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Updated April 2022
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Buying guide for Best eyeshadow bases

No matter how much experience you have applying makeup, you’ve likely dealt with faded, dull eyeshadow from time to time. Even if you use a quality primer, some shadows just don’t seem to look as bold as you’d like. Enter the eyeshadow base, which can keep your eye makeup looking vibrant and flawless from morning to night.

An eyeshadow base is similar to an eyeshadow primer: you blend it into your eyelids before applying your eyeshadow. It has a slightly tacky texture, which helps it grab onto the eyeshadow to intensify the color. Bases are available in various colors too, helping to boost the pigmentation of the shadow. Their stickiness can also help eyeshadow last longer than it does on bare lids.

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Apply a thin layer of eyeshadow base. If you use too much, it can start to crease.

Key considerations

Base vs. primer

The terms “eyeshadow base” and “eyeshadow primer” are often used interchangeably, but there are some key differences between the two products that are important to understand.

Eyeshadow bases usually have a thicker, creamier texture that’s slightly tacky or sticky. That allows it to grab hold of the eyeshadow you apply on top of it and intensify its color. Eyeshadow bases often come in nude or skin-tone shades, which can help cancel out any discoloration in your eyelids (such as redness) that might affect the way an eyeshadow looks. You can also find eyeshadow bases in other colors, so you can match the base to the eyeshadow color you’re using or choose a color that brightens or deepens the shadow.

Eyeshadow primers typically have a thinner consistency that isn’t particularly sticky. It helps create a smooth, even canvas on which to apply your eyeshadow. It also prevents the oils in your eyelids from seeping through and causing the shadow to crease and fade. Eyeshadow primer is usually translucent, though some have a slight tint.

Formula

Most eyeshadow bases have a cream formula, so they work incredibly well if you have dry, textured eyelids. You can usually apply these bases with a clean finger or a synthetic makeup brush.

Some eyeshadow bases are slightly thinner, with an almost liquid consistency. These usually come with some type of applicator built into the lid.

You can even find a few powder eyeshadow bases, which is an excellent option if you have oily eyelids.

Finish

Eyeshadow bases are available in a few different finishes. Many are matte and don’t have any shine when applied to the skin. These are a good choice for oily eyelids. However, you can also find some eyeshadow bases with a shimmery finish, which attracts light to give your eyes a slight glow.

In most cases, an eyeshadow base’s finish isn’t that important because the eyeshadow you apply over it may have a different finish. However, if you plan to wear the base on its own to even out your eyelids or add a soft wash of color to your eyes, think more carefully about the type of finish you prefer.

Dyk1
Did You Know?
An eyeshadow base is particularly effective with loose pigment eyeshadow. The sticky texture of the base holds onto the loose formula extremely well.
Staff
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Features

Packaging

Because most eyeshadow bases have a thick, creamy formula, they typically come in small pots or compacts. You dip a finger or brush in the container to get some of the product and apply it to your eyelids.

Thin, liquid eyeshadow bases generally come in a tube, like a concealer or lip gloss, with a wand built into the cap for application. These enable you to apply the base without getting any product on your fingers.

Powder eyeshadow bases usually come in a small jar or pot. Some brands have a locking sifter, which prevents the powder from going everywhere if you accidentally knock it over.

Shade

Skin tone: All eyeshadow bases are tinted to provide at least some color to your lids. Many are nude or skin tone to help even out any discoloration in your lids. You don’t need to match the color to your skin exactly but look for an option that’s as close as you can get to your natural coloring. These bases are ideal if you don’t want the base to change the color of your eyeshadow too much.

White and black: Many brands also offer white and black eyeshadow bases. A white eyeshadow base is an excellent option if you want to make your eyeshadow color appear brighter and more vibrant without changing the color much. A black eyeshadow base deepens the color of a shadow and is also highly effective at bringing out the different tones in duochrome eyeshadows.

Other colors: You can also find an eyeshadow base in nearly any color under the sun. Matching the base to your eyeshadow color can increase the pigmentation and make your shadow look more vibrant. For example, you might pair a purple eyeshadow base with a lilac shadow to achieve a more intense look.

Wear time

While the primary purpose of an eyeshadow base is to intensify the color of the eyeshadow rather than prolong its wear time, some bases can help your shadow last longer than others. Creamier, more emollient bases don’t last as long, while thinner formulas can often last all day.

If you have dry eyelids, creasing and fading likely aren’t a problem, so you can opt for a creamy base. For oily lids, you’ll want to stick to a thinner formula for a longer wear time.

eyeshadow bases
Did You Know?
Your eyeshadow base doesn’t have to match your eyeshadow color exactly. As long as they’re in the same color family, the base can help intensify the shadow color.
Staff
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Accessories

Eyeshadow primer: Elizabeth Mott Thank Me Later Eyeshadow Primer
If you want to be sure your eye makeup lasts all day, you definitely want to apply an eyeshadow primer before your eyeshadow base. This one from Elizabeth Mott is a standout because its lightweight formula dries quickly to allow you to apply your eye makeup quickly and easily. It’s also paraben-free.

Dyk3
Did You Know?
If you use a brush to apply your eyeshadow base, a flat synthetic brush is best for concentrating the color. A more densely packed synthetic brush is better for blending.
Staff
BestReviews

Eyeshadow base prices

Eyeshadow bases vary in price based on the formula, ingredients, wear time, and other factors. Most bases cost between $5 and $50.

Inexpensive: The most affordable eyeshadow bases are from drugstore makeup brands and include lower-quality ingredients. They’re typically cream formulas that come in small pots or compacts. Most are available in fairly basic shades like white, black, and nude. You’ll generally pay between $5 and $12 for these eyeshadow bases.

Mid-range: These eyeshadow bases are typically from high-end makeup brands and feature average- to high-quality ingredients. They are available in cream, liquid, and powder formulas and come in basic shades as well as more vibrant colors. You’ll pay between $14 and $26 for these eyeshadow bases.

Expensive: The most expensive eyeshadow bases are from luxury makeup brands and include the highest-quality ingredients. They’re available in cream or liquid formulas and come in both basic and vibrant shades. You’ll typically pay between $26 and $50 for these eyeshadow bases.

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You’ll get the most intensity from your eyeshadow if you pat it on over your eyeshadow base rather than swipe it on.

Tips

  • Apply a cream base with a finger or brush. Cream eyeshadow bases can be applied with either a finger or a synthetic makeup brush. Some people prefer using a brush to avoid getting their hands messy, but others find the heat from the skin helps the finger blend the base more effectively.
  • Wear the eyeshadow base on its own. You don’t necessarily have to wear eyeshadow over an eyeshadow base. Nude or skin-tone bases can be used to even out your eyelids for a “no-makeup makeup” look, and colored bases can be used as cream eyeshadow on their own.
  • Create a smoky eye. A black or other dark-colored eyeshadow base is perfect for creating a smoky eye look.
  • Use a shimmery eyeshadow base as a face highlighter. Dab a base in an appropriate shade on the high points of your face like the cheekbones, browbones, and inner corners of your eyes, making sure to blend it well.
  • Close your eyeshadow base after each use. Exposing it to the air can cause it to dry out.

FAQ

Q. Can I use an eyeshadow primer and an eyeshadow base together?

A. Since they ultimately serve different purposes and have different textures, you can use an eyeshadow primer and an eyeshadow base together. It’s important to use them in the correct order, though. Primer usually has a thinner texture and is designed to keep the oils in your eyelids from breaking down your eyeshadow, so it should be applied first. You can then layer a tinted or colored base over the primer to help it stay in place all day.

However, you don’t have to use eyeshadow primer and base together. You can wear the primer under your eyeshadow without a base to help improve its wear time, or you can opt to apply an eyeshadow base and layer eyeshadow over it to intensify the color.

Q. Do I need multiple eyeshadow bases?

A. It depends on how you use your base and the type of makeup looks you prefer. A basic nude-colored base can work with and help intensify eyeshadow of any color, so it might be all you need.

However, if you prefer a more dramatic look, you might also want a white and/or black base for certain eye looks. If you experiment with a wide range of eye looks, you might even want a few eyeshadow bases in specific colors, such as purple or pink.

Q. Do eyeshadow bases expire?

A. Like any makeup product, an eyeshadow base can expire. Because you apply it to your eyes, you should be especially careful about not using a base that might contain bacteria. You can usually use a base for a year or two before it expires. If you notice any changes in its scent or texture, it’s time to toss it.
 

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