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To prime or not to prime?

Debby Harrington

Aussie makeup king Napoleon Perdis says not to prime is a crime.

He believes it’s an integral step to apply the right primer, after you moisturise and before you put on your makeup.

Disclaimer …There’s no doubt Napoleon knows his stuff. His primer mantra has been around for a while so it’s worth asking, does it still stack up? Do you really need that extra product?

I spoke to Canberra makeup artists to find out exactly what they think – with interesting results.

Team Primer

DIANA CHEETHAM – Fashfest director of makeup

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“I believe primer is essential if you want longevity in a makeup,” explains Diana. “It acts like a putty to fill in any ‘potholes’ to create a clean smooth canvas. This allows an even application of foundation with ease and it mattifies the skin to eliminate any oils.”

Diana explains how you should approach primer depending on your skin type.

“If you have oily skin you want to prime. If you have dry skin you may want to moisturise.”

SARAH WRIGHT – makeup artist, Concept Brow and Makeup



“I would never not use a primer when doing makeup,” says Sarah. “A primer puts a barrier between your skin and the makeup, stopping the oils from your skin affecting the makeup on your face.”

“It makes your makeup last longer, go on your skin smoother and I find you actually don’t use as much foundation which makes it good in terms of being cost effective.”

Sarah says that there’s a primer out there for everyone.

“There are so many different primers so choosing the right one for you depends on your skin type and what you are trying to achieve.”

Team Moisture

TARA FLORENCE – makeup artist, Tara Florence Artistry

“I stick to moisturisers with priming qualities in them as I find people can never have enough moisture in and on their skin, whether they have oily, dry, combination or normal skin,” explains Tara.

“Most people have dry patches, especially in Canberra’s climate, so using a moisturiser helps leave the makeup with a flawless finish and helps with the longevity of the makeup.”

But Tara would use a primer in certain situations.

“I would only use a certain primer, for example, a silicone primer, if the client had quite visibly large pores (silicone would fill these in creating a smoother surface) or they were incredibly oily.”

JESSICA PERIS – makeup artist, The Beautique by Jessica Peris

“Sorry Napoleon, I wouldn’t say that primer is essential as it depends on what kind of makeup you are doing,” says Jessica.

“For everyday makeup, we are all a bit time-poor, so instead, I would recommend using a hydrating oil-free moisturiser before your makeup application.”Taking good care of your skin, having a good beauty routine and exfoliating will help your makeup last well.

Jessica explains that there are other things you can do for your skin that don’t involve a primer.”

“Taking good care of your skin, having a good beauty routine and exfoliating will help your makeup last well.”

ZOE KRAHE – makeup artist and director, Zaija

“It totally depends on the person, but usually I would use a moisturiser suited to the person’s skin type rather than a primer,” explains Zoe. “I don’t like to layer products and I feel as if primers are adding unnecessary layering.”

“There are ways to apply makeup that will still make it super long lasting.”

AMY CAPEDA, makeup artist

“I think a great skincare regime can do more not only for your skin, but for makeup application, finish and longevity as well,” says Amy, who explains that it’s all about getting the right products for the skin type.

“Most of the time the right foundation will sit better on the skin without primer.”

“Having said that there are times where a primer can be helpful. If you have a lot of texture on the skin or if your skin is extremely oily and makeup tends to slip off the face a primer can help.”


Debby Harrington

Debby is a journalist by trade who grew up in Perth before making her way to Canberra. As long as she can remember, her mother has always followed a beauty routine methodically, morning and night, which is where Debby developed her taste for the world of beauty. Debby loves trying new products and can’t live without lip balm, sunscreen and concealer. She also has her own blog featuring all things fashionable and beautiful so check out More about the Author

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