Fresh Flesh Illuminating Primer review - Fashionista

This Is the Only Makeup Primer Steph Has Ever Liked

You'd forget you just put it on your face were it not for the sudden Insta-pretty-filter-worthy smoothness and glow.
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Fresh Flesh Illuminating Primer, $32, available here.

Fresh Flesh Illuminating Primer, $32, available here.

When Linda Wells, beauty industry icon (though she loathes the title), Allure founding editor and my own former boss at said publication launches a makeup line, you can sure as hell bet I'm going to be first in line to try it. Luckily, I didn't need to wait in any actual lines to get my hands on Flesh, the new, 89-SKU (to start!) luxury range she created under the Revlon umbrella. At a recent press event, Wells introduced her latest brainchild to a group of what can only be described as giddy editors, and I nabbed a few of the products to test for myself. Flesh launched exclusively on Ulta.com on Sunday, and true to any highly anticipated makeup drop worth its weight in Instagram likes, some of the products have already sold out. (Don't worry, you can sign up for an email alert when Ulta re-stocks.)

One product on the sold-out list as of now, the Fresh Flesh Illuminating Primer, is among my personal favorites from the collection. The full line is characterized by inclusivity, innovation, self-awareness, pigment-dense formulas and (of course) Wells's signature taste. But for me, this primer is significant because it's literally the only one I've ever liked in all my years as a beauty editor.

While the Flesh philosophy is all about offering options that work for every skin tone — hence a 40-shade foundation range — the brand offers only one primer. And it truly is universal: Rather than being either completely clear or unappealingly chalky, like most of the formulas already on the market, Flesh's version takes its "Illuminating" moniker seriously, appearing milky white in the bottle, but then turning transparent, yet glow-ifying upon application. The latter effect comes courtesy of super-fine mica (don't worry, it's not the least bit glittery) as well as "blue and purple photo-reflecting agents," or pigments that correct sallowness and dullness in any complexion, no matter its skin tone.

Where other makeup primers feel slick, sticky or — worst of all — heavy and pill-y, this one is thin and spreadable, melting into skin so easily, you'd forget you just put something on your face were it not for the sudden Insta-pretty-filter-worthy smoothness and glow.

It's worth noting that the formula does contain dimethicone, a form of silicone, which fills in fine lines and makes makeup slide on like a dream, but can also lead to breakouts if you don't cleanse thoroughly. (Good thing I use a trusty oil-based cleanser to remove my makeup.) It's also spiked with vitamin B5 and glycerin for a hit of extra moisture, and though it contains silicone, which some people choose to avoid, it's free of other ingredients some find questionable, like talc and parabens.

I've often considered primer to be an extra, unnecessary step in my routine, choosing to instead focus on using a great pre-makeup moisturizer. But it turns out, I'd just never encountered the right one. Since using this product, I've noticed a significant uptick in the staying power of my makeup — which is especially useful right now, considering New York City's impending gross summer weather. I've even taken to wearing this primer as the last step over my usual skin-care lineup when I'm not wearing makeup, since I love the hydrated, reflective finish it creates. 

TL;DR: Do yourself a favor and sign up for that "re-stock" email alert now.

Fresh Flesh Illuminating Primer, $32, available here.

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