Spotlight: Eyeshadow Primers and Bases

eyeshadow primers dupes comparisons nars urban decay mac benefit too faced
Hi, beauties! When I write my blog posts I typically picture myself talking to another beauty lover or have fellow beauty bloggers in mind. I sometimes refer to new limited edition products without mentioning what brand they're from or mention products and assume everyone knows what they're for. Lately I have gotten some comments from friends, family, and people who just casually read my blog. They're not completely immersed in beauty related topics the way a beauty bloggers (or beauty lover in general) are. I'm sure a lot of you can name a lipstick by just looking at it from afar. The point is that from now on I want to write my posts in a more general and explanatory way. Today, for example, I'm going to give you the lowdown on Eyeshadow Primers and Bases
What are eyeshadow primers? A primer will prepare the eyelids for the eyeshadow that will be applied on top. Just like primers for paint or base coats for nails. Eyeshadow bases serve the same purpose. Cream eyeshadows or cream pencils are usually used as bases.
What do eyeshadow primers/bases do? They give the powder eyeshadows (or pigments) something to stick to meaning they reduce fallout and improve staying power. They also prevent fading and creasing. Some primers and bases even make the color of an eyeshadow more vibrant. The lighter the base, the more the eyeshadow will show up. A pigmented primer can also help cover veins.
What are the different types of primers? Most primers come in a standard liquid formula that becomes transparent on the eyes once it's blended in. Some brands offer different colored primers and even shimmery primers in case you're looking for a different effect.
Is a primer/base necessary? Definitely not. I like using one because I live in a humid place that accelerates creasing. However, a good eyeshadow should work well on its own but if you do happen to have some shadows that are a bit "weak", a primer is a good way to make the best of them. Also, for people with oily lids, primers are a must.
eyeshadow primers dupes comparisons nars urban decay mac benefit
Above are swatches of all the primers/bases that I currently own. Any cream product can work as an eyeshadow base. Some people even apply a bit of leftover foundation on their lids as a primer. 

01. Urban Decay Primer Potion (original) ($20/0.37oz): The UDPP is a cult classic. It's an excellent primer. In terms of texture it isn't too dry or too wet.
02. Urban Decay Primer Potion in Eden ($20/0.37oz): This is a yellow-toned version of the PP. It's a bit drier than the original but still easy to blend. This gives your lids a yellow-y cast so it's better at covering veins and making colors vibrant.
03. Too Faced Shadow Insurance ($20/0.35oz): Out of all the primers I own, this one is the "oiliest". If you've used many primers before you'll know what I mean. If you haven't, don't be afraid of it, it won't leave your lids greasy at all. 
04. NARS Pro-Prime Smudge Proof Primer ($24/0.26oz): This is an excellent primer, very well rounded. It's the most transparent one so if you have dark skin and worry about primers making your lids look ashy, this is a great one for you.
05. Benefit Stay Don't Stray ($26/0.33oz): This is my least favorite. Not even least favorite, I just don't like it, period. My eyeshadows crease quicker with this primer than without. It feels thicker than the rest, probably because it's so opaque. 
06. MAC Paint Pots ($18.50/0.17oz): This is a cream eyeshadow or base. The texture is very soft and creamy but the formula acts like a cream-to-powder so you have to work with it quicker.

What primer is best for me? A drier primer (Urban Decay Eden, L'Oreal De-Crease, MAC Paint Pots) is best for oily lids. A very emollient primer is best for dry lids or anyone in general. Luckily, most brands nowadays offer very good primers even drugstore brands like Milani, NYX, and Wet'n'Wild. The important thing is to use a very small amount. If you use too much you will over saturate the lid and great an adverse effect (creasing).

Most primers in the market do their job very well so it's about finding the right consistency and price point for you. Let me know what your favorites (or not so favorites) are!
Take a peek at Velia's lovely blog Cocoamourr. (Advertising)

69 comments

  1. I had a sample of the Benefit Stay don't stray and I wasn't all that impressed. So far I've been using the Maybelline Color Tattoos as bases and have yet to be disappointed. Almost any eyeshadow (except some from the MUA Undress Me Too palette : /) will stay on for over 18 hours on my oily lids without creasing. I used to think that primers were useless, boy was I so wrong! Now I can't live without the MCT or the Etude House Porever for my face : )

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    1. The Color Tattoos last soooo long on the eyes that I agree, they make amazing bases. I'm glad that I wasn't the only one that disliked Stay Don't Stray. Looking at the comments, a handful of people also had the same experience xx

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  2. Of all of the eyeshadow primers I've tried, the MAC Paint Pots are definitely my favourite! I love the dual function of creating an even baseI (colour wise) and also make my shadow last well!

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    1. I love that too! Sometimes I feel like wearing them alone and sometimes I layer them x

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  3. My favourite is the UDPP, such a classic!

    Hayley
    Water Painted Dreams
    xxx

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  4. In the summertime I normally use UDPP in Eden so it gives my lids a matte effect. Lately though I've been reaching for Milani's new eye primer and it does a great job for the price. During the winter I normally use MAC Paint Pots or Maybelline Color Tattoos as primers or even all over shadows.

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  5. I really like the Tarte primer! I think I like it better than my NARS Pro prime. :)

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    Replies
    1. Haven't tried that one, sounds very nice!

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  6. I have not found a decent drugstore primer so I think I might have to splash out one of these, lovely post very informative! x

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  7. I hated Too Faced's Primer! The oiliness was just too much for me. I have yet to try MAC's paint pots...

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    Replies
    1. Then you might like UD Eden or Paint Pots which are much drier xx

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  8. I'm really enjoying NYX's HD Eyeshadow Base at the moment. It works just as well or even better than UDPP on me and it's a lot cheaper. I love UDPP but it makes blending matte eyeshadows a nightmare!

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  9. I haven't try any of these apart from a MAC Paint Pot. I think I will give the UD one a go soon.

    Kah-Feh Yen
    I'm currently running a MAC lipsctick giveaway.

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  10. The Urban Decay primer is amazing! It also works well as a concealer to cover up dark spots. Amazing.

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  11. Great review I have tried the orginal UD primer as well as Eden and Too Faced. :)

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  12. I also prefer dry-ish eye primers! I feel that the liquidy ones take too long to dry on me. I loved this post, it's so informative. I remember when I really started getting into makeup thinking that primers were overrated, but now I use one almost everyday.
    :)

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    1. I think that for anyone that wears eyeshadows all day or applies in the morning and needs them to last through work or class, primers are a must! I noticed fading particularly when I went to parties or nights out during highschool. Your makeup looked one way when you left home and another when you came back. That's when I realized I needed something more. Haha such a long story

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  13. Very interesting post! I never use eyelid primer and just put a little concealer up there for my eyeshadows to stick to or I use a cream eyeshadow as a base. I just don't know if they are worth the money. This post was really insightful! Thanks! xx Rena

    Kiss and Make Up

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  14. I've always found Shadow Insurance to be runny/greasy... I tried so hard to love it, but I keep going back to either NYX jumbo pencils or MAC Soft Ochre! I definitely want to give some of these others a try though. Awesome review!

    xo Brandi- Cupcakes and Curves

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  15. Clarins does the BEST eye shadow primer and its a well kept secret!! I am on my 8th tube now and have tried most of the ones above...highly recommended!

    Stacey
    Expatmake-upaddict.blogspot.com x

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    Replies
    1. Oh, wow! You really love it! It must be very nice xx

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  16. I have to use a primer every single day. They really saved my life! I loved NYX HD Primer, it's a dupe for UD Primer Potion.

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  17. I'm almost out of my primer potion and I was thinking of switching it up to soft ochre. I'm just wondering if you think it would be too light for me? I've been meaning to swatch it in store but haven't gotten around to it yet.

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    1. Well, it does look noticeably lighter on the lid (compared to clear ones) but it's not something that will show unless you blend it up the browbone an leave the browbone shadowless (or use light washes of eyeshadow).
      xx

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  18. I am SO with you on Benefit's Stay Don't Stray; I've tried it multiple times and hated it!! The NARS primer is absolutely my HG primer. I just started using it a week or two ago and am blown away by the thing. I have not had ONE crease with it and, even though it's really pricey, I can't imagine buying anything else in the future.

    ♥Cassie
    thriftthick.blogspot.com

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    1. I tried to give the Benefit one a chance but I dreaded everytime I used it because it's just not the best in my opinion.
      The NARS one is awesome but omg! It's the priciest one and has the smallest amount xx

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  19. I use the original Urban Decay Primer Potion and I love it! It lasts forever because you only need a small amount as you said; I've heard wonderful things about the Nars primer as well so I might try that one next. The maybelline color tattoo cream shadows also make pretty great bases for a drugstore product.
    Amber
    Lovely Notions

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    Replies
    1. I know! I've had my UDPP for years and they're sample sizes!!

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  20. Too Faced's is by far my favourite.

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  21. Your reviews are always amazing
    http://www.betzysmakeup.com/2013/07/a-women-wants-it-all.html

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  22. I agree the Benefit's Stay Don't Stray is too opaque! I love this post.

    Caitlin | Perks Of Style

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  23. I really did not like UDPP, so when I switched over to TFSI, I was amazed! I do have oily lids but somehow TFSI does work for me, so okay :) ELF's Eyelid Primer is an excellent option for people who are on budgets and wear mostly (ie 80% of the time) neutrals, because it's not the best primer for wearing brights. I'm also going to start testing an indie primer soon; it comes in a solid form instead of a liquid like TFSI so I'm super hyped. Great roundup as always :D xx

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    1. Can't wait to see a post on it xx

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  24. Absolutely loving this post and everything you have included! MAC Painterly and the Urban Decay Primer Potions are holy grail products of mine :D

    Sophia Meola | A Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle Blog

    xx

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  25. Great post! I have yet to actually try an eyeshadow primer, but that's mostly because I don't wear eyeshadow that often. The UD and NARS look good x

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  26. Great post, I've only started using primers recently and even now I don't always use them, depends if I remember! Would like to try Nars and Benefit!

    www.petitebeautblogger.wordpress.com/

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  27. I use a really cheap one from essence. I don't know if it really makes my eyeshadow last longer, but I like that it evens out my skintone and helps the eyeshadow to stick on my lids. I have a few areas where eyeshadow just won't go on unless I put this primer or a cream eyeshadow underneath.

    Sandra - The Puzzle of Sandra's Life

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  28. I have been using the UDPP for years. Even when I use the MAC Paint Pots, I use the primer from Urban Decay. I tried one from ELF and got an allergic reaction to it, so I realize I have to be really careful from now on :-)

    Christal
    LipstickAndPonytails.com

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  29. Yes! I so glad someone finally did this. I have tried both the original UD primer potion and the too faced shadow insurance and I really don't the too faced one, I'm thinking about finally getting the one from NARS and I don't even care that its a bit more expensive I just need something that works. Thanks for sharing your insight. c:

    xo.Janiecy.xo|A Beauty, Fashion & Lifestyle Blog

    xo, Janiecy

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    1. I hope you can find the best one for you!! :)

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  30. I didn't have luck with the Benefit primer either. I really want to try the NARS primer!

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  31. Nice and very helpful selection of eyeshadow primers Coco. I personally swear by my Urban Decay Primer Potion but when I discovered that it was fighting for its life (I shall break the packaging soon though- to see what's hiding/left of it) I purchased an Avon eyeshadow primer and it was a great find. It pretty much has the same result and performs just as well as the UDPP. It just applies slightly more opaque but blends really easily and becomes transparent soon enough. It's got a lovely creamy texture too and it does help make eye shadows appear more vibrant while prolonging the wear too by preventing creasing. :) I highly recommend it especially for gals with oily lids as it's on the drier side (in a good way)

    PS I love the sound of the offering from Nars being the most transparent so will definitely look into it. :)

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  32. I'd love to try the NARS primer! the urban decay one is amazing!! wonderful post!!

    Andrea xx
    savingsimplicity13.blogspot.com

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  33. The Lime Crime primer is unbeatable in my opinion :) x

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  34. I love, love, LOVE NARS' Smudgeproof Base Primer. I kiss the drawer it sits in, it's amazing for really making my eyeshadow last throughout the day. I love Urban Decay's Prime Potion as well, but in a ring match for me NARS would win, haha!

    - Jess
    The Mod Mermaid

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    1. Haha! The NARS Smudgeproof has many fans xx

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  35. I think it's very sweet of you to be applying this change... a lot of people will be thankful. X

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  36. Now that I've read this, I want to run to Sephora to get the UD PP! I've had my eye on it for ages, but I find it a bit pricey x

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  37. agree with you about too faced shadow insurance, but still good to use

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  38. Lovely post!
    I'm a big fan of the Urban Decay Primer Potions :)
    But some drugstore brands have very good primers too!


    X

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  39. I love urban decay! Ill need to try the eden, I didnt know it would make the colours look more vibrant! I use prestige primer sometimes, I dont know if you know of it but I found ONE in the drugstore and I havent seen it since :( It was comparable to UD but it just didnt last as long.. but for $5 it was a bargain. I didnt know benefit stay dont stray was an eye primer :p I guess I wont try it, if its your least favourite :p

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  40. I have only tried the UD primer potion and the elf ones. Love both actually! But UD one is so good!
    hareem x

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  41. I love the sound of the first one. I had that Benefit one and didn't like it either.

    Kate from Clear the Way

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  42. So many great primers! UD Primer Potion will always be my favourite- has been my HG for years! And the Eden shade is a nice option when I want to make my lids look brighter. Helpful roundup! xo

    -Jen

    www.vibrantbeautyblog.com

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  43. I have the UDPP yet rarely use it, it just isn't a necessity. However my friend who has oily eyelids depends on it otherwise her eyeshadow is causing a 5 o'clock shadow ;). I do think it's such a dependable one though :). X

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  44. UD Primer potion is my current favorite. Too Faced has a nasty texture that I don't particularly think works well.

    Just for an eyeshadow powder base, I sometimes just use some concealer on my eye lid. It creases, but atleast it intensifies the color.

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  45. Fantastic article for people new to eye primers. I'm always amazed at how few people know about them or utilize them when I'm working in the bridal field. I tend to forget too that not everyone is as makeup obsessed as me! This is a great resource for newbies.

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  46. oh yeah i bought the too faced shadow insurance for the first time a few months back. omg it don't like it. its ify. 50/50 sometimes it creases, sometimes it doesn't. then again, sometimes i have oily lids and sometimes i dont. i like the elf shadow primer for $1 better than i do shadow insurance. it makes my shadow "pop" and too faced shadow insurance doesn't have that effect like elf's does. i did love primer potion though. that was a good one! thanks for the review <3 erica

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  47. Very helpful post! I agree that using a small amount is very important. Didn't know that Benefit Stay Don't Stray was so opaque - it looks almost like a concealer! :x

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  48. Though it's really a bit oily, but I like Too Faced Shadow Insurance.)

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  49. This is a really helpful post. At the moment I've been enjoying using MAC's paint pot in painterly. Its a really strong base for my eye shadows.

    www.crazylins.blogspot.co.uk

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  50. I love the too faced shadow insurance the most because of what you said, it's the oiliest! It was the first I'd ever tried (after L'oreal decrease) & I've been using it ever since but I've been trying out other things lately.
    I tried a sample of the UD primer potion for the first time & I can't believe how dry & tight it made my eyelids feel, because I don't have oily eyelids to begin with. I'm too scared to use just foundation because then eyeshadows crease. But I've had no problems with MAC's paintpot though, but I can feel the dryness compared to TFSS. Great post hun xx

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  51. Thank you for the great information!!! This is very helpful!!

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  52. I actually have never owned an actual eyeshadow primer since they don't sell any of those proper brands here and it costs a fortune to order them from US :c
    But, I've accidentally found out that Max Factor's Masterpiece Colour Precision Eye Shadow (the ones that look like lipgloss tubes) works as one!
    I've been using the baby pink one (since I have a reddish pale skin) for years already and I've been very happy with it ^^ However, it is a bit shimmery. So it works only with shimmery looks ;) But I only use glittery eyeshadows, so it's not a problem for me :)

    Rora
    s w e e t i m p a t i e n c e - b l o g

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  53. I couldn't live without my UD primer potion; especially in the summer! Great post :)

    Amy| The Little Koala Blog ♥

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  54. the too-faced primer is the best I've found so far! I didn't care for UDPP but have been wanting to try out the nars primer-- torn between repurchasing the shadow insurance or trying something new! thanks so much for this post! so helpful!

    sunday's grace beauty

    ReplyDelete

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