Stops creases and keeps shadow in place. The neutral shades also work well to make a flawless no-makeup look. A little product goes a long way.
Shades do not always match skin tone, especially on darker complexions.
Keeps makeup in place all day. Works well at preventing creases in eyeliner. Good texture that doesn’t cake the shadow.
Not much product for the money. Some users think it is too runny.
Available in color-corrective shades including Eyebright, a pale blue that makes the eyes look whiter. Doubles as a barely-there eyeshadow. We love the semi-matte finish.
Thick consistency that can be a little hard to blend. Some found the product dried up in the container.
Glides on without pulling. Keeps eyeshadow from smudging and creasing and brings out the pigment.
Good for oily skin but can be drying for other skin types. A few complaints that eyeshadow still faded.
Plumps the skin and keeps eye color vibrant throughout the day whatever the weather. Intensifies eyeshadow color and smooths wrinkles. Works well at reducing redness.
May be too greasy for oily skin. Some found it didn’t keep creases away.
You’ve put a lot of work into perfecting your smoky eye, so the last thing you want is for the makeup to wear off halfway through the evening. Using high-quality makeup and makeup-setting sprays can help, but there’s another product you can try: an eyeshadow primer.
You might be familiar with regular makeup primer that you apply to your whole face to keep your foundation in place. But eyeshadow primer is designed specifically for the eyelids to keep your eyeshadow from creasing or wearing off.
Some people are surprised to discover that there are so many different kinds of eyeshadow primer. Some products blend in with your skin tone, while others are almost as bright as eyeshadow itself. Differences in texture and finish can also affect your final look. How to choose?
We at BestReviews have put together this shopping guide to eyeshadow primers to help you understand all the considerations, so you can find the one that will make your eyes pop.
The primary purpose of an eyeshadow primer is to keep your eyeshadow in place longer. A good one will prevent the normal fading, smudging, and creasing that occur throughout the day. If you’re using a powder eyeshadow, a good primer will help hold the powder in place better, enabling you to build up more intense color.
The right color and finish can also enhance your final look. For example, some primers add a bit of a shimmer or counteract any natural redness in your eyelid for a truer color than you’d get if you just applied eyeshadow alone.
Choosing the right eyeshadow primer texture for you often comes down to your skin type.
Normal to oily skin: Most eyeshadow primers contain silicone. This is best if you have normal to oily skin because it’s pretty easy to apply and lasts a long time. However, silicone-based primer dries very quickly, so you have to apply your eyeshadow soon after you apply the primer if you want the primer to capture the pigment properly.
Dry skin: Silicone-based eyeshadow primers aren’t ideal if you have dry skin because they can further dry your skin. You should look for a cream-based primer. These don’t dry as quickly, so you have more time to apply your eyeshadow. And because of the softer consistency, these are easier to spread evenly. These eyeshadow primers don’t hold up very well on oily skin.
The best eyeshadow primers should last a full day, but it depends on the quality of the primer, the conditions that you’re exposed to (such as hot weather), and your skin type. Read customer reviews to get a sense of how well a primer holds up.
One of the first questions you have to ask yourself is what color eyeshadow primer you want. If you’re looking for a good, all-purpose primer that you can use with any eyeshadow, look for one that’s sheer or that blends in with your skin tone. That way you’ll know exactly what to expect when you apply your eyeshadow because the primer won’t alter the color.
Colored eyeshadow primers can help add dimension to your eyes, make eyeshadow colors pop, or counteract redness. Some of the most common eyeshadow primer colors are white, black, and yellow.
White: White eyeshadow primer is the way to go if you like to use brightly colored eyeshadow and you want to make it stand out. White primer makes eyeshadow colors look much more intense than they do against your normal skin color.
Black: If you want to make your smoky eye a little more alluring, you need a black eyeshadow primer. In reality, it will probably be closer to gray when it dries on your skin, but it will give you a good foundation on which to create your smoky look. Black primer also works well with metallic eyeshadows.
Yellow: Yellow might seem an odd choice for an eyeshadow primer, but it’s actually a smart one if you’re trying to counteract redness. Yellow neutralizes the red tones in your skin so that your eyeshadow colors appear truer. If you have lighter skin, go for a brighter yellow primer. If your skin is darker, you’re better off going with a yellowish-brown shade.
Eyeshadow primers come in a matte or shimmery finish. Think about how you like to do your eye makeup most often and which type of primer will work best. You might also want to consider getting one of each, so you can have a choice on any given day.
Matte: Many eyeshadow primers have a matte finish, so you won’t notice them very much once you’ve applied your eyeshadow. Matte eyeshadow primers are the most versatile type because you can use them with matte or shimmery eyeshadows.
Shimmery: Shimmery primers are newer to the market. You can use these with either matte or shimmery eyeshadows as well, but they’re not ideal in all cases. For example, if you have naturally oily skin, you probably want a product that works to decrease shine rather than enhance it.
Eyeshadow primers cost anywhere from about $5 to $40. We recommend spending at least $15 if you want to get a quality product that will keep your eyeshadow from fading or smudging for the entire day. If you spend more, you can get even longer-lasting wear and better-quality ingredients that will adhere well to your eyeshadow.
It’s important to pay attention to the amount of product you’re getting as well as the overall cost. Try to approximate about the number of uses you think you can get out of a single tube and divide that by the cost of the product. Look for one that offers the highest-quality product for the best possible value.
Do one eye at a time. If you find your primer is drying too quickly on your eyelids, try completing one eye at a time.
Apply primer with a brush. A brush will give you a more even application than using your fingertips.
Don’t apply too much primer. It might not dry properly, and it could give you an uneven look. You only need a thin layer of primer.
Apply eyeshadow before the primer has set. This will give you the best results.
Q. What eyeshadow primer is best for combination skin?
A. That depends. You might be able to use a silicone-based or cream-based primer, but if you find that the skin around your eyes is very oily or very dry, go with the option that is best suited to that type of skin.
Q. What kind of eyeshadow primer should I get if I have sensitive skin around my eyes?
A. Look for one that won’t dry out your skin too much. It’s a good idea to read through customer reviews before you purchase a primer to see if other people with sensitive eyes have experienced any problems when using that particular primer.
Q. Is an eyeshadow primer the same as an eyeshadow base?
A. Not exactly. A base can perform some of the same functions as a primer, like intensifying the color, but it doesn’t help to prevent smudging or creasing to keep your eyeshadow in place longer.
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