Layering Primers For Flawless Skin Without Foundation

Happy New Year, everyone! I hope your night was spent with loved ones and lots of champagne. Mine was spent celebrating the new year and our third wedding anniversary with my husband in Vegas! We’re usually sweatpants, takeout and Netflix while cuddling with our dog kinda people, but this year we decided to attend a new year’s event at The Venetian which required a little gussying up.

My skin has been in a really good place, and improving each day, since employing my pregnancy-acne skincare routine (post coming soon), so I felt good about opting for my primer layering makeup look instead of a full face of foundation, which sometimes just feels like too much.

This primer layering technique is a great way to achieve dewy, flawless skin and only requires a little concealer to finish it off. It’s important to layer different weight primers. If you layer three heavy, silicone based ones, you’ll get a dense, plastic-y feeling that won’t look or feel natural. The best way to employ this method is to use a light silicone-free lotion-y primer first to correct color, a thicker primer containing silicone to blur texture irregularities and then lastly finish with a light-weight oil primer that glides onto skin highlighting key areas. This combo will set you up with an almost flawless palette allowing just light concealer to finish covering any remaining imperfections.

NOTE: I don’t recommend this layering technique for daily use. I personally, find it to be a little too high-shine for everyday, but it’s FABULOUS for a special occasion.

Also, silicone based products are not good long-term for the skin. The chemical ingredient can block pores and congest skin, so best used once in a great while when you want to pull out all the stops.

Read on for the three primers I used in last night’s New Year’s Eve makeup look, and a review of the concealer, simple eye + lip makeup I finished everything off with. I also cover at the end of this article the cleanser and mask technique I used to wash my face at the end of the night and make sure I got rid of all the silicone primer.

layering primer technique

Primer #1: Dr. Barbara Sturm Anti-Aging Primer

This primer is more skincare than primer. It has a feather light lotion feel, sinks into skin instantly, hydrates and plumps with hyaluronic acid, and reduces redness with a powerful antioxidant, purslane, able to combat oxidative stress. I’ve written about this primer before here. It’s one of my favorites if you want a subtle, natural skin enhancing primer. There are no fillers or silicones in this primer, which is key for the first layer. I like to wait 5 minutes after applying this product for the redness to reduce before applying the second primer.

*Available here.

Primer #2: Tom Ford Illuminating Primer

With Primer #2, you want something that does have silicone in it. This one contains dimethicone along with a host of synthetic skin conditioners able to smooth texture irregularities. Visible pores, light scarring and fine lines with be optically blurred out, since silicone diffuses light to soften the hard edges of textured skin, and you’ll be left with a flawlessly smooth palette.

*Available here.

Primer #3: Maya Chia The Highlight Of The Day Illuminating Serum in “The Happy Hour”

Lastly, once the skin tone and texture has been corrected with the previous two primers, I top everything off with a light-weight oil highlighter!

This highlighter oil is one of my favorites! The oil glides on weightlessly and has the ability to blur out any leftover imperfections with the high mica content.

I apply this to my cheekbones, center of my forehead, chin, down my nose bridge, and all over my neck. For a more in-depth article on using highlighter, read here for my interview with celebrity makeup artist, Meg O’Hare, and her tips for highlighting like a pro.

*Available here.

Concealer

Once you’ve applied all of these primers, your skin will be glowing and dewy! If there are still a few imperfections peaking out, top them off with a concealer. This allows your natural skin to shine through.

Last night I used the RMS Uncover Up Concealer for under my eyes and the Kjaer Weis Cream Foundation as a spot concealer around my nose, mouth and chin; The Kjaer Weis Cream Foundation has a matte finish which will hold product in place better around my T-zone area where I tend to get a little shiny.

Eye + Lip Makeup 

For the eyes, I went simple and used my finger to rim my eyes with Estee Lauder’s Pure Color Envy Eye Sculpting Eye Shadow in Decadent Copper and Captivating Cocoa. Then I topped it with Stila’s new Metallic Guilded Gold Eyeshadow.

For my lips, I layered three layers of Stila’s new liquid lipsticks! For the base I used Splendore Shimmer. To add dimension, I layered Bacca, and then just in the center of my lips I added a dab of bright red Beso to give a full pout appearance to my lips.

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Washing It All Off

Silicone, known on most ingredient labels as “dimethicone,” is a synthetic chemical similar to plastic. The particles are water resistant, smoothing, adhere to skin well, but like plastic wrap, can congest pores and cause breakouts if not properly cleansed and left to sit on the skin for long periods of time since they can trap debris and bacteria inside the pore.

In the rare occasion I use a silicone based primer like I did last night, I go beyond the traditional cleansers and use a one-two punch that will draw everything out: a mildly abrasive exfoliating cleanser and a charcoal based mask.

May Lindstrom’s The Clean Dirt and The Problem Solver are the two I used last night and have been two products on heavy rotation!

May Lindstrom’s The Clean Dirt is a micro-dermabrasion treatment safe for daily use. The gentle Moroccan clay will exfoliate the surface and draw out impurities since clay particles have a negative ion charge and attract positively charged dirt/debris in pores.

After washing with this cleanser, I then used the May Lindstrom The Problem Solver as a quickie 5-minute mask. Instructions recommend using it for 45min – 2-3x per week, but I’ve found it to be just as effective when used for a shorter period of time more frequently. I advise using a mask with detoxing clays and charcoal like this one to make sure you completely remove the silicone primer.


Written and photographed by Amy Chang, founder + editor