Laura Mercier’s Priming Duo: Foundation Primer + Eyebright

Primers have become an increasingly important part of my daily routine as I’ve gotten older. In my early teens, I had woefully dry skin, particularly around my nose, and found no way to remedy it other than to pull away the loose flakes (GROSS). In my late teens, I seemed to miraculously develop a T-zone and experienced ‘angry spots’ and open pores for the first time along with my already crispy nose (DOUBLE GROSS). Now, in my early twenties, my skin has plateaued at a manageable, if sometimes frustrating, combination of greasy and flaky (triple gross?). So along with my usual concoction of moisturising products, primers are a staple of my make-up kit.

Laura Mercier’s Foundation Primer, £29

Before now, my first and only primer had been Revlon’s Photoready which, despite having used it religiously for three years, wasn’t always up to scratch. Though it keeps my makeup in place for around 4 hours without noticeable creasing, its chalky paste-like texture does little for my already dry skin. It not only makes my rough patches more pronounced but can make my whole face feel tight and uncomfortable. So having scoured the internet for an alternative, there was one primer that seemed to stand out from the crowd – Laura Mercier’s Foundation Primer.

I know, I’m considerably late to the party, but its continued success since its first release in 1995 is hard to ignore. Winner of InStyle’s Best Beauty Buys Award last year, I figured its £29 price tag was a small price to pay for such an apparently amazing product. And who am I to argue with InStyle? Nobody.

But, as with anything, it has its quirks. Having used such a thick primer for years, the consistency was the first thing to strike me. It is a particularly loose, semi-set gel that turns to liquid as soon as it touches the skin. This carries the usual benefits: a little goes a very long way, there’s no risk of it caking and it feels instantly hydrating. Which are all good, but deceptive.

The formula is so thin that it feels as though it’s not actually doing much to your face, much like splashing it with water. Perhaps I’ve been kept in the dark for too long, but I’ve always associated primers with making my skin feel ‘buffed,’ that crazy smooth, lump and dimple-free, almost furry, feeling when all pores are filled and all wrinkles blurred. This meant, on first application, I assumed I hadn’t applied enough and coated my face in at least three days’ worth only to find my skin as un-‘buffed’ as ever…and a little sticky.

So the trick is to let it set before applying any products on top; if you’re too hasty, the formula has no time to create that desired ‘barrier’ over pores and fine lines and you’ll see no pay off. But give it a minute or so and this stuff makes for a lightweight, but seemingly impenetrable face fortress.

Unlike some, less expensive primers, this doesn’t zap all moisture from the skin in an attempt to prevent shine; instead it sets to a semi-matte, ‘second skin’ finish that allows for a flattering natural sheen. This is great news for those with dry/combination skin like mine, as it doesn’t feel tight or dehydrating and allows for what ‘glow’ you have to peak through. For those with oily skin, though, this formula may not be ‘heavy-duty’ enough to hold back shine for the whole day. On my oilier days (phases of the moon and all that…), I’ve noticed that, although my makeup doesn’t budge, I still need something to blot my T-zone. Those with oily skin types may therefore prefer to give the Oil-Free version of this primer a try as it is specifically geared towards controlling oil production and soothing blemish prone skin.

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The wonders of Laura Mercier’s Foundation Primer have been talked about for almost twenty years, and with good reason, but before you invest, it’s worth testing out the product at your local beauty counter to get a feel for its effective, if peculiar, formula.

Laura Mercier’s Eye Basics in Eyebright, £19

Laura Mercier’s Eye Basics are a small collection of tinted eye primers that work to prime, conceal and correct your eyelids. Seven of the Basics are neutral colours intended for particular skintones, but the eighth, Eyebright, is a striking baby blue. Even when Laura Mercier does colour, it’s in the most sophisticated of ways, with deep plums, navies and emerald greens so Eyebright stood out as something entirely different… I had to buy it.

The reviews of this product on various sites are awful with most complaining about the unusual colour, but I like it…I think. Due to a consistent lack of sleep (and a slight allergy to eyelash glue), my eyelids are always puffy in the morning. This, together with my already pale skin tone, makes for sallow, veiny and swollen skin that needs to be soothed and hidden, pronto. A sweep of Eyebright and my eyelids look instantly brighter and more even; the pale blue colour helps give life to pallid skin and neutralises redness, while anti-oxidants Vitamin A, C and E along with other anti-inflammatories reduce puffiness. Unlike the other colours in the range, Eyebright also has medicinal properties (apparently… LM doesn’t state exactly what these are) to heal and soothe broken skin. Which I don’t have…but when I do, it’ll be helpful.

Once blended, much of the colour fades to an almost sheer, white semi-matte finish which my fair skin can get away with wearing alone, but I’d  imagine that, on darker skin tones, this white wash across the eyes would look too stark. As a base for eyeshadows, though, Eyebright works with any skin tone and helps cling to pigment, making shadows look more opaque and pigmented.

Crease-resistant and waterproof, Eyebright is a good product to have in your beauty arsenal to give a much needed lift to tired eyes, used alone to colour correct and conceal or beneath eyeshadows to prime. That being said, this isn’t cheap. And does it do something that no other product can? Well, no, not really. A good concealer, corrector or eyeshadow base can do pretty much the same thing. For me, the real benefit of Eyebright is the colour; concealers and correctors can hide dark circles and redness, but are rarely pale enough to truly ‘brighten’ my skin. ‘Brightening’ concealers are often very yellow – in an attempt to cancel out blueish shadows. On certain skin tones, this just replaces one problem with another – tiredness with ‘jaundice.’ If you’ve been searching for something to avoid both of these issues, then maybe it’s worth giving Eyebright a go!

Would you consider Laura Mercier’s primers? What are your favourite priming products?

Hope you like!

Molly

Essentials: Illamasqua’s Hydra Veil

There’s a lot of hype, and an equal amount of confusion, surrounding Illamasqua’s Hydra Veil. What is it? What does it do? Why does it look like that?! Well as someone who battles with flaky, dry skin, anything with ‘hydra’ in its name is an instant hit with me. Saying that, at £30, this product isn’t cheap and with its exact purpose somewhat ‘veiled’ in mystery (BADDUM-TSCH), it’s been one of those items that I’ve been lusting after, but not quite had the guts to buy.

Then payday came around and I got a little spendy.

I understand that there is a thread throughout my posts on the theme of “I bought this thinking it was [blah] when it turned out to be [significantly different blah].” Please trust that I really, really, do do my research on products before I buy them, but Hydra Veil seemed to evade any form of definition. What is a primer? What is a moisturiser? Neither or both?

So I bought it thinking it was the former; my foundation, particularly Illamasqua’s own Skin Base, has been settling into my fine lines a little too quickly of late, so I thought I’d invest in a good primer.

Illamasqua’s Hydra Veil is not a primer.

Well, not technically. Neither is it a “skin care” product as it doesn’t offer any long-term benefits to the skin – it won’t prevent those crow’s feet from forming and it won’t treat blemishes. But that doesn’t mean that it’s not absolutely AMAZING.

Illamasqua describes this as a “cosmetic care” product…

What I imagine they’re trying to get at is that Hydra Veil is geared towards enhancing the appearance of your makeup (your ‘cosmetics’), rather than treating or repairing your skin. With this instant hit of hydration, your skin becomes the perfect canvas.

In a typical Illamasqua-esque tub, all black, sleek and simple, there is a pool of clear jelly and a tiny little spoon. Cute, but a weird start to my getting-ready routine. It’s like no other beauty product I’ve tried before: just scoop out a pea sized amount and smother it all over your face. The veil has the texture of a semi-set jelly which barely holds its shape, so as soon as you apply a small amount of pressure it completely breaks down to a water-like consistency, making it easy to spread across the skin. If you apply the correct amount (more on this later), the product melts away in seconds to create that velvet soft, ultra smooth feeling that you would usually achieve with primers.

This is probably where all the confusion comes from as Hydra Veil does leave the skin feeling ‘primed’ for makeup. However, primers work by effectively placing a ‘lid’ over the top of pores and filling in fine lines. Any makeup applied afterwards therefore sits on top of this primer rather than falling into these crevices. This ‘lid’ also reduces the amount of oils secreted from the pores meaning that you’re less likely to develop shiny patches throughout the day.

Ilamasqua’s Hydra Veil, on the other hand, does not create such a ‘lid’ and it doesn’t fill in fine lines; this super smooth feeling is caused by the veil providing the skin with a huge, instantaneous hit of hydration which swells skin cells to leave that healthy, plumped feeling – an ideal base for makeup. Because of this, there’s no guarantee that your makeup will stay put for longer. It will, however, help to prolong that freshly-applied look by creating a delicately dewy glow.

Why not just splash your face with water? Water evaporates too quickly, particularly from a warm surface like skin, and can actually draw more moisture out than that it allows in.  Hydra Veil contains Glycerin (which I spoke about here), a product often found in mixing medium as it evaporates at a much slower rate than water. This means that products stay ‘wet’ for longer = the secret to that extended fresh-faced look.

I have noticed a huge difference when applying my foundation after Hydra Veil; my base seems to glide on effortlessly, no uneven patches, no difficulty blending, no caking or scuffing across dry skin. In particular, Hydra Veil works brilliantly in conjunction with Illamasqua’s SkinBase, the formula of which is given to highlighting every lump and bump. I haven’t noticed as big a difference in the longevity of my makeup, only that it looks ‘fresher’ for longer – which is obviously a massive bonus! Applying a spot of primer underneath my eyes and around my nose after the veil soon sorts this issue for a smile/frown/squint-proof base. It is especially good at waking up tired, puffy eyes, so massage some onto your lids to open up your peepers. (Illamasqua also recommends this as a post-shave balm (for guys, of course) to help soothe broken skin with a moisture punch)

The strengths of Illamasqua’s Hydra Veil are also its weaknesses; while it’s innovative formula works wonders, it can take a little getting used to. A very little goes a very long way; too much will only sit on the surface of the skin and have to be dabbed away = wastage and for an expensive product, wastage is a big no-no. It is worth experimenting with this product to see what is best for you: how much do you need; what areas of your face take to it best; what primers/foundations work best with it; they’re all questions raised by its weirdly wonderful design, and though it may take a few attempts, it will definitely be worth it in the end!

Would you consider Illamsqua’s Hydra Veil?

Hope you like!

Molly x

Three Ways with: MAC’s Prep + Prime Fix+

“You’ve spent £15.50 on a bottle of water?”

Well, no. MAC’s Fix+ may look like water, feel like water and taste like water (an accident..), but it is anything but water.

Admittedly, I searched for this under the false impression that it was a setting spray, aimed at making your make-up last longer by creating a thin film that withstands various ‘pollutants’ (hence the phrase, “hairspray for your face”). I even paid for it, brought it home, unboxed it, stared at it, bragged about it and tested it before realising that it is not a setting spray, but something much, much better.

Use 1: Skin Refresher

So if I had actually read the box, I would have noticed that MAC describes the spray as a “skin refresher” or “finishing mist.”

With my dry-combination skin, the spray works best as a “refresher” used after moisturiser. Spritzed over my face just before my primer/foundation, Fix+ gives my skin an extra kick of hydration so my base applies like a dream. The delicate scent of citrus and green tea is not only calming to the nostrils, but also to the skin – a detox in a bottle.

For those of you with oily skin, Fix+ is a must-have “finishing mist.” On those days when my t-zone is a little oilier than usual, I find myself applying layer and layer of powder in an attempt to ‘blot’ the not-so-dewy-more-like-sweaty shine that appears down the centre of my face. Fix+ is the perfect tool to avoid that overdone cake-y look caused by excessive powder applications. A few sprays and the mist is quickly absorbed into the skin (and powder), evening out the complexion to leave a beautiful glow as though you’d just woken from an 8-hour sleep on a crisp spring morning.

Use 2: Eyeshadow Brightener

I would pay £15.50 for this use alone. If you have read my last post on pure pigments, you will know that I am always searching for ways to amplify the colour of my eyeshadows and Fix+ is one of the best, if not the best, method I have found so far.

I can’t count the number of times I have typed “how to make eyeshadow brighter?” into Google. A common answer was to dampen the brush with water and simply ‘dab’ the shadow onto your eye. Not so simple. I tried this with Naked 3’s ‘Dust’ – notorious for it’s low colour pay-off – and have ruined it in the process: the shadow became damp, the water quickly evaporated and I’m left with a chalky mess 😥

The difference between water and Fix+ is that the latter contains glycerin, a chemical used in all mixing mediums as it helps retain water (i.e., no evaporated chalky mess). Fix+ is, then, a diluted mixing medium as well as a skin “refresher.” A little spritz on to your brush and the pigments in your shadows are given an immediate boost. In the picture below, I swatched from my gorgeous new MAC ‘A Harvest of Greens’ quad with and without FIx+ and the difference – particularly with the first two lighter colours – is huge!

 Use 3: Cream Thinner

Please excuse the less than elegant name… In my ‘November Favourites’ post I wrote about how my love for my MAC Paint Pot had come to a sad end due to it’s woefully short shelf-life; after only a few uses, the cream had become so thick and dry that it was impossible to blend. With a little bit of Fix+, however, the cream came back to life and was, in my opinion, a better texture than before, thinner, smoother and easier to work with.

I’m yet to try it out, but I’d imagine that the same process can be used to thin out foundations, concealers, cream highlighters and blushes. The possibilities are endless!

So how do you use your Fix+ spray? If you don’t have it yet, would you invest in it?

Hope you like!

Molly x