What is an eyeshadow primer and why do I need one?

What is an eyeshadow primer and why do I need one?

I never used to wear eye primers. I thought that they were totally unnecessary, and they probably were when I was in my 20’s (actually, was eye primer even a thing back then? Probably not. Maybe when I was in my 30’s)

Since then I’ve found out that eye primers actually do have an important place in my makeup routine.

If you love wearing eyeshadows, but hate the way that they wear off and crease during the day, then you need an eyeshadow primer.

Not only does a makeup primer help eyeshadow colors look more vibrant, they help the shadow last longer and helps stop creasing, by stopping the oils on our skin migrating to our eyelids.  In the case of some cheaper eyeshadows it can stop the pigments from staining your eyelids as well.

If you are using a cream or liquid shadow a primer won’t help much.  But if you use powder eyeshadows they can definitely help.

But can't I just use my face primer?

Nope.  The formulas for face primers and eye primers are generally pretty different.  A face primer is used to help smooth out the skin, or to hydrate (or both) where an eye primer is normally a bit more tacky to help our eyeshadows ‘stick’ onto them better.

If you don’t want to use a specific eye primer you can use concealer, but it won’t have the same longevity.

So how do I use an eyeshadow primer?

Eye primers will come in either a squeeze tube, a tube with a doe-foot applicator, or a pot.  You’ll need to take a little primer, apply a thin layer of it to your eyelid, blending in with your finger in the areas you normally apply shadow, then I like to set it with a skin colored eyeshadow, or a transluscent powder to help my shadows blend a little more smoothly.  Don’t forget to apply primer under your eyes if you are applying shadow there.

But primers come in different colors and types. How do I choose?

Primers come in clear, coloured and tinted. Matte and shimmer. I have one clear one and a couple of tinted, depending on who I’m applying makeup on.

It’s worth noting that the skin-toned tinted primers are almost never anyone’s actual skin tone, but you shouldn’t be applying so much that it dramatically changes your lid colour. They work well at neutralising redness or darkness that we sometimes get on our eyelids.

Any recommendations for me?

My favourites are the Smashbox Photo Finish Eyeshadow Primer, and the Two Faced Shadow Insurance, both available from Mecca.  And both of these products are not only cruelty-free, but are also vegan.  



The truth about primers


I once worked for a company that had a pretty good eye primer  It worked well for getting colours to pop, and helped the shadows last longer.  I found it pretty drying on my lids, but I’d only use it if I were going out. 

The way that it was demonstrated though…….

We were trained to put a little of the primer on our hand, and demonstrate how much better the shadow looked with the primer than without (something I still do today when I’m doing a primer demonstration).  When it came to the wear-test we were told to rub the shadow off on the primer-free side with a clean finger to demonstrate how it rubbed off, then do the same with the primer side – or almost the same. 

The trainer taught us to use the finger THAT I HAD USED TO APPLY THE SHADOW.   Meaning that we would be applying additional color to that area instead of rubbing it off.   Apparently in 15 years of using that trick no one had ever picked up on it.

PSA. Makeup is not magic! If anyone says that primer can “intensify the color when you rub it” you should run.   That’s not the way that eyeshadow primer works.  Primer will definitely help your shadows last longer, but it’s not going to be rub-proof.

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Sally is a makeup artist, a beauty junkie and a coffee addict, who loves finding new products and techniques and using them to give her clients an amazing experience – every time.

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