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Reviewed: Make Up For Ever Primers (They Solve Every Possible Texture and Tone Concern)

The Step 1 Skin Equalizers are next-gen primers for next-level makeup.

"Can you recommend a good primer?"

If I had a dollar for every time I got this question over the years as a beauty editor, well, I might be blogging this poolside with an umbrella drink in hand. Or at least be able to get a very nice pair of sunglasses.

Anyway, the answer is yes. Yes, I finally CAN recommend a good primer. Actually, I can recommend 10 of them.

The new Make Up For Ever Step 1 Skin Equalizers.

You see, Make Up For Ever has just introduced its new Step 1 Skin Equalizers, a.k.a. the ultimate line of primers. I say "ultimate" because they basically thought of every possible skin concern we could have, and then made a primer that addresses it.

But let's back up a bit first. You understand the case for using primer, yes? The right one will perfect your skin's texture and tone, which in turn helps you get more professional and longer-lasting makeup results. Priming takes some of the pressure off your foundation to do all the heavy-lifting—heck, you'll probably even find you need less foundation if you do a priming step first.

I know why many of us sometimes skip it, though. Some primers have a weird "slip", and feel like they're clogging your pores. Others get gummy, or look way too shimmery, and many just plain don't work.

Not so with the Step 1 Skin Equalizers. (Not that I am surprised—as you know, I've been a devoted Make Up For Ever foundation- and concealer-user for years and years. They know their stuff when it comes to the complexion!) These are truly next-gen primers, formulated with hyaluronic acid to hydrate the skin, a vegetal sugar called Regeactive to boost cellular renewal, and Acti-tensor 3D, an imperfection-blurring technology. 

There are 10 primers in the range—five formulas to target texture concerns, five formulas to target tone concerns—and you can mix and match to customize them as needed. 

Primers for Texture Concerns

Here's the texture group:

These Make Up For Ever Step 1 Skin Equalizers target texture concerns.

This is what each one will do:

  • Mattifying Primer: Controls unwanted shine, fights excess oil and minimizes pore size. You might be surprised to find out this one is formulated with silica, not silicone!
  • Smoothing Primer: Fills in and blurs imperfections such as wrinkles, fine lines and pores for a smoother, more even texture.
  • Hydrating Primer: Moisturizes dehydrated skin to create a supple, plump surface.
  • Nourishing Primer: Replenishes moisturize and restores elasticity in dry, dehydrated skin. This one is richer and creamier than the Hydrating Primer.
  • Redness Correcting Primer: Neutralizes and evens out red tones with colour-correcting pigments.

Here's what they look like on the skin:

Swatches of the Make Up For Ever Step 1 Skin Equalizer texture formulas.

As you can see, there's nothing oily about these. The Hydrating and Nourishing Primers are creamy but lightweight, while the Smoothing one is a bit thicker, to fill in imperfections. Don't be scared of how green the Redness Correcting Primer is! Smoothed out and worn under makeup, it's quite subtle but camouflages the red really well. And the Mattifying one has the best texture of any oil-controlling primers I've tried.

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Primers for Tone Concerns

The other five primers in the line, the Radiant Primers, help colour-correct any tone issues for the look of perfected bare skin. They also deliver radiance and hydration to help skin look less dull:

These Make Up For Ever Step 1 Skin Equalizers target tone concerns.

Here's the lowdown on the colours:

  • Cool Pink: Adds radiance to fair skin with yellow undertones. 
  • Blue: Adds radiance to fair skin with pink undertones. If you have a very fair complexion, you can also add it to your liquid foundation to help lighten it by cutting out any orange tones. 
  • Peach: Adds radiance to tanned skin.
  • Yellow: Adds radiance to light to medium skin with pink undertones.
  • Caramel: Adds radiance to dark skin. If you find your foundation looks a little too light, dry or ashy, wear this underneath or stippled on top (or mix them together) to bring the warmth back to a deeper complexion.

This is what they look like on the skin:

Swatches of the Make Up For Ever Step 1 Skin Equalizer tone formulas.

Fun, right? Depending on your skin tone and the look you're after, you could use these all over the face, or as a spot highlight on the high planes of the face, where light would naturally hit.

How to Use the Step 1 Skin Equalizers

1: Start with clean, moisturized skin. If you're using the Hydrating or Nourishing Primer, then apply one of those first. Squeeze out about a quarter-sized amount and smooth it all over your skin, using a downward motion with fingertips or a sponge. 

2: Tone correction should be your first step if you're not using a Hydrating or Nourishing Primer. Or, if you did use one of the moisturizing primers, then can you do this tone step on top. This is where to use either the green Redness Correcting Primer, or any of the Radiant Primers: Cool Pink, Blue, Peach, Yellow or Caramel. Again, use a quarter-sized amount for your entire face, smoothing it on in downward motions with fingers or sponge.

3: If you're using the Mattifying Primer or Smoothing Primer, they should go on last, after moisture and/or tone correction, and always before foundation. 

4: An optional final touch is to use your Radiant Primer as a spot highlight, if desired.

So how did I fare with these? 

Before and after the Make Up For Ever Step 1 Skin Equalizers.

This is my before and after using the Hydrating, Redness Correcting and Mattifying Primer, along with the Blue Radiant Primer as a highlight. My main skin concerns are shine control in the T-zone, redness reduction and hydration (at least under the eyes), and these primers really do exactly what they say they will. Plus, I love the luminosity created by the hint of blue pigment. 

Finally, primers that achieve specific things—and feel great on the skin as well! 

Where to Buy

Find the Make Up For Ever Step 1 Skin Equalizers at Sephora and Make Up For Ever boutiques.

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