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Ask Belle: Prep and Prime

Hi Belle-
Could you offer any suggestions for a foundation primer, a new moisturizer, or something similar.  I have textbook combination skin,  with extremely dry in some areas and the T-Zone and sides of my nose being the oiliest.  As we enter into the  winter I know my skin will continue to dry out…compliments of the turn of the century heating system in my apartment building (only a slight exaggeration) but the oil will continue.  I’m currently using Smashbox Photo Finish primer, but I’m not sure if that’s best and still doesn’t give me the “results” I want…any suggestions?
Thank you so much for all your daily advice through the blog.  I really enjoy reading it.
Thanks! Whitney
Isn’t combination skin the worst?  When it’s oily, it’s like the Exxon Valdez came to town.  And when it’s dry, it’s so dry you wonder when the camels will arrive.  Then you moisturize and before long, you’re covered in acne.  Lather, rinse, repeat. 
Luckily, there are a few products that can help.

Laura Mercier Oil Free Primer (Sephora, $30)

This is by far the best primer that I have ever tried.  It is light, non-greasy and it really helps the makeup hold on.  And while it’s a bit pricey, the tube lasts forever. 

Ole Henriksen Sheer Transformation Moisturizer (Sephora, $45)

Without a doubt, this is the best daytime moisturizer that I have ever tried.  It’s light, oil-free and actually moisturizes.  I use his pure perfection as a night cream, but this airy cream is perfect for regular use.

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  1. RO says:

    I use Johnson and Johnson Purpose lotion. It's lightweight and good for combination skin…and cheap. However, my trick is the foundation. I love, love, love Bare Minerals makeup. It soaks up excess oil in the summer and isn't too dry for the winter. Plus, my skin has improved since I started using it. Breakouts are rare now and I get compliments on my complexion enough to know it is worth the money.

    October 26, 2010/Reply
  2. Dr. Jean Grey says:

    I have awful, acne-prone, combo-y skin. I use DDF moisture dew. Check it out. Very good for sensitive skin.

    October 26, 2010/Reply
  3. Ash says:

    I have fairly sensitive combination skin as well, and I swear my current routine. My skin has never looked better. I'm using Estee Lauder's Time Zone day and night cream. The day is a little thick, but I haven't had any problems. The night cream is a-mazing. I am 25, so anti-aging isnt nearly the concern but this cream is wonderful and it smells divine.

    I too am using PhotoFinish and am a bit underwhelmed. I'm excited to see what others suggest in this area!

    October 26, 2010/Reply
  4. Stephanie says:

    I've been using Make Up Forever's Micro Perfecting Primer for over a year now, and I totally love it. It brightens and evens my complexion, and helps my makeup stay fresh-looking all day. I just have the regular version, but it comes in several formulas to combat different problems. With almost-daily wear, my one-ounce container lasted me about a year.


    October 26, 2010/Reply
  5. gingerr says:

    I moisturize after washing, go get dressed, then do a primer before applying foundation.

    I go very lightly with the foundation, mostly to cover some red spots. In keeping with the “lightly” concept I use a foundation brush.

    I like smashbox too but I have some complaints about the price and the packaging. For the price I think the packaging should let you get every last bit of product out and I had trouble getting it out of the corners.

    I picked up Maybelline's “Instant Age Rewind Primer” at CVS awhile back and have been happy with that. It's not all that inexpensive, and I didn't compare the quanitities to smashbox so for all I know they give you just 1/3 as much and cut the price by 1/3, but I think it's worth a try.

    October 26, 2010/Reply
  6. Rory says:

    I like Tarte's Clean Slate primer. There's no scent, and it doesn't feel like a mask on my skin. It's $30, and it makes my skin so soft and smooth! I had also tried Revlon's primer, and smelled so strongly of roses my eyes watered the two times I wore it.

    As far as moisturizers go, I swear by Clinque's Dramatically Different Moisturizing Gel. It sinks right in, and makes my skin soft. If you want the cheap route, the original Oil of Olay is equally great (I just prefer a gel to a lotion).

    October 27, 2010/Reply
  7. M says:

    I also love the Johnson & Johnson Purpose lotion and Bare Minterals makeup. I have had no skin problems since I started using that combination. It does seem to wear off after a long day, so a primer would help. In the winter, I may use CeraVe for a little more moisture, but it doesn't have sunscreen.

    October 29, 2010/Reply
  8. Victoria says:

    Belle! I have the same issue with my skin, Oily/dry combo skin and thought you could pass on my findings to your other readers…Murad’s Mattifying face lotion or Mark Lees Hydrafluide are both FANTASTIC! And have not once caused me to break out.

    May 22, 2013/Reply