There’s nothing worse than spending the time and effort to perfect your eye makeup, only to notice that your glitter eyeshadow and concealer has worn off after only a few hours. Enter: eyeshadow primers. These handy cosmetics are specially-formulated to prevent eye makeup from creasing and fading — much like your favorite face primer does for foundation, powder, and blush. While these primers may sound like an unnecessary product, once you start using them, they’ll quickly become an essential step in your long wear makeup routine.
With so many eyeshadow primers available, finding the right one for your needs can feel overwhelming. So to help you out, makeup artists and editors have researched the best ones to make your smokey eye last all night without a single touch-up. When putting together this list, all paid close attention to each primer’s formula, lasting power, and ability to keep eyeshadow color vibrant. The Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion was a standout for its gentle formula and incredible lasting-power — it keeps eyeshadow in place and smudge-free for hours on end!
Ahead, find the best eyeshadow primers you can buy.
- Best Overall: Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion
- Best Value: CoverGirl Lid Lock Up Eyeshadow Primer
- Best for Sensitive Skin: NARS Pro-Prime Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base
- Best Waterproof: Too Faced Shadow Insurance Eyeshadow Primer
- Best Lightweight: Ilia Natural Brightening Eye Primer
- Best for All Skin Tones: Fenty Beauty Pro Filt’r Amplifying Eye Primer
- Best for Vibrancy: C’est Moi Visionary Gentle Non-Toxic Makeup Crayon
- Best for Concealer: Benefit Stay Don’t Stray Eyeshadow Primer
- Best for Oily Lids: Bare Minerals Prime Time Eyelid Primer
- Best Long-Lasting: Mac Pro Longwear Paint Pot
Best Overall: Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion
What To Love: Prevents eyeshadow from budging for 24 hours.
Not So Much: It’s expensive.
This eyeshadow primer from Urban Decay is sure to become a staple in your makeup bag. The product claims to keep your eye makeup “vibrant and crease-free for 24-hours.” The wand makes it super easy to apply, and the rich formula blends smoothly and quickly onto the lids, leaving them prepped and ready for eyeshadow. It works on all sorts of eye shapes—from hooded to round—without transferring or pilling, and is gentle enough to use on sensitive skin. There are four different shades: two are transparent, one is matte, and one is shimmery. And while it is on the pricier side, a little of the product goes a long way and the long-lasting results are well worth the cost.
A Commerce Editorial Director, Laura Gurfein, is also a fan of this primer. She has used it for over three years and said, “This is the primer that made me believe in the power of primers. It doesn’t matter what eyeshadow I use (prestige/drugstore) or where my night goes — my shadow’s not even creasing a little bit until it’s doused in micellar water.”
Size: 0.33 fl oz | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Paraben-Free: Yes | Number of Shades: 4
Best Value: CoverGirl Lid Lock Up Eyeshadow Primer
What To Love: The sticky finish allows eyeshadows to cling to the base.
Not So Much: The eyeshadow color dulls throughout the day.
If you’re looking for a high-quality eyeshadow primer that’s still budget-friendly, this CoverGirl option is your best bet. The neutral-tone primer dries clear, evens out any discoloration on the eyelids, and leaves a nice smooth base to apply eyeshadow on top of. It does feel a little tacky on your skin when you first apply, but it provides an excellent amount of grip for the eye makeup to attach to. It also dries pretty quickly, so you can still apply a smokey eye even in a rush.
Although all wish it would help keep the eyeshadow colors vibrant for longer, it’s a great affordable option that can hold its own against some of the more high-end primers when it comes to preventing creasing and smudging.
Size: 0.96 fl oz | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Paraben-Free: No | Number of Shades: 1
Best for Sensitive Skin: NARS Pro-Prime Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base
What To Love: It has nourishing, gentle ingredients, and is dermatologist-approved.
Not So Much: It could blend better.
This NARS option is one of the most popular eyeshadow primers around, and for good reason. It comes in five different shades, ranging from light to dark — so there’s an option for every skin tone. The best part is that it’s ophthalmologist and dermatologist-tested as well as fragrance-free, so it’s a great option for people with sensitive skin and eyes. The formula even includes nourishing ingredients like deep sea and rice bran extract, which have anti-inflammatory properties. It will also increase pigment payoff and keep even the most dramatic looks in place all day or night, making it well worth the price tag.
Size: 0.26 fl oz | Cruelty-Free: No | Paraben-Free: Yes | Number of Shades: 4
Best Waterproof: Too Faced Shadow Insurance
What To Love: It’s waterproof and has a smooth, matte finish.
Not So Much: It goes on a bit spotty.
The Too Faced Shadow Insurance eyeshadow primer has a fade-proof formula that is not only lightweight, but incredibly easy to apply and quick to dry. Instead of being tacky, the product dries with a matte finish that immediately smoothes out your skin tone and covers up any veins on the eyelids. It will also make the color of your eyeshadow bolder and more pigmented than ever before — plus, it stays that way all day long. If you want to make your eyeshadow really pop, you should definitely consider this primer. To top it off, the unique formula will even protect your skin from blue light damage and it’s waterproof, so your makeup look won’t budge even if you get caught in the rain or happen to shed some tears.
Size: 0.2 fl oz | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Paraben-Free: No | Number of Shades: 1
Best Lightweight: Ilia Natural Brightening Eye Primer
What To Love: It has all-natural, brightening ingredients.
Not So Much: It can burn a little and is not ideal for sensitive skin.
This clean eyeshadow primer uses natural ingredients and has a very lightweight formula, so it’s great for anyone that doesn’t like the feeling of a heavy product on their eyes. The formula boasts botanicals like rosehip oil, arnica, and jojoba, which brighten and depuff the lids. It also soaks up excess oil, so wave goodbye to greasy lids. The illuminating base for makeup can be worn on its own for a glowy boost and under shadow for a more finished look. It delivers in the lasting-power department as well and your eyeshadow will not budge.
Size: 0.14 fl oz | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Paraben-Free: Yes | Number of Shades: 1
Best for All Skin Tones: Fenty Beauty Pro Filt’r Amplifying Eye Primer
What To Love: It’s specially designed for all skin tones and is very lightweight.
Not So Much: It can cause creasing.
Rihanna’s beauty line Fenty Beauty is all about inclusivity, and this eyeshadow primer is no different. The product has an invisible pink tone that is specially formulated to become invisible on all skin tones. The weightless, creamy formula also absorbs into the skin immediately upon application and offers an excellent amount of grip for eyeshadow. It boosts color vibrancy and locks in your smokey eye for 24 hours without a single smudge.
Size: 0.27 fl oz | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Paraben-Free: Yes | Number of Shades: 1
Best for Vibrancy: C’est Moi Visionary Gentle Non-Toxic Makeup Crayon
What To Love: It comes in tons of different shades and has a clean formula.
Not So Much: It can be difficult to remove.
This C’est Moi Makeup Crayon is made with clean ingredients like mica, carnauba wax, and daffodil. It’s also hypoallergenic and dermatologist-approved, so it’s ideal for sensitive skin types and it won’t cause any irritation. Even better, the brand itself is Environmental Working Group-vetted, and all of its products are made with recyclable materials and without animal testing. The crayon application method makes it easier than ever to apply and it comes in tons of colors, such as sapphire, ruby, and turquoise, making it a great base for a bold look.
This crayon is a beauty writer Rachel Nussbaum’s go-to eyeshadow primer because it’s the only product that prevents her eyelids from “eating eyeshadow like it’s candy.” She prefers to use the white version of the crayon called “Dove” to prep her lids, as “it goes on smoothly and accepts whatever shadow I layer on top, and then keeps it there all day long.”
Size: 0.06 oz | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Paraben-Free: Yes | Number of Shades: 12
Best for Concealer: Benefit Cosmetics Stay Don’t Stray Primer
What To Love: It has anti-aging benefits and works on the undereye area.
Not So Much: It doesn’t do much for controlling oil.
If you notice that it’s not just your eyeshadow fading by the end of the day, but your under-eye concealer starts to lose its effect too, consider trying this long-lasting primer from Benefit. The dual-action formula can be applied to both the eyelids and the under-eye area, preventing eyeshadow color from fading and concealer from creasing. It melts into the skin effortlessly and dries with a matte finish. What’s more, it is also infused with sodium hyaluronate to hydrate the skin, along with vitamins C and E to help diminish signs of aging — meaning it’s effective as both a makeup and a skincare product.
Size: 0.33 fl oz | Cruelty-Free: No | Paraben-Free: No | Number of Shades: 1
Best for Oily Lids: Bare Minerals Prime Time Eyelid Primer
What To Love: It helps combat greasiness by soaking up excess oil.
Not So Much: It doesn’t come with a lot of product.
Excess oil is one of the main culprits behind eye makeup that fades or melts off throughout the day. So if you have oily eyelids, check out this primer from Bare Minerals — it’s specially formulated to prevent oil from ruining your eye makeup. When blended onto the lids, the creamy formula turns translucent and offers a nice smooth base for eyeshadow. Besides preventing any creasing from occurring, the primer also helps eyeshadow pigment stay intense and true-to-color all day long. All especially love that the product is oil- and fragrance-free, as well as allergy- and dermatologist-tested, so you don’t have to worry about irritation.
Size: 0.1 fl oz | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Paraben-Free: Yes | Number of Shades: 1
Best Long-Lasting: Mac Pro Longwear Paint Pot
What To Love: It doubles as a cream eyeshadow.
Not So Much: It can be hard to apply as it dries very quickly.
If you’re looking for an eyeshadow primer that will keep your eye makeup looking flawless all day and night without any retouches, check out this beloved primer by Mac. The multitasking product can be used as both a primer or a cream eyeshadow, and it’s dermatologist- and ophthalmologist-approved, so it can be used on all skin types. The primer is opaque when applied, which provides a solid base for brightly colored eyeshadows and some shades can even be used as a concealer. It comes in 15 different shades, ranging from everyday neutrals to vibrant pinks and sparkly golds.
The E-commerce Editorial Apprentice, Alyssa Brascia, is a huge fan of this product and recommends it to everyone.”This primer blends like a dream with either a brush or your fingertip and holds color in place all day with minimal to no creasing,” she said. “I’ve used this primer for years after my mom put me on it, and I’ve never looked back, even after trying others!“
Size: 0.17 fl oz | Cruelty-Free: No | Paraben-Free: No | Number of Shades: 15
What to Keep in Mind
The main purpose of using an eyeshadow primer is to make your eyeshadow last longer, so an effective primer shouldn’t budge for 12 to 24 hours. The consistency of the product can also play into its lasting-power. If a primer is more tacky, it can provide a ton of grip for the eyeshadow and keep the shadow in place longer, acting like a glue. No matter what the occasion is, how long you intend on wearing eye makeup, or how dramatic your eye look is, the goal is to avoid needing touch ups and a good primer will ensure this.
On top of keeping your eyeshadow in place and preventing creasing or smudging, a good eyeshadow primer will also maintain the color of your eyeshadow or make it pop even more. Look for a primer that will increase the vibrancy of your shadow and if you want even more pigmentation, many primers come in different shades that you can use as a colorful base.
It’s always a win-win if a product can do more than one thing, and an eyeshadow primer with a good formula can not only extend the wear of eyeshadow, but it can also hydrate your eyelids, reduce puffiness, or even out your skin tone. A primer with nourishing ingredients or hydrating ingredients can aid in these beauty benefits, so pay attention to the ingredients label if you want the most bang for your buck.