There are many different types of facial primers from many different brands. The purpose of facial primers is to prep the skin to receive foundation. They smooth the face out and help diminish impurities among other things. There are different formulas for mattifying, tone correcting, and even erasing fine lines.
The primer I tried was the Studio Gear Prime Objective Skin Perfecting Face Primer with SPF 20.
According to the website, this primer "helps protect the skin from the damaging effects of UVA and UVB rays while priming the skin in much the same way as a painter primes a canvas. PRIME OBJECTIVE SPF 20 is a silicone based face primer that provides an effective broad-spectrum SPF 20 sunscreen while acting to “retouch”, or visually diminish, imperfections in the surface texture of the skin. PRIME OBJECTIVE SPF 20 contains a sustained release liposome system with retinol that can help promote cell turnover and diminish the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles as well as a milk protein complex to help to balance and protect the skin from environmental stresses. The ‘skin-perfecting’ effect of this state-of the- art formula is further enhanced with optical diffusers."
Since this primer wasn't mattifying, I was expecting much from it. I washed my face and applied my moisturizer, then applied the primer (the primer DOES NOT replace moisturizer! It does not penetrate the top layer of skin, so there are no moisturizing benefits). Once applied I was surprised by how smooth my skin felt. And it didn't feel heavy or sticky, which was my main concern. I used Bare Minerals foundation, which is a loose powder. It applied MUCH better with the primer, and I actually had to use less to get the coverage I wanted. But the real test was how the make-up would wear through the day. I worked a six hour day and checked out my makeup when I got home. What I noticed right away was how matte my face looked. After a long day, by the time I get home, my face is incredibly shiny and the majority of my foundation has worn off. But with the primer, I had a little shine on my nose but that was it. My blush, foundation, and brightening cream were all in place. And, again, this primer wasn't even mattifying! I was incredibly happy, and I highly recommend it.
Some other primers:
Benefit "That Gal" Brightening Face Primer: Good for dull complexions.
Smashbox Photo Finish Color Correcting Foundation Primers- apricot for dark spots, green to reduce redness, and purple to counteract yellow, sallow skin.
Urban Decay Complexion Primer Potion: Pore Perfecting- Good for oily skin.
L'Oreal Paris Studio Secrets Professional Magic Perfecting Base- A cheaper price point than those above, also a mattifying.