These Are the Best Eyeshadow Primers That Stay Smudge-Proof All Day Long

Best Overall: NARS Cosmetics Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base

What We Love: It has nourishing, gentle ingredients that give it a smooth, balm-like quality.

What We Don’t Love: The applicator’s handle is a bit too long for our liking.

This NARS option is one of the most popular eyeshadow primers around, and it’s for good reason. It comes in four different shades, ranging from light to dark — so there’s an option for almost every skin tone. The best part is that it’s super blendable and easy to manipulate, so even if you don’t have a perfect match, a little elbow grease will help get you there. “It felt like a smooth balm, so it was so easy to blend in,” our tester says. “Ultimately, it’s a no-fuss primer that works well.” 

One thing we wish we could change: The applicator’s handle. “I would make the handle shorter; it feels really long and too intense for how simple the product is,” she explains. “It feels like half of the packaging is an applicator, so I’d like more product in place of the larger handle.” 

Price at time of publish: $45

Size: 0.26 fl oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Number of Shades: 4

Best for Oily Eyelids: Ilia Natural Brightening Eye Primer

What We Love: This eyeshadow primer is derived from natural ingredients and won’t cause irritation for those with sensitive eyes. 

What We Don’t Love: It disappears into skin right away.

If you have oily eyelids, you know just how frustrating it is for your eyeshadow to slip right off, minutes after application. This clean eyeshadow primer from ILIA, which uses natural ingredients, is weightless and won’t contribute to slippage. In fact, thanks to botanicals like rosehip oil, arnica, and jojoba, this primer actually soaks up excess oil and offers long-lasting hold. And, as you may have been able to guess, it serves as an illuminating base for makeup that can be worn on its own for a glowy boost or under shadow, but whichever you choose, you can trust that it’ll stay put. 

One thing to note: It’s very serum-like, so it blends into the skin right away. While this is a great thing for some, our tester found it a little confusing. “It soaked right into my skin after I applied it, so I wasn’t totally sure if it was still there,” our tester explains. “But, I was surprised to find that it certainly was and it made my eyeshadow look more vibrant and smudge-proof.”

Price at time of publish: $24

Size: 0.14 fl oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Number of Shades: 1

Best for Contact Lens-Wearers: SEPHORA COLLECTION Beauty Amplifier Eye Shadow Primer

What We Love: This eyeshadow primer has been ophthalmologist-tested and proven safe for those with sensitive eyes. 

What We Don’t Love: The applicator isn’t very useful.

When you wear contact lenses, you avoid anything that weighs down your eyelids — it’s  just plain uncomfortable. Allow us to offer you a solution: This lightweight primer from Sephora. The formula contains chamomile extract to reduce redness and irritation on the lid, so even if you get a little in your lenses, you won’t be in too much pain. Slipping and sliding likely won’t be an issue though, since it’s designed to dry down, stay put, and leave behind a flawless, translucent finish.

Although the applicator tip is easy to use and manipulate, the tester found that it’s better suited for dispensing product, rather than using it to apply the primer directly to the eye. “A little goes a long way, so to avoid using too much I’d recommend tapping a few dots onto a finger and then rubbing it onto your eyelid instead of applying it directly,” she explains. 

Price at time of publish: $13

Size: 0.20 fl oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Number of Shades: 1

Best Smoothing: Fenty Beauty Pro Filt’r Amplifying Eye Primer

What We Love: The lightweight one-color-fits-all shade is designed to be used on all skin tones. 

What We Don’t Love: It goes on very light, so you may need to layer it on to get more coverage.

Rihanna’s beauty line Fenty Beauty is all about inclusivity, and this eyeshadow primer is no different. The product has a light pink tone that dries down clear all skin tones. According to our tester, it has a creamy, off-white color when you first put it on, but then, over time, it blends into your natural skin tone. “I couldn’t even see it after a few minutes,” she explains. “I didn’t notice it underneath my eyeshadow either.” 

The weightless formula offers light coverage, which means you might need to layer on some more to get your lids completely covered. “It took a little more product than I thought I’d need, but it went on smoothly, no matter how much I added,” our tester says. “Regardless, after applying a hefty amount of eyeshadow, I didn’t notice any creasing and barely felt like I had anything on my eyelids.” 

Price at time of publish: $22

Size: 0.27 fl oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Number of Shades: 1

Best Brightening: Rare Beauty Always An Optimist Weightless Eye Primer

What We Love: This no-fuss primer brightens eyelids and acts like a glue for eyeshadow. 

What We Don’t Love:  It only comes in one shade.

Using this eyeshadow primer is as effortless as it gets. A little goes a long way — just a dab is all you need to brighten and prep your eyelids. It goes on thick and creamy, but once you buff it out (your finger is the perfect tool), it turns velvety smooth and powdery, making it the perfect base for pigment to stick to. “It smoothed easily and provided consistent coverage across my entire eyelid,” our tester explains. “The tinted peachy color immediately brightened up my eye area, disguising the bluish veins I have on my lids.”

That’s not all, thanks to its unique tube shape, you won’t have to worry about it rolling around your bathroom sink countertop. “Tubes usually roll around my vanity if not propped up against something,” our tester says. “This tube’s flat edge ensures that it won’t roll onto the floor or potentially break.”

Price at time of publish: $18

Size: 0.10 fl oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Number of Shades: 1

Best Hydrating: MILK MAKEUP Hydro Grip Eyeshadow and Concealer Primer

What We Love: The primer’s gel-like formula is loaded with skin-loving ingredients and goes on completely clear. 

What We Don’t Love: The product is entirely made of plastic.

If you’re looking for a completely clear and totally clean eyeshadow primer, consider the Hydro Grip Eyeshadow and Concealer Primer from Milk Makeup your match. Despite being loaded with skin-loving ingredients like aloe water, niacinamide, hemp-derived cannabis seed extract, and hyaluronic acid, the formula is crystal clear — and dries down that way too. “It adds no color to the eyelid, that way you know the only color showing up will be the color of the eyeshadow and nothing else,” our tester explains. “Plus, the product is very light; it’s the perfect medium of creaminess and liquidity.” 

Our tester loved the fact that the product was entirely cruelty-free, but if she could change anything, it would be to ensure that the packaging used less plastic. “This product itself is perfect, I just wish the bottle could be made of recycled plastic bottles to eliminate waste,” she adds.

Price at time of publish: $32

Size: 0.29 fl oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Number of Shades: 1

Best Waterproof: Laura Mercier Eye Basics Primer

What We Love: The primer comes in several shades, including color-correcting hues like blue and orange. 

What We Don’t Love: It can feel thick upon application.

Most other eyeshadow primers on this list are subtle, skin-colored shades. This one from Laura Mercier, on the other hand, has a few unexpected ones. It comes in a range of beiges, plus a color-correcting blue and orange. The pigmented options were designed to help reduce the appearance of dark circles, spots, and redness to create a more even base for eyeshadow. If the idea of a tint turns you off, don’t worry, our tester swears it’s undetectable underneath eyeshadow. “I was worried when the product left a tint behind, but once I applied a light shadow, it wasn’t visible at all,” she admits.

If there’s anything to keep in mind, it’s that a little goes a long way. If you apply too much, like our tester did, it can feel thick. But, after a little buffing and blending, she noted that it worked just fine. 

Price at time of publish: $45

Size: 0.18 fl oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Number of Shades: 6

Best Longwearing: Benefit Cosmetics Stay Don’t Stray Eyeshadow Primer

What We Love: This formula has anti-aging properties and even works on the undereye area. 

What We Don’t Love: There is only one shade.

Noticing your under-eye concealer fading by the end of the day? Try using this long-lasting primer from Benefit. The dual-action formula can be applied both on the eyelids and the under-eye area, preventing eyeshadow color from fading and concealer from creasing. It melts into the skin with ease and dries down to a matte finish. 

What’s more, it is also infused with sodium hyaluronate to help 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. 

Aside from the impressive formula, it comes with a wand that makes blending a breeze. “The wand gives you options: I could either apply it with my finger, a brush, or straight onto my eye,” our tester, Senior Beauty Commerce Editor Shannon Bauer shares. “It has just enough pigment to cover dark spots and redness, but not so much that it looks cakey or requires a perfect color match.” 

Price at time of publish: $43

Size: 0.33 fl oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Number of Shades: 1

Best Clean Formula: bareMinerals Prime Time Eyelid Primer

What We Love: This eyeshadow primer combats greasy eyelids by soaking up excess oil. 

What We Don’t Love: We wish it was bigger.

Excess oil is one of the main culprits behind eye makeup slippage. So, if you have oily eyelids, check out this primer from Bare Minerals — it’s formulated specifically to prevent oil from ruining your eye makeup. According to our tester, the primer goes on watery, but once it dries, it leaves behind a smooth, silky base for eyeshadow. “To my surprise, it covered all of my little eyelid creases,” she says. Besides preventing any creasing from occurring, the primer also helps eyeshadow pigment stay intense and true-to-color all day long. We especially love that it’s oil- and fragrance-free, as well as allergy- and dermatologist-tested, so you don’t have to worry about irritation. 

Price at time of publish: $19

Size: 0.1 fl oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Number of Shades: 1


What to Keep in Mind 

Lasting Power 

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 long-lasting primer (like Benefit Stay Don’t Stray Eyeshadow Primer) will ensure this. 

Color Payoff 

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, like Ruby Kisses 24 HR Eyeshadow Magic Primer

Formula 

According to cosmetic chemist Julie Pefferman, primers for eye makeup are pretty similar to concealers and other face makeup. “They’re usually water-resistant and offer long-wear capabilities all while ensuring safety and comfort for the eyes,” she explains. When it comes to specific ingredients, Pefferman says that in order to get a crease-less, smudge-proof canvas, silicones are the way to go. “Silicones help the eyeshadow adhere to the eyelid and offer a ton of spreadability without weighing anything down,” she says. “Many of my esthetician friends swear by the NARS Pro-Prime Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base, which makes sense given that the percentage of silicones makes it super spreadable and gives it that long-lasting film,” she shares. But, if you’re looking for a silicone-free option, she recommends the Milk Makeup Hydro Grip Eyeshadow and Concealer Primer, which works just as well, just without the added ingredients.

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These Are the 10 Best Eyeshadow Primers That Stay Smudge-Proof All Day Long

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.

Top Picks 

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 

Lasting Power 

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.

Color Payoff 

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.

Formula 

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.

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