Silicone-Based Primers vs Water-Based Primers

Shopping for primers? We can help. Learn the difference between silicone-based and water-based makeup primers

The difference between silicone and water based primers

No foundation alone will give you as flawless an appearance as foundation applied over a primer. If you are young, lucky enough to have escaped acne, and have youthful, flawless skin, you probably don’t need a primer. Or a foundation for that matter. But for the rest of us, a good primer gives us a smooth canvas to work with, where otherwise we’d have fine lines, wrinkles and large pores. A primer prepares your skin, not only by smoothing it, but also by getting it ready to hold onto your foundation and other makeup for all-day wear. This means you will need fewer touch-ups, saving you time and money by making your other makeup products last longer, and your makeup will look like it's been applied by a pro.

But how do you choose a primer? Which type is best for your skin, and to make your makeup last longer? Should you be choosing a silicone-based primer or a water-based?

How Can We Tell if Primer is Silicone-Based or Water-Based?

In order to determine whether your primer is silicone or water-based, you can read the ingredients list or simply look for keywords high on the ingredients list. If a primer has ingredients that end in -cone, -silicate, -methicone, -silicone or -siloxane, then you have a silicone-based primer. They tend to list benefits with descriptions such as waterproof, silky, high definition, and photo finish.

These have a texture similar to petroleum jelly. Silicone primers are miracle-workers for filling in pores, lines, acne scars and rough spots. They also protect your skin from environmental elements by creating a barrier to keep out damaging free-radicals, while it keeps your makeup looking fresh and new for far longer than it would otherwise.

Water-based primers will either have none of the keywords listed above on the ingredients list, or more likely, will have some of these ingredients, but they will be much farther down the list of ingredients. Water-based primers are thinner, lighter, and more easily spreadable than silicone-based.

It’s important to note that most water-based primers are not completely silicone-free. If you are looking to avoid silicone completely you will need to look for one that is labeled as silicone free.

How Do I Choose Between Silicone-Based Primer and Water-Based Primer?

The first thing to note when choosing a primer is the base of your foundation. A water-based foundation should be used with a water-based primer. A silicone-based foundation should be paired with a silicone-based primer. If you try to use a water-based foundation on top of a silicone primer the foundation may become grainy and won’t spread or absorb well. You will also notice more “foundation migration,” meaning foundation will easily slide off your skin and disappear during the day, which is the opposite of what you are trying to achieve with a primer.

Benefits of Silicone-Based Primer

Silicone primers are unbeatable for smoothing out pores, fine lines, wrinkles, roughness and uneven skin tone. Silicone primer has a smooth texture that glides on evenly and leaves your face feeling like velvety soft. Because of their mattifying effect, silicone-based primers are good for oily skin. They prolong the longevity of your makeup and protect your skin from outside elements. They work very well to keep your makeup from showing the effects of heat and humidity in the summertime, and protect you from chapping or becoming wind-burned in the winter cold. Silicone-based primer helps your makeup to last during any weather-related condition.

Silicone-based primers are super-adherent, meaning any makeup product that you apply on top of them will remain in place all day. They are oil-free and help to regulate sebum production to prevent an oily appearance, making them ideal for oily and combination skin.

It’s best to be thorough when washing your face at the end of the day when using a primer, because silicone primer’s pore-smoothing effect is the result of pores being filled by the primer. Leaving it on too long can result in clogged pores and skin break-outs.

Benefits of Water-Based Primer

Water-based primer is lightweight and feels more natural on the skin than silicone-based primer. It is hydrating, making it ideal for those with dry skin or eczema. It is non-pore clogging, and noncomedogenic making it better for those who suffer from acne breakouts or sensitive skin. Though the FDA has established silicone use as safe for humans, many people worry about potential negative effects from long-term daily silicone exposure, and for that reason may choose a water-based primer.

Water-based primers are less mattifying than silicone-based and will typically leave a dewy, radiant finish.

Whichever primer type you use, you’ll find soon find it an essential part of your makeup routine and wonder what you ever did without it.

Resources — LifeWithMe, HudaBeauty, SheKnows.com

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