Ready, SET, Glow! | Face | Part III of III: Other Types of Base-Setting Makeup

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Part III: Other Types of Base-Setting Makeup Part I: Face/Foundation Primers
Part II: Fix Sprays

Other Types of Base-Setting Makeup


Moisturisers are a good alternative to primer-specific products. Skin-smoothing creams containing hyaluronic acid work marvellously too. Another type of base-setting makeup is sunscreen. Sunscreens not only give the skin precious protection against solar rays, they can also double up as foundation primers.*

My personal favourites in this category of primers are:

  • Crème de La Mer
  • MAC Strobe Cream
  • Sage Smoothing Cream
  • Garnier UV Protect Advanced Daily UV Blocking Lotion SPF50/PA+++ (in white and purple, the untinted and anti-dullness formulas)
  • Kao Bioré UV Perfect Face Milk SPF50+ PA+++
  • L’Oréal Paris Dermo-Expertise UV Perfect SPF50/PA+++ (in the untinted and anti-dullness formulas)
  • MAC Lightful Protective Moisturiser SPF 30/PA++
  • Shiseido Anessa Neo Sunscreen SPF50/PA+++

Why and how?

The humectants present in moisturisers attract foundation and bind with it, helping it to set. Likewise, hyaluronic acid – a powerful humectant – draws moisture to the skin; hydrating and plumping it, picks up foundation and keeps it in good condition. Sunscreens that have a little slip also allow this to happen. If the sunscreen is waterproof, better yet – this would help the foundation to last, once the two products set.

So, do they work?

An emphatic YES from me. I actually use these products more often than regular primers! I love that they fulfil more than one function and wonderfully, at that.

Shiseido Anessa, Kao Bioré UV Perfect Face Milk, Garnier UV Protect and L’oréal UV Perfect** are excellent sunscreens, while MAC Strobe Cream and the SPF-endowed MAC Lightful moisturise and impart a light-reflecting effect. Crème de la Mer feeds my thirsty skin and the Sage keeps my face clear.

Aside from their original function, their individual textures make for good bases, providing the right amount of moisture and binding power.

Added moisture is a welcome bonus for people with dry or dehydrated skin by reducing or eliminating flakiness and prevents the skin from looking scaly. Moisturisers fill in lines and even the skin’s surface, preparing a smooth canvas for foundation to glide on and stay put.

I also often use these products with loose or pressed powder – skipping foundation – and have been delighted by the soft and smooth appearance of my skin and how long the powder stayed on.


In my experience, there are two main caveats to using moisturisers and sunscreens as primers:

1. Do not apply too much of either.

Sunscreens can give a whitish overcast and you do not want to walk around with a pallid face or a mask-like appearance. Overzealous application of moisturisers will result in too much slip, causing foundation to slide off and powder to cake up.

2. Do not apply foundation or powder immediately.

Where sunscreen is concerned, this might lead to balling up of product. It helps to allow sunscreen to sink in for a bit before applying anything over it. Using a dabbing or stippling motion, as opposed to a swiping or gliding one, would prevent balling up and aid in creating a smooth appearance.

The same advice applies to moisturiser – let your skin absorb it for a while before you apply foundation or powder. Otherwise, you will end up with streaks, product gunk and/or cakeiness.

Explore your stash of moisturisers and sunscreens to find ways to make them work for you as makeup bases. You may have to adjust the amount you apply and/or the way you apply them. Who knows, you may find that they work better for you than actual primers!

* The wildly popular Blemish Balm (BB) creams, a somewhat recent skincare/makeup innovation, are something to consider, as well. BB creams tout skin-nourishing ingredients and vary in texture and formula. Some seek to moisturise and would seem to make good foundation bases but all the ones I’ve seen are tinted. It would seem excessive to layer foundation over a BB cream, unless that cream is very sheer. That said, BB cream would make a nice base for powders; I particularly like how some BB creams – both the regular and illuminating ones – make my skin look glowy when paired with a pressed/loose powder.

** Shiseido Anessa and Kao Bioré UV Perfect Face Milk have a creamy and emollient feel to them when you first apply them; after a while, they set to make the skin softly matte and become a waterproof base. There have been times when I wore these two products on their own and received compliments on my smoother-than-usual-looking skin. :) Garnier UV Protect and L’oreal UV Perfect, on the other hand, have a lot of slip and for some, a somewhat greasy after-feel. In my experience, the Garnier is less sticky than the L’oreal. To combat this, blot with a tissue before applying foundation and/or setting with powder. I’ve found that this gives my skin a lovely dewiness.


  • sesame says:

    Excellent info! My current sunscreen works very well as a primer and it’s so true that you shouldn’t apply foundation to sunscreen/moisturizer immediately. But that’s always a problem in the morning when time is a crunch.

  • renee says:

    This series is fantastic, Mag! :)

    I really have to see what all the rave about this BB balms are (am I even saying it right?! haha) because they sound great!

  • makeupmag says:

    Hi Sesame,

    Thank you! Sunscreen works very well and protects our skin too. Which sunscreen do you use?

  • makeupmag says:

    Hey Renee!

    Thank you! BB creams (‘BB’ stands for ‘blemish balm’) are all the rage in Asia! There are so many of them that it can be overwhelming. Some of them can be quite pink and some even look grey, so you must be careful when testing them. Spread the cream over your skin and allow the product to set before deciding which one to purchase. :)

  • Katie says:

    Amazing article, Mag! I LOVE MAC Strobe-have to restock that. You have some excellent tips and a great way of explaining things.

  • makeupmag says:

    Hey Katie!

    Thank you for your lovely comment! *hugs*
    Don’t you just love the pretty iridescence of Strobe Cream? ;)

  • Dawn says:

    Hey Mag, just found your blog and wanted to say hi!

  • makeupmag says:

    Hi Dawn-pie!

    :) Thanks for dropping by! HAPPY NEW YEAR!

  • The Casual Kitchener says:

    Mags this is a great article! Very interesting and informative series. You should write a book! Or at the very least, a magazine article.

    I love Loreal sunblock too. Just about to finish my 2nd tube. I wanna try Garnier.

  • makeupmag says:

    Kat my dear,

    Thank you – high praise coming from the wonderful writer that you are. :)

    I don’t know how many L’oreal UV Perfects I’ve finished! Love it. Try the Garnier and let me know what you think. It’s good but I hate how the product doesn’t flow out as easily as the L’oreal – the nozzle is so stiff!

  • cherie says:

    Hi Mag! Can I ask you where is the Sage cream available in singapore?

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