12 Smudge-Proof Eyeshadow Primers for Your Boldest Looks Yet

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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.

Our Top Picks
Reviewers love the silky formula that hydrates and helps makeup stay put.
This primer is slightly tacky to help bold shades stay put, and stands up against more expensive products.
This vegan, cruelty-free primer packs a punch for being a couple of bucks.
A Byrdie fave, this primer glides on smoothly and creates the perfect canvas for eye makeup.
This formula attaches to your eyeshadow so color stays true all day long.
A 24-hour formula like this one ensures your eyeshadow won't budge, crease, or fade due to slick lids.
With moisturizing ingredients, this eye primer wears comfortably on those with dry eyelids.
With a transparent finish, this long-lasting primer can pretty much withstand it all.
Cover up imperfections and discoloration while you amplify the look of your eyeshadow.
A multitasker, this pencil helps keep eyeliner in place and doubles as a concealer and highlighter.

Best Overall: Hourglass Veil Eye Primer

Hourglass Veil™ Eye Primer

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.

Best Budget: Covergirl Lid Lock Up Eyeshadow Primer

covergirl lid lock up

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.

Best Drugstore: e.l.f. Cosmetics Shadow Lock Eyelid Primer

E.l.f. Shadow Lock Eyelid Primer

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.

Editor's Pick: Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion

Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion

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.

Best Splurge: NARS Cosmetics Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base

nars smudge proof eyeshadow base

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.

Best for Oily Lids: Too Faced Shadow Insurance Eye Shadow Primer

Too Faced Shadow Insurance Eye Shadow Primer

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.

Best for Dry Lids: Benefit Cosmetics Stay Don't Stray Eyeshadow Primer

Benefit Cosmetics Stay Don't Stray Eyeshadow Primer

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.

Best Clear: NYX Professional Makeup Proof It! Waterproof Eyeshadow Primer

NYX Proof It Eyeshadow Primer

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.

Best Tinted: Laura Mercier Eye Basics Primer

Laura Mercier Eye Basics Primer

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.

Best for Eyeliner: Anastasia Beverly Hills Pro Pencil

Anastasia Beverly Hills Pro Pencil

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.

Best for All Skin Tones: Fenty Beauty Pro Filt’r Amplifying Eye Primer

FENTY BEAUTY Pro Filt’r Amplifying Eye Primer

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.

Best Multi-Tasker: MAC Cosmetics Pro Longwear Paint Pot

mac 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 the top of this creamy formula. The result is a truly bold eye look that stays put.

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