Primers dont just smooth skin, keep makeup in place, and blur pores to near invisibility; they also brighten, fight aging, target acne, and add tons of hydration. Some can even give skin a temporary face-lift, all without feeling heavy.

The best way to apply primers is with your fingers. "A makeup brush will just drag the primer around," says makeup artist Mary Phillips.

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  • When you overload on primer, it pills under your foundation. A small drop is plenty. Gently rub into the skin for even coverage.
  • Give the primer a full minute to dry before layering anything on top. If you're applying liquid foundation or tinted moisturizer afterward, finish with a dusting of translucent powder.
  • Gently patted around the eyes and on the lids, primer acts as a three-in-one. It prevents makeup from smudging or creasing by absorbing oils, it softens crow's-feet, and it counteracts redness.

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  • For thicker, longer lashes, layer an eyelash primer yes, there is such a thing under your regular mascara. These formulas amplify sparse fringe and contain vitamin E or glycerin to condition lashes.
  • Skip any spot treatments if your primer already contains anti-acne ingredients.
  • Dab on a lip primer to prevent lipstick from feathering or settling into lines. If you don't have a lip primer on hand, one designed for your face can work as well.
  • To set your makeup, follow this magic order: primer, liquid foundation or tinted moisturizer, translucent powder.