Do I Need to Use an Eye Shadow Primer?

Updated 05/31/19

Emma Innocenti/Getty Images

What Is An Eye Shadow Primer?

An eye shadow primer is often a multipurpose product, the most important purpose being to give eye shadow staying power. Primers can come in different shades that blend with skin tone. White primer is often used to make eye shadow shades more vibrant.

Why Use a Primer?

Do you really need to use an eye shadow primer? It's a matter of preference and can also depend on the eye makeup look you want to achieve.

Some women simply use their foundation or foundation primer as an eye shadow base and find that it works just as well, but foundation or makeup primers usually just help make makeup application smoother and more even. But, since face primers are made for smoothing, sometimes they don't hold shadow in place as well as eye primers. Eye shadow primer helps eye shadow adhere to the eyelid, stay in place, and also prevents creasing.

Here are five more reasons to consider using an eye shadow primer:

1. Eyelid Prep

Eye shadow primer is used to prep the eyes for eye shadow. It assists with longer wear and makes eye shadow easier to blend, providing a smooth canvas to apply eye shadow to and help it stay in place.

2. To Even Skin Tone

Eye shadow primer is used to even out skin color and discoloration. It’s helpful for those with darkened or discolored eyelids, which is often hereditary. Eye shadow primer can also cover visible veins.

3. To Intensify Color

Eye shadow primer can make pigments stand out and look more vibrant. Some shadows, especially powder formulas, appear lighter than they look in the palette. Primer can help you achieve more color, especially if colors don't seem to show up much on your skin tone.

4. Skin & Makeup Barrier

Primer also acts as a barrier between skin and makeup. It can keep oil from the skin away from the eye shadow, helping to prevent fading or smudging. If you have oily eyelids, primer is a must to keep your shadow in place all day.

5. To Prevent Creasing & Smudging

Primer is useful in hot, humid weather to keep eye shadow from fading or smudging. It also helps prevent creasing from normal eye movements.

Eye Shadow Primer vs. Eye Shadow Base

A primer helps prevent creasing and fading and helps with making eye shadow last longer.

An eye shadow base is usually thicker and is mainly used to intensify color and make eye shadow adhere to the eyelid. Some eye shadow bases don't prevent creasing or fading, although there are some products that are formulated to act as both a primer and a base.

For even more staying power, some women and makeup artists use a primer first, then follow with an eye shadow base.

There are also eye shadow primers that add a shimmery glow or radiance to your look. In addition to its Shadow Insurance Anti-Crease Eye Shadow Primer ($20), Too Faced's Shadow Insurance Champagne gives skin a touch of shimmer and Sephora's Tinted & Cooling Primer, illuminates the eyelid with peachy tones, eliminating dark circles and veins.

How to Apply Eye Shadow Primer

  1. Smooth a small amount of eye shadow primer onto the entire lid with your fingertips, blending up and out toward the brow. Try to apply as close to the lash line as possible.
  2. Using a concealer brush or base brush, blend evenly.
  3. You can also use a primer under the eye if you are adding a line of eye shadow color underneath the lower lash line.
  4. Let the eye shadow primer set for a minute or two before applying eye shadow.

Here are some of our favorite primers:

NARS Pro-Prime Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base $26
Smashbox Photo Finish Lid Primer $21
e.l.f. Shadow Lock Eyelid Primer $2

Related Stories