Q&A with Singapore makeup artist Larry Yeo: How to choose a good makeup primer?

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You should choose makeup primers according to what your makeup requirement is, and just like colour foundation, we should not be overlaying too much products on our skin. That affects the maximum capabilities of the primer,and also prevent all bases (which include sunscreen, primer, foundation and powder) from adhering properly to your skin.

We need to apply primer on facial areas that have specific primer needs. So, first what you need to do is to access your skin. 

Q&A Personal Skin Accessment
Which part of your face is oily?
2) Where are the enlarged pores? (if any; and big pores does not equal to oilier skin)
3) Which areas of your face has more lines?
4) Does your skin tone look visually uneven?
5) Where do you sweat more?

Oily Skin Areas
An oil control primer is only for areas where it always gets greasy. It is rare for anyone ‘to get greasy skin all over the entire face. If we apply oil control product across the whole face, there might be difficulty in spreading makeup on the rest of the face or worse, you could make your whole face look dry. Try the MAC Prep+Prime Skin Refined Zone, which is to be used on the oilier parts of the face after your sunscreen. It keeps skin looking fresh for hours.

Add Radiance to Skin
If you want to make your complexion look more radiant, you need to know that not all radiance primers are create equal – some should only be applied on specific areas. 

Coloured radiance primers in pink/blue/lilac should be applied where you want to bring light to the face (like under the eye area, T-zone, on the brow bones and around the temple areas). However, while colours in blue and lilac are popular in Asia, most people cannot control the application, making their whole face look washed out and grey (but they always claim it looks “brighter”.) Make Up For Ever Step 1 in Radiant Primer –  #6 Cool pink, #8 – Yellow, #9 – Peach, and #10 caramel are of such colours that give natural radiance to your skin without making your complexion look grey. Simply pick the colour that is slightly lighter than your skin tone!


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Radiance glow primers that gives a sheen should be only applied on the higher planes of your face – unless you have one which produces subtle skin like sheen. Get that beautiful skin tint of sheen with Burberry Fresh glow in 01, this photographs well without looking overly edited.

Those with oilier skin types who want a fresh look minus the greasy glow can try Moonshot Multi Protection UV Bouncer SPF 50+/PA+++ which is lightweight, light fresh finish and have low levels of menthol to create that fresh feel on skin (the menthol stays only for awhile which gives a sensorial feel of freshness.)

[WARNING: “Putting both colour radiance and glow primer together might give you a glow stronger than a BBQ suckling pig.”]


For More Hydration
Hydrating primers are excellent for those who want a sheen of glow on their skin and who constantly have dry patches on their face (like sides of the nose orunder the eyes). it works well for those who have drier skin types who lack of that natural-looking glow. You can get a softly lit glow across the whole face with Cosme Decorte AQ Meliority Makeup Essence in #01

Most of the time the colourless/sheer-tinted primers are best in skin-smoothing. Remember to apply solely on the areas where pores look more obvious. One of my favourites and under-the-radar product, available in Singapore, is Stila Stay All Day 10-In-1 HD Beauty Balm. It smoothes skin texture out and resist sweat while giving skin-smoothing properties, so your skin looks flawless.

If you are looking for a multipurpose primers can make dull, tired skin look more awake, and can still give you amazing makeup-holding power, check out the Shiseido Maquillage Peach Change Base CC. I love to use this to create “awakened”, radiant skin by putting it over the T-zone for skin smoothing properties and under the eyes to soften under-eye dark circles – this works brilliantly as an under-eye primer for concealers, too.