Primers have always been a bit of an enigma to me. I often read how great they are, how they keep your makeup in place for 8 hours, how they make your skin glow, look younger, more even… (you can fill in the blanks here) only to try one and be bitterly disappointed.

Given the global financial crisis, I was doing my bit to save some money and thought that if I bought a primer (that cost even more than the usual bottle of foundation), I will use less foundation, need to touch up less and therefore will be saving time and money in the long run.

My experience has been that each time I use a primer, I wonder why I bother. Not only is it expensive, it adds extra time because of the extra layer I need to put on but rarely does it ever do what it says. My makeup still needs touching up after a few hours, still looks the same without the primer and in some cases they have even changed the colour of my foundation making it darker. Some primers have made my skin look shinier (not glowing but oily), some made me break out and some made no difference. After each one, I swore that I would never bother again….. until I read another blog or magazine article raving on about the next new one. Then I go through the whole emotional journey of buying any product again: Excitement, hope, anticipation, disappointment then guilt. That is until I discovered one that is exactly what a primer should be. It made my skin glow just the right amount, my makeup smooth to apply, my foundation lasted over 8 hours and it also was a sunscreen! Finally, I get why people swear by it. Below is a review of all the ones I have tried in the past few years.

1. Chantecaille Anti-glycation Primer – This one was given to me by a girlfriend who swore by this. She said it made her foundation last longer and felt good smoothing it on the skin. This literally glided onto the skin and felt like silk. It sat on top of the skin and made my foundation slip right off. It also made me look shinier - like I had oilier skin. Perhaps good for very dry skin but not for normal skin persons like myself.

2. Tom Ford Luminous Skin Primer – This one was a cream as opposed to being a gel like most others. Did not make any difference to my skin. Did not make foundation last longer, did not make my skin more luminous. Was a lot more expensive than the rest. Made me feel good because I was wearing “Tom Ford”. Over all it was very disappointing given the price and it was from Mr Ford. Consider it a very expensive sunscreen.

3, 4, 5, 6. Nars Primer, Laura Mercier, Smashbox, Vincent Longo - A thin gel that is supposed to make foundation last longer. Nothing else. No increase glowiness, less wrinkle…etc. Perhaps they did make my foundation last a little longer, but not so much to make me think it was worth that extra space on my already cluttered dressing table. It would have been better to buy an extra bottle of the Nars sheer glow foundation – it’s my holly grail of all foundations.

7. HourGlass Mineral Primer – I was using this as a mineral sunscreen (as all my primers were now used for anything but a primer) and I was consistently getting compliments on my skin. At first I thought it really was my skin but at the end of the day after I washed my face, I realised it wasn’t my skin…it was my makeup! It was exactly the same as when I first applied it in the morning. There were many times when I would go to touch up my makeup after work before going out to realise that I did not need touching up. This primer is AMAZING!! It really does make the skin look even, more luminous and make up last all day.

8. Giorgio Armani Primer – After using the hourglass, I thought given that his luminous silk foundation did exactly that, make the skin luminous, his luminous primer must be just the same. Whilst it came in a pearly cream just like the hourglass, it made my skin look oily and my foundation one shade darker. Nope best to stick with the hourglass for me!