One of my favorite underrated products is the Ulta Lip Primer. This lip primer retails for $8 at Ulta and ulta.com.
This lip primer works very much like a face primer: It fills in fine lines and makes your lipstick go on more smoothly. It helps lipsticks not to feather, though it is not going to work as well as a lipliner for this issue. It smells amazing, like vanilla and brown sugar. It is not an overwhelming smell, just a light, pleasant scent. As far as staying power, that’s tough for me to say. It does help lipsticks wear evenly, but since I can’t stand eating with lipstick on, I tend to wipe it off every few hours so I just don’t know. In the same vein, though, plenty of face primers make foundation look better but do not necessarily increase staying power.
When you first put it on, it has a unique texture. It feels like a balm at first, but slightly thinner, and it almost immediately dries down to a semi-matte finish. It feels like you have nothing on your lips. If you rub them together there’s a tiny bit of a velvety sort of slip to the product, but in general it is weightless, not sticky, but hydrating. Your lipstick glides on and looks more even, more opaque, and as a result, your lips look plumper and more hydrated. Let me be clear: this is not a lip plumper in the sense that it makes your lips tingly or, worse, sting. It makes them look plumper by virtue of filling in fine lines and making them smoother. As someone who now has to check the “35-44” age bracket on any survey I take, I have become quite aware of this issue.
Another way this lip primer acts like a face primer, however, is that it does somewhat change the texture of the product you put on top of it. Just as some people say some primers are better paired with some foundations because the primer enhances the texture of the foundation in particular ways, this lip primer works differently with different lipsticks. The most pronounced change I notice occurs when I wear it with matte lipsticks, matte lip creams, or liquid lipsticks. It prevents them from drying down to be totally matte. They do not look like a cream lipstick, but they just don’t look totally dry. For me, this falls in the pros column–I’ve never been a fan of really matte lipsticks on me. They look beautiful in Instagram photos, but on me, they make my already dry skin look flatter, and this primer gives just a hint of life to a matte lipstick. If you love matte lipsticks, however, this might be a con for you.
The other thing to note is that this primer, like any primer, interacts with products differently, as their formulas differ. For example, my NYX Matte Lip Creams remain pretty matte, even over this primer. My Wet n Wild Velvet Matte lip crayons, though, look almost glossy, since they have a creamier, sheerer formula to begin with.
In the photo below, I’ve swatched three different lipstick formulas. The bottom swatch is the lip product alone, the top is swatched over the lip primer. As you can the difference are slight, but they are there. Starting from the bottom, I’ve swatched the NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream in San Paulo. You can see that the swatch over the primer is slightly creamier, maybe even a bit sheerer, though it does not appear this way on the lips. In the middle, I’ve swatched the Milani Color Statement Lipstick in Nude Creme. This one is interesting–swatched over the lip primer, it actually becomes slightly more matte. I wore this combo on my lips the other day and I can attest to this effect. To be honest, I prefer it without the primer, likely because Milani’s formula is already somewhat waxy and fills in lines without the need for a primer. (For comparison, today I wore the primer under another cream lipstick–a Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick–and the formula remained quite creamy, not matte at all.) And finally, at the top, I’ve swatched the NYX Matte Lipstick in Alabama. Over the primer, this one becomes just a touch creamier, though it is still clearly a matte finish. Perhaps just more demi-matte than matte.
Final Word: I love this product. If you have aging lips, this fills in fine lines like a dream. If you have dry lips but hate the feeling and thickness of a balm, this is a great product for you. But just beware: Just as face primers work with different foundations, this lip primer works better with some products than others. If you’re willing to play around with it and see what works best for you, I think you’ll enjoy it. But if you don’t like that sort of unpredictability, I’d probably avoid this one. As with any store-brand or drugstore-brand product, I recommend waiting for a sale. Ulta-brand products are almost always on some type of sale, be it BOGO or a gift or promotion. And if ypou need more ideas of good Ulta products, just stay tuned for further posts in my “Underrated Products–Ulta Edition” series.