How to Apply Primer: 6 Celebrity Makeup Artist-Approved Tips


Here's the thing: You either like primer or you don't. It's rare thatВ someoneВ would teeter between both ends of the spectrum.В But if you don'tВ fallВ withinВ the primerВ positiveВ camp, perhaps the reason is that you haven'tВ looked into it extensively. For one, not all formulas are created equally, and, like foundation, slathering it on with your hands haphazardly won't do you any favors.

Think of makeup primer like paint primer: If you wantВ smooth, even walls, taking care to create a flush, streak-inhibiting base is paramount. The same applies to makeup primer:В Thoughtfully sourcingВ and applying a product can exponentially elevate your foundation's appearance.В Take it from celebrity makeup artistВ Katelin Gan: "While people often think of primer as a step that is optional, that shouldn't be the case. Skin prep is the most important part of any makeup application, and primer is like the finishing touch to your skincare routine before applying your makeup. It makes a huge difference in how your makeup looks and how long it lasts."

To get the 411 on how to apply primer like aВ pro, we enlisted the help of Gan and more celebrity makeup artists for their favorite formulas and how to apply them. Learn moreВ below!

Use Your Fingers

"I am a firm believer that when it comes to skin prep, our hands are the best tools," says Gan. "Using your fingers to massage in your primer allows you to get an even application while also giving the skin a pick-me-up." She continues, "Apply all of the products within your skincare routine first. Then apply an even layer of primer using your fingers to massage it into the skin."

Laura Mercier Foundation Primer $38Shop

"My favorite primer is Laura Mercier moisturizing primer," says Gan. "It has a lightweight formula that smoothes and hydrates the skin while creating the perfect base to apply foundation.

"Another thing I love about Laura Mercier primer is that they have one for every skin type. Whether you want something that is moisturizing or oil-free, they've got you covered. Or try theВ Radiance primer to give your skin that perfect glow."

Try Two Layers

"Oftentimes, I even double up," says Gan. "After applying all of your skincare and finishing with your hydrating primer all over, apply another primer that smoothes fine lines and pores while combating shine to areas where you need it most Ed. note: Gan likes LancomeВ La Base Pro Pore Eraser to smooth fine lines. Using your fingertips, smooth this primer on in circular motions in areas like the forehead, chin, and nose."

Tap the T-Zone

Urban Decay Optical Illusion Complexion Primer $34Shop

Celebrity makeup artistВ Daniel Martin swears by this method for a pore-free appearance: "After moisturizer, I applyВ Urban DecayВ Optical Illusion Complexion Primer on the T-zone byВ tapping into place with my ring finger. This motion blurs the look of pores in that area."

Don't Ignore Your Lids

Glossier Priming Moisturizer $22 $25Shop

Your cheeks, forehead, nose, and chin aren't the only places that need primer. Says Tina Turnbow, "I firstВ apply a bit of Colbert MD face oilВ then apply Glossier Priming MoisturizerВ all over the face and tops of eyelids."

Try a Brush

Dior Diorskin Forever & Ever Wear Makeup Primer SPF 20 $45Shop

If you're going forВ more of a glam look, a brush will help. "For red carpet in which I need lasting longevity, I'll use theВ Diorskin Forever & Ever Wear Makeup PrimerВ all over the face buffed with a buffing foundation brush. Do this after moisturizer, and let this sit for about a minute or two before your foundation. This trick will grab and lock down the foundation on top like a magnet and keep for hours of wear.

Glamsquad VP of makeup, Kelli J. Bartlett, takes it a step further. "To set your makeup application up for success, start with a balancing skinВ primerВ (I loveВ Makeup Forever's Step One Skin EqualizingВ Primer). Using an Artis Oval 4 brush, smooth the primer over the forehead, nose, cheeks, and chin. Follow with aВ Beautyblender and your foundation to enhance skins' overall evenness."В

Dry Skin Girls: Don't Write Primer Off

Honest Beauty Everything Primer Luminous Base $27Shop

We get primer may seem like an inherently drying agent, sort of like spackle on the face, but like the Glossier primer, there are many other formulas that hydrate. Says Martin, "For drier skin that needs radiance, I'll use theВ Honest Beauty Luminizing PrimerВ all over the face after moisturizer, massaged into the skin with your hands."