Tried and tested: Primers, liners and blushes

Rachel Marie Walsh tries out primers, liners, and blushes and rates how well they deliver on their promises.

Tried and tested: Primers, liners and blushes


Charlotte Tilbury Wonder Glow Instant Soft Focus Beauty Flash Primer, €49, ****

Wonder Glow has a texture suited to all skin types, as while it imparts radiance, it is neither greasy or mattifying.

This product is very expensive, probably because the brand touts it as combining complexion enhancement with anti-ageing benefits.

I’ve not convinced of the latter claim.

There are some wonderful anti-oxidants and skin-identical moisturisers like hyaluronic acid on the ingredients list, but the concentrations are really quite low.

There is less vitamin E and oligopeptide, for example, than there is perfume.

The perfume poses a risk of irritation for very sensitive skin, though Wonder Glow would likely be fine used as a highlighter atop a comforting foundation.

It really is wonderfully luminous and flaw-blurring, rendering pores invisible with a light application.


Giorgio Armani Light Master Makeup Primer, €47, *****

I think this product is one of Giorgio Armani’s best.

It feels lighter than serum and creates a natural, beautifully subtle luminescence.

The formula is free from potential irritants and suits all skin types.

It would be great to see effective amounts of anti-ageing ingredients in the product that costs so much.

Still, Light Master serves it purpose with aplomb.

Chanel Le Blanc de Chanel Multi-Use Illuminating Base, €47.50, ***

This is a silky, lightweight primer with a talc-rich base. Mica (luminous pigment) gives skin a mild silvery-white glow (similar to that of MAC’s Strobe Cream), and the effect is flattering in moderation.

The formula contains minor amounts of proven antioxidants like Vitamin C.

It also includes quite a bit of alcohol and perfume. Both of these ingredient types can be pro-ageing, drying, and sensitising to skin over time.

Jane Iredale Smooth Affair Facial Primer and Brightener, €46, ****

Jane Iredale positions itself as a “natural” makeup company and, as primers are primarily silicone-based affairs, Smooth Affair doesn’t entirely fit the profile.

It does contain plenty of antioxidant extracts (though probably not enough to effectively lighten skin, as the brand suggests).

It also contains a mild natural fragrance. Appearance wise, this creates an even, radiant base that sets quickly without looking greasy or glittery.


BEST BUY Burberry Eyes Effortless Kohl Liner, €24.42, *****

A kohl pencil is one of my desert-island/armageddon-situation makeup essentials.

There are few brands I haven’t tested in pursuit of perfect definition and Smashbox’s Always Sharp Waterproof Kohl is the best, as I’ve mentioned previously.

Burberry’s Effortless is a near-identical liner-pen. It has the same super-defined tip and lid-paring mechanism.

Like Always Sharp, it is waterproof but leaves plenty of time to smudge into a smoky look before it sets. The kohl creates smooth and consistent colour.

Always Sharp is cheaper and has a broader colour range, but on performance I’d recommend this just as highly.

Charlotte Tilbury Rock ’n’ Kohl Iconic Liquid Eye Pencil, €25, ****

Few pencils create that really thick, Siouxsie Sioux-esque look these days, but Charlotte Tilbury’s bucks the trend.

That said, there is no parer enclosed with this product and definition becomes difficult quickly if you don’t own one of an appropriate size.

The “liquid pencil’ of the title reference’s Tibury’s desire to capture the best features of both products.

The kohl’s texture is indeed as highly-pigmented as a liquid liner but still very creamy and easy to blend. It is also water-resistant and very long-wearing.

Laura Mercier Kohl Eye Pencil, €24, ***

This is a classic soft kohl pencil that needs frequent sharpening to maintain definition. Laura Mercier provides a parer.

The nib is richly-pigmented and easy to work with.

I like the colour choice (and ‘Antique Jade’ in particular), but still think this is too costly for what constitutes a pretty standard eye-pencil.

Guerlain Terracotta Eyes Powder Kohl, €24.55, *

This product’s packaging is intriguing, not least because it resembles the vial from which Meryl and Goldie drink youth potion in Death Becomes Her.

The content is not liquid liner but pure colour-powder.

The applicator stick is not terribly efficient and the liner sheds.




Pixi Sheer Cheek Gel, €19 at Marks & Spencer, *****

The perfect gel blush looks dewy, feels non-sticky and requires minimal application time.

Pixi’s sheer gel ticks all the boxes.

The formula is fragrance-free and lightly hydrating.

I like to pair this product in ‘Peachy’ with nude lips for a doll-like, 60s look.

Givenchy Blush Memoire de Forme, €36, ****

Memoire de Forme has a rich jelly-like texture that oily skin-types may find too emollient.

It gives cheeks the glossy, glamorous look of a luxury cream-blush.

This blush is sheer but colour is range is quite bold, so do dab with restraint.

The formula is perfumed enough to potentially irritate sensitive skin.

Perricone MD No Blush Blush, €34, *****

This really is a “no blush” blush, as if you have fair to medium skin the single shade available closely imitates your natural flush.

The finish is also skin-like, neither dewy nor matte.

There is broad-spectrum SPF in the formula, which is rare but attractive in this product type.

It is a bonus but by no means enough UV protection for daily wear, so do layer up.

The Body Shop Fresh Sorbet Blush, €20.50, ****

This is a recent launch from The Body Shop, available in pretty shades of lychee, watermelon, sunstar and grape.

These are boosted by plenty of light-reflecting pigment, so create a bright pop of colour on the cheek.

The formula contains quite a bit of perfume.

Fragrance and a preservative appear higher on the ingredients list than many of the added moisturisers, which is a pity.

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