Eyeshadow primers are the invisible secret to flawless eye makeup. If your eyeshadow has ever creased, or if you ever struggled to blend a few colors together, look towards eyelid primers as your solution. Just the barest dab of this unique makeup product will set a base on your eye that ensures that your eyeshadow looks perfect for hours to come.
To get you priming your eyes without a hitch, I’ve listed all of the best eyeshadow primers you can buy, starting with the cult favorites, of course. I also explain the difference between eye primers, eye bases, and regular primers, so you don’t get confused.
I’ll help you choose the perfect eyeshadow primers for your specific needs, and make sure that you know how to apply them to your eye area correctly. I’ve also capped things off with some neat tips and tricks that you can utilize to get the most out of your eyelid primers. Let’s get you primed!
Best Eyeshadow Primers for Flawless Eye Makeup: Contents
- 23 Best Eyeshadow Primers to Buy
- What Is Eye Primer and How Is It Different from Eyeshadow Base?
- How to Choose the Right Eyelid Primer for You
- How to Use Eye Primer Correctly
- Tips, Tricks, and Alternative Uses for Eyeshadow Primers
Whether you are prepping your eyes for glitter eyeshadow or just want to make sure your eye makeup stays put on those melting summer days, these are the best eyeshadow primers to invest in and get the best results!
1. Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion
It’s hard to argue with the supremacy of the product that made eye primers such a key part of every beauty routine. This is one of the best eyelid primers for every makeup style. It comes in the form of a liquid in a tube with a simple applicator, but be warned that it does dry down quickly so you’ll want to pack shadow on top of it right after applying. You can buy it from Sephora.
2. Too Faced Shadow Insurance
This is another liquid formula that deserves recognition as one of the best eyeshadow primers on the market. It provides 24-hour, waterproof wear on eyeshadow, and it comes with a built-in applicator. Find this primer at Sephora.
3. NARS Pro-Prime Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base
Makeup artist brands can always be trusted to make great products, including this matte liquid eye primer. It comes in a tube with a doe-foot applicator. Just a dab works beautifully to intensify and lock into place your favorite eyeshadows. It is sold at Sephora.
4. MAC Prep + Prime 24-Hour Extend Eye Base
This antioxidant-infused formula does all things the best eye primers should do, like extending the life of your eyeshadow and making it go on smoothly, but it also helps to protect the eye area from environmental stressors. You cannot go wrong with this product. You can buy this primer from Nordstrom.
5. Laura Mercier Eye Basics
These pigmented eyeshadow primers are somewhere between a liquid and a cream, helping to nourish the skin while keeping eyeshadow flawless. They contain aloe vera extract and safflower oil to moisturize the skin. They come in six colors, so they can double as concealers or a lighter color can be used to brighten up your shadow. Pick up this primer for yourself at Sephora.
6. Smashbox 24 Hour Photo Finish Shadow Primer
This simple eye primer is gentle on the eyes and gives excellent eyeshadow wear. It comes in an easy-to-carry tube, so you just need to squeeze out a small amount and dab it on the lids. It is available for sale at Sephora.
7. Benefit Cosmetics Stay Don’t Stray 360 Degree Stay Put Eyeshadow Primer
One of the best eyeshadow primers comes in one of the cutest packagings, offering a powerful base for your concealers and eyeshadows. No more shadow creasing or a dull color! Apply three tiny dots under the eyes before the application of the concealer and a little bit on your eyelids prior to doing your eye makeup. It is available for purchase at Sephora.
8. Milani Eyeshadow Primer
Can one of the best eye primers really be this affordable? We think so! This eye primer comes in a cute squeeze tube, and dispenses as a beige cream that disappears into the eyelid quickly. It makes the skin over the eyes smooth and ready for a long-lasting eyeshadow application. It can be purchased at Ulta.
9. NYX Professional Makeup Proof It Eyeshadow Primer Transparent
Don’t be worried if you’re on a budget, because NYX made one of the best eyeshadow primers on the market for an affordable price. It’s a tacky formula that acts like glue to hold shadow in place, so you might want to set it with a neutral shade before applying colors. It comes in a clean white tube, with a doe-foot applicator. If you’d like to buy it, find it at Ulta.
10. Kat Von D Lock-It Color Correcting Eyeshadow Primer
With five colors available, you can consider this your two-in-one concealer and eye primer. This powerful formula covers imperfections and, true to its name, keeps eyeshadow locked into place all day long. Give this primer a try at Sephora!
11. bareMinerals Prime Time Eyelid Primer
It’s hard to go wrong with this fabulous product from bareMinerals. This is one of the best eyelid primers for those with sensitive skin, since this ultra-gentle formula doesn’t drag on the eyelid or irritate it. It comes in a classy squeeze tube for easy carrying. Pick it up from Sephora!
12. Trish McEvoy Jumbo Eye Base
This is one of the best eyelid primers you can choose if you’re looking for an eye-brightening effect. It makes your eyeshadow application a breeze and prevents creasing, while also helping to correct the appearance of darkness and discoloration on the lid. You can find this eyelid primer at Neiman Marcus.
13. Fenty Beauty by Rihanna Pro Filt’r Amplifying Eye Primer
Eyeshadow primers are usually one-size-fits-all when it comes to color, but this one is truly colorless to work with all skin tones. It comes with a built-in applicator for a quick and easy application, and guarantees that your eyeshadow will blend like a dream and never crease. This primer is available for sale at Sephora.
14. The Balm Put a Lid on It
This is another quick-drying eyelid primer that will require you to apply your shadows quickly. However, it is well worth it because it really keeps eye makeup in place with its powerful long-wearing formula. It is enhanced with oligopeptides to fight premature aging and keep the eye area looking youthful. You can buy it online through Dermstore.
15. Marc Jacobs Beauty Under(cover) Perfecting Coconut Eye Primer
You can anchor your eyeshadow in place with this creamy and nourishing eye primer. It is made with coconut and velvet extracts to keep the eye area hydrated, but it still manages to fight creasing due to oils at a minimum. It can be purchased through Sephora.
16. PÜR HydraGel Lift
It’s so much fun when one of the best eye primers comes in such a cool container. This roll-up primer can be applied straight from the container to the eyelid in a quick and easy swoop. This moisturizing formula locks shadows into place while keeping the eye area soft and hydrated. It is sold online through Ulta.
17. Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Eye Base
This is a creamier eye base that helps enhance the vividness of your eyeshadow and cover any discolorations while also seriously extending the life of your eye makeup. Since this product doesn’t dry down instantly, it’s a great choice for when you want to take your time while doing your eye makeup. You can pick it up at Nordstrom.
18. Make Up For Ever Step 1: Skin Equalizer Eye & Lip Primer
I always love a two-in-one product, especially when it also offers some sort of innovation. Here we have one of the best eyeshadow primers, which also works to prime the lips. It gives a smooth canvas and prevents creasing of both your eyeshadow and lipstick, without causing any dryness. If you’d like to try it, you can find it at Sephora.
19. Chanel La Base Ombre À Paupières Longwear Eyeshadow Primer
This liquid eyelid primer might be the most beautifully packaged option on this list of best eyeshadow primers. Like other liquid primers, it does a wonderful job of mattifying the eyelid to prevent oil-related smudging and creasing, but it does require that you apply your eyeshadow in a speedy manner. It is available for sale at Neiman Marcus.
20. Lorac Behind the Scenes Eye Primer
This eyelid primer comes in sleek packaging, for that ultra-glamorous feel. It creates a silky smooth canvass so you can easily apply your eye makeup and be confident that it won’t wear off throughout the day. You can buy it from Ulta.
21. Pixi by Petra Eye Bright Primer No.1 Au Natural
This pigmented eyelid base brightens the eyes while sealing eyeshadow in place. It comes in a really cute squeeze applicator with a soft cushion top, so it’s great if you don’t like to carry around brushes or use your hand to blend things. It can double as under-eye concealer in a pinch! It is sold online via Dermstore.
22. Pretty Vulgar Uncaged Eyeshadow Primer
This clay enriched formula makes for one of the best eyeshadow primers for those with oily eyelids, since it absorbs sebum throughout the day. It comes in one of the cutest containers on this list, and works beautifully to keep your eyeshadow perfect throughout the day. It is available for purchase through Sephora.
23. Elizabeth Arden Advanced Eye-Fix Primer
This gentle formula is one of the best eyelid primers for those with sensitive and easy-to-irritate eyes. It is ophthalmologist tested, with a simple ingredient list that works overtime to help makeup go on smoothly and to keep in place for hours on end. You can buy it at Ulta.
Eye primers are makeup products that go on the eyelid before eyeshadow, in order to make the eyeshadow application go smoothly both figuratively and literally. A thin layer of eyeshadow primer is all it takes, as it gives the eye makeup something to stick to, ensuring it lasts longer and doesn’t smudge or crease throughout the day.
Especially when it comes to liquid eyelid primers, they also soak up the oil that human skin produces, preventing it from causing the eyeshadow to crease. Because eyeshadow primers also turn the eyelid area into a smoother canvas, it becomes easier to create complex eye makeup looks that would normally be difficult to blend.
Similar to eye primers there are eyelid bases – the terms are often used interchangeably. These creamy eyelid primers are easy to confuse with concealers since they look similar. They have a similar texture to concealers, and are applied in a similar way.
These eye primers normally take longer to dry down than liquid primers, so they are a great choice if you like to take your time with your eye makeup. However, they don’t do as great of a job of keeping oils at bay.
Eyelid primer really acts like glue, since it is meant to be a base for powder products. This is why face primers don’t make a good substitute for eye primers. Face primers are meant to act as a barrier between the skin and liquid or cream products like foundations and concealers. They give the skin a smoother canvas, but they aren’t sticky like an eye primer, nor should they be.
There are a few different kinds of eyelid primers, and you can choose the one that will work best for you based on how you do your makeup and what the skin above your eye is like.
Best Eye Primers for Oily Eyelids
If your main concern when it comes to the area above your eyes is that your eye area seems to produce a lot of oily throughout the day, then you should opt for a mattifying eye primer.
Most liquid eye primers should do the trick, as they tend to mattify quickly and absorb the oils that are produced around the eyes and that end up causing eyeliner and eyeshadows to smudge or crease. For an extra bit of confidence, you can opt specifically for eyelid primers fortified with an oil-absorbing clay.
Best Eye Primers for Sensitive Skin and Eyes
If your eyes and the skin around them become easily red and irritated, then you definitely want to be a little more careful with the eyeshadow primers you choose.
If it’s your skin that’s more sensitive, look for formulas that are a bit more creamy and won’t dry down as quickly, as the quick-mattifying primer liquids can pull on the eye and cause irritation. You might want to choose creamy eyeshadow bases instead of liquid formulas.
Additionally, you’ll also want to avoid eye primers with fragrances or irritating essential oils, as those can definitely aggravate your skin. The same is true for if your eyes become easily reddened – definitely look for simpler formulas that are free of fragrances and alcohol.
Best Eye Primers for Dry and Mature Skin
If your skin is a little on the dry side, or if you are starting to worry about signs of aging around the eyes like fine lines and wrinkles, you will be happy to know that there are some eye primers out there that can help.
For the most part, quick-drying formulas rarely cause issues for those with dry skin, although you might still prefer a creamier eye base formula. These days many eye primers include anti-aging and skin-nourishing ingredients, including aloe vera, vitamin E, glycerin, and even peptides!
Best Eye Primers for Correcting Discoloration and Darkness Around the Eye
Some eye primers can double as concealers to help hide all kinds of discoloration around the eyes, including darkness, pigmentation, and redness. Look for pigmented eye primers, although in some cases pigmented eye bases might be easier to find.
• If you are hoping to simply cover up a bit of discoloration, opt for eye primers in a shade that matches your skin tone.
• On the other hand, if you are hoping to correct darkness, look for peachy or pink-tinged eyeshadow primers, as well as reflect eye primers with a brightening effect.
• For correcting redness, either an eye primer that matches your skin tone or a green-toned eye primer should do the trick.
Best Eye Primers for Boosting Color
If you find that your eyeshadow sometimes look a little bland, you can actually use the right eyelid primers to help boost their brightness somewhat. The key is to find an eyelid primer or base that has a lighter color than your skin tone.
• White eye primers and eye bases in particular do a fantastic job of boosting the pigmentation of eyeshadows, in addition to improving their longevity.
• On the other hand, if you’re going for a darker eye makeup look, you can use a black eye makeup primer, which will amp up the darkness of your eyeshadow.
• Lastly, to amp up shimmery eyeshadows or to inject a hint of luminescence under matte eyeshadows, opt for a shimmery eye primer, which will act like a strobe cream under your makeup.
The secret to using eyelid primers is to be conservative and use them sparingly. A tiny amount goes a long way with this magical product.
• Before you start make sure that your whole face is ready for a makeup application. Cleanse and moisturize your skin. Use an eye cream if you like, but wait a few minutes to let it sink in before starting your eye makeup.
• You can choose to do your face makeup first, before starting your eye makeup. However, if you plan on doing a heavy or dark eyeshadow look, you might prefer to start with your eyes, so that eyeshadow fall-out doesn’t stain your already made up skin.
• If you’re using a liquid eyeshadow primer, dab it lightly onto your eyelid with the applicator, and then blend it in with your ring finger or a brush so that it covers your whole eye area. Use gentle, outward motions when blending, to avoid damaging the delicate eye area.
• If you prefer a cream eyelid primer, apply it lightly with a brush all over your eyelid. Blend it in with your finger or with a sponge.
• If you’re using a quick-drying eyelid primer, apply the primer first to one eye and then immediately either set it with a neutral eyeshadow shade, or immediately begin your eyeshadow application.
• For most eye primers, which do not require speedy work, you can cover both eyelids in primer and then begin your eyeshadow application.
• If you’re new to wearing eyeshadow, or you are aiming for a more understated makeup look, then it is best to set your eye primer with a neutral shade, and then apply your actual eyeshadow look on top of that.
• On the other hand, if you are aiming for a high-pigment look, apply your shadows directly on top of the primer, although remember that this will make them slightly more difficult to blend.
• Finish off with your eyeliner and mascara! If you haven’t done your face makeup yet, clean off any eyeshadow fallout from your under-eye area with makeup remover, and finish your face makeup as you normally would.
• Eye primers can be used on more than just the eye! Since they act like powder glue, you can apply them anywhere where you find that makeup doesn’t stay. This can be below the foundation on a particularly annoying blemish, around the sides of the nose, underneath lipstick, or even below the eye area.
• If you like winged out eyeliner, make sure to extend your eyeshadow primer to wear your winged eyeliner in order to ensure it will last all day long.
• In a pinch your eyeshadow primers can double as invisible lip liner. If your lipstick always seems to smudge at the lip line, then a thin layer of eye primer along the perimeter of your lip can help stop that, and prevent the dreaded feathering.
• A pigmented eye primer or base, especially if it has a peach or orange tint, can work beautifully as a replacement for under-eye concealer, especially if you really struggle with concealers creasing on you.
• You can also use eyeshadow primer to prep your eyebrows for eyebrow powder! Your eyebrow powder will last much longer, but you will also have the added bonus of the eye primer keeping your eyebrow hairs in place similarly to a wax.
• While face primers might not be adequate replacements for eyeshadow primers, there are other products that can be. You can use both concealers and cream eyeshadows as eye primers under your powder eyeshadows, and they will work fairly well in a pinch!
• Despite what some people online may suggest, we don’t recommend applying eyeshadow primers all over the face. Eye primers come in too tiny a container to merit the cost of using them up so quickly by applying them all over the face. If you have very oily skin, look instead to a great mattifying face primer. Perhaps you can apply your eye primer only to your T-zone, and only for the most special occasions!
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