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What does silicone have to do with makeup primers?

Think back to the last time you updated your home decor. If you painted your walls, you probably began the wall treatment with a coat of primer.

Primers seal out imperfections for a flawless finish. Sound familiar? You might agree that the most important paint of all — our makeup — would benefit from a similar technique.

A primer on makeup primers

Full disclosure: Until recently, I didn’t even know that makeup primers existed. These products claim many benefits, including skin tone correction and wrinkle reduction. They also claim to help makeup adhere better to your skin, so that it won’t melt or smear off during the course of the day. That all sounds great, especially in the heat of the summer, when makeup and sweat unite in an unholy alliance.

It’s all about the plastic

As it turns out, high-quality primers share a magic ingredient that is better known for its role in other beauty enhancements. Yep, you guessed it: Silicone, famous for breast and butt implants, is also a skin tone miracle-worker.

Silicone primers rest on top of the skin, acting like a coat of spackle. The silicone fills in imperfections like pores and fine lines, so that makeup can glide on smoothly and flawlessly. It’s also super adherent, so that makeup literally sticks to the product upon application. For instance, I recently tried a silicone primer for eye makeup, thinking I could blend in the color on top of the primer. Blending wasn’t an option. Eyeshadow clung to the primer for some serious staying power.

If you venture into the land of silicone primer, make sure you wash your face thoroughly at the beginning and end of the day, since silicone can stick in your pores and cause breakouts if you’re not careful.

Our top picks

Not sure where to start? Check out these favorites the next time you hit the store. Just remember that you may have to try a few products before you find one that’s perfect for your skin.

Beauty products with silicon

  • Smashbox Photo Finish Targeted Pore and Line Primer. This heavy-duty product is strong enough to conceal crow’s feet and even acne scars. It also provides a matte finish if you struggle with oily skin, and is full of peptides to treat rather than just conceal wrinkles. (Sephora, $34)
  • Physicians Formula Correcting Primer. Here’s a primer that allows you to go makeup-free if you wish. It contains silicone for flawless tone, and incorporates minerals and sun protection for a no-fuss finish. (, $10)
  • Starlooks Eye Primer. Not so sure about rubbing silicone on your entire face? This eye makeup primer is a good starting place. You can play with unique and bold eyeshadow designs, without fear of unsightly rub-off. (Starlooks, $12)

Now go play with some silicone beauty products, without ever having to go under the knife.

More about makeup and skin care

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