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Why a primer is the secret to a flawless complexion

Lucy Hutchings,
Digital Editor, Edition

There's a primer to suit every skin type or issue, plus ones that not only provide that all-important make-up base but even improve its appearance. So which one is right for you?

model with natural makeup

The clue is in the name: primers quite simply prime the skin to create the perfect canvas for make-up, boosting its longevity. But there's often much, much more to these multifunctioning beauty products: a good primer is one of the most hard-working stages in your daily routine, simultaneously tackling myriad complexion concerns. Here are some of the best from our favourite brands. 

The pore minimiser and the multi-tasker

A long-standing Benefit bestseller, The POREfessional is a must for those seeking to minimise the appearance of pores. Suitable for all skin types, its silky, lightweight formula glides on and instantly smooths to create a flawless base. 

Chanel Le Blanc De Chanel Multi-Use Illuminating Base evens out skin tone while mattifying, reducing the appearance of pores and subtly illuminating. This multi-use product can be used as a classic primer, mixed with foundation for an extra hit of radiance or used as a concealer. 

The complexion booster and the corrector

Charlotte Tilbury has combined the benefits of primer with highlighter to create Hollywood Flawless Filter. Described by the brand as mimicking ‘your favourite digital filter’, it smooths skin, diminishes lines and pores and adds a hit of luminous glow. 

Clarins SOS Primer is available in six formulations, each of which tackles a different skincare concern. Choose Green to reduce redness, Lavender to brighten sallow skin, Coral to minimise dark spots or Peach to blur imperfections. All prep the skin for foundation, boost hydration and protect your complexion from the effects of pollution. 

The mattifier and the perfector

NARS Pore & Shine Control Primer is a lightweight formula that will prolong the life of your make-up while diminishing the look of pores and controlling shine all day long. Long term, its blend of African whitewood, oleanolic acid and peptides works to balance your skin.

Yves Saint Laurent Touche Éclat Blur Primer smooths, brightens and evens out skin tone, and uses the light-reflecting technology of Touche Éclat to illuminate the face. Available in blue, orange or pink shades – each formulated to transform dullness or sallowness – you’ll be amazed by how quickly this silky formula sinks into skin, leaving a radiant finish. 

The protector and the mist

Bobbi Brown Primer Plus Protection SPF 50 offers the benefits of a primer with broad-spectrum UVA and UVB protection. Lightweight and easy to apply, it helps balance moisture while creating a base for foundation.

A cult beauty classic, MAC Prep + Prime Fix+ can be spritzed onto skin before and after make-up. The lightweight mist soothes your complexion before you add products, boosting hydration, while the final spray sets make-up and adds a subtle glow. Reach for it throughout the day for a refreshing hit of moisture.