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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 in the eye area is a challenge. That’s where the skin is thinnest, making it prone to fine lines, which can cause creasing and unevenness. Plus, many people have oily lids, making it even easier for makeup to melt away. Even waterproof formulas are no guarantee that they won’t migrate or break down. Luckily, eyeshadow primer is here to help. When you put one on before your makeup, you’re guaranteeing that your makeup won’t be gone—or somewhere else on your face—within the hour. These are the top eyeshadow primers that will create the perfect canvas, helping you keep your eye makeup looking fresh all day long and exactly where you want it.
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. Essentially a flawless product, the primer is incredibly lightweight. It goes on like a cream to spread evenly and easily, and dries like a powder. Though it doesn’t feel sticky on your lids at all, it works like glue to whatever you put on top of it. It keeps shadow in place for 24 hours without any creases or bends.
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: all CoverGirl products are now Leaping Bunny approved. This primer is also 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. The fragrance-free formula has been tested and approved by dermatologists and opthamologists.
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, even if you’re wearing glittery eyeshadow to spin class.
Best for Watery Eyes: Laura Mercier Eye Basics
Tear up easily? This water-resistant eye primer has your back. But that’s not all: it can be applied alone or under makeup to cover redness, veins and discolorations. The creamy, lightweight texture blends seamlessly and doesn’t budge, leaving natural looking medium coverage. Botanicals and other skin-friendly ingredients protect and nourish the delicate area around the eyes. The long-lasting primer prevents creasing and cracking and will make eye makeup pop. It comes in five shades, including a peach to color correct and make eyes brighter and lighter.
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 Eye Makeup: Too Faced Shadow Insurance Eye Shadow Primer
When it comes to eye makeup, nothing brings on the glamour like glitter eyeshadow. But, it can often end up on your cheeks. That’s where Too Faced Shadow Insurance Glitter Glue Glitter Bonding Eye Shadow Primer comes in. Designed specifically to keep glitter eye shadow 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 for Mature Skin: Tom Ford Eye Primer Duo
As we age, we need a little extra help smoothing out the eye area, which is prone to fine lines and wrinkles. This two-step primer does just that with its creamy primer that applies evenly to reduce creasing and keep your makeup looking like you just put it on, even 15 hours later. Next, apply the translucent powder to really put your makeup on lock.
Our writers spent 3 hours researching the most popular eyeshadow primers on the market. Before making their final recommendations, they considered 20 different eyeshadow primers overall, screened options from 15 different brands and manufacturers, read over 25 user reviews (both positive and negative) and tested 4 of the eyeshadow primers themselves. All of this research adds up to recommendations you can trust.