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Primers, Foundations and Concealers - OH MY!

So many choices out there when it comes to primers, foundations and concealers… how do you know what to use? Now that makeup and skin care have merged it can be even more confusing! A consumer can buy makeup anywhere from drugstores to even at Disney World (yes that’s right Mac is now opening stores there)! I’m going to make this very simple for you… What you need to know before you buy that primer, foundation and concealer are how to read the ingredients and decipher what that means for your skin type.


There are 3 different types of bases found in foundations/primers/concealers that relate to how the product will wear on your skin, they are: Silicon, Water and Oil (aka wax). I don’t want to go ‘all technical’ on you, so I will keep it short and sweet. Your primer base needs to match your foundation and concealer base – if you are using silicone foundation use it with a silicone based primer and concealer or vice versa.

Ingredients are listed in order of predominance, with the ingredients used in the greatest amount first, followed in descending order by those in smaller amounts. Note: Look at the first 10 ingredients listed to know if it is a silicon, water or oil based product.

How do you tell that your using a silicon, water or oil based foundation/primer/concealer?

SILICON BASED PRODUCTS: -Cone/-methicone, and -siloxane words near the top of the list tend to signal a silicone-based product. Water will be at the top of the list for any liquid product because water makes it fluid but does not mean it’s a water based product. Example of Silicon Based Foundation is below, see the bolded words. The unique fluid properties of silicone give it a great deal of slip, and in its various forms it can feel very soft on the skin like silk. Silicon will sit on top of the skin and not be absorbed; hence, the slip.

ESTEE LAUDER Double Wear Stay-in-Place Makeup (according to Ulta website):

Water\Aqua\Eau, Cyclopentasiloxane, Trimethylsiloxysilicate, PEG/PPG-18/18 Dimethicone, Butylene Glycol, Tribehenin, Polyglyceryl-3 Diisostearate, Magnesium Sulfate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Polymethylsilsesquioxane, Methicone, Laureth-7, Xanthan Gum, Alumina, Sodium Dehydroacetate, Disteardimonium Hectorite, Cellulose Gum, Propylene Carbonate, Pentaerythrityl Tetra-Di-T-Butyl Hydroxyhydrocinnamate, Phenoxyethanol. May Contain: Iron Oxides (CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499), Mica, Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891).

WATER BASED PRODUCTS: Here is an example of a water based primer you will see that the first couple ingredients are not silicon or oil based. Creates the sheerest canvas for makeup application. It is great for restoring moisture to the skin. Water will be absorbed by the skin; hence, the added moisture. Water based foundation is used in a lot of airbrushing looks and it looks like beautiful matte makeup.

What you need to know about water based foundation is that any type of moisture will cause it to run and streak - it cannot be buffed out. Think of a muddy window… If I threw a bucket of water on it you would see the streaks (this is like water based foundation) it can’t be fixed. Now think of that same window if I threw a bucket of silicon on it – I can go back in and mix it around and it can be buffed out. Water based foundations are not good for bride’s or tears. Silicon is the safest bet in bridal application because any tears or beads of sweat that occur can be buffed out and you won’t see the streak left behind.

SMASHBOX Photo Finish Primer Water (according to Ulta website):

Water / Aqua / Eau, Butylene Glycol, Caffeine, Magnesium Chloride, Calcium Chloride, Sodium Sulfate, Potassium Nitrate, Potassium Phosphate, Polysorbate 80, Diamond Powder, Fragrance (Parfum), Limonene, Linalool, Citral, Phenoxyethanol, Sodium Benzoate.

OIL/WAX BASED PRODUCTS: Lastly, here is an example of an oil based makeup, RCMA. RCMA is simply wax, pigment and vegetable-based oil. Oil or wax based products tend to be VERY pigmented (RCMA has 50% pigment verses some of the other silicones/water bases of only 18-23%). This means a little goes a long way. There is a learning curve to oil/wax based foundations though. Oil based foundations need to be warmed before application so they go on smoothly. You can do this on the back of your hand by blending it lightly before application. Since they are so pigmented they can be thinned out with a thinning agent or oil to use as a bb cream or put on like a concealer, it’s a triple threat. As the name implies it is OIL/WAX and great for dry skin or combo. Personally, I do not recommend this product if you have oily skin or are older because it tends to hangout in the crevices. My forehead wrinkles and number 11 screamed at me loud and clear when I used this product – it was a sad day!

RCMA Foundation Palette (according to Camera Ready Cosmetics website):

Ingredients: IPM (Isopropyl Myristate), Castor Oil, Carnauba, Candelilla, Ozokerite, Titanium Dioxide, Iron Oxides, propyl Paraben, BHT. May Contain: D&C Red #6, D&C Red #7, D&C Red #27, Cos.Green, Cos. Blue.


RULE 1: Water and oil don’t mix. Therefore, if you have oily skin do not use a water based makeup. If you have oily skin you will want to use a silicone based primer, foundation and concealer.

RULE 2: Dry skin is thirsty so add water to quench it! For dry skin try a water based foundation, primer and concealer. Remember look for “Aqua” being listed at the top of the ingredient list without a silicon.

RULE 3: Combination skin can get away with almost anything so long as the skin isn’t extreme in one area to the next. For example, you have dry patches on your cheeks but your nose will glisten within an hour of applying foundation. Or your makeup tends to slide right off your forehead but your nose and cheeks have skin flaking off. That’s one extreme to the next! In this instance, I would recommend treating the dry skin with a great lotion and applying a base made for oily skin like a product that is silicon based but says MATTE on the front of it.

For more great tips and tricks, make sure you follow us on Instagram and Facebook at Diva Me Bella so you can stay current on the latest cosmetic news and makeup industry hacks!


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