Tips For A Flawless Base: Primers

Whenever I talk about my rosacea on social media I am guaranteed to get questions about make up. I post photos of my bare face (like this one) next to photos of me in full make up (like this one) and people sometimes can’t marry the two in their minds. So I wanted to share my tips for a flawless base even when you have a far-from-flawless face!

Tips for a flawless base - primers suitable for sensitive skin, rosacea

A small note to start with: for a truly flawless base, your skin needs to be in tip-top condition. As someone with a skin condition, I know that this is tricky as at – any one time – my skin can be red, bumpy, itchy, dry, or greasy. But as much as you can, I would try to address the issues rather than working around them with make up. If you’re interested in my skincare routine, I post my current regime every month (find the most recent posts HERE). I also did a series about affordable skincare suitable for sensitive skin which you can read HERE. One last thing, a few people have asked me to start putting in Amazon links for products as a lot of my readers are from outside the UK so I will try to do that where I can!

Now that’s out of the way, let’s chat about how you can achieve a flawless base. I have a lot to say about this topic as I’ve gone through a lot of trial and error (so much error…!) so I’m splitting this topic into four separate posts: primers and prepping; colour correcting; foundations and application; and concealers, powders and setting sprays.

When I first started wearing make up I avoided primers completely – I had tried some that felt heavy and thick and considering that the make up I wore was also heavy and thick, my skin hated it. But in time I’ve found primers that feel like I’m wearing nothing and make a visible difference to my skin. You can find a primer for almost every skin issue: oily, dry, lack of glow, redness, sallow skin, fine lines, large pores… My main issues are an oily t-zone and texture (which includes fine lines and pores). Obviously I can only talk from my own experience but I’ve tried to include recommendations for other popular products as well.

The Ordinary High-Adherence Silicone Primer* was a 2017 revelation: not only is it really affordable (a bonus if you’re dipping your toe in the primer waters) but it’s great for prolonging make up and giving a great base for your… well, base. As the name would suggest it’s a silicone primer so it feels very silky on the skin – something which some people hate but I don’t mind. It’s also alcohol- and oil-free AND vegan!

A new find for me is the Iconic London Retexturising Primer* (EDIT: I think this may have been discontinued as I can’t find it anywhere), which I use when I know I’m going to be going to meetings or events and want a bit more confidence about my skin. It gives such a flawless finish to my skin, hiding the fine lines, pores, and weird orange-peel-y texture around my cheeks.

And lastly, the Sofina PrimaVista Long Keep Base UV isn’t widely available in the UK (I know, I’m SORRY but it really is great) so I stocked up when I was in Japan – it keeps me completely matte ALL day without a drying the skin, all while feeling like the lightest moisturiser you’ve ever tried.

A product that isn’t a primer but I use a lot under make up is the Hylamide Photography Foundation in ‘Transparent’. Contrary to the name, this isn’t a foundation: it’s a very runny pearly-gold fluid that looks like a liquid highlighter. It’s designed to go under make up to give radiance and reflect light which helps to minimise pores and fine lines. I notice a huge difference in photos when I’m wearing this, with everything looking a bit soft-focus and brighter.

I’ve put some primer recommendations below for other skin types/needs. These are all products that friends and fellow beauty obsessives rave about but obviously I can’t vouch for them myself. I wanted to give you a jumping off point if the above recommendations are a bit too focused on oil-control.

Dry skin:

I have heard so many people rave about the Illamasqua Hydra Veil primer and, although it’s a little pricey, the huge pot will last ages. Make Up Forever are famous for their primers – they have one for every single skin type so I’d recommend having a peek at their full range – but the ‘Hydrating’ Skin Equalizer is the one that I’ve heard my friends talk about most. And lastly the Too Faced Hangover Primer is infused with coconut water for added hydration.

Mature skin:

Although Smashbox Photo Finish primer is not marketed as a primer specifically for more mature skin, I’ve heard that its line-blurring magic is impressive – as well as offering the added benefits of the make up longevity and smooth make up application that you need for a flawless base.


For those of you who love a bit of glow and want a little something-something under your foundation, I have two amazing products – both of which I’ve used myself and love. The first is the Pixi Flawless Beauty Primer* which I talked about in THIS summary of my favourite products of 2017. The L’Oréal Paris Lumi Magique Primer looks like it may be discontinued or going that way as it’s not on Boots or Superdrug… so maybe stock up if you’re a fan! (Amazon)

And that’s it for this section of my Flawless Base series. Do any of these products pique your interest? What are your primer recommendations?

You can find the other posts in my Flawless Base series here: Colour Correcting, FoundationsConcealers, Powders and Setting Sprays.


*PR sample. Links may be affiliate. For more information please see the Disclaimer tab at the top of the page.

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How to use primers to achieve a flawless make up base (even if you have sensitive skin). My tips and favourite products on the blog!



  1. 10th March 2018 / 3:33 pm

    Loved this post, I have horrendous skin, so knowing which Primer to use depending on my skin day really helps 🙂 xx

  2. Amanda
    10th March 2018 / 7:21 pm

    I’ve just had a bad experience with a Becca primer – and it stops me buying others with confidence as it was not cheap. Might come down to who gives me a trial sample!

    Looking forward to the correctives post! I currently have a Clinique one which is yellow rather than green and seems to do precisely nothing!

  3. Saz
    10th March 2018 / 8:20 pm

    I really like the MUA Professional Wonder Primer (in the glass jar) from superdrug, if you are trying primer it’s worth a buy as it’s only £4 & you don’t need much so a jar lasts a while.
    I might try The Ordinary primer, although the foundation makes my skin appear even dryer & more textured than it is already!

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