Why Your Foundation Doesn’t Last (Even With Primer)

As someone with combo skin, it tends to take some work when it comes to making my foundation last all day, and wear evenly. This is the reason primers are such a staple in my routine; I don’t know how I ever got by without them.

I’ve definitely run into my fair share of primers that haven’t worked for me at all, though. It always disappoints me when my foundation doesn’t last me more than a few hours before breaking down. Although, I eventually realized that I was the one to blame for under-performance of primers I had heard such great things about.

Wondering why your foundation doesn't last, even with primer? You might be making this one big mistake... | Slashed Beauty

As a product that is inevitably layered underneath other products— namely, foundation— ingredients in your primer matter more than ever in determining performance of your foundation. I’m sure you’ve been caught buying a primer with claims of smoothing skin and filling pores, but without much thought about the main ingredient used to deliver those results: silicone.

Just like water and oil don’t mix (queue flashback of your sixth grade science class), water and silicone don’t mix well either, and I’m betting that if your foundation doesn’t last despite trying everything, you may be experiencing the results of mixing a silicone-based primer with a water-based foundation. When you put a water-based foundation over a silicone primer, you’ll tend to see separation and breakdown in the formula throughout the day, if not immediately.

The incompatibility of ingredients can also be why you may feel oilier throughout the day using some primers— the silicone is making its way on top of the water formula. However, some people have claimed that they have OK results using a water-based primer with a silicone-based foundation when they give the primer time to sink into the skin… but you still might not get as long of a wear as your foundation’s full potential.

Wondering why your foundation doesn't last, even with primer? You might be making this one big mistake... | Slashed Beauty

How can you tell if your primer and foundation are compatible? Look at the first several ingredients on the label. If it lists ingredients ending in -cone— especially more than one– it’s silicone-based, and won’t work with water-based foundations. If a -cone ingredient is low on the list, after water is listed, then it is water-based.

My Favorite Water-Based Primer & Foundation Pair:


My Favorite Silicone-Based Primer & Foundation Pair:

You should also consider your morning moisturizer in this mess too— are you using an oil-based serum? That could also be interfering with the wear time, even if you have dry skin!

I encourage you to audit your face makeup routine and look into the ingredients of the products you’re using if it’s not lasting on you. Choose products with the same main ingredient, and you’ll be surprised what you’ve been missing out on!

Go check your products, then tell me: Are you using an incompatible primer and foundation pair?



  1. Damn didn’t work that way for me, I combined a water based primer and foundation and I look pretty bad right now lol….

  2. Thank you for this! I love knowing about the science behind why some things work and other things don’t. This provided a great insight into primer and foundation compatibility for me!

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