Usually, the skin care-conscious community (including myself) focuses on the concept that something labeled as a “primer” is not strictly necessary; any good moisturizer or serum can double as a foundation primer, depending on an individual’s skin type. So I thought it’d be interesting to investigate the flip-side of this: what primers would I recommend to be used as regular moisturizers?
Unfortunately, I was only able to come up with two options. But they are good options!
This primer’s texture is a bit of a hybrid between the two Smashbox Photo Finish Primers (Original and Light): it’s slippery, but not overly velvety or dry-feeling. It does a decent job of temporarily filling in large pores and minor wrinkles, while providing a rather fleeting mattifying effect.
However, the strength of this product is in its inclusion of several well-documented beneficial ingredients such as the green tea, skullcap, and mulberry antioxidants. Besides the silicone-based occlusive agents, sucrose acts as the primary water-binding agent. Overall, this is a good serum for normal to oily skin types. Plus, you can always use this as a primer too, of course!
Water, Dimethicone, Cyclopentasiloxane, Polysilicone-11, Silica Dimethicone Silylate, Sucrose, Isopentyldiol, Hypnea Muciforms (Algae) Extract, Poria Cocos Sclerotium Extract, Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Leaf Extract, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Fruit Extract, Scutellaria Baicelensis Root Extract, Laminaria Saccharina Extract, Morus Bombycis (Mulberry) Root Extract, Algae Extract, Caffeine, Amorphophallus Konjac Root Powder, PEG-10 Dimethicone, Polysorbate 20, Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/VP Copolymer, HDI/Trimethylol Hexyllactone Crosspolymer, PEG/PPG-18/18 Dimethicone, Saccharide Isomerate, Laureth-7, Sodium Hyaluronate, Stearyl Dimethicone, Butylene Glycol, Polyethylene, Isododecane, Acrylates/Ethyl hexyl Acrylate Copolymer, Laureth-21, Caprylyl Glycol, Tocopherol Acetate, Magnesium Myristate, Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Triethoxycaprylylsilane, Hexylene Glycol, Phenoxyethanol May Contain: Titanium Dioxide, Mica, Bismuth Oxychloride, Iron Oxides
While the ingredients of this product would at-a-glance be more appropriate for dry to normal skin types, in reality its lightweight gel-spackle texture is more suitable for oilier skin types. In fact, as I’ve personally tried both, this product provides a more sustained mattifying effect than the Estee Lauder primer. Note that neither of these two products can quite rival the “primers” mentioned in the Milk of Magnesia post, in terms of oil control. Finally, due to this product’s spackle-like texture, it is quite excellent for filling in any “dents” or “valleys” on the skin.
Now, the beneficial ingredients included aren’t bad at all. It contains the traditional vitamins C and E (in ester forms), as well as two peptides that make up the Matrixyl 3000 complex. In addition, this contains a surprisingly high amount of the Litchi fruit extract. While there are zero studies documenting the efficacy of this ingredient, preliminary studies do show that the skin of this fruit contains significant amounts of several polyphenols that do have some limited evidence supporting efficacy in terms of topical application. These polyphenols include the antioxidant quercetin, which has been shown to help curb both UVA- and UVB-induced lipid peroxidation of the skin; albeit not equally.
Water, Litchi Chinensis Pericarp Extract, Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Glycerin, Polyacrylamide, Algae Extract, Thermus Thermophillus Ferment, Tocopheryl Acetate, Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate, Sodium Hyaluronate, Palmitoyl Oligopeptide, Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-7, Butylene Glycol, Polysorbate 20, Pullulan, Silica Dimethyl Silylate, Laureth-7, C13-14 Isoparaffin, Carbomer, Triethanolamine, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate, Hexylene Glycol, Caprylyl Glycol, Phenoxyethanol
Primers as Moisturizers: Conclusion
As you can see, a multi-faceted perception is a useful characteristic to adequately gauge skin care products. As it turns out, these two primers are better than a lot of products out there marketed as “moisturizers” or “serums.” If you’re looking for a new primer or moisturizer for normal to oily skin types, give these two a test drive. If you end up liking it/them, know that it/they will protect and improve your skin more so than your average primer!
I hope this was a fun read and please share what your favorite primers are and why! And feel free to join in the super long discussion about which products you go through the fastest/slowest!
John Su describes himself as eccentric—you might find him having a conversation with himself. He’s a stickler for accuracy, so you might find him correcting one thing or another! His goal is to answer questions and provide unbiased, meaningful, and insightful information when it comes to skin care. His underlying motivations stem from a need to inform people who have doubts, questions, or even prayers for solutions to their problems. He has his own skin care blog, The Triple Helixian.View all John Su posts.
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