Primer Vitamin Serum
This fragrance-free foundation primer has a serum-like texture, but so do most primers that don’t mention “serum” in the name. And, for the most part, using a well-formulated serum rather than a primer is better for your skin because you’re getting the beneficial ingredients a serum contains along with the smoothing effect primers provide.
Primer Vitamin Serum isn’t recommended because it contains a potentially irritating amount of witch hazel distillate. As the most concentrated form of this plant, its alcohol content puts skin at risk for irritation—and if you have oily skin (and the texture of this product makes it best for that skin type), the witch hazel’s irritation can stimulate more oil production at the base of the pores (see More Info for further details).
Although this primer contains some beneficial ingredients, it isn’t worth considering over other options, whether labeled “primer” or “serum”—you don’t need both. This contains salicylic acid, but the product’s pH is not within range for this ingredient to function as an exfoliant.
- Contains several beneficial ingredients, including antioxidants and skin-repairing agents.
- Contains a potentially irritating amount of witch hazel distillate.
- The salicylic acid cannot function as an exfoliant because the product’s pH is not in the range required for it to work.
Applying irritating ingredients to oily skin stimulates excess oil production at the base of the pores, so skin ends up being more oily and the pores become (or stay) enlarged. Treating oily skin gently with effective products designed to absorb excess oil, exfoliate inside the pore, and help normalize pore function is the best approach to see improvements (Sources: Clinical Dermatology, September-October 2004, pages 360–366; and Dermatology, January 2003, pages 17–23.)
Sonia Kashuk At-A-Glance
Strengths: Affordable and widely available (though exclusive to Target stores); good makeup remover; the makeup is still the star attraction, with impressive options for foundation, powder, blush, lip color, eyeliner and especially makeup brushes.
Weaknesses: The concealers, eye pencil, and brow shapers are a letdown; the makeup palettes may seem convenient, but several of the included products perform poorly.
Perhaps best known for her years of work with supermodel Cindy Crawford, makeup artist Sonia Kashuk's well-chosen selection of makeup has been available exclusively at Target stores since the mid-1990s.
Kashuk's brushes have been a strong point, and now that they've been redone they're better than ever, and still affordable. This is definitely a makeup collection worth visiting, and you'll find some premium options among Kashuk's powder foundation, regular powders, and blush. Several other products, from foundation to lipsticks, are also worthy of attention, though this is not a line that caters to darker skin tones. Ironically, it's the latest cosmetic products that met with the most critical reviews, largely due to poor execution or their gimmicky nature.
Note: Sonia Kashuk products are also available at select Bloomingdales locations in New York and California. The company also maintains freestanding stores in New York and New Jersey.
About the Experts
The Beautypedia team consists of skin care and makeup experts personally trained by the original Cosmetics Cop and best-selling beauty author, Paula Begoun. We’re fascinated by skin care and makeup products and thrilled when they meet or exceed our expectations, but we’re also disappointed when they fail to perform as claimed, are wildly overpriced, or contain ingredients scientific research has proven can hurt skin.
Our mission has always been to help you find the best products for your skin, no matter your budget or preferences. Beautypedia’s thorough and insightful reviews cut through the hype and provide reliable recommendations for all ages, skin types, and skin tones.