Prime Time!

At a recent television shoot I was asked the question, “Is using a primer before applying foundation really necessary?” After I closed my mouth and shook the shocked expression off my face, I thought about the hundreds, maybe even thousands of women and men who don’t know the value of a really good primer.

After all, primer hasn’t been around very long and it occurred to me that some people might think it is just another makeup “gimmick.” In my first post, I wrote extensively about foundations, but I realized that I did not mention primers (which really are the “foundation” of foundation).

Let’s start with the basics – why do we need it?

Primer performs a different function than a moisturizer (even though it may feel the same on your skin). A moisturizer is used to protect your skin from the environment, used as treatment or to repair skin damage. Primer’s main function is to make your foundation go on smoother and last longer during the day. It also acts as a barrier to prevent your foundation, concealer and powder (and all that retouching during the day) from settling into any fine lines or wrinkles. Let’s face it – foundation, concealer and other makeup products can cause skin irritation, a good primer may help prevent breakouts or other skin-related problems.

There are many options out on the market today, but here are a few of my favorite primers that I use on set and that I keep in my personal makeup bag.

MAC's Prep & Prime - $23.00 - a fluid lotion with silicones. Calms and soothes skin, controls oil and evens out redness. This primer looks like a cream (white color) and blends into the skin well leaving no residue. Out of all the primers I have tested MAC’s is the least expensive and best “bang” for your buck!

Tricia Sawyer Beauty's Skin Balancing Water Primer - $34.00 – oil-free, infused with aloe leaf to soothe and cool the skin, sodium hyaluronate to help reduce the appearance of fine lines and silicone to help maintain your skin’s natural moisture levels. Non-greasy feeling. I use this primer on men after grooming (beard shaving/head shaving) to calm any type of post-shaving rash and it is what I carry in my personal makeup bag.

Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer - $36.00 – a blend of vitamins and antioxidants to smooth and perfect skin prior to foundation application. Also contains collagen to fill in fine lines and pores. I use the “original” and colorless formula. There is also an oil control formula that I keep in my professional makeup kit for my clients that tend to have very oily skin. This product is also available in a variety of correction colors (but those tend to be complicated and need a professional’s application advice).

Primer tends to be more on the expensive side because it is one of those dual-purpose products, i.e., it is used as part of the skin regime and makeup regime. In my professional opinion everyone should use a primer after skin care and before foundation/concealer application to ensure a flawless face!

Time for a little Q & A:

Everyone wants to know what the pros know......let's get some of your most important makeup questions answered right here and right now!

Dawnn S. wants to know:
Any good suggestions on a primer for my oily skin and can you give me the "skinny" on eyelid primers?

Pro suggests:
Hi Dawnn! Check out the Smashbox Photo Finish Primer - Oil Control formula. I have found it has really helped control oil and minimize the need for tons of touch up during the day. Check out the section "Tricks of the Trade" on this blog, I have posted something there especially for you! As far as eyelid primers go....Urban Decay makes the best and I use it all the time. I do feel that it helps control oil around the eyes and on the lids, plus it helps to "hold" the eye shadow on the lid longer with no creasing!

Melissa F. wants to know:
Sometimes I feel that in the hour commute to work my eyeliner has already faded and my foundation already needs a touch up. Any great products you can suggest to help solve my problem?

Pro suggests:
Hi Melissa! Sounds to me like you should try one of the primers I have listed above and also check out that "Trick of the Trade." Using Urban Decay's lid primer may help solve your problem with fading liner or you could try to use a great gel liner (it has more staying power). Bobbi Brown makes my favorite gel liner in some fantastic colors!

One more thought before I go.....You can also do what a lot of professional makeup artists do to "seal" makeup and help it stay put through many hours on a film or television set. Spray your finished makeup with a product called Setting Spray by Graftobian and you don't have to be a pro to get it for your makeup bag. Just contact Camera Ready Cosmetics and put in an order. Graftobian's spray is one of the best out there and it may feel strange to spray something "wet" on your face after you have completed your makeup, but I promise it will dry matte and help to keep you from feeling like you need to touch up all the time!

Laying the Foundation!

For my very first post I thought I would jump right in and tackle the product everyone asks about.....Foundation!

We have all pondered the question, "Which foundation is right for me?" Whether we are standing at a department store counter, in the drug store aisles or online searching beauty websites, foundations are a mystery and can be costly if you purchase the product and then discover it was not right for you! I am always asked the question, "Which foundations do I use personally or carry in my professional kit?" So, here are the answers and reviews.

CREME FOUNDATION: Tricia Sawyer Beauty makes the best creme foundation I have used - the formula blends smoothly and won't settle into any fine lines or wrinkles. Invented by celebrity makeup artist, Tricia Sawyer, this foundation consists of two colors (a warm and cool tone) which can be blended together to achieve your exact skin tone match. It also has buildable coverage, which means you can use as much or as little as you need to achieve your desired look. I highly recommend purchasing Tricia Sawyer Beauty's Foundation Brush as well to insure the best application however, if you tend to have very oily skin using a cosmetic sponge to apply this product may work better. I use this product both personally and professionally. This foundation can be purchased in a number of places including:, online at or from QVC.

LIQUID FOUNDATION: Makeup Forever's Face and Body Liquid Makeup is an incredible product. It is light, fresh and leaves a slight sheen of powder on the skin for a very natural effect. Founder Dany Sanz is a total perfectionist and only creates products that work. I keep this product handy for use on all of my clients who prefer a liquid foundation over a creme. You can purchase Makeup Forever at any local Sephora.

I also love L'Oreal's True Match Foundation. If you mainly shop drugstore brands then this is the foundation you should try. It comes in a rainbow of colors with warm, neutral, cool & depth undertones depending on your skin color. Goes on smoothly with a sheer coverage. Doesn't leave your skin feeling dry or oily. Carried at all the major drug stores such as CVS, Longs, Rite Aid and Walgreens and also available at Target, Walmart and some grocery stores.

POWDER FOUNDATION: Nars Cosmetics makes one of the best powder foundations available to consumers. I keep the entire powder foundation line in my kit because I found that it performs well for film and television with incredible coverage and because men prefer this type of foundation over a heavy creme or liquid application. I also use it for contouring and for blush because of it's amazing pigmentation. Sold at Nars online, Sephora and other high-end retailers.

I also love MAC Cosmetics Studio Fix Powder Plus Foundation and use it on several of my younger clients. Provides great coverage and comes in a variety of shades. Sold at MAC Stores, MAC online or Nordstrom.

TINTED MOISTURIZERS: I love Laura Mercier's Tinted Moisturizer (Oil Free)! It is a wonderful oil free, lightweight, buildable foundation that works with all skin types, especially those with sensitive, oily or acne prone skin. It controls dryness, prevents excessive oil buildup and provides sun protection with a built-in SPF 20. Great for teens! I use this product personally and professionally. Sold at Sephora and Nordstrom.

MINERAL FOUNDATION: There are several products available to you if you prefer a more natural approach to your foundation. Bare Escentuals is the most popular of all the mineral brands and it does a great job in providing the skin with pure ingredients, free of preservatives, talc, oil, fragrance and other skin irritants. It also has a built-in SPF-15 and is a very fine, loose powder. I have used Bare Escentuals personally and enjoyed the feeling and coverage, but on a professional basis I can not use mineral product because of coverage needs when shooting film, television or print, as well as I have found that mineral makeup tends to have a reflective nature when used with flash photography.

ETHNIC FOUNDATION: If you are a person who has darker skin and have a hard time finding a foundation that matches your skin tone, here are a few cosmetic companies that might have a product to meet your needs:

MAC Cosmetics - has many foundations in creme, powder and liquid form that should have a match for you.

Black Radiance is a drug store brand catering to African American women. This foundation comes in a creme foundation form (in a stick-type formula). It is lightweight and has an SPF 15. You can purchase Black Radiance at CVS, Walgreens and other retailers.

Thevi Cosmetics is an online retailer representing consumers of the Asian, South Asian, Hispanic, Middle Eastern, African and Mediterranean descent. They make an incredible liquid powder foundation with an SPF 15. This product is enriched with Vitamins E and C for anti-oxidant protection and Vitamin A for skin conditioning. You can purchase this product at

I carry the MAC Cosmetic brand in my professional kit and use it on all types of ethnicity's. I have found that in my line of work when I need a heavier type of coverage that this cosmetic line works the best however, I do know several women who swear by MAC for everyday use.

A few more foundation lines that I enjoy and use professionally:

Dior, Cle de peau, Era Cosmetics, Prescriptives, Chanel, Visiora, Bobbi Brown (these are all in my professional kit).

As with all foundation, concealer or powder, please make sure your skin is properly prepped with a good skin care regime and primer prior to applying coverage cosmetics.

TIP OF THE DAY: Creams on top of creams - powder on top of powder! In other words - if you are using a creme or liquid foundation make sure to set it with a translucent powder prior to applying any type of powder blush or shadow! If you are using a creme blush - use right after foundation or concealer and then powder to set!

Please remember that this blog is based on my professional opinion and all product reviews are based on product performance I have witnessed either from using the product personally or on my clients professionally. I hope I was able to provide you with concrete advice and help regarding foundation products and please let me know if you have tried another type of product I have not listed here. I am always on the look out for the next "best" foundation!