Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Still Learning: Primers for Over 50 Faces

Last weekend, while cleaning out my makeup bin, I came across Tarte primer. It was part of a makeup “starter” kit I’d purchased several years ago. After turning 50, I decided it was time to get serious about makeup. (Before 50, my makeup regimen consisted of the very occasionally applied lipstick, blush and mascara.) The Tarte primer was the only product left from the starter kit. It was the only product in the kit that seemed more trouble than it was worth. Recently, I read an article about the many wonderful things primer has to offer the over 50 face. Is that true? I decided it was time to learn more. Am I the last over 50 woman on the planet who doesn't know about primer? (I wouldn’t be surprised!) If not, click “Read More” below for the scoop on primer and which ones are recommended for over 50 women. And if you're already a primer user, let me know which product works best for you.

Originally, primer was a product to help makeup go on smoother and last longer. However, primers have evolved and reportedly correct all sorts of skin concerns. Specifically, primers are said to…
  • Fill in fine lines and enlarged pores
  • Conceal uneven skin color 
  • Brighten and illuminate skin 
  • Camouflage age spots and darkness around the eyes 
  • Smooth uneven skin texture 
  • Firm skin 
  • Help makeup last longer and work better 

What's more, the primer category has grown to include products for eyelids and lashes, lips, hair and nails (maybe even elbows—who knows?). I suspect a small book could be written on all these different primers. So for this post, I’m going to focus on face and eye primers.

When I read the long list of potential primer benefits above, I wondered: Could one product really do all that? As it turns out, the answer appears to be "no." While the best ones may help makeup go on more evenly and stay in place longer, only certain products offer illuminizing or age spot camouflage.  For example, Smashbox offers 11 face primers, all targeted to specific concerns! With so many face primers, how does the over 50 woman choose one? The first step, is to evaluate your skin type and tone.

Skin Types
Primers are made for three basic skin types: oily, dry or a combination. For acne-prone, oily skin, expert recommend a lightweight, silicone-based makeup primer. The best ones don’t contain irritating ingredients and feel like a smooth gel. Often, the label says “oil-free.”

For dry and/or aging skin, primers tend to be heavier. They contain waxes, lotions or emollients for hydration and suppleness. Some primers offer SPF and conceal dark spots.

Skin Tones
Primers may be clear or come in a color. The different colors tackle specific skin issues. For example, green-colored primers fight redness from rosacea or acne. Light purple neutralizes sallow undertones. And pink primers tend to work to brighten the complexion.

When I googled “best anti-aging primers” and “best primers for mature skin,” I found lots of professional recommendations and user feedback. That said, the Smashbox line of Photo Finish Primers was the most frequently listed. Just so you know: I have no association with Smashbox—I’m just reporting what I found. As I mentioned earlier, there are 11 Smashbox Primer products, including 9 for the skin ($34-$49) and 2 for the eyes ($20-$29). Here are a few notes I made about them...

The original Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer is colorless and has all the benefits of makeup primers except for skin color correction. Apparently, this product is designed for women with good skin color and clarity, but want to correct skin texture and reduce lines and wrinkles.

My over 50 complexion tends to feel pretty dull and dry, especially in winter, so I read up on the possibility of perking up my skin color with one of the Smashbox Photo Finish Color Correct Foundation Primers. This series of primers comes in three basic colors…
  • BALANCE is lavender-toned to brighten dull or sallow skin. Quench the skin with hydration.
  • ADJUST is green-toned to neutralize and reduce redness.
  • BLEND is apricot (peach)-toned to even out skin tone and counteract discoloration and dark spots. 
But wait! Smashbox also has Photo Finish Primer SPF 15 with Dermaxyl, a product created for women with mature skin.

And if you're a gal who likes lots of choices, there is also a Smashbox primer that  Luminizing, another one that's Light, one for Hydrating, and a primer that tackles Targeted Problems and Line.

After reading all this, my head was spinning! If yours is too, you might want to check out the Smashbox Primer Guide.

There is also this Youtube video:

 Still confused? I was, so I recently went to Sephora to try some of the different Smashbox primers. While the prices are usually better at Amazon, I like to try products, see how they feel and look at Sephora. This is especially important when I'm thinking about spending roughly $40 on a product. What I discovered was that Sephora has sample sizes of Smashbox primers for $15 at the checkout area.  

But enough about Smashbox! Here's a list of other frequently-recommended Age-Defying Primers ... 
  • Stila Hydrating Primer SPF 15 ($43) 
  • Revlon Age Defying Instant Firming Face Primer ($14) 
  • Amazing Cosmetics Amazing Anti-Aging Face Primer ($34) 
  • Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Primer Skin Transformer 
  • Tarte Recreate Silicone-Free Anti-Aging Primer 
  • Roc Brilliance Anti-Aging Face Primer CoverGirl & 
  • Olay Simply Ageless Serum Primer ReCreate Silicone-Free Primer with Wrinkle Rewind Technology 
Once you've bought the right primer for your needs… 
  • Apply the primer after your moisturizer. 
  • Allow 5 minutes for the moisturizer to settle into the skin before applying the primer.  
  • Use a pea-size amount of primer. 
  • Apply gently to the skin, paying attention to the under eye area. 
  • Spread the primer over face or focus on problem areas, such as noticeable pores and redness around the nose. 
  • Remember: A little primer goes a long way. 

Most sources refer to face primer as a base for foundation. However, primer is intended to give softer, smoother, more even skin tone—with or without foundation.

Some makeup artists believe that eye primer is much more important than face primer because the area around the eyes has so many creases and lines. Like face primers, eye primers are used to reduce the appearance of lines (ie, crows’ feet), smooth the skin (ie, crepy eyelids) camouflage dark circles and hold makeup (ie, shadow) in place longer.

Best Eyes Primers…
  • Lancome Aquatique Waterproof Eyecolour Base ($24.50)
  • Clinque Touch Base for Eyes ($14.50)
  • Smashbox Photo Finish Lid Primer ($20)
  • Urban Decay Eeyshadow Primer Potion ($19)
  • Mary Kay Eye Primer ($12)
  • Too Faced Shadow Insurance ($18)
  • Trish McEvoy Eye Base Essentials
  • Elizabeth Arden Eye-Fix Primer

For more about the primer industry, take a peek at Primer on Primer in the New York Times.