We independently research, test, review, and recommend the best products—learn more about our process. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.
Primer does some heavy lifting, but eyeshadow primer in particular means serious business. It’s key to keeping your eye makeup looking as flawless as when you first applied it—and preserve that seamless look all throughout the day. Plus, you’ll find that starting with eyeshadow primer first not only preps your eyelid, but brightens your eyes overall, prevents creasing, and allows your eyeshadow—whether it’s a powder, cream, or gel—to glide on smoothly.
Eyeshadow primers come in all shades and textures, and in the end, it’s all about your personal preference and your skin type. Oily eyelids would benefit from a long-lasting formula, while drier lids would thrive with a formula that delivers a dose of hydration.
Ready to live a life where touching up isn’t necessary? Read on to find the best eyeshadow primers that stand the test of time.
Best Overall: Hourglass Veil Eye Primer
Lasts for as long as 12 hours
Looks patchy to some
With this silky, almost waxy formula, you can rely on ingredients like vitamins E and C to reduce the appearance of age spots and keep your skin hydrated. Reviewers find that it really adheres to your eyelids and helps your makeup stay put. Pro tip: Apply your eyeshadow immediately after applying this primer as you don’t want it to set before you finish your makeup look.
Key Ingredients: Viamerine, Vitamin E, Vitamin C | Skin Type: All | Dosage: Daily small amount as needed | Size: 0.32 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Best Budget: Covergirl Lid Lock Up Eyeshadow Primer
Hard to remove
Don’t let the price fool you—this powerful formula can stand up against its more expensive counterparts. Users describe the texture as slightly sticky and tacky, which makes for a great base, especially if you tend to go for bolder makeup looks, metallic shades, or even glitter.
Key Ingredients: Isododecane, water | Skin Type: All | Dosage: Daily small amount as needed | Size: 0.20 oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No
Best Drugstore: e.l.f. Cosmetics Shadow Lock Eyelid Primer
Very easy to blend
May crease after wearing a few hours
Cruelty-free and totally vegan, this no-fuss primer packs a punch for being a couple of bucks. It has a thinner consistency, but that doesn’t stop it from preventing creases and fallout. Just like most eyeshadow primers, you’ll need to wait a few minutes for the formula to dry before applying your makeup.
Key Ingredients: Isododecane | Skin Type: All | Dosage: Daily thin layer as needed | Size: 0.20 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Editor's Pick: Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion
Can be worn alone for subtle look
Lasts up to 24 hours
Could blend better
Byrdie Editorial Director Faith Xue loves this primer for a myriad of reasons. Not only does it glide on smoothly and blend like a dream, but it’s also formulated with polymer technology that fills and smooths the skin’s surface for the perfect canvas. The texture tends to be a bit thick, so start small and add on in small doses.
Key Ingredients: Isododecane, Talc | Skin Type: All | Dosage: Daily thin layer as needed | Size: 0.33 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Best Splurge: NARS Cosmetics Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base
Color stays true
Various shades to choose from
Maintains a just-applied look
May be drying to some
Fresh-looking eyeshadow every time you glance in the mirror? Sign us up. A combo of polymers and mineral powders attach itself to your eyeshadow—and don't let go. Users report that the formula feels light on the lids and that their color stays true all day long. Remember to allow the primer to dry and set first, and then apply your color.
Key Ingredients: Isododecane, talc | Skin Type: All | Dosage: Daily thin layer as needed | Size: 0.26 oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No
Best for Oily Lids: Too Faced Shadow Insurance Eye Shadow Primer
Intensifies eyeshadow color
No longer in easy-to-squeeze tube
This waterproof wonder is perfect for oily lids. For those who suffer from slick lids (like me!), a mighty 24-hour formula is essential in making sure your eyeshadow won’t budge, crease, or fade—the fact that it brings out the intensity of your eyeshadow is a plus. And because this primer is so potent, all you need is a small dab to cover your entire eyelid.
Key Ingredients: Isododecane, Silica | Skin Type: Normal, Oily, Dry, Combination | Dosage: Daily pea-sized amount as needed | Size: 0.2 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Best for Dry Lids: Benefit Cosmetics Stay Don't Stray Eyeshadow Primer
"Dip and dab" wand for easier application
While those with dry eyelids may be able to get away with any eye primer formula, it may not always feel comfortable. That’s why it’s important to find a primer like this one that includes moisturizing ingredients, like sodium hyaluronate and vitamin E. And it’s a multitasker—reviewers love using it as an undereye concealer.
Key Ingredients: Sodium hyaluronate, vitamin C, vitamin E | Skin Type: All | Dosage: Daily three small dots as needed | Size: 0.33 oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No
Best Clear: NYX Professional Makeup Proof It! Waterproof Eyeshadow Primer
Intensifies color payoff
Available in four skin-adapting shades
Results may not be drastic to some
Need a primer with no color? Here she is. With a transparent finish and waterproof formula, this long-lasting primer can pretty much withstand it all. Users love how reliable this formula is—it provides consistent coverage every time, even with different eyeshadow textures.
Key Ingredients: Isododecane | Skin Type: All | Dosage: Daily small amount as needed | Size: 0.27 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Best Tinted: Laura Mercier Eye Basics Primer
Infused with soothing botanicals
Not for oily eyelids
Cover up imperfections and discoloration while you amplify the look of your eyeshadow. This formula helps your product to stay on longer with no budging or smudging. It also features a creamy texture that finishes semi-matte. Because it’s tinted, what I love most is the ability to use it alone as a concealer and a natural eyeshadow.
Key Ingredients: Aloe, safflower seed oil | Skin Type: All | Dosage: Daily small amount as needed | Size: 0.18 oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Best for Eyeliner: Anastasia Beverly Hills Pro Pencil
Multitasking: primes, conceals, and highlights
Travel-friendly stick form
Orange color present in lightest shade
There’s nothing worse than fading eyeliner—especially if it’s a cat-eye and the “cat” part is melting away. To keep that line in place, I like to use a pencil, so I can directly target the area where my liner will be applied. Apply this multitasker—it can be used as a concealer, highlighter, and more—close to the lash line and then blend it out into the lid with your fingers. I like to give it a minute or two to set before applying my eyeliner.
Key Ingredients: Mica, talc | Skin Type: All | Dosage: Daily small amount as needed | Size: 0.087 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Best for All Skin Tones: Fenty Beauty Pro Filt’r Amplifying Eye Primer
Good for oily eyelids
Applies very smoothly
May cause creases
This lightweight formula features an invisible pink shade that suits all skin tones, so there’s no guesswork when it comes to choosing the right one. It also enhances the color of your eyeshadow, so you get the same vibrant consistency every time. Plus, users love the extended wear they get from their makeup look—it lasts all day with no smudges in sight.
Key Ingredients: Mica, talc | Skin Type: All | Dosage: Daily small amount as needed | Size: 0.27 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Best Multi-Tasker: MAC Cosmetics Pro Longwear Paint Pot
Doesn't cake up
Difficult to apply
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 the top of this creamy formula. The result is a truly bold eye look that stays put.
Key Ingredients: Silica, carnauba wax | Skin Type: All | Dosage: Daily finger-sized amount as needed | Size: 0.17 oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No
What to Look For in an Eyeshadow Primer
Tinted eyeshadow primers can be worn as a cream eyeshadow and do not need eyeshadow applied over them. If you want your primer to accentuate the true colors of your eye makeup, a white, transparent, or any primer with little color will do that. If you're looking to color-correct your eyelids, use a primer that is yellow or a yellow-based brown.
If you are planning on wearing your makeup look for a long day out or on a humid day, a waterproof primer can help you look withstand the elements.
What are the benefits of eyeshadow primers?
Eyeshadow primers have several benefits for eye makeup application. Primer is tacky and acts as a glue to hold your eyeshadow in place and can help stop it from creasing and smudging throughout the day. Also, certain primers can help control oil throughout the day and stop it from shifting your makeup look. Primer can also even out your eyelid tone and accentuate eyeshadow colors.
How do you apply an eyeshadow primer?
Use a small amount of eyeshadow primer and gently blend it over your eye area where you plan to wear eyeshadow or eyeliner using your ring finger. Once the primer is well-blended, you can apply eye makeup directly on top. After finishing your makeup, use a finishing powder to cover any exposed primer that was not covered by eyeshadow.