An eye primer is kind of like a fitness tracker: You don’t anticipate needing it, but once you start using a good one you quickly realize you’re hooked. Primer can create a smooth base to apply makeup, and help hold your shadow in place for hours—without creasing. To find the formulas that would take our smoky eyes to the next level, we enlisted a trio of eager staff members to put several to the test.
The primer: Benefit Cosmetics Air Patrol BB Cream Eyelid Primer ($29; benefit.com)
The test driver: Sheryl George, beauty editor
Road-test results: "While I’m not one to wear eye shadow on the daily, I always apply a dab of concealer to even out the darkness on my lids,” says George. "With this yellow-toned primer, I was able to skip the concealer all together. The super-soft silicone tip releases the primer, and the doe-foot shape allows you to easily spread the formula over skin. It also contains SPF 20, which is key since the thin skin around eyes is notorious for showcasing the early signs of aging (hello, wrinkles).” And when George decided to up the ante by applying layers of smoky metallic shadow before a dinner date, she was pleasantly surprised. “ The shades stayed put longer on my typically oily lids than they would have had they not be primed,” she says. “I only noticed slight movement at the very end of the night.”
The primer: BH Cosmetics Studio Eye Primer ($8; bhcosmetics.com)
The test driver: Dianna Mazzone, assistant beauty editor
Road-test results: "I liked this stuff right from the gate: The formula is ever-so-slightly shimmery, and the faint peach tone evened out the redness on my eyelids immediately upon application," says Mazzone. "I used it both on my lids and under eyes, and noticed both my concealer and eye shadow went on more smoothly than usual. I’ll admit—I did see a bit of creasing in the late afternoon. But for my notoriously-oily eyelids, making it past lunchtime is pretty impressive," she says. As for getting it off, "since it’s waterproof, it did take a little extra effort to wipe it off at the end of the day, but I consider that a plus for a product I want to stay-put. At $8, I’d say it’s a worthy addition to your kit."
The primer: Kat Von D Lock-It Color Correcting Eyeshadow Primer ($25; sephora.com)
Test driver: Marianne Mychaskiw, associate beauty editor
Road-test results: "At first swipe, Kat Von D’s primer had a slightly drier texture than what I’m used to, but I ended up being completely grateful for it, as the stickier base helped by eye shadow better adhere to my lid," says Mychaskiw. The pencil-shaped applicator "allows you to target hard-to-reach areas, like the inner corners of your eyes or the base of your lash line, and once you apply color over the top it’s completely secure. Seriously, my shadow didn’t move until I went over it with eye makeup remover at the very end of the day, and I love how the medium shade was an exact match to my skin tone—perfect for hiding discoloration or any signs of the previous night’s Netflix binge." Mychaskiw who is a master at smoky eyes, applied a cut-crease effect over the primer at around 8 a.m. "By 8 p.m., the lines were still as crisp as they were 12 hours before. Rest assured that if that Internet meme of bae taking you swimming on the first date happens in real life, Kat Von D’s Lock-It Primer will keep your cat eye sharp, come hell or high water."