Satin Primer

by Illamasqua  
$32 - 1 fl. oz.
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Makeup > Sensitive Skin Products > Foundation Primer
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Satin Primer isn't advertised as providing sun protection, but the product we tested in the store clearly stated "SPF 20" on its label. The formula contains several sunscreen ingredients, including avobenzone for UVA (think anti-aging) protection, but none 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.

Beyond the sun protection this provides, the fragranced formula is as basic as it gets, offering a silky, fluid texture that smoothes on easily and leaves a light satin finish that provides mild hydration, which makes it best for normal to slightly dry skin. This doesn't have any special "priming" properties and is not preferred to applying an antioxidant-rich moisturizer with sunscreen under your makeup or a primer loaded with state-of-the-art ingredients. You'll find our top picks for such products on our list of Best Moisturizers with Sunscreen.

  • Provides broad-spectrum sun protection with avobenzone for reliable UVA screening.
  • Easy to blend and sets to a slightly hydrating finish.
  • Pricey considering its average formula.
  • Product not advertised as having an SPF rating, but the packaging lists SPF 20, which is confusing.
  • Formula lacks the kinds of ingredients found in top-rated moisturizers with sunscreen, and does not have any special ability to prime skin for makeup.

Water, Octocrylene, Homosalate, Cyclopentasiloxane, Glyceryl Stearate, Glycerin, Octyldodecanol, Butyl Methoxydibenzoylmethane (Avobenzone), Caprylic/ Capric Triglyceride, 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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