Should You Use a Primer or a Setting Spray?

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The primer and setting spray combo is an essential one if you're attempting to keep your face from melting off in the summer heat, but we've always wondered: can we use them together? Consider the question to be answered with a resounding yes. "When choosing a primer or a setting spray, I like to compare it to nail care—think of a primer as a base coat to create a smooth surface, and think of the setting spray as a top coat to prevent any damage," explains makeup artist Abraham Sprinkle. "One is just as valuble as the other." But then, that triggers another question for us... Which is ultimately the better option?

The answer, of course, depends on the look you're going for, and sensitivity toward ingredients in certain products. For example, if you have a sensitivity to silicone. Many primers contain silicone—a fact your author discovered after using a widely-popular brand that triggered a cystic breakout on her face the night before attending a Maury taping as an audience member, not kidding—so if silicone-based products irriatate your skin, go for the setting spray. Additionally, Sprinkle, who counts the MAC Prep and Prime Fix + ($31; as his favorite, advises opting for a setting spray over a primer if your eye makeup situation is particularly intense. "If you're working with a product with texture that has the chance of fall out, like a glittery eyeshadow, setting spray acts as an adherent," he says. "It's like an extra insurance policy."

Alternately, primers like Kevyn Aucoin's Sensual Skin formula ($44; are better used for giving your face and complexion products a longer lifespan. "If you decided to use a liquid blush for the day, a primer helps even out the surface for porosity, allowing a clean, even application," he adds. If you want to blur over any areas where pores are more prominent, an even layer of primer is the way to address the issue, and they can even be worn solo if you just want to mattify the general area. Plus, if you have a full-coverage foundation you want to take down a level, a dollop of primer can sheer out the intensity without altering how it wears.

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