Our Deep-Dive Review: Guerlain L’Essentiel Pore Minimizer Shine-Control Primer

Our Deep-Dive Review: Guerlain L’Essentiel Pore Minimizer Shine-Control Primer

Ah, base makeup. This is a step that I struggle with more than any other. I always have trouble striking the right balance between keeping my oily skin in check and not looking like my skin has never seen a moisturizer before.

For me, I’ve found that it’s best to start with dewy, hydrated skin, add a sun milk (these tend to be more mattifying without sucking my skin dry), and then top it all off with a primer that can fill in my pores and help a little with residual oil absorption.

Naturally, since the Guerlain L’Essentiel Pore Minimizer Shine-Control Primer checks all of those boxes and more, I was super excited to try it.

So, let’s talk primer!


Guerlain L’Essentiel Pore Minimizer Shine-Control Primer Review

The Claims

Guerlain says that this primer will “mattify and perfect the complexion” and make your foundation last longer. My understanding is that it’s meant to be both a short-term blurring and mattifying primer as well as a long-term skin-refining serum.


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It’s supposed to:

– Visibly smooth pores

– Mattify your skin

– Increase the longevity of your foundation

– Balance and improve skin barrier function over time

I’m always willing to try a product that claims to mattify and improve my skin texture. I have very large pores, and even when my skin is healthy, I struggle with excess oil, so this primer sounded right up my alley.

Who can benefit from this primer

Anyone with dehydrated or combo-leaning-oily skin would probably love this primer. If your skin is exceptionally oily, this won’t tamp down the oil enough on its own, but it would be a beneficial final step after other mattifying skin care!

Who should skip this primer

If you have dry skin, this likely won’t do you any favors. It does have nourishing ingredients, but it could make your skin look a bit too dry under makeup.

As an added note, if you are sensitive to ferments or have skin issues like malassezia, you should be extra cautious about this product.

Aside from that, as long as you aren’t allergic to any of the ingredients listed below, I say go for it!

Where to add this primer into your routine

This is a makeup primer, but I feel like it’s also a skin care step. I’ve used it over and under my sunscreen, and I find that it works best for me as my final morning skin care product before sunscreen and makeup.

It needs time to dry down and set (I’ve found that giving it about five minutes is enough), so be sure to work that into your routine!

Guerlain L'Essentiel Primer


Guerlain L’Essentiel Pore Minimizer Shine-Control Primer Ingredients

Here’s the full ingredient list:

Water, Alcohol, Glycerin, Propanediol, Butylene Glycol, C9-12 Alkane, Cellulose, Dipropylene Glycol, Butyl Avocadate, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Alpha-Glucan Oligosaccharide, Coco-Caprylate/Caprate, Sodium Polyacrylate, Sodium Benzoate, Parfum, Polymnia Sonchifolia Root Juice, Polysorbate 60, Sorbitan Isostearate, Maltodextrin, Citric Acid, Ci 77288, Tocopherol, Lactobacillus, Theobroma Cacao Seed Extract

As always, you can check out the full CosDNA analysis here.

Star Ingredients

Per Guerlain’s website, the star ingredients of this primer are:

Yacon juice: Listed as “polymnia sonchifolia root juice” in the ingredients, yacon is a skin conditioning ingredient that has skin-friendly probiotics. It’s supposed to help strengthen the skin barrier and smooth skin texture.

Guerlain L'Essentiel Primer
Unsplash/Irene Kredenets

Avocado extract: This one is listed as “butyl avocadate” in the IL. This is a lightweight skin-conditioning emollient that helps to control sebum production.

White cocoa bean extract: You’ll see this at the end of the list as “theobroma cacao seed extract.” They claim it helps to refine pores, but I’m not sure of the efficacy of this. I couldn’t find much good research specifically about white cocoa bean extract to back this up.

Other noteworthy ingredients include alpha-glucan oligosaccharide, which is a probiotic compound that can support the healthy bacteria on your skin; tocopherol, which is vitamin E; and lactobacillus ferment, which is a skin-soothing probiotic.

Potential Red Flags

Tocopherol and butylene glycol are both listed as potential irritants by CosDNA.

There is also alcohol, which hasn’t bothered or dried out my skin, and added fragrance. Neither of these things are overwhelming or irritating to my skin (or nose), but I know some people are more sensitive than me!


How the Guerlain L’Essentiel Pore Minimizer Shine-Control Primer Performs

I’ve been using this primer for a few weeks every day and testing it with different configurations of products to see how it performs.

I’m going to start out with a small spoiler: If you have anything other than mildly oily skin, this won’t keep you matte on its own. I was a little disappointed by this, but don’t write it off just yet! I do still enjoy the product, and I definitely think it’s worthy of a place in your makeup routine.


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My favorite way to use this primer is on my no-makeup makeup days. When I pair it with my favorite sun milk (Etude House Mild Airy Sunprise) and my ride-or-die Innisfree No Sebum powder in my T-zone, I get a beautifully blurred, natural look that’s extremely low-effort.

Guerlain says that this primer will extend the life of your foundation. Again, if your skin is less oily than mine, this might be true! For me, if I wore this without my mattifying SPF, it didn’t do much to extend the look of my liquid or powder foundations. They broke apart around my nose and between my brows in the same way that they would have if I wasn’t using a primer. To be totally fair though, I have yet to find a primer that has been able to keep this from happening. (The suggestions box is open, guys—help me out!)

Despite these shortcomings, I really enjoy the smooth, soft finish that it leaves on my skin, and I do like the way that my foundation clung to the primer instead of my giant pores. I also like that it doubles as a skin care step as well.

When I pair it with my favorite sun milk and powder in my T-zone, I get a beautifully blurred, natural look that’s extremely low-effort.


Final Thoughts

Overall, I think that if you purchase this primer with the understanding that it won’t absorb tons of sebum by itself, then you’ll be absolutely pleased with the results.

The texture, application, and performance are great, even though I did have to adjust my expectations a bit regarding oil control. I love having this extra, luxe-feeling step in my morning routine, and I’m going to keep using it regularly to see if it improves my skin with long-term use.

Have you tried this primer before? Let me know your thoughts about it in the comments!


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