The Nonbinary PM reviews: Bobbi Brown Primer Plus Mattifier

Ah, Bobbi Brown. You were my first real love as a makeup brand. From the minute I walked into the Brighton Studio and found myself on Amy’s makeup stool 30 seconds later, I’ve been completely infatuated with the brand. True story: I have spent more on Bobbi Brown products than on car maintenance in the last twelve months and I don’t regret a penny.

Primer: a primer

In make-up, primer is just like its DIY equivalent. It’s an undercoat, designed to sit between your face and your make-up to help your make-up stay in place for longer and look better while it’s there.

Imagine that you had a newly-plastered wall. Would you go and slap two coats of Dulux Luxurious Ivory Lace Silk Emulsion straight onto the wall? No, because if you did you know that the paint wouldn’t dry evenly, it would adhere to the wall unevenly, it would crack and peel off and be almost impossible to repair.

And that, the big brands tell us, is exactly why we should use primer on our face too. The best primers (we’re just talking make-up now, not DIY) offer something extra as well as a solid undercoat, such as a decent SPF value or skin-hydrating properties. That’s why some of them are now worth wearing on their own, without make-up over the top.

So what is it?

The Bobbi Brown Primer Plus Mattifier was the fifth primer I’d bought, the four previous purchases all being elf, and we’ll talk about those another time. I popped into the Sheffield John Lewis counter to see if I could get a sample on the day of release because frankly, which nonbinary middle-aged AMAB adolescent doesn’t want to look more like Elsa Hosk:



It was so new that I wasn’t even allowed a sample to take away (unheard of!) although they did let me try some on there and then. It didn’t take me as long to get my card out as it did to be asked if I wanted to try it in the first place.

I wondered if it would be like Bobbi’s Extra Illuminating Moisture Balm, but it’s not. The balm is a thicker, almost oilier texture that stays on top of the skin, whereas the primer is light and easily absorbed. The primer comes out white-ish but is transparent when rubbed in. It has a much fresher, cleaner smell than the balm, which the young lady on the counter informed me was as a direct result of customer feedback.

As with pretty much all Bobbi Brown’s products, it costs about the same as four other products from another brand – like the four elf primers I’d tried previously combined – about £24 per 40ml tube. You get what you pay for in this game, mes amis.

How do I use it?

Make sure your face has been cleaned and moisturised. Squeeze a tiny amount (remembering how much it costs) onto your fingertip – a pea-sized lump is fine for one side of your face. I start by dabbing around the cheekbone, down the cheek, then a cheeky touch on the chin and the nose until there’s nothing left to dab. However, make sure you avoid the delicate skin immediately under the eye (the skin is thinnest there, you have to use specially formulated products there). Rub it in just like you’re applying sunscreen or Canesten. Do the same for the other side.

If you have a forehead so large you could rent it out for billboard space then consider applying there; otherwise, keep it level with the eyes and below.

Take a look at the first couple of minutes of this video featuring the aforementioned Angel to see how she uses it in a very simple lewk:


What does it do?

Well firstly, it makes your skin feel good. It’s cooling and refreshing and smells lovely. Don’t underestimate that. This is a premium product from a premium brand that you’re paying for and frankly the placebo effect is the least you can expect. But don’t worry, there’s more to it than that.

It helps keep your skin hydrated and in decent condition generally, and your skin will feel smoother to the touch (if your skin feels like a vertically-installed oil slick afterwards then you probably used too much). It controls the shininess produced when your skin is oily, making it look more matt and even. Ultimately though, the main benefit is that it reduces the appearance of large pores and generally just lends your skin a kind of subtle IRL Instagram soft focus effect.Plus, if you do eventually graduate to wearing foundation, you’ve given yourself the perfect base to apply it to.

That’s why I describe it as no-make-up make-up – it’s transparent, and the scent is very delicate, even if you’re the one wearing the primer, so no one can tell you have it on – but there is a subtle visual improvement. Add on top the placebo effect from just feeling great and you’re onto a winner.

Rating: 10/11 – The NPM Recommends!

Everything on the blog is rated out of 11, because this is my blog and not yours, and Bobbi’s Primer and Mattifier comes in at a highly commendable 10/11. It’s a good product and it does exactly what it’s meant to do. On the downside, it’s more expensive than ringing Daniel Levy on transfer deadline day, so it gets a point deducted for that. But compared to cheaper products, which leave your face feeling like you’ve been waterboarded with goose fat, it’s bloody great.

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