If you’d asked me one month ago to explain the purpose of a primer, I would have said something blatantly obvious like, “I don’t know? It primes your face for makeup?” Flash forward 30 days and my new answer is that primer does absolutely everything. Or, at least, Lawless’ Set the Stage Hydrating Primer Serum ($48) has been the new everything product for my acne-prone, oily complexion.
Launched May 26 on Sephora and Lawless, Suja juice founder-turned-beauty pro Annie Lawless‘ newest product is a cotton-candy pink gel concoction that comes out on your palm like bubble-blowing soap, turns into an oil, then immediately shapeshifts back into a gel once applied to your face. Unlike buoyant, filmy bubbles, however, Set the Stage doesn’t do the whole ephemeral, pop-out-of-existence thing. It sinks into your skin for long-lasting moisture.
When Lawless told me that it not only acted as a pre-makeup serum, primer, and moisturizer all by itself, but could also take the place of my entire nighttime routine, I thought, wait, really? Then oh, heck yes! Lately, my skin-care collection has become a small army of bottles I slap on my face without much thought, and while I do sometimes do find joy in a 10-step regimen, quarantine has me craving a simplicity that Lawless’ latest product delivers in spades. After all, every second I’m not putting skin care an extra one for reading, watching endless repeats of Gossip Girl, and starting knitting projects that I’ll never finish.
Lawless says that she designed the primer out of a need for pure utility. Between different eye makeup looks at a photoshoot, she discovered that her Lawless foundation applied flawlessly to the skin she’d just cleaned up with a makeup wipe. Not the patches of skin coated by many layers of serums and moisturizers. And thus, she launched a mission to design a primer that would truly create a tableau for her foundation that didn’t lead to any pilling or creasing.
The formula complies with the Clean at Sephora label, which basically means it wins the Pulitzer beauty prize for skipping out on 50 ingredients such as parabens and phthalates. In their place, you’ll find a water-based formula that includes Pentapeptide-59 (a synthetic ingredient designed to fight redness and protects sensitive skin), rosehip seed oil (which reduces the appearances of acne scars), and sea buckthorn oil (another ingredient that protects you body’s largest organ from environmental threats).
The product goes on like cool, liquid breeze—almost as if someone’s sliding an ice cube along your cheeks, forehead, and chin. The primer’s scent is a subtle, soapy blend that scrubs away my sleepiness in the morning and wipes away the day behind me as I cleanse and apply it in the evening. Makeup has been a distant friend lately, but when I do wear it the primer—as Lawless promised—latches onto my BB cream without budging.
For the foreseeable future at least, I’m very on board with a skin-care routine that nixes five steps in favor of one (plus applying my makeup, sunscreen, and retinol). Let’s just say that if my face can be primed for literally whatever in less than 30 seconds, I may just be a primer convert.
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