created equal! Some primers make your makeup look worse for many reasons. You’re either using too much or you just don’t need a primer. It could also be a foundation-primer mismatch. If your moisturizer and primer don’t mix well, your makeup won’t sit perfectly on top and it will end up looking worse! 

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Do you really need a primer before foundation?

A makeup primer is a great way to prepare your skin before applying foundation. It evens out the texture of the skin and it gives you a smoother canvas for your makeup.

Primers are used by many professional makeup artists to even out the skin before applying foundation. They also use primers for red carpet photo shoots and special occasions, but sometimes you might not want this on a day-to-day basis.

If your makeup sits well on your face without any issue, you probably don’t need a primer. You can finally stop feeling bad that you never used it and find out just how easy your life could be without it!

If you don’t have big pores, texture, dry patches, redness, or an oily t-zone, using a primer may not be necessary for you. It might increase the longevity of your look but it’s not going to make or break the look.

Here are some tips and tricks to prevent your makeup from looking bad with primer:

If your makeup never stays on even with primer, follow these easy steps to get a flawless look all day.

Match Your Primer And Foundation

It’s all about using the right primer with the right foundation. Finding a primer that’s a good match for your foundation is an essential step.

Using two different bases can cause your foundation to look patchy and crumble.

Avoid using a water-based primer with a silicone-based foundation. Layering these two products on top of each other on your face might not give you the best long-wearing look.

On the other side, using a silicone-based primer with a water-based foundation is not recommended. Silicone repels water and this might cause the foundation to look bad throughout the day. 

primer makes makeup look worse

For example, if you have dry skin and you want to use a hydrating primer, avoid using a silicone-based foundation on top. 

Or if you have big pores and you want to use a pore-refining silicone-based primer, avoid using a very liquidy water-based foundation.

Not every primer works with every foundation so always test your products and check how they perform together. Getting a sample and testing it at home before buying expensive products can be a nice solution.

The same rule applies to your moisturizer and primer as they might not mix well too. Avoid applying a rich oil-based or water-based moisturizer under a silicone-based primer.   

Choose The Right Primer For You

There are a ton of primers available in the market so make sure you choose one for your specific skin needs.

If you have dry skin, use a moisturizing primer that can help hydrate and smooth the skin. This face primer and moisturizer with hyaluronic acid visibly plumps and moisturizes the skin to smooth the look of fine lines.

You can also use a face oil instead of primer. Lightweight face oils can give the skin a dewy look and they help the makeup to glide on smoothly.

For oily skin, try a mattifying primer that delivers all-day shine control while improving and extending the wear of makeup. Look for primers with oil-absorbing ingredients such as this oil-free primer that helps in fighting shine all day while creating a smooth base for the foundation. 

If you have big pores, use a silicone-based pore filling primer that allows for smoother foundation application.

People with combination skin might need to apply a mattifying primer on their oily areas such as t-zone, chin, forehead, and a hydrating primer on their dry areas.

Apply The Primer Correctly

Try patting the primer with your fingers instead of rubbing it in. This will help you achieve a smoother application and more even coverage.

Makeup primers are designed to smooth out textured skin so that foundation can glide on easily over them. You might think that rubbing the product into the skin would be the best way to do this but patting it onto your face gives better results.

rimmel stay matte primer

Applying your primer with fingers can help the product melt into the skin. The heat from your fingertips can warm up the product with allows for a better application.

Tip: Apply primer ONLY on the areas of the face that NEED priming. If you have big pores on certain areas, use a pore-refining primer only on those areas. You may not need a primer all over your face if the foundation sits well without it. One of the disadvantages of using primer is that you’re just adding another layer of product that you might not need.

Avoid rubbing the product especially on the nose area. Foundations might not stick to the nose and they can also settle into the pores which can make your makeup look so bad.

Primers have a different texture than face creams or serums; so try to apply them with a light hand.

 Whether you’re trying to achieve a matte or radiant finish, your makeup is sure to last longer with this quick application step!

Less is More!

Too many layers of primer will make your makeup look worse. Applying too much product can have an opposite effect and give the skin a cakey look instead.

Gently spread the primer around your face or your problematic areas and don’t put too much, just a tiny bit can do the job. It usually takes a pea-sized drop of primer to cover your entire face.

You can layer face primers to target different skin issues but make sure to use a tiny amount.

Related: should you apply primer before or after sunscreen?

Let The Primer Dry Before Foundation

Have you ever had a product break apart on your skin and then it just clings to all of your wrinkles? It’s not fun. To avoid this situation, don’t apply foundation after applying other products like creams or primers right away.
Let the primer dry before putting on foundation. Wait about two to three minutes for the primer to soak into the skin before adding in another layer of makeup.

Some primers or creams have a rich texture and they might need some time to set on the skin. Applying foundation quickly can cause the makeup to peel or separate.

The best way to keep your makeup looking natural is by following a good skincare routine. Wearing makeup can make you feel confident but good and healthy skin needs minimal makeup.

Apply A Light Layer Of Powder

A trick I learned from Wayne Goss is to apply a little bit of a translucent loose powder on top of your primer before applying your foundation.

If you’ve already tried all the tips and tricks mentioned above and nothing worked for you, you can try this tip and see if it works.
You can watch Wayne Goss explaining this tip down below:

This layer of powder will lock in the primer underneath. It will create a barrier between the natural oils of your skin and your foundation. With a powder underneath, you might need to apply less foundation and your makeup can last all day long.

This trick can also help your pores look smaller and your skin look more polished.

If you have oily skin, you might also need to apply a tiny amount of powder on top of your foundation to control the shine throughout the day.

Finish With A Setting Spray

If you want your makeup to last all day but you don’t have the time for touchups, use a setting spray. All you need is one spritz before heading out in public and your makeup will stay looking fresh.

Setting sprays can help your makeup stay on all day, keeping it from smudging or fading away. It also makes your skin look healthier by creating a dewy effect.

Most setting sprays contain alcohol which can dry the skin so I like to use setting sprays on special occasions only.

 I like the Urban Decay All Nighter Setting Spray . It doesn’t feel sticky and it keeps my makeup from looking cakey or flaking off throughout the day!

urban decay all nighter setting spray

If you’re looking for a great setting spray that won’t break your wallet or make you look like an oil slick then I highly recommend trying out the L’Oréal setting spray. It’s inexpensive and it has a fine mist that works so well to distribute the product evenly into the skin.

Mix It With Your Foundation

If primer is still making your foundation look bad, you can try to mix your liquid foundation with a primer and blend them before applying them onto your face.
Just mix a tiny amount of primer with one or two pumps of foundation depending on how much coverage you need. This can result in making your foundation a shade lighter, so be sure to test it on your skin first.

Tip: To set the makeup and blur the pores, you can apply a tiny amount of primer after foundation.

Disadvantages Of Using A Primer

Makeup primer helps smooth out skin texture so that foundation won’t crease into fine lines or wrinkles. It helps to keep the skin looking fresher longer throughout the day too.

However, primers might not be perfect for all skin types. Using a primer can have many disadvantages, and some people find primers to be heavy on their skin.

So what are the main disadvantages of using a makeup primer?

It adds another layer of makeup to the skin

A good foundation is essential for achieving flawless skin, but it can’t work if you don’t have the right primer underneath. You probably already know that foundation and primer are not created equal, and finding the right combination of these products can be tricky.

A Primer adds another layer of makeup that, in some cases, might not perform well with the foundation, and this can cause the makeup to separate and peel throughout the day.

On the other hand, if you prefer a natural look, you might not enjoy adding another layer of makeup.

It requires an extra step

If you’re too busy in the morning, you might not have enough time to use a primer.

It takes an additional minute to apply primer, and you have to let it sit for a few minutes before applying the foundation on top.

For those who like to do their makeup in five minutes or less, using a primer in the morning may be annoying.

It might clog the pores

If you have sensitive skin and use makeup primer too often, it can clog your pores which leads to a breakout.

Many people wonder if silicone-based primers can clog the pores. According to Healthline, silicone isn’t pore-clogging, but it can act as a barrier that traps other comedogenic substances which might cause acne.

I know that it’s tempting to skip this step when you’re tired but doing so will only lead to more skin irritation.

Using a good cleanser every night to take off your primer and foundation will keep your face clean of dirt and oil buildup, which are two things that make acne worse.

These are the main reasons why someone might not need a makeup primer. If your makeup applies beautifully to your skin, then don’t worry about skipping the primer.

Final Thoughts

A good primer can make all the difference in making your base look smooth and even.
If you have texture, large pores, skin discoloration, dry skin, or extremely oily skin, using a smoothing primer can help prepare your skin for the makeup application.

Not everyone needs a primer, so if your foundation lasts well on your skin without it, then honestly leave it.
If primer is making your makeup look worse, there’s a lot of solutions that you may want to try before completely giving up on it.

Use a primer and a foundation with the same base ingredients, choose the best primer for your skin type, and apply the primer correctly by dabbing it into the skin.

Related Articles

How to prevent makeup from separating?

The best silicone based foundations for oily skin

Best foundations for dry skin over 40

Best foundations for large pores and dry skin

Is primer making your foundation cakey or patchy?

Claire is a beauty enthusiast and lover of all things makeup. Her blog is a resource for makeup tips and tricks, product reviews and beauty tutorials.

2 thoughts on “Does primer make your makeup look worse? Here’s why!”

  1. Not worse, it depends on you how you apply it to your skin. Firstly we should care about our skincare, perfect moisturized skin and primer in a correct way before foundation. Then we can wear makeup perfectly. Thanks for sharing this content.

    • yes! primer can make foundation look patchy or cakey if it’s not applied correctly. having a good skincare routine is the key.


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