Primers are basically Spanx for your face. They smooth out the little pits, pores and bumps, usually with silicon, and help your foundation glide on smoothly. Smashbox’s often-copied Photo Finish has always been my favourite, but every time I slather on the super-silky (i.e. silicon-y) stuff, I can’t help but feel my face is holding its breath all day. It’s a special-occasion thing.
As a lighter daily alternative, I’ve started using the new Kiehl’s Micro-Blur Skin Perfector, $38, which is water-based, made with hydrating glycerin and contains a smaller dose of silicon polymers than a lot of primers, so it feels more like a fresh, summer-appropriate moisturizer than a Spackle. It’s also made with a trio of ingredients—lipo hydroxy acid and bark and lentil extracts—that promise to refine pores and lines over time (Kiehl’s bills it as skincare, instead of makeup). After three weeks of use, I can’t speak to the long-term betterment/total eradication of my imperfections, but it definitely softens the craggy areas and evens out my blotchy bits for a full work day, which includes 45 minutes of sweaty biking. Best of all, it doesn’t totally mattify my skin’s natural dewiness, so I feel like my face is still breathing.