I’ve been doing some serious travel beauty testing this year focusing on reducing my toiletry bag to just a few products like a multi-purpose primer so I can travel hand luggage-only and spend less time at airports!
On paper, face primers offer the perfect product to combine sunscreen, foundation, concealer, powder and of course, primer; but up until now, they’ve been a bit of a let down in practice. The ingredients often irritate sensitive skin, many melt in hot or humid climates and don’t provide adequate protection against the elements. But things have been progressing on the primer front significantly and there are several products that can successfully help you leave everything else at home and become the carry-on queen of your (my) dreams.
Here’s a list of the primers I currently rate and what they’re best at for each skin type.
Budget: Aloe Vera Gel
I kid you not! Not content with being my absolute must-have travel essential, working as a moisturiser, hair repair, skin soother, face mask, bite cream etc. etc. etc. It also works as a skin soothing, mattifying primer, all by itself! Try it as a lock-in layer on top of hyaluronic acid to benefit from all-day moisturisation too – perfect for dry, arid countries where you need to trap as much moisture on your skin as possible to prevent fine lines forming. Be sure to ONLY buy alcohol-free 100% aloe vera gels like this one on Amazon but shop around – a 500ml bottle should cost around £15-18. Muji do 100ml squeezy refillables for £1.95 that are ideal for taking aloe absolutely everywhere.
Silicone-Free: Too Faced Hangover Replenishing Face Primer
Vegan friendly! Paraben free! And still really, really good?! I’m so happy that we can get this line in the UK now. The guys at Too Faced have worked hard to create a range that avoids all the chemicals and dodgy formulas many brands rely upon for decent results and now have the most amazing set of products as a result.
When travelling I like wearing this coconut water infused primer on top of a face serum. Although I’m not often hungover (honest) it does feel like it’s doing the job of a plumping moisturiser while somehow keeping my skin smoothed and my pores invisible. At home, I use the Hangover Setting Spray from the same range as it keeps my skin matte yet fresh feeling all day. Unfortunately, that one’s over 100ml and doesn’t transfer being a spray so I’ll hold out for a travel version.
All-In-One: BareMinerals Prime Time BB Primer-Cream Daily Defense Spf 30
Despite having possibly the longest name ever, this primer really does have it all going on. It’s tinted and comes in 4 shades: Fair, Light, Medium and Tan (the tan is very dark but this range could do with an actual brown colour, please!). Spf 30 is the level I look for and this one’s created with titanium dioxide, (titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are non-chemical sunscreens and MUCH less irritating to skin than chemical sunscreen). It’s got some great anti-oxidants included and doesn’t dry out skin with its velvety matte finish. I think the price is incredible for what you get and how little you use each time. A 30ml refillable plastic pump bottle – this brand is so good for travellers!
Moisture: Clinique Pep-Start HydroBlur Moisturiser
This one’s a bit of a magic cream. It goes on like a balm, feels moisturising without any runniness and leaves a smooth primed finish that doesn’t irritate and lasts throughout the day. No SPF so you’ll need to add this but I had a sample of this and was seriously impressed with how good my skin felt everytime I used it. Pores and dry patches disappear!
Splurge: Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer Spf 15
A pricey purchase which doesn’t offer colour balancing but this lightweight, natural sunscreen primer creates a flawless, long-lasting matte finish on oily skin and gives me a smooth, airbrushed look that lasts all day and night. Probably too drying for combination to dry skin though. They do a 10ml travel size so perhaps try it out and see what you think before opting for a 30ml or 60ml version.