Matt Primer

by Illamasqua  
$32 - 1 fl. oz.
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Makeup > Sensitive Skin Products > Foundation Primer
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This primer, which contains nylon-12 to provide its smooth, silky finish, despite its name, does not keep skin matte. The lotion-like texture is easy to apply, but it sets to a moist finish, which feels light but won't do much to keep excess oil in check or prolong makeup wear if you have oily skin.

Just like Illamasqua's Satin Primer, Matt Primer contains sunscreen ingredients (including avobenzone for essential UVA protection). However, unlike Satin Primer, the packaging for Matt Primer does not have an SPF rating, which means you cannot rely on it for daily sun protection because you have no idea how much sun protection it provides.

As with Satin Primer, none of the sunscreen ingredients are listed as active. The fact that there are no actives listed likely is because this primer is made in Germany, which is a member of the European Union, and sunscreens made in EU countries are not regulated as they are in the United States and Canada.As such, actives are not required to be listed, but SPF ratings are, assuming the company did the necessary testing to establish an SPF rating, which doesn't seem to be the case here.

In the end, Matt Primer is overpriced considering its average formula and its inability to provide a matte finish. Please see our list of Best Oil-Absorbing Products for a range of options that really do work to keep excess shine in check.

  • Easy-to-blend silky texture feels light and smoothes skin.
  • Pricey considering its average formula.
  • Product not advertised as having an SPF rating, but contains actives capable of providing broad-spectrum protection. But how much protection you're getting is unknown, so it you cannot rely on it for your sun protection.
  • Formula fails to keep excess shine in check and never sets to a true matte finish.

Water, Nylon-12, Octocrylene, Homosalate, Cyclopentasiloxane, Glyceryl Stearate, Glycerin, Octyldodecanol, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Butyl Methoxydibenzoylmethane (Avobenzone), Ceteareth-12, Ceteareth-20, Tocopheryl Acetate, Phenoxyethanol, Xanthan Gum, Cetearyl Alcohol, Methylparaben, Allantoin, Cetearyl Glucoside, Ethylparaben, Propylparaben, Fragrance

Illamasqua is a London-based makeup line created by makeup artists whose stated mission is to get women and men to "express themselves through makeup and to discover their bolder, sexier side." This urbane sentiment is similar to other edgy color brands like Urban Decay, Too Faced, and Make Up For Ever, so we wondered if Illamasqua would bring something new and exciting to the table for those looking to enhance their makeup wardrobe. After a thorough look at this brand at our local Sephora store (where it is retailed in the U.S.), we must state that, unfortunately, it is an unimpressive "been there, done that" group of products with relatively high price tags.

Rather than bringing innovative, exciting products to those seeking to get experimental with unusual makeup colors and textures, Illamasqua's products tend to be hit or miss. And there are enough misses to make this brand one you can safely pass up in favor of color collections whose palettes are more approachable, user-friendly, and just overall better in quality. If you're still curious about Illamasqua, there are some outlier products to seek out, including their Bronzing Duo, jet-black Masquara, the Lipstick, and, if you need full coverage and have the time to blend it well, the company's Concealer is definitely worth checking out. Beyond these there lies disappointment after disappointment—and even the average products prove to be a letdown due to their high prices, plus the fact that competing lines at Sephora offer better versions of most Illamasqua products.

For more information about Illamasqua, visit

Note: The products we reviewed are representative of what U.S. and Canadian consumers will find at Sephora stores that retail this brand. The full range of Illamasqua products may be viewed on their Web site. Illamasqua does not publish a phone number on their products or on their Web site, and we always caution you about shopping an online cosmetics company that doesn't offer up-front and direct access to the customer service department.

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About the Experts

Paula Begoun is the best-selling author of 20 books on skin care and makeup. She is known worldwide as the Cosmetics Cop and creator of Paula's Choice. Paula's expertise has led to hundreds of appearances on national and international television including:

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The Paula's Choice Research Team is dedicated to helping you find the absolute best products for your skin, using research-based criteria to review beauty products from an honest, balanced perspective. Each member of the team was personally trained by Paula herself.

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