Beauty Battles: We tested these three pore-blurring primers - here's the best one!

Ah, pores, the last frontier into the metaphorical universe of porcelain skin. We often get asked how to “make pores disappear” and our answer is pretty much the same: you cannot eliminate them completely, especially through makeup alone. You can clean them to make them less visible, or get laser treatments to shrink them, but "eliminate" is too strong a word because your skin actually needs them to function properly! Apart from keeping them clear or getting professionally zapped, there are makeup primers that are specifically formulated to “refine,” “minimize,” and “blur” your pores to perfection.

I tested three products: the Ellana Blur Makeup Primer, the Happy Skin Matte About You Pore and Shine Control Primer, and the Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer to see which blurs or minimizes my pores the best.

All three primers claim to Do Something for ya pores while lengthening the life of your base makeup. I tested them with three foundations: the Becca Aqua Luminous Perfecting Foundation that has light to medium coverage, with a dewy finish; NARS All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation that has medium buildable coverage, with a skin finish; and L’Oreal Infallible Pro-Matte Foundation that has medium to full coverage, and a matte finish. These three do not necessarily perfect the texture of my face, do not feel heavy on the skin, and range from luminous to matte, so we can get a full picture of what the primers can do.

The prep is just as important

I kept the rest of the base products the same: moisturized with the Kat Von D Lock-It Hydrating Primer (which functions more like skincare tbh), set with the Laura Mercier Transluscent Loose Setting Powder, and misted with the Mario Badescu Facial Spray. These are the same products that I use with my usual pore primer, the Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer, and I already knew that they wouldn’t interfere with texture since I'm familiar with how they function and wear throughout the day.

Bare-faced, and with no primers used, my pores are completely visible and the texture on my mouth area is very pronounced.

Bare-faced, and with no primers used, my pores are completely visible and the texture on my mouth area is very pronounced.

With pore minimization though, the skin preparation is just as important as the product. You have to have an exfoliated canvas (a problem I run into below) to avoid flakiness, and well-moisturized skin to avoid dehydration (and an over-production of oil). What is a “poreless” canvas with flaky, too-slippery skin anyway? Another thing to watch out for is application. One must pat the product in to avoid caking and wiping product away. Remember that the game is pore- and line-filling. You can't fill the craters if you’re swiping the product away. On to the reviews!

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Ellana Blur Makeup Primer (P599 for 20mL at ellanacosmetics.com)

The Ellana Blur Makeup Primer is a silicone-based product that promises to both hydrate and control oil, lengthen the life of foundation, and deliver a velvety canvas. The product is super slippy and it’s quite easy to over-apply since the tube delivers at least a pea-sized amount every time. It is not hydrating nor oil-controlling, but it does help you create a velvety-smooth canvas for foundation.

Among the three, this is the only primer that actually helps you to use less foundation as the slippy-ness helps you to blend out the product more! Since the NARS foundation can be difficult to blend, the Ellana Blur Primer enables the foundation to just glide over the face. I kinda look perfect (woah) right after setting but upon closer inspection, it had some trouble with my nose area, caking up upon application. What’s best about the Ellana Blur Primer, however, is that it works well with the natural oils of the face, making the canvas smoother after a couple of hours, making the caking disappear instead of letting the foundation slide off.

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With the more luminous foundation, it actually helped a lot in taking down the initial shine. Generally, the Ellana Blur Primer does help in lengthening the life of foundation. I was able to wear the Becca foundation for six hours, when it would’ve been erased at four hours if worn alone. It looks a lot worse with the flash (as most things do, and the Becca foundation is extremely dewy in photos) but this was more decent than without, and performed better than the Happy Skin primer.

The results were the same with the matte foundation, although obviously, that wore for much longer, and you got the same initial minimal cakey-ness that dissipated with time. Overall, the Ellana Blur Makeup Primer is best for using less foundation, and can work with any foundation finish. Cost efficiency: P29/mL

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Happy Skin Matte About You Pore and Shine Control Primer (P1,299 for 25mL at happyskincosmetics.ph)

The Happy Skin Pore and Shine Control Primer is also a silicone-based product with added kaolin powder and mica that is supposed to “help reduce pore size, control oil, smoothen skin, and make makeup last longer.” Among the three, it is the only primer you can actually wear alone to have that smooth, pore-blurred look. However, it does not help in oil control at all, nor does it lengthen the life of foundation. In just one hour after initial application, the oils on my nose started to seep through. It is also the least effective in minimizing pores, but it does blur them. You can actually still see my pores in the photo above, but it’s the only primer of the three that doesn’t cake.

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I do look fresh with the luminous foundation but I really look rough six hours later! The oils of my face have completely seeped through the base products, and it almost looks pearly, and not in a good way. Still, you can count on it not to cake up.

The Happy Skin Matte About You Pore and Shine control Primer is best for pore-blurring, and is best paired with ultra-matte foundations. Cost efficiency: P59.96/mL

Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer (P3,500 for 30mL at sephora.ph)

The Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer is oil-free and infused with Broad Spectrum SPF 15 that delivers “a silky, airy texture that leaves a smooth canvas for makeup, while reducing the look of redness, pores, and wrinkles.” The SPF is both a boon and a bane since the primer has a noticeable white cast, which is alright for every day, but not suitable for flash photography unless concentrated only on the T-zone, which would render the SPF useless.

This primer does deliver the silkiest canvas but it’s the most fussy to work with. You can only use a small amount, else face a too-matte complexion that actually made my face so flaky I had to take off the whole chin portion of my makeup six hours after application. A whole pump is just too much unless your normal is oil-slick. However, this product photographs the best (with strategic placement!) and is the most skin-perfecting of the three. You also have to wait for your moisturizer to completely absorb in before use, or else the primer will bunch up and pill off. With some practice (meaning with room for failure) you can get this primer to be your best friend, and it should be at this price point.

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You can really see the lasting power of this product with the luminous foundation. Inspect all three before and after photos, and the Veil Primer is the least oily, and closest to initial application. (Please don’t mind my chin, I am sure I physically rubbed it off - force of habit while I'm working.) The Veil Primer extends the foundation life from four to about eight hours, with the finish looking more like a sheen than a shine. The effect on matte foundation is consistent with the NARS and Becca foundations, although again, precautions had to be made.

The Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer is best for perfecting the canvas and lengthening foundation life. It can be used with any foundation finish with varying amounts of product. Cost efficiency: P116.67/mL for full size

Which one is your favorite? Any other pore refining/minimizing/blurring primers I should know about? Let’s discuss.