Whether you're preparing for an event or just want your eyeshadow to last, an effective primer is essential. A good one will create a smooth base for your makeup, help to stop loose shadows from sliding (perfect if you're into shimmer) and neutralise any pigmentation to prevent discolouration and ensure your handiwork looks flawless.
The best primers will also make your shadow last longer, so you can get the most out of your makeup. Look for a translucent serum, if you're going for a natural look, or a light tint if you're after a dramatic smokey eye.
There are a wide variety of different types and textures of primers, so it's important to find the right one for your needs. For example, if your skin is dry, opt for a primer that's creamy and hydrating like Milk MAKEUP Hydro Grip Eyeshadow and Concealer Primer or e.l.f. Cosmetics Matte Putty Primer, while if your skin is oily, you should choose a primer that's more matte, such as Smashbox Photo Finish 24-hour Eyeshadow Primer or Benefit Stay Don't Stray Eyeshadow Primer.
Finding the right shade of primer is another key factor in creating a professional look. For a subtle, natural look, Williams recommends using an eyeshadow primer that is a few shades lighter than your natural tone. This will help your eyeshadow look more vibrant and boost the intensity of the colours you apply over top, she says.
You can also opt for a color correcting primer to brighten dark circles or neutralise pink and reddish-looking under eyes. A yellow-tinted base is ideal if you want to brighten the area, while a peach-tinted base will neutralise any purples, browns or "bruise" shades in your under eye circle that can make it look darker and more tired than it really is.
If you're looking for a primer that will make your eyeshadow last, look for one that's long-wearing and has high-performing ingredients to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. For example, SMASHBOX 24-hour Photo Finish Eyeshadow Primer and Elizabeth Arden Advanced Eye Fix Eyeshadow Primer are both highly rated formulas that help to lock in your makeup for up to 24 hours without causing any fading or creasing.
It's important to note that a primer doesn't replace your foundation or concealer, so you should always patch-test it first before applying on full face. Some formulas can cause a slight burning sensation when they're applied to sensitive eyes, so it's important to choose wisely.
Some eyeshadow primers can also have healing and anti-inflammatory botanicals in them, such as aloe and arnica, which can help to soothe itchy or red eyes. This is especially beneficial if you're dealing with sensitive skin, so it's worth spending a little more money on a product that will work for your unique needs.
The best eye primers are designed to smooth the skin on your eyelids and prevent any creases, which can be a real issue for women with sensitive eyes, Sheriff says. For example, Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Eye Base has been formulated to neutralise any redness or discolouration that may be present before you apply your eyeshadow on top. It also contains nourishing vitamins C and E to keep your skin hydrated and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, so it's a great choice for any skin type.
If you want to achieve a professional makeup look, one of the most important parts of your routine is prepping your eyes with the right products. The best eye primers can create a smooth base for powder and cream shadows, stop loose shadows from slipping and neutralize any pigmentation that might otherwise cause discoloration in your lids. They also extend the life of your eye makeup and make it easier to apply shadows and liner.
Transparent and tinted primers are great for people with sensitive skin, because they're easy on the eyes and won't irritate it. Pigmented and cream eyeshadow primers work for people who are looking for a pop of color.
The bareMinerals Prime Time Eye Primer is long-lasting and suitable for all skin types. Its silky texture and oil-free formula helps to hold your eye makeup in place for the entire day.
Nars Pro-Prime Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base is a fan favorite of the beauty community. The smudge-proof, long-wearing formula keeps eyeshadow from slipping, creasing and caking while delivering a matte finish. It comes in four shades that are versatile enough to match any mood and style of eyeshadow.
LORAC Behind the Scenes Eye Primer is long-lasting and suitable as an all-day or night eye primer. Its silky texture and oil-free, lightweight formula helps to hold your eye makeup in place all day and is suitable for all skin types.
NYX Professional Makeup Thank Me Later is a smudge-proof, long-wearing and water-resistant eyeshadow primer that's formulated with a paraben-free powder to control excess sebum, resulting in a smooth application and a long-lasting finish. This primer's lightweight formula is easy to apply with a small brush and won't budge.
Urban Decay Prep + Prime Eye is a thick and balm-like primer that's great for mature skin. It's a favorite among our Senior Editors for its ability to smooth out dry, mature skin and prep it for better color application and payoff, as well as reducing the appearance of fine lines.
The drugstore version of this product is a good choice for anyone who doesn't want to spend a lot on their makeup. The creamy primer swabs on smoothly and dries quickly, creating a nearly undetectable finish that grabs onto shadows much better than bare lids can. However, it's not a good option for those with oily eyes, as it can become sticky and slippery, making it difficult to blend.
This is a budget-friendly primer for all skin tones and is available in four versatile shades, which is more than many of the top-rated ones. The creamy formula is a bit wetter than other eye primers, but it's not runny, so it's still easy to spread and applies evenly.
Elizabeth Mott Prep + Prime Eye is a balm-free and oil-free primer that's nourishing and hydrating for aging skin. It smooths out the surface of your eyes and makes it easier to apply your eyeshadow, according to Senior Editor Kayla Keegan.