Look, I know the feeling. I’ve been there. You walk into M.A.C., Sephora, the drugstore or anywhere else that sells makeup and you become mesmerized by the rainbow of colours. Lipsticks, eyeshadows, blushes… they’re all so eye-catching and beautiful! If you’re gonna drop your hard-earned money on something, this is what you want to spend it on. The pretty stuff. The colourful stuff. The fun stuff.
Hear me out for a second, though. Back when I first got into makeup, I didn’t realize the importance of some of the more understated products, such as primers and finishing sprays. I assumed it was just a money grab to get people to buy extra products that they didn’t actually need. “Why bother with something if nobody’s even going to be able to tell that I’m wearing it?”, I’d wonder. Perfectly reasonable question. But, while it’s true that these products will probably go unnoticed by other people, they’ll make a HUGE difference to you in terms of how products apply, look and wear throughout the day. Once you introduce them into your makeup routine, you’ll wonder how you ever got along without them!
So, here we have 3 “boring” products that I consider to be necessities in my everyday makeup stash. While all 3 of my products coincidentally happen to be from M.A.C. because they work best for me, that doesn’t mean they’re the only option you have. I’ll be sure to name some similar products from other brands as well, which may work even better for you.
Now, let’s get on with the list:
1. Eyeshadow Primer – M.A.C. Prep + Prime 24-Hour Extend Eye Base ($ 26.00 CAD/$16.50 USD, available at M.A.C.)
Whenever someone talks to me about eye makeup, I make it a point to ask them if they have a good eyeshadow primer to put down first. A lot of people will then say to me, “I don’t really need that, do I?”. My answer is always a resounding “YES”! Eyeshadow primer does a few great things:
- It keeps your eyeshadow/liner looking freshly applied for the entire day – no disappearing acts, here.
- It prevents your eyeshadow from creasing.
- If your primer has some colour to it, it evens out the colour of your eyelid and covers any veins, discolouration, etc. This really helps if you wear lighter lid colours!
- You can also experiment with coloured primers to intensify or alter the colour of the eyeshadow you place on top.
- It provides a base for your eyeshadow to grab onto. This actually pulls much more colour from it than applying it over bare skin. If you have a shadow that doesn’t show up on your eye as well as it does in the pan, try it over a good eyeshadow primer and I bet you’ll notice a difference!
So, as you can see, an eyeshadow primer is a must-have! I found this particular one after an extensive search for a primer that worked for me. Although my skin is Sahara-dry rather than oily, I’ve always had a problem with eyeshadow fading and creasing and, no matter what I tried, I couldn’t get it to stop. When M.A.C. finally came out with this baby, I was blown away. My shadow honestly looks exactly the same at the end of the day as it does when I first apply it. I can’t praise this enough.
It comes in a squeeze tube and a little goes a very, very long way. It has a smooth feel and, while it doesn’t have much colour to it, I do notice a slight evening of my eyelids when I put it on. Quick tip: I normally set my eye primers with a matte, skin-toned eyeshadow. Because the primer is slightly tacky, setting it makes the other shadows I apply on top easier to blend. If I really want to pack on a lid colour, though, I leave that part of my eye “unset” so the shadow really sticks to it.
While this primer is the one I’ve had the most luck with, personally, there are some other great ones on the market. M.A.C.’s Pro Longwear Paint Pots are very popular (especially if you’re looking for a good colour range), as is Urban Decay’s Primer Potion. Before I found my Holy Grail primer, NARS Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base was my go-to (it’s a good second-best). Less expensive drugstore options include the Maybelline Color Tattoos (pretty close dupes for M.A.C.’s Paint Pots) and Essence I Love Stage Eyeshadow Base. I’ve used all of these on other people with excellent results, and friends have also raved to me about them.
2. Setting/Finishing Spray – M.A.C. Prep + Prime Fix+ ($ 26.00 CAD/$22.00 USD, available at M.A.C.)
Setting spray is a perfect final step in anyone’s makeup routine. There are many different kinds, all with different purposes, so there really is something for everyone. For example, I personally don’t have any issues with my skin becoming shiny or my face makeup wearing off throughout the day, so I don’t necessarily need a setting spray to help my makeup last longer. Instead, since my skin is extremely dry, I look for something hydrating that will leave my skin with a bit of a glow. Also, because of the dryness, I find that powders can look a little cakey on me and appear to be sitting on top of my skin rather than blending into it.
M.A.C.’s Prep + Prime Fix+ takes care of all of these issues for me, which is why it’s my favourite. It’s super hydrating with a dewy finish (thanks to glycerine) and it has skin calming ingredients to reduce redness as well. A spritz of this will help powder melt into the skin and look much more natural. If you reapply throughout the day, it refreshes the look of your makeup without having to touch it up. It’s also great for thinning out heavy foundations (spray some on your brush before applying and it will spread much easier) and foiling eyeshadows (again, spray it on your brush when using shimmery shadows for a more intense, metallic finish).
While this spray is the best choice for me, your needs might be very different. If your makeup tends to wear off throughout the day, Urban Decay’s All-Nighter Long-Lasting Makeup Setting Spray will probably work better for you because it really locks your makeup in place (my sister loves this stuff). For a less expensive alternative, you can go to the drug store and check out the NYX Long Lasting Makeup Setting Spray. If you’re on the very oily side, something like Urban Decay’s De-Slick Oil-Control Makeup Setting Spray will help to keep oil and shine to a minimum.
3. Lip Primer – M.A.C. Prep + Lip ($ 20.00 CAD/$22.00 USD, available at M.A.C.)
I remember a M.A.C. Artist telling me about Prep + Prime Lip for the first time years ago. I thought she was completely nuts – it looked like glorified Chapstick in a fancier tube. It was bad enough I saw eye primers and face primers everywhere I looked, but now companies were coming out with lip primers? I figured they were just running out of ideas for things to sell.
It took me a long time to finally break down and give it a try, but I’m so glad I did. If you’re a simple lipgloss or sheer lipstick person, this might not make a huge difference to you. But if you love a more pigmented lip colour or you’re on board with the matte/liquid lipstick trends, it’s a miracle worker. It smooths out your lips and fills in any cracks/wrinkles so that your lipstick sits nicely on top. It makes your lips just the tiniest bit tacky so that your lip colour really grabs on, stays put and doesn’t slide around. It’s hydrating upon initial application but it also helps to keep your lips moisturized throughout the day, preventing them from being dried out by more matte lipsticks. I know that some people like to apply lip balm or Chapstick underneath very matte lipsticks, but you’ll notice that doing so changes the texture of the lipstick and gives it a sheen (plus it often alters the wear time). This primer doesn’t interfere with the lipstick’s texture or colour at all, and it actually helps to prolong its wear. My best test for this stuff: Try it with M.A.C.’s Ruby Woo Lipstick (the driest of the drying mattes) and you’ll see that it glides on much more smoothly and easily!
If M.A.C. isn’t an option for you, you could try the Too Faced Lip Insurance Lip Primer, or, if you’d prefer to grab something from the drugstore, you could try the NYX Lip Primer. I don’t have experience with either of those primers, myself, but both of them have gotten great reviews online.
Hopefully my list of overlooked must-haves has been helpful to you all! Are any of these in your everyday rotation? Which other products do you consider essential to your makeup routine? Let me know in the comments!