Face primers: Shiseido and Cover FX

I’m no expert on face primers.  I don’t have issues with foundations lasting on my skin, and I don’t have skin texture concerns that primers typically address (large pore, uneven skin, excessive oiliness).  Up until a few years ago, I never used a face primer but I’ve since incorporated it into my skin routine. I mainly use face primers as another layer of protection against the elements.

Today I’ll review 2 primers that I own, and they’re probably not the more popular brands that are typically reviewed online (Smashbox, Benefit, Hourglass) but they’re good for what need.

Shiseido Refining makeup Primer ($35 for 30ml) is a pretty tame primer – it doesn’t necessarily fill in pores or control oil, but it does provide a nice canvas for the application of makeup on top.  It’s not overly silicone-y in texture – it feels like a light lotion and has no scent.  It has a pinky beige tone which has a brightening effect (it does not leave a pink cast once blended).  As with most primers, a little bit of product is all that’s required. I dot this on my cheeks, forehead, nose and chin and blend.  I really like this and have repurchased it multiple times.  A tube will last me around 6 months.

Of interesting note: this primer is sold in Canada without any SPF claims because Shiseido opted not to have it certified in Canada, however it contains exactly the same ingredients as the us version (the active sunscreen ingredients are a mixture of chemical (octinoxate) and mineral (titanium dioxide) and claims an SPF of 21.

Cover FX SPF 30 protection Primer ($38 for 30ml) is a recent discovery.  And by discovery, I mean that I literally discovered this tube in my closet inside a shopping bag underneath a pile of towels.  I think my pal gave this to me – I do not recall ever purchasing this.  The expiry date on this tube is Nov 2015 so it’s still fresh.  It contains a concoction of chemical sunscreens as its SPF which isn’t my favourite, but as an extra protection underneath my mineral sunscreen, I don’t mind too much.

This is a clear silicone-y product, typical of primers that fill in pores and blur lines and it does both quite well (it’s nearly invisible when applied so I had to circle where I applied it to the back of my hand).  It also does seem to help to keep my t-zone from getting as shiny as early.  It does have a sunscreen type of smell which is typical of avobenzone.  I like how this primer looks but I don’t think it’s good for my skin – I noticed that on the days I used this, I developed a few red dots on my face.  I can’t 100% attribute it to this primer since it is also allergy season, so anything goes with my face!  But I will likely reserve this primer for days when I need my foundation to last a long time. I’d likely not buy this once I am finished the tube.  I have a cosmetics pouch full of sample sized primers I need to try – the top of my list is the Clarins instant Smooth Perfecting Touch primer, of which I have a couple of gwp jars.

Even though both of these primers contain sunscreen, I would not consider them to have sufficient coverage to be used as my sole sun protection.  The tiny amount of primer needed to function as primers render them useless as sunscreens.  I always apply a separate sunscreen on my face regardless if my moisturizer, primer or foundation contain sunscreen.  The order in which I apply my skincare, pre-makeup is as follows:

hydrating mist

hydrating serum




It may sound like I wear a lot of layers – and I suppose I do – but I allow each step to absorb before applying the next layer – they don’t look cakey once all blended.

Do you use a face primer regularly? What’s your favourite?

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