Why primer should be the last step in your skin care routine (even if you're not wearing makeup)

We've been thinking about this product all wrong...

April 28 2022

Hands up if you only reach for a primer when you need your makeup to last longer? Yep, ours are in the air right there with you.

For the longest time, the necessity of a primer has been hotly debated. And the winning argument was always that it would help our foundation to go on smoother and stay put. In particular, primer has gained a reputation for being a mattifying, pore-blurring must-have for oily skin and T-zones.

But speaking with Youthforia founder Fiona Co Chan, our perspective has shifted. Chan tells us that in Asia many people wear primer every day in order to benefit their skin, even if they're not wearing makeup.

Of course, not all primers are made the same so the news does come with stipulations. But it does beg the question: should primer be a part of our skin care routine?

The downside of long-lasting makeup

As far as beauty sins go, sleeping in makeup is always up there. But Chan’s been flipping the script since launching Youthforia, creating makeup products that can be slept in without any detriment to the skin.

“I have this whole philosophy around how to care for your skin if you’re going to wear makeup for an extended period of time,” she tells us. And in her own research for formulating a foundation, she found that a lot of them don’t wash off the skin very easily.

“I'm always testing swatches that are not my skin tone and sometimes it will take weeks to wash off,” she says. “[And the] ingredients that make that makeup stay or last longer, a lot of the time they can be irritating or drying.”

And because she doesn’t expect everyone in the world to use only Youthforia products, creating a primer was the next best thing. “It gives makeup something else to bind to, it’s almost like an extra insurance for the skin.”

“You need a barrier between your skin and your makeup so that any ingredients within it aren’t harming your skin,” she explains. “It’s also dual-factor because if you want your makeup to last longer, you basically don’t want your skin’s sebum to actually touch the makeup.”

“It’s like, you need to protect your makeup from your skin but you also need to protect your skin from your makeup.”

So why wear primer if you’re not wearing makeup?

Before starting Youthforia, Chan was attending a makeup school in Asia. “Over there they really hammer down on ‘you need to wear a primer every day no matter what you do’ and part of it is to help keep your skin healthy, but also because of the insane amount of pollution over there.”

It’s something Chan noticed in her own skin, saying that if she forgot to wear primer or something to protect her skin, she would constantly break out.

And while the level of pollution is different in Australia, it does present the argument that primer has a purpose even on makeup-free days. Some are even full of antioxidants, which can provide another layer of protection to top off your skin care routine (after SPF of course).

However, it’s important to note that the primer Chan is talking about is silicone-free.

“Silicone is interesting because it's really great at filling in your pores,” she says. “And it’s great on camera for like 10 minutes but it’s not that great at making your makeup last.”  Yep, our minds were blown too.

“What we use instead [of silicone] is something called plant-based elastomers, [which are] like stretchy molecules that create a flexible layer so your makeup can bind to it.”

And, you guessed it, these elastomers are kind to your skin.

Convinced? Here are 3 silicone-free primers to try…

#1/ Grown Alchemist Prebiotic-Peptide, Anti-Pollution Primer, $49 at Adore Beauty

#2/ Youthforia Pregame Primer, approx $53 AUD at youthforia.co

#3/ Holme Beauty Base Primer, $65 at holmebeauty.com

Main image credit: @jamiechung

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