The main ingredient in most primers is silicone. It's the thing that gives your skin that silky feel, helps smooth uneven or rough texture, reduce the appearance of pores and texture on the skin. A lot of makeup products now days also contains silicone - pretty much anything that is very silky or easy to blend, silicone is your answer. 

Silicone itself isn't necessarily a harmful ingredient - there are clean, naturally derived options available. That said, the majority of the silicones used in beauty products do have harmful health and environmental effects, and many are a form of plastic rather than sourced from sand or quartz. 
Aside from silicones, most primers contain an array of other ingredients, each with their own list of adverse effects. 

This is what you'll find in most primers, from brands including Hourglass Cosmetics, Too Faced, Benefit, Bobbi Brown, NARS, Urban Decay and Yves Saint Laurent. 


BHT, also called Butylated hydroxytoluene, is another preservative. This chemical is an endocrine disruptor, classified as expected to be toxic or harmful and some studies have shown it to be a carcinogen. It is toluene based which is another ingredient with carcinogen concerns, developmental concerns, organ system toxicity, irritation and more. 

Because there lies a significant amount of conflicting research regarding the carcinogenic effects of BHT, it remains a controversial ingredient around the world. The US has banned it from being used in baby food because of its potential association with hyperactivity in children. It's also banned from food in Japan. When it comes to cosmetics, however, it is generally regarded as safe to use in low concentrations ranging from .01-.1%.

Cyclopentasiloxane, Dimethicone and/or Dimethicone Crosspolymer 

Cyclopentasiloxane (cyclomethicone) is a silicon-based cyclic compound; may be associated with environmental toxicity. It's a synthetic silicone, has shown endocrine (hormone) disruption in moderate doses in animal studies and is non-biodegradable, suspected to be bioaccumulative and is a suspected environmental toxin. 

Dimethicone (also called polymethylsiloxane) is a silicon-based polymer used as a lubricant and conditioning agent. It can be naturally derived, but is more often than not from a synthetic source. Dimethicone is classified as expected to be toxic or harmful to the organ system. It is also non-biodegradable, bioaccumulative and is a suspected environmental toxin. 

The other issues with silicone concern the skin. Some people can wear it with no issues, whilst for others, it can lead to clogged pores and acne. This is due to the fact that silicone covers the skin a bit like plastic wrap - preventing the skin from being able to function as it normally would, preventing anything from getting in or out. 


Synthetic fragrances can contain up to 3000 different synthetic chemicals, many of which have been proven to cause endocrine disruption, whilst many others contain formaldehyde or formaldehyde-releasing preservatives. Formaldehyde is a known human carcinogen. Synthetic fragrance can also cause or aggravate respiratory disorders, cause headaches, dizziness, nausea and contact dermatitis. 


A common cosmetic preservative. Phenoxyethanol is becoming more prevalent since consumers are looking for "Paraben Free" products. It's also quite a common preservative for many more natural or green beauty products. Phenoxyethanol is an endocrine (hormone) disruptor. Linked to skin irritation, contact dermatitis, also linked to adverse brain and nervous system effects in animal studies.

Tetrasodium EDTA

A "penetration enhancer", Tetrasodium EDTA allows other ingredients in a product to be more easily absorbed into the body. This ingredient is also classified as expected to be toxic or harmful to the organ system. It is also made from Formaldehyde. 

My favourite 100% natural, non-toxic and organic primers are listed below, along with links to purchase + discount codes.

Hynt Beauty SPF30 Primer 
Best For: All Skin Types
Use code libertygreen15 to save 15% off in AU

With a mineral SPF30, this primer doubles as sun protection and can be worn alone or under makeup. It moisturises the skin, providing a smooth, light base perfect for makeup. I also love to mix this with the Hynt Beauty DUET Concealer to create a custom liquid foundation with SPF. 

Alima Pure Primer Powder
Best For: Oily Skin
Use code libertygreen to save 10% off in AU

The Alima Pure Balancing Primer Powder is designed for oily skin, to be worn underneath a pressed or loose powder foundation. Silky and light, it helps absorb excess oil, helping to keep your complexion shine-free and ensure your makeup lasts.

La Mav Organic Bio Active Primer
Best For: Rough, Uneven Texture, All Skin Types
Use code libertygreen to save 10% off your first order in AU

This primer has quickly become my all-time favourite. It is infused with Vitamin C and Hyaluronic Acid to hydrate, plump and protect the skin. It moisturises and smoothes the skin to perfection - even if the skin has rough or uneven texture. 2-3 pumps is sufficient, and it absorbs quickly without leaving the skin feeling overly moisturised. I've even taken to massaging a small amount into my lips - it plumps and smoothes them out beautifully, perfectly prepped for lipstick or just a touch of lip balm. 

Vapour Beauty Stratus Soft Focus Skin Perfector
Best For: Normal + Dry Skin
Use code libertygreen in AU to save 10% off

This primer moisturises, blurs pores and imperfections, balances redness or sallow skin (depending on the shade you choose) and leaves skin soft and silky, perfect for drier or thicker foundations (such as a powder, or dry or thick cream foundation). I also love wearing this alone, to give the skin a luminous glow and satin finish. If your skin doesn't have a lot of texture you need help with, or dryness is a bigger concern, the Vapour primer is my recommendation. 

Inika Organic Pure Primer
Best For: Normal + Dry Skin
Use code libertygreen in AU to save 10% off your first order

The Inika Organic Pure Primer creates an even base for foundation and improves the staying power of your makeup. The Hyaluronic Acid, Aloe Vera, Coconut and Jojoba Oils plumps and hydrates the skin for smooth, supple skin. Perfect for normal - dry skin!

La Mav Organic Wrinkle-Defence & Skin-Brightening Day Fluid
Best For: Oily Skin 
Use code libertygreen in AU to save 10% off your first order

Whilst not technically a primer, I wanted to mention this product as it's great under makeup - especially for those with oily skin that have difficulty with makeup doing a slide! It's a super lightweight serum that mattifies the skin and with continued use, it helps prevent the visible signs of ageing, fine lines, and wrinkles. I actually use this on my forehead in summer, as in the tropical QLD heat that is where I get oily. 

If you have trouble with your makeup staying put because your skin is oily, I highly recommend giving this serum a go. It mattifies without drying out the skin, and actually helps to hydrate and balance the skin. 

Kelsey xx
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