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- Lash or mascara primer is a makeup base for your mascara, typically coming in white and coating the lashes to separate, lengthen, volumize, and condition them without clumping.
- Some lash primers also double as serums or lash masks that you apply before going to bed to nourish and condition.
- You apply and remove mascara primer like your regular mascara, as it comes in the same tube and with the same brush.
Why even bother with a mascara primer when your trusty old mascara does the job? But does it really do?
There’s no denying that we expect our mascaras to deliver so much. There seems to be an infinite number of brands attempting to come up with the most revolutionary formula that will be able to provide everything we want in a tiny tube and beyond. However, let’s be real for a second – there are limits to what we can expect from a single product. This is when we opt for an eyelash primer.
On the surface, primers are just an additional step in your makeup routine. But, just like makeup primers, lash primers give you the perfect base for your favorite mascara to bond to so that it can provide the very best result and last for as long as you need it to.
The very best mascara primer will provide volume and length to your lashes even before you apply the mascara. So, by investing in a great lash primer, you can get the result you have always dreamed of.
This doesn’t mean you have to pay a small fortune. Here we have 19 of the very best mascara primers for all your wants, needs, and budgets.
Mascara Primer Guide: Contents
- 19 Best Mascara Primers to Try
- What Is a Mascara Primer and What Does It Do?
- Eyelash Primer Benefits
- How to Use a Mascara Primer?
19 Best Mascara Primers to Try
From affordable drugstore options to luxe favorites, here you have all the best mascara primers to consider trying!
1. Best Overall: Lancôme CILS BOOSTER XL Super-Enhancing Mascara Base
This lash primer from Lancôme has some serious claims about their product. It will nourish, lengthen, and add volume to your lashes while allowing your black mascara to really stand out on top of the white base.
The main thing customers appreciate about the formula is that it doesn’t add weight to your eyelashes upon application. This might not seem like a big deal, especially if you’re used to wearing false lashes. However, it does say a lot about the formula itself. The primer also provides a smooth surface for your mascara without clumping up and allows your lash curl to stay intact. What more could we possibly want? Pick it up from Sephora or Nordstrom today!
2. Best Serum-Primer: Dior Diorshow Maximizer 3D Triple Volume Plumping Lash Primer
Even though this mascara base is focused on providing fantastic volume to your lashes, what really caught our eye (pun intended!) was the incredible length you can achieve with this product. This primer comes in a white color, which highlights any dark mascara you want to put over it.
Aside from the rapidly visible results when it comes to lengthening and boosting the lashes, Diorshow Lash Primer also nourishes, which is an indispensable benefit. Try it with several light coats of your favorite mascara for a glamorous, dramatic look. Get it at Nordstrom or Sephora!
3. Best Drugstore: L’Oréal Paris Voluminous Lash Primer
Another one of L’Oréal’s hit products for an extremely affordable price! Because primers can be both cost-friendly and efficient, and this one really does deliver. This mascara primer will condition your eyelashes with every application, which will enhance not only how they look but also how you feel. The lashes look significantly thicker with this product but don’t stick together.
Most customers notice that their eyelashes have become smoother over time, and removing eye makeup seems to be easier. This means that you won’t have to spend so much time taking off your mascara at the end of the day in addition to looking gorgeous. Find it online on Amazon or Ulta!
4. Best Lengthening: Urban Decay Subversion Lash Primer
Urban Decay’s lash primer has a specific texture that seems to appeal to many customers. The product has the consistency of a whipped cream, which isn’t the first thing we would connect with a primer, but it does work.
The provided brush is designed to allow for an even coating of lashes, from roots to tips, making them appear longer and thicker. This product is perfect for those looking to achieve that false eyelashes look without applying numerous mascara coats.
It also comes in white, however, after drying, it becomes almost invisible. Make sure you don’t get ahead of yourself with multiple coats of this primer, as it can start to clump up if there’s too much product. Buy it from Sephora!
5. Best for Lash Growth: Jane Iredale PureLash Lash Extender & Conditioner
This is not your run-of-the-mill mascara primer. The product’s primary function isn’t to act as a primer, but rather as a lash serum that is supposed to condition your lashes and encourage growth.
Do keep in mind that the company does not make any over-the-top claims about this product’s benefits. This means that your lashes will not grow overnight or anything similar. However, it will fortify them from within so that they are healthier overall, which will dramatically change how your mascara behaves and the results you get.
The fact that the product is marketed primarily as a conditioner doesn’t mean that we can’t use it as a lash primer. We’ve tried it and loved it. It will not do the job of an actual primer, but it will add some length while nourishing your lashes throughout the day. Grab it from Nordstrom!
6. Best Vegan: Milk Makeup KUSH Lash Primer
If you’re looking for a plant-based, vegan mascara primer, we’ve got just the thing for you! This eyelash primer claims to add volume without making your lashes feel heavy while hydrating at the same time. The main stars of this product are plant-derived oils that condition lashes and provide a supple surface for the mascara to cling to. Customers seem to really appreciate the effectiveness of this primer, along with the ethics behind the formula.
However, there is talk about the primer’s brush, which seems not to be everyone’s favorite. The way the wand picks up the product results in too much primer on the brush, which in turn can transfer clumps onto your lashes. This can be easily solved by wiping the excess product off the tube’s rim if it does happen. Get it online at Sephora!
7. Best Tinted: Benefit Cosmetics They’re Real! Tinted Lash Primer
A tinted mascara primer? Isn’t that practically a mascara? Well, no! Hear us out! Benefit’s lash primer comes in a brown color and not the standard white we’re all used to. The idea behind this is that it allows you to wear it on its own if you’re after that natural yet touched-up look.
Without the mascara on top, this tinted lash primer will add some serious length and volume while still looking fresh and minimal. If you’re more into a slightly dramatic effect, all you need to do is layer it under your favorite mascara and voila!
The product is formulated in a way that it doesn’t clump or make your lashes weighed down. On its own, this primer will give you a glossy lash surface that tapers off perfectly at the tip of the lash. You can find it online at Ulta or Nordstrom.
8. Best Volumizing: Tarte Opening Act Lash Primer
They couldn’t have come up with a better name for this product. Tarte’s showstopper comes in a silvery tube with a fiber brush that perfectly separates your lashes upon application. The product is white but melts into the mascara you layer on top, so it will not show at all.
Customers love the fact that it really delivers on the promise of not clumping, and it goes on evenly and smoothly. As most primers nowadays, this one also claims to provide moisturization and nourishment after a while. Take note, though; this lash primer will not be kind to your look if you put too much of it. One or two thin coats are perfect to avoid any possibility of clumping. Get it from Sephora!
9. Best Budget: Essence Volume Booster Lash Primer
We love Essence! In part because they have solid products that don’t cost you an arm and a leg, but also because their products do their job. This mascara primer is the perfect example. The formula of this product has the perfect consistency between creamy and liquidy, fortified with tiny fibers. The application is easy as it goes on fairly smoothly while adding volume and length to your lashes.
But there is a but. The scent of this primer is very prominent. It’s fruity and lingers for a few seconds. If you have sensitive eyes or are simply not into a fragranced eyelash primer, this one is definitely not for you. Everyone else, who doesn’t mind the overpowering scent, will be positively surprised by the mascara’s staying power with this primer layered under without flaking. Grab it from Amazon or Ulta!
10. Best Water-Resistant: Grande Cosmetics GrandePRIMER Pre-Mascara Lengthener & Thickener
Grande Cosmetics has made a point of explaining that this product will not flake while it coats your lashes with mini-fibers that will add some serious length and thickness to your lashes. The formula seems to include peptides and a natural wax blend that help give you healthier lashes while extending them.
The users appreciate the fact that not only is the formula smudge-proof, but it’s also water-resistant. This provides all-day wear for your mascara, which is an important focus since no one likes to reapply mascara a hundred times a day. The brush is uniquely designed to separate the lashes so that your mascara can coat every lash from root to tip. You can purchase it from Sephora.
11. Best Three-in-One: Lashfood Conditioning Collagen Lash Primer
This mascara primer’s formula is packed with goodies that do all sorts of wondrous things to your lashes. Not only does it extend and thicken the lashes with the help of microfibers, but it also adds impressive volume. We like to look at this primer as a daytime mask for your lashes as we’re confident you’ll love what it does.
Customers who have tried this eyelash primer report that it doesn’t take much to achieve a false-lash look, which means that your mascara will last much longer, seeing that you don’t have to use as much. If you don’t like a dramatic look of false lashes, then maybe skip this one, or just use it for your evening makeup. Find it online at Sephora!
12. Best Lightweight: MAC False Lashes Maximizer
Most of the mascara primers we’ve listed so far have had microfibers added to the formula to help bulk up the lashes and provide a bold look with your go-to mascara. On the other hand, MAC has decided not to do that, which results in a slightly poorer curl hold after using an eyelash curler. This isn’t a big deal since the product certainly doesn’t disappoint in other areas.
The formula dries from white to clear and nourishes your lashes while preparing the surface for the mascara. It will allow for a smooth coat that immediately adds volume and length. It is also more forgiving in terms of adding multiple mascara layers. Overall, as expected, MAC hasn’t disappointed with this one. Get it online from Nordstrom!
13. Best for a Tightline Effect: It Cosmetics Tightline Full Lash Length Black Mascara Primer
Wouldn’t you love a product that not only takes care of your lashes, lengthens, adds volume but also gives you a perfect black line without an eyeliner? We would and do! This revolutionary mascara primer truly does it all.
With a uniquely designed thin brush, this primer sets intensely black pigments along your lash line, thus helping to fill in any empty lash spots. This creates the effect of an eyeliner, which is really not something you see every day.
It is also great for people with sensitive eyes, as it comes without fragrances or parabens. The precision you’re able to achieve with this lash primer truly wins over any other on this list, so you can use it on its own or layered under your best mascara. Grab it online at Ulta or Amazon!
14. Best Luxury: Givenchy Base Mascara Perfecto
If Givenchy is good at anything, it’s product packaging. Seriously, just look at that little gem. Not only is the tube in a perfect shade of baby pink, but also the product itself. But wait, that’s not all. This mascara primer doesn’t just boost volume and extend your lash length, but it also acts as an intense mask for your lashes.
If you apply it before bed on its own, the rich formula will help revitalize your lashes and provide a protective layer for each of your lashes. This boosts volume and helps prepare your lashes for the stresses of the day. Since it’s also a primer, you get the best of both worlds. It isn’t the most affordable product, that’s for sure, but trust us when we tell you – you will absolutely love it. It’s available for purchase at Sephora.
15. Best Strengthening: Chanel La Base Mascara Base
Chanel comes up with truly exceptional products, and this mascara base is not an exception. The brand claims that it will enhance volume and provide strength to your lashes so that your mascara can look amazing even under the stress of extended wear. The formula glides evenly over lashes and creates the perfect canvas for your mascara.
If you like a glossy look, you’ll adore this primer. Regardless of the color of your mascara, this eyelash primer will intensify it and make it shine. You can also wear this primer on its own as a mask if you’re looking for some TLC for your lashes. Find it online at Nordstrom!
16. Best Versatile: Covergirl Lash Blast Amplify Eyelash Primer
Covergirl’s lash primer works well with standard or waterproof mascaras. We highlight this fact because not all primers are able to claim the same. The product will not provide show-stopping volume or length, but it absolutely will enhance your mascara’s effect. Whether you’re using a volume-boosting mascara or one that gives you a dramatic false-lash look, this primer will give it all to take it up a notch.
The colorless product is creamy in texture and very easy to glide onto your lashes. Wait half a minute after application to layer on your mascara. If you’re not the type to wait for your primer to set, you may not be thrilled with this one, as the end result might be messy. If you’re ok with the 30 seconds wait time, you’ll reap the benefits of this solid product. Get it online on Amazon!
17. Best Conditioning: Clinique Lash Building Primer
This mascara primer claims to condition and protect eyelashes with its highly specialized formula. Not only does it provide the typical effect we like to see like greater volume and noticeable length, but it also extends the wear of your mascara. The results are amazing, as this primer gives you lush eyelashes with wonderful separation.
The brush appears too small at first, however, with this formula, it simply works. You’re able to reach even the tiniest lashes in the corners of your eyes and coat them perfectly. A small brush also means that the product will last for a long time, which makes this primer especially affordable. You can find it for sale at Sephora.
18. Best for Sensitive Eyes: Blinc Lash Primer
This lash primer comes in white and black, which is a great option to have when you just don’t have that steady hand that allows you to coat the white base thoroughly. But, regardless of the primer color, the formula includes ingredients that help prevent eyelash loss as well as breakage. It also doesn’t clump or smudge.
Customers love the fact that they can create a perfect fanned-out look with zero effort. They have also noticed that it does give your lashes a voluminous effect. The main difference between the two versions of the primer is in the formula consistency. The black one is slightly more liquidy, which may impact the plumping effect if the lashes are not coated with the product properly. Pick it up online at Sephora!
19. Best Curling: KVD Vegan Beauty Epic Curl Vegan Lash Primer
Another vegan primer, but this time in grey! This is the only mascara primer on our list that doesn’t come in either a black or white color. We are all for this decision, as sometimes white primers can be notoriously difficult to cover with mascara. The grey color also enhances the pigment in your favorite black mascara, making the lashes appear darker and bulkier than they would with mascara alone.
Aside from that, this vegan formula helps keep the lash curl in place, which is very important, especially if you’re using an eyelash curler. Combined with the mascara, this mascara primer will give you longer and thicker lashes in seconds, and you’ll love it. Find it online at Sephora!
What Is a Mascara Primer and What Does It Do?
Also known as eyelash primer or mascara base, mascara primer creates a smooth base for your mascara, while also providing additional length and volume. Many primers also offer nourishing and conditioning benefits and can sometimes be worn on their own or with mascara on top. The color of lash primers is typically white, but they do come in black and even in grey and pink, too.
The main thing mascara primers do is coat your lashes with a priming formula that extends the natural length of lashes. They also thicken them up, making it possible for the mascara to really deliver that enhanced look and allowing you to truly take advantage of everything your mascara has to offer.
The best mascara primer will not clump your eyelashes and will hold the lash curl, regardless of whether it’s your natural curl or one achieved with an eyelash curler. In addition, the keratin typically used in primers will make your lashes look silky smooth and glossy. The overall result is darker, longer, and thicker lashes that are separated perfectly to create the coveted fan.
So, to answer any potential questions on whether or not mascara primers actually work – they absolutely do.
Eyelash Primer Benefits
Here are some of the benefits you can get by using an eyelash primer before layering the mascara or even on its own:
- A silky-smooth foundation for your mascara to cling to
- Longer eyelashes without packing on multiple layers of mascara
- Thicker lashes for a dramatic effect that doesn’t look fake
- Prolonged mascara wear and intense color payoff
- Nourishment and conditioning in one easy step so your lashes stay healthy.
How to Use a Mascara Primer?
Applying a mascara primer isn’t exactly rocket science, but there are four easy steps that are good to follow if you want to get the most out of it and make sure your lashes look absolutely perfect.
Step 1: The Curler Goes Before the Primer
In case you’re using an eyelash curler, make sure you use it before applying any products on your lashes. This is mostly to keep the curler clean and germ-free, which is important for anything that comes in contact with your eyes.
Step 2: Coat the Lashes with Lash Primer
Dip that wand in and coat the entire length of your lashes, making sure that you don’t forget the tiny lashes in the corners of your eyes. Remember that this base will provide a surface for your mascara to cling to, so you want every lash covered.
Step 3: Wait for Your Primer to Dry (or Don’t)
Now, you’ll probably run into some differing opinions on this particular step. Some say that the primer shouldn’t dry all the way, as it makes the mascara application harder. Others say that half a minute is a perfect time and should provide the ideal canvas for the mascara.
We think that this step will depend on the specific primer and mascara you are using, as there are many different formulas, and each will behave differently. So, play with it and see what you like best.
Step 3: Top Your Lashes with Mascara
Whether you’ve decided to let your primer dry or not, you want to aim for a maximum of two mascara coats on top of your primer. Start with one and see how you like the results. If there is no clumping, and you think that the look isn’t bold enough, go ahead and add a second one. It all depends on the look you’re trying to achieve. If things don’t work out, simply remove the products from your lashes and start over again.
Step 4: For a Dramatic Look, Coat Lower Lashes
For a simple daytime look, you’ll probably skip this step. However, if you’re after that heavy, sexy look that simply wows, you may want to add a bit of primer to your lower lashes as well (before the mascara, obviously). Those tiny lashes are really difficult to accentuate using only mascara, so this is a great way to make them stand out just the way you want it.
Photos via Instagram