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Beauty Products & Reviews

Beauty review: primer products – eyes, lips, face, and Ultimate Ozone

I love makeup – so why am I nonplussed by the entire “primers” category?

Is it just me, or is the word “primer” a bit off-putting when it comes to cosmetics?  The concept is clear – just like with wall paint, makeup primers prepare the surface and make stuff stick.  With walls, I love that concept, but for makeup, it somehow doesn’t connect with me.

I’m a believer in eyeshadow primer, for sure.  It’s quick and easy to apply, and there are some great brands out there that really deliver.  (Later this month I have some info coming about how to get the most out of baked eyeshadows, including a short list of my favorite eye primers. Stay tuned.)  However, an all-over face primer doesn’t appeal – a whole extra layer that underlies foundation seems like a wasted step.  If you’re taking good care of your skin, and wearing a good moisturizer/sunscreen, then in my book the foundation itself is the base. It’s the primer that evens out your skin tone and sets the stage for your color product to look really good.  To me, foundation itself is a primer.  Do I now need a primer for my primer?  #nothappening

They make lip primers and mascara primers too.  Lip primers are supposed to hold your product in place and make it last through eating, drinking coffee, talking, and I believe some even claim to be kiss-proof.  And mascara primers claim to make your mascara wear longer, as well as lengthen, thicken, volumize (is that really a word?), condition, and protect.  Isn’t that what my mascara’s for?

Here’s the thing.  All my negative mojo about primers… I take it all (well, some of it) back.  I don’t want to like ‘em, but gradually I’m finding that I really, really do.

It was several years ago when I caved in on my eyeshadow primer aversion, and now I consider that an essential part of my makeup routine.  And recently, at the recommendation of a friend who’s equally passionate about cosmetics, I caved in and bought a mascara primer – Urban Decay’s Subversion.  Have you tried it?  Here’s the scoop.  My friend recommended it for two reasons: 1) it gives “va va va voom” to your lashes, 2) it makes any mascara last, even through a workout.  And, after 3 or 4 days of wear (both weekend and workday), I think I agree!  The primer is white and applied with a mascara brush.  Curl first, then apply it to top and bottom lashes.  It’s great at grabbing those tiny, fine lashes near the tear duct and giving them a bit more presence so your mascara can really grab on – and it does the same with the fine tips of the longer lashes.

When I bought the Subversion at Ulta, the salesperson who sold it to me was a representative from Urban Decay, and we chatted about the general concept of makeup primers. She recommended I try one of their less known products called Ultimate Ozone ($16), which she described as a real workhorse for eyeliner and lip products. And like my girlfriend, she was right!

Ultimate Ozone is a thick pencil-style product that’s clear when applied.  I googled a bit to read other users’ reviews, and someone had aptly described it as the “double-stick tape” of the cosmetics market.  So far I’ve tried it with both eyeliner and lipstick.  The eyeliner stuck like glue – it truly wouldn’t budge from the lower lash line where I wanted it to stay.  And as a base for lipstick, I can honestly say it’s the only time (ever!) that my lip product has stayed fresh-looking and opaque from its early morning application until after lunch – no bleeding, nice crisp lines at the edges of my lips, with the same level of shine as when I put it on, and no rubbing off in the middle of my lips.  Amazing!

So I hate to say that I might love primer.  Mascara primer, lip primer, eyeliner primer, shadow primer – love ‘em.  Love ‘em all.  (But not foundation primer… or, at least not yet.)

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