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When you put in the time to nail a perfect smoky eye or dramatic wing liner, you don’t want it going anywhere. But when you think about it, getting makeup to stick around the eye area is easier said than done. That’s where the skin is thinnest, making it prone to fine lines, which can cause creasing and unevenness. Plus, naturally oily lids—a concern of many—makes it even easier for makeup to melt away before the clock strikes noon.
To save your eye makeup look from all that's stacked up against it, prep your lids with a primer first. These formulas keep eyeshadow from slipping and sliding all over the place, essentially eliminating your need for touchups.
Read on for the best eyeshadow primers for a long-lasting eye makeup look.
Best Overall: Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion
The holy grail of eyeshadow primers, this little purple potion has a cult following that’s well deserved. The primer is incredibly lightweight; it goes on like a cream to spread evenly and easily and dries down to a powder finish. Though it doesn’t feel sticky on your lids at all, it works like glue, holding onto whatever you put on top of it. It keeps shadow in place for 24 hours without any creasing or caking, a feat we can attest to.
Best Budget: CoverGirl Lid Lock Up Eyeshadow Primer
The gel formula dries quickly so that you can get to applying your favorite eyeshadow ASAP—and it’ll stay in place all day long without creasing. It also makes the colors of your eyeshadow look bolder and brighter, upping its intensity. You can feel good about using it too: This primer is free of phthalate, parabens, and aluminum.
Best Splurge: Nars Pro-Prime Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base
The mineral-powder and polymer blend keep whatever you apply on top of this primer on lockdown, guaranteeing all-day wear that never creases, cakes, or smudges. It's infused with an antioxidant rice extract and deep-sea extract to nourish your lids while you wear it. It dries instantly and creates a smooth base, plus it enhances the color intensity of eyeliner and eyeshadow.
Best for Oily Lids: Smashbox 24 Hour Photo Finish Shadow Primer
Another classic with 24-hour staying power, Smashbox hits it out of the park with this primer. The brand is known for having every type of primer you could think of, and this one truly gets the job done. Those with oily lids know what a challenge it can be to get their eye makeup to stick around, but this one is made to stand up to sweat and humidity. To prove its staying power, Smashbox tested this eyeshadow primer during all-day shoots at their L.A. photo studio, showing that it really does do the job for a full 24 hours.
Best Tinted: Laura Mercier Eye Basics Primer for Eyelid & Eyeshadow
Not only does this formula prime the lids for subsequent eyeshadow, but it also acts as its own foundation of sorts for your eyelids. The formula is tinted so it's able to cover the look of imperfections, redness, and discoloration on the lids, leaving you with an even canvas upon which to build your eye look. There are two color-correcting shades (peach and light blue to brighten the overall eye area and tamp down on purple hues on the eyelids, respectively) as well.
Not in the mood to wear eyeshadow? No problem. You can also wear this formula all on its own.
Best Natural: bareMinerals Prime Time Eyelid Primer
Excess oil doesn’t stand a chance against this budge-proof primer that ups the intensity of your eye makeup. It also brightens eyes and creates a smooth base for makeup. Even though it’s light as a feather and goes on sheer, it lasts all day—and all night.
Best for Glitter Eyeshadow: Too Faced Shadow Insurance Eyeshadow Primer
When it comes to eye makeup, nothing brings on the glitz and glamour like glitter eyeshadow. But, making sure glitter eyeshadow stays put is an entire challenge of its own. That’s where this formula comes in.
Designed specifically to keep glitter eyeshadow in place, the clear cream formula essentially works as a glue to bind loose glitter, pigment, and shimmer to your eyelid. An added bonus is that it makes the makeup look even more reflective.
Best Multi-Tasker: MAC Cosmetics Pro Longwear Paint Pot
Ok, so this is technically advertised as an eyeshadow, which it is, but it can also be used as an eyeshadow base. That's right, you can layer powder eyeshadows and liquid liners over top this creamy formula. The result is a truly bold eye look that stays put.
Up next, check out the best drugstore eyeshadows that won't break the bank.