Testing Primers ~ Best & Worst for Mature, Combo Skin

Some primers say they smooth skin, hide pores & wrinkles, mattify, and increase your foundation’s longevity. . . but do they really? I put six primers to the test, and here are the results!

First the parameters, because you can’t run an effective experiment unless you compare apples to apples. I applied each primer to my clean, moisturized face in the morning by patting it on so they filled the pores better. Then I put  IT Cosmetics CC+ Cream on top followed by bronzer and blush, but I didn’t use any setting powder. I wore each one all day and took pictures after 10-12 hours of wear to see how they performed.

Benefit POREfessional ~ $30 ~ .75 oz.Benefit PoreFessional

The Claims: Oil-free, light weight, translucent, silky. Minimizes the appearance of pores and fine lines. Can use alone or under or over makeup.

My 1st Impressions: This is a mostly silicone formulation, so it has that silky smooth, dry feel. It has no scent and is lightweight. It slides on easily, diminishing pores and mattifying well, but wrinkles looked the same. Makeup applies smoothly and blends easily.

Over Time: My chin started feeling dry and itchy after 3 hours. By 6 hours the skin on my chin was flaking and peeling, and my forehead was getting shiny. At 8 hours I couldn’t wait to take it off. My pores were visible and my face was shiny, and most of the CC cream was worn off. I was shocked that this one performed the worst of the six products I tested. It’s one that I’ve used for years, and has a cult-like following.

Benefit Full Face


Tarte Clean Slate Poreless 12 Hr. Perfecting Primer ~ $30 ~ 1 oz.Tarte

The Claims: Waterproof, 12-hour primer, brightens skin for healthy glowing complexion. Hydrating, one application gives the appearance of healthy, youthful complexion.

My 1st Impressions: A vegan formula containing no parabens or silicones. This has a super smooth gel feel that seems to sit on the surface of the skin. It stayed damp feeling and seemed to mix more with the CC cream creating an uneven application. Pore coverage just ok. This has a dewey finish so it’s not mattifying.

Over Time: Very comfortable to wear at 4 hours. By 8 hours the makeup seemed to be sliding around, the skin on my chin felt and looked dry and cracked. The overall look was still dewey but my forehead was shiny.

Tarte Full Face


Rimmel Fix & Perfect Pro 002 ~ $8 ~ 1 oz.Rimmel Fix & Perfect

The Claims: Smooths, Resurfaces, Brightens, Mattifies, Protects, Prolongs Foundation Wear.

My 1st Impressions: Water and silicone base that feels like a lotion. Fragrance fee, feels light, absorbs quickly, spreads easily, not very mattifying. Smoothed pores on forehead better than on cheeks. Smooth makeup application.

Over Time: Felt slightly drying and itchy after 4 hours. At 6-7 hours, chin was flaky and makeup was patchy. By 10-12 hours makeup was mostly worn off on the lower half of my face. This performed about the same as Benefit POREfessional, but cost $22 less.

Rimmel Full Face


Korres Anti-Aging Primer ~ $33 ~ 1.01 oz.Korres

The Claims: Wrinkle smoothing, skin perfecting, silicone free. Helps to prolong makeup wear, helps smooth appearance of fine lines & wrinkles.

My 1st Impressions: Feels like a light cream or lotion, it soaks in quickly and feels dry to the touch, but didn’t cover as much as the other brands so I used twice as much to do my whole face. Has an earthy fragrance. Pore filling and wrinkle smoothing were minimal as was the mattifying. The CC cream spread fairly evenly, but was splotchy in some places.

Over Time: This was comfortable to wear all day and didn’t cause any drying or itching. Makeup stayed on 12 hours and still looked good. It had a dewey finish that showed through the makeup, but it didn’t get any shinier throughout the day.

Korres Full Face


Lorac “I’m So Sensitive” Primer ~ $32 ~ 1.7 oz.Lorac Im So Sensitive Primer

The Claims: Oil, silicone, paraben, fragrance free with antioxidant, vitamins and aloe. Soothing and smoothing, ultra light, super-hydrating, promotes long lasting makeup wear.

My 1st Impressions: This has a non-greasy, light gel/cream feel that absorbs rather than coats. Pores were slightly diminished. Provides a smooth surface and mattifies well. The CC Cream spread and blended easily.

Over Time: Makeup looked smooth and skin felt moisturized after the first 4 hours. At 8 hours the CC cream was still wearing well, but there was slight flaking and shininess on my forehead. By 10-12 hours the makeup still looked good! This product would be a good choice for those with sensitive skin.

Lorac Full Face


Smashbox Photofinish Foundation Primer Light ~ $36 ~ 1 oz.Smashbox

The Claims: Perfect for oily, acne-prone or sensitive skin. Oil-free, 60% water based. Refreshes on contact while oil absorbers provide a smooth matte finish all day. Increases longevity of foundation with a velvety smooth finish.

My 1st Impressions: Feels like a light lotion with some silicone silkiness. Good mattifying, good pore and wrinkle smoothing. Goes on dry to the touch and did make my face feel like velvet! The finish was really smooth and the CC cream spread very evenly and effortlessly.

Over Time: The Winner!! Very comfortable to wear with no itching or flakiness. Makeup looked smooth at 6 hours was still smooth at 12 hours. It was slightly worn off on my lower face, but my forehead and cheeks looked good with no shininess.

Smashbox Full Face



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