Primer can make or break a makeup look—and it all comes down to the ingredients
All products featured on Vogue are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
Applying primer the right way is a bit like making salad dressing. Oil and vinegar mix when you shake them together but over time they begin to separate. The same is true if you layer a water-based foundation over an oil-based primer and vice versa. At best you get a cakey, patchy result; at worst it cancels out the skin-smoothing, makeup-locking benefits of a primer and your foundation pills.
“Your primer should always match your skin type and foundation,” says makeup artist Marina Andersson. She is one of only a few Scandinavian makeup artists we spoke to who lean on primer to prolong the longevity of a look both on the red carpet and in real life. Many others said they preferred to use face oil as a base, which works for dry skin types but can pose issues for oily, blemish-prone skin.
In the same way that you would never use a rich, oil-based moisturiser on oily skin, the mantra equally applies to your choice of primer and foundation. A good rule of thumb is: if you have oily skin and use water-based primers, stick with a water-based foundation; if you have dry skin and prefer more hydrating oil-based primers, choose a complementary oil-based foundation.