These Are the 10 Best Eyeshadow Primers That Stay Smudge-Proof All Day Long
There's nothing worse than spending the time and effort to perfect your eye makeup, only to notice that your glitter eyeshadow and concealer has worn off after only a few hours. Enter: eyeshadow primers. These handy cosmetics are specially-formulated to prevent eye makeup from creasing and fading — much like your favorite face primer does for foundation, powder, and blush. While these primers may sound like an unnecessary product, once you start using them, they'll quickly become an essential step in your long wear makeup routine.
With so many eyeshadow primers available, finding the right one for your needs can feel overwhelming. So to help you out, we researched the best ones to make your smokey eye last all night without a single touch-up. When putting together this list, we paid close attention to each primer's formula, lasting power, and ability to keep eyeshadow color vibrant. The Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion was a standout for its gentle formula and incredible lasting-power — it keeps eyeshadow in place and smudge-free for hours on end!
Ahead, find the best eyeshadow primers you can buy.
- Best Overall: Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion
- Best Value: CoverGirl Lid Lock Up Eyeshadow Primer
- Best for Sensitive Skin: NARS Pro-Prime Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base
- Best Waterproof: Too Faced Shadow Insurance Eyeshadow Primer
- Best Lightweight: Ilia Natural Brightening Eye Primer
- Best for All Skin Tones: Fenty Beauty Pro Filt'r Amplifying Eye Primer
- Best for Vibrancy: C'est Moi Visionary Gentle Non-Toxic Makeup Crayon
- Best for Concealer: Benefit Stay Don't Stray Eyeshadow Primer
- Best for Oily Lids: Bare Minerals Prime Time Eyelid Primer
- Best Long-Lasting: Mac Pro Longwear Paint Pot
Best Overall: Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion
Best Value: CoverGirl Lid Lock Up Eyeshadow Primer
Best for Sensitive Skin: NARS Pro-Prime Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base
Best Waterproof: Too Faced Shadow Insurance
Best Lightweight: Ilia Natural Brightening Eye Primer
Best for All Skin Tones: Fenty Beauty Pro Filt'r Amplifying Eye Primer
Best for Vibrancy: C'est Moi Visionary Gentle Non-Toxic Makeup Crayon
Best for Concealer: Benefit Cosmetics Stay Don't Stray Primer
Best for Oily Lids: Bare Minerals Prime Time Eyelid Primer
Best Long-Lasting: Mac Pro Longwear Paint Pot
What to Keep in Mind
The main purpose of using an eyeshadow primer is to make your eyeshadow last longer, so an effective primer shouldn't budge for 12 to 24 hours. The consistency of the product can also play into its lasting-power. If a primer is more tacky, it can provide a ton of grip for the eyeshadow and keep the shadow in place longer, acting like a glue. No matter what the occasion is, how long you intend on wearing eye makeup, or how dramatic your eye look is, the goal is to avoid needing touch ups and a good primer will ensure this.
On top of keeping your eyeshadow in place and preventing creasing or smudging, a good eyeshadow primer will also maintain the color of your eyeshadow or make it pop even more. Look for a primer that will increase the vibrancy of your shadow and if you want even more pigmentation, many primers come in different shades that you can use as a colorful base.
It's always a win-win if a product can do more than one thing, and an eyeshadow primer with a good formula can not only extend the wear of eyeshadow, but it can also hydrate your eyelids, reduce puffiness, or even out your skin tone. A primer with nourishing ingredients or hydrating ingredients can aid in these beauty benefits, so pay attention to the ingredients label if you want the most bang for your buck.
Your Questions, Answered
What does an eyeshadow primer do?
An eyeshadow primer creates a solid base that allows your makeup to last longer. It also prevents some of the common issues with eyeshadow like creasing, smudging, and greasy eyelids by absorbing excess oil and keeping makeup from shifting around. Some primers have additional benefits like evening out skin tone, reducing the appearance of eyelid veins and puffiness, and providing a glowy boost.
How do you apply an eyeshadow primer?
When applying eyeshadow primer, a little goes a long way. Take a small amount and use your ring finger to gently tap it onto the skin. Some products have wand-styled applicators which can help distribute the product, but the warmth of your fingers will help to seamlessly blend it. Once the primer has set, you can apply eyeshadow and eyeliner directly over top.