Why make time to prime? There's got to be good reason - Napoleon Perdis built an empire on makeup primers, sells seven types and is planning an eighth - but I've always thought them a waste of time. With serum, moisturiser and sunscreen surely my face can't take another layer? And doesn't my new beauty crush, BB cream, negate the need for surface preparation?
Seems not. I've been converted. Not by the cosmetic companies which are relentless with their primer promotions now that it's party season, nor by Napoleon, who oozes persuasive charm whenever our paths or emails cross. Mum's got me priming. With the less prestigious sample of them all. ''It makes your skin like a mirror - your foundation just glides on,'' says Mum. She just loves Covergirl&Olay Simply Ageless Serum Primer - $24.95, released two years ago.
Smoothing the complexion is one of the primary roles of primers, according to Leslie Graham, of Jane Iredale Australia. ''They help the makeup glide on more easily for seamless blending, leaving the skin perfectly smooth for that flawless finish we are all after,'' she says. "They help makeup last longer by providing a barrier between the skin and the makeup. They not only minimise the size of your pores but they actually act as a pore refiner and provide the appearance of softer lines on the face. The result is a more refined look to the skin.''
Things are never simple. Not even primers. Where once there was basically one - Napoleon Perdis Autopilot, which is still going strong - now there is one for every skin type and ambition. Jane Iredale offers two: Smooth Affair for dry skin and Absence for oily skin (both $72). In May Estee Lauder also launched two: Illuminating Perfecting and Matte Perfecting (both $48) which do as their names suggest. Two very different functions. I am now known to use both at the same time. Good one-stop primers are Time Balm Primer ($34.95) and Dermalogica Skinperfect Primer SPF30, ($79) which is so perfecting it can be worn alone. Sisley doesn't call it a primer but it is. Instant Perfect ($80) holds makeup, particularly in the oilier T-zone areas, and can be used for seamless touch-ups.
But Napoleon remains the emperor of primers. He's got them for everything: to fill in pores, to bronze, to soothe and to better take eye makeup. At $33 retail for his NP Set line primers, they're not just for Christmas. Or do you think primers are a seasonal rip-off? Are they worth using? What lies beneath your foundation if not a primer? How do you prep the skin? Is a flawlessly made-up face possible without one?