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To a makeup sceptic, the primer market may seem like the epitome of the emperor’s new clothes. Makeup to go under your makeup, you say? Out loud, even I can admit it sounds a little ridiculous.

But hear me out, ok? There are priming products out there that totally make a visible difference. Some extend makeup wear, some make everything else work a little better, some can have great benefit outside of their prescribed uses, and some can even work alone, as actual makeup. Here is a roundup of the best.

For a facial primer, I tend to be of the belief that hydration is the best medicine. Glossier’s Priming Moisturiser is an ideal candidate for this. It’s lightweight and sinks in quickly, leaving skin smoother, more plump and slightly tacky. Too Faced’s Hangover Primer is similar but even thinner, and with a slightly glowier finish. I find both ideal for a natural finish under a lightweight base.

If textural issues are more your area of concern, the most non-horrible-feeling pore filling primer I’ve found is the Kiehl’s Micro Blur Skin Perfector. It gives skin a smooth, laminated effect without feeling overly silicone-y or slippy. I also don’t find it to clog pores in the way silicone heavy primers can tend to.

To add glow, I have two options for you: Laura Geller Spackle Champagne and the Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector Liquid. The former has more genuinely priming qualities (see: smoothing texture and extending wear of makeup) while the latter just makes your skin look like you’ve just had a facial, twenty hours of sleep and five litres of water.

And for the lazy bones’ amongst you, I point you in the direction of Tarte’s BB Tinted Treatment Primer. While it does have the familiar smooth texture of a primer, it also offers light coverage, and can totally be worn alone day-to-day. Bonus: SPF 30.

Onto eyes. Shadow wise, there are two which stand out for me above all others. First is MAC Pro Longwear Paint Pot. Not only do these extend the wear time and minimise the creasing of shadows, but they make colours stand out much brighter. Worn alone, they can cancel out eyelid discolouration, too. And they come in a variety of skin tone and colourful shades. My choice for a regular old primer, though is the LORAC Behind The Scenes Eyeshadow Primer. It literally primes eyelids: no more, no less. But it does a great job doing it.

Lash wise, my ultimate favourite is the Benefit They’re Real Tinted Lash Primer – mostly because of its tinted aspect. I like to apply his on “no makeup” days. It fools people into thinking you have naturally better lashes – longer, darker and more defined. It works under mascara too, to give a volumising boost.

For true drama, though, go for either Lancôme Cils Booster XL if you’re feeling bougie, or Wet ‘N’ Wild Photo Focus Lash Primer if you’re balling on a budget. They’re both white, fibrous pastes which cling to every lash and make any mascara work harder. Psst – bushy brow lovers, these also work fantastically for adding bulk in a certain other hairy area around your eyes.

Another brow hero is the Benefit Browvo Conditioning Brow Primer. This basically combs out brow hairs to make them occupy maximum space. Use it before a tinted brow gel to genuinely double the apparent bushiness. Plus, it supposedly helps nourish brow hairs to encourage their natural appearance, too.

Finally: lips. Of all the “lip primers” I’ve tried, my favourite is actually not technically a lip primer at all. But the Glamglow Plumprageous Matte Lip Treatment is by far my favourite thing to put on under lipstick. For one, it actually plumps, which is great for those wanting fillers but fearing large cash payments. And because it plumps, it fills out all the lines in your lips, giving a smooth, crease-free surface. Finally, the matte finish gives lipsticks something to cling onto, making them apply smoother and last longer. What more could you ask for?

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Images: Too Faced

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