This Primer Is Like Mood Lighting For Your Face

Before I get into this product review, let's make one thing crystal clear: I hate primers. Loathe them with the fiery heat of a thousand flaming suns. The texture, the way they make my skin feel sticky, the inevitable breakouts that follow in their wake — I don't care how well they make my foundation last; they just aren't worth it in the long run for me. So when presented with Tom Ford's new Complexion Enhancing Primer, let's just say I went into it with a healthy dose of skepticism.

The only reason I even considered slathering it on my face is because I am a Tom Ford Beauty superfan — the man can do no wrong, in my eyes. At a launch event for the product, Philippe Goued, the brand's general manager, explained to me that this product isn't your typical primer; it's a hybrid of a luminizer, pore minimizer, moisturizer, and skin-tone perfector. It's basically the most luxe BB cream (sans SPF) ever.

Goued says that the product can be applied to bare skin for minimal coverage and to give skin a healthy glow, or it can be used under foundation (he recommends the brand's new Flawless Powder/Foundation) to give an underlying radiance that makes full-coverage formulas look more natural and dimensional. As anyone who has spackled on heavy foundation knows, it is very difficult to make that stuff look like your skin.

Still, I was hesitant. It only takes one application of a pore-clogging product to leave me with breakouts that take weeks to clear up. But I put my trust in Tom Ford, and I'm pleased to say he didn't disappoint. The texture of the primer was more like a moisturizer than the gel-ish texture I'm used to with these types of products — it was like some of the more spreadable BB creams I've used.

I also was happy to note that the product lacked that silicone slip that many primers have. Instead, it felt like a very luxe moisturizer as I swiped it across my skin. The primer comes in two shades: Pink Glow for fair, cool-toned skin; and Peach Glow for olive, warm-toned skin. The Pink Glow gave my pale skin an instant boost, brightening my natural undertones. My skin looked more even and glowy, and brown spots were definitely less pronounced.
Post-acne red marks and inflamed pimples, on the other hand, weren't really changed. There was a subtle blurring effect, but the redness was still pronounced. So if you do suffer from breakouts and don't want that redness peeking through, you're going to have to layer on some type of coverage product and a concealer. I reached for my usual cushion compact and dabbed it on top. Right away, I noticed that there was no caking or settling, and the finish looked more like my skin rather than a layer of makeup on top of my skin. There was also an unmistakable dewiness to my complexion. And yes, my makeup did last all day — with minimal melting, even in the 90-degree-humidity hell NYC experienced recently.

But that was just one part of the test. The real question was if this creamy concoction was going to play nice with my skin or bully it into breakouts galore. The good news: It passed with flying colors. In the two weeks I've been using it, I have not seen any increase in pimples or blackheads. I still have my normal breakouts (this stuff is good, but it isn't magic fairy dust), but they happen with the same frequency as they did when I wasn't using this primer.

Of course, leave it to me to sniff out one of the priciest of the primer bunch — ringing in at $74, this is definitely an investment. And while it's not a can't-live-without-it necessity, I've found myself reaching for it more and more because it makes my skin look better than if I just used my usual makeup. So if it's in your budget, and you don't mind paying a premium for a primer, then this is going to be a welcome addition to your repertoire.

Tom Ford Beauty
Complexion Enhancing Primer in Pink Glow, $74, available at Tom Ford Beauty.