The Primer Suspect

I get a LOT of emails from women who use mineral makeup.  The letters fall into two camps:  the women who love it, and the women who hate it.   I often feel as though I’m standing in the neutral territory (a Switzerland of makeup) between two warring factions of females who are either singing praises or screaming invectives.  As you can imagine, I enjoy chatting with the happy ones, but I feel more ethically bound to investigate the people making so much cranky noise.

That said, I feel as though I can offer at least ONE tip that may turn the tide for those women who hate the effects of bismuth oxychloride (an irritant which is present in many popular mineral products), and those dry skinned women who hate looking like the desert floor an hour after grinding minerals into their visage.

It’s called PRIMER. To understand why primer is necessary, imagine painting a blank bedroom wall.  If your wall is porous, it’s going to absorb more paint than other walls.  Not only will it take more paint to get the even look you desire, but that paint is going to penetrate the very surface of the wall, clogging it.  Making your wall prone to breaking out.  Imagine now that your bedroom wall is full of hairline cracks.  The more paint you slather on it, the more apparent those cracks become.  As the paint sets in, the cracks seem to widen and flake, making your wall look old and decrepit.

What do we do with the bedroom wall, then?  We use a coat of PRIMER, people!!  Primer is exactly what is sounds like:  It primes the surface of the area that we are preparing to paint. For porous skin, primer acts as a barrier, preventing makeup from clogging your pores.  For dry/mature skin, a primer seals the cracks so the makeup will lie smoothly on the surface of the skin.

The question is, can you find a primer that is good for your skin?  Why bother using mineral makeup for it’s natural benefits if you’re just going to use a disgusting, chemical-laden primer?  It would akin to using an eco-paint on your wall, but putting a fresh coat of gasoline on it first!  So, if you’re a mineral user, and ready to try primer, read the ingredients first.  Don’t use parabens, petrochemicals, benzenes, phthalates or ureas on your skin.  Ever.  Period.

If you have trouble finding a clean primer, use ALOE VERA. You’ll find a million different uses for aloe vera, including hair gel, burn salve, and even internal cleansing.  That’s right, people eat it.  And you know my rule:  If it can go in your belly, it can go on your face! You can find pure aloe vera gel (in various concentrates) in your natural food store.  You can find it in the drug store, too–just make sure they haven’t added anything unsavory).

Aloe Vera makes a splendid primer; it’s a lightweight gel that dries down quickly.  Apply it allover the face, give it 30 seconds to dry, then apply your mineral foundation.  If you’d like an “Official Primer”, with added benefits, here’s the cleanest I’ve found on the market: Face Sculpt Serum Excalibur with DMAE & Blue Green Algae: water, aloe juice, DMAE (a really cool amino acid), vegetable glycerin, blue green algae extract, vitamin e, rosemary, carbomer, phenoxyethanol (a preservative–not my favorite, but better than most)

So, all you unhappy Mineral-ites out there, before you chuck a week’s pay into the trash, buy a bottle of aloe vera for 99 cents, and give it a go!


8 thoughts on “The Primer Suspect

    • That’s a great question, Monica! If you have a big aloe plant at home, you could use the gel (the inside of the leaves) as a primer; but you wouldn’t need much at all. Aloe juice alone, however, is probably going to be too watery; I really prefer gel. If you’ve ever used an aloe leaf for a cut or burn, you know how healing and soothing it is. For a regular primer, you’d probably do better taking only a small snip of a leaf, and cutting it open. But 100% aloe gel is very inexpensive, and has lots of uses. I’d still recommend grabbing a bottle from the drugstore/healthfood store whenever you’re out. Thanks for the question!

  1. Thats actually what I meant 🙂 (cutting the plant and getting the oozy juice/gel from inside). Aside from using primer before mineral makeup, are there any other tips for using mineral makeup when your skin is dry? The skin on my cheeks has been very dry recently, to the point of looking flakey! Do you know of any liquid mineral makeup that is relatively “clean”?

    • It works REALLY well with liquid makeup. Either as a separate layer, above moisturizer, or mixed with the foundation itself (also, above well moisturized skin:)

  2. I love the idea of just using aloe gel as a primer. But I’m finding it really dries out my skin. 😦

    My skin gets very oily, but I have rosacea, and it’s also very tight and dry all the time. I think that’s actually a major cause for my oil production. I’m wondering how the new Jane Iredale primer will work…

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