I’ve grown to loathe silicones. Not because I think they are dangerous or inherently bad – my issues are with their disappointing performance and lazy overuse. Added to a vast array of beauty products, silicones add a slick, smooth, slippery texture, that (theoretically) the consumer perceives as luxurious and efficacious. Silicones also work as a temporary “filler” for open pores and fine lines, which should make them perfect for primers, which work to smooth, fill and blur surface imperfections in preparation for longer-lasting makeup. Yet ironically, this is precisely where they drive me to greatest distraction, peeling and bobbling under fingers, like old Pritt Stick on a school craft table.
Until now, silicone-free primers have been hard to find, which is why, when I saw NYX’s silicone-free Honey Dew Me Up primer (£15, 22ml) during idle minutes between trains in Superdrug at Brighton station, I couldn’t get to the till fast enough. This looks, at first glance, like nail polish. The glass bottle and sticky, drippy spatula resemble a lab sample that never graduated from prototype; but I urge you to see past that, just as I suggest you ignore the unusually wet texture and floating golden flecks within (meant to add glow, they are too sparse to do anything at all, and the product is none the worse for it). When it’s stroked or brushed on to skin, this primer is wonderful, delivering moist, bouncy smoothness with grip and zero peel or bobble. Foundation glides over it with neither streak nor cake, and sits tight until cleansing.
A few hugely expensive silicone‑free primers have launched recently, too. The best comes, in my view, from Elemis. Pro‑Collagen Insta-Smooth Primer (£58, 50ml) blends several alternative ingredients to deliver the smooth without the silicone and maddening texture degradation. It feels luxurious and suits everyone, including the oily-skinned, though it’s too matte for my own taste. I’ve reviewed REN’s excellent silicone-free Perfect Canvas Clean Primer in a previous column, but fans who found its cost prohibitive may be relieved by the price drop to £40 for 30ml (the packaging is new, too).
Or, at just a tenner, e.l.f.’s impressive Glow Up (£10, 30ml, vegan), is a runny primer serum that preps dry and normal skins without that matte, flat chalkiness delivered by many silicone versions. All are cruelty free.
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