Why You Need a Primer, Desperately

Black Opal make-up application.
Black Opal make-up application. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA | NMG 

We have all had that moment where we look in the mirror to see that the make-up we applied earlier has changed colour, lost its glow, run especially if it’s a sunny day, or disappeared altogether.

That is oxidation. Oxidation occurs when the foundation is exposed to air and after staying on the skin for some time.

During oxidation, the foundation may turn a shade or two darker over the course of the day, making a person look darker than normal. Other effects include a shiny face due to excess oil production. Also some foundations melt that someone needs a touch-up.

Dheshan Maidu, the marketing director for BLK/OPL, a brand that has been in Kenya for the past 15 years under the distribution of Linton’s Beauty Word, says that heavy face creams can be the culprits behind oxidised foundation.

He says the face creams, which are applied before the make-up, as moisturisers and sunscreens, may leave too much moisture on the skin or encourage the skin to produce more oil.


On the other hand, the skin can be dehydrated and after applying foundation, it produces excess oil. The oilier the skin, the higher the chance of the foundation oxidising.

“Oxidation can be contained by using the right products,” says Mr Maidu who was in Nairobi to launch a new range of foundation shades by BLK/OPL.

To stop your foundation from oxidising, use a primer. It will create a barrier between the skin and the foundation, helping prevent it from reacting with the natural oils.

For women with combination skin, use an oil-controlling primer and apply it on the T-zone (the part of the face that is made up of the forehead, nose, chin and the mouth). Then use a hydrating primer on the rest of the face.

This sounds like a lot of work for most women.

“I know women want the simplest steps to applying make-up. But applying primer is important because it forms a perfect canvas. Typically, women with oilier to combination skin types should use Black Opal invisible oil blocking gel primer before applying foundation and then use Black Opal invisible oil blocking loose or pressed powder as a finishing touch,” he says.

Also, pick an oil-free foundation. A person can also use a multifunctional, lightweight, hypoallergenic and colourless loose powder, designed with unique oil blotters, which help control the shine and impart a beautiful matte finish.

The benefits of using this includes all day shine control and it extends wear of make-up with a mattifying finish for oily skin.

However, it is also important to know your undertones. An undertone is the colour underneath the surface of a person’s skin. You can have the same skin colour as someone, but a different undertone.

Most make-up brands have made it easier for clients to know what kind of undertones they might have by creating a chart.

A person with fair skin tone has neutral, cool and warm undertones. Light skinned people usually have warm or cool undertones.

Dark skinned women have warm or cool undertones.

“Most people end up blaming a product for not getting their desired look, but it is usually because they do not understand their undertones. This plays a major role on how a person might look after applying make-up. So it is best to get a professional to help you pick the best products for your face and buy make-up,” says Mr Maidu.

If all fails, get a lighter shade of foundation. You may have to try a few foundations to see how light you can go and which shade you are more comfortable with.