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Are Eyeshadow Primers Worth It? Here’s What You Need to Know

If you’re here, that means you’re not sold on eyeshadow primer. And that’s cool. Not everyone needs it.

There’s a difference between a base and primer. Some people like to ready their eyes for shadow using a base of concealer or a cream shadow, not primer. In fact, some of the makeup artists I admire most use only a base to prep their eyes, and it goes very, very well for them.

But that’s them. What about you?

If you deal with creasing, fading, or just not having your eyeshadow be as vibrant as you want it, yes, eyeshadow primers are definitely worth it.

It’s especially worth getting a primer if you have oily lids, which will break down makeup.

But one thing’s for sure: everyone preps their eyes somehow once they figure out what a difference it makes. You just have to figure out if you’re a primer person or a concealer/cream shadow type of person.

In this post, we’ll go further into primers. We’ll hear why they work and see an example of the difference it makes.

Why Eye Primers Work

Most primers have silicones in them. Silicones create a barrier between your skin and the shadow you use. If you’re an oily skinned guy or gal, that’s a good thing—the primer’s protecting your shadow from your natural oils, which will cause creasing, fading, and even darkening in some cases. Milani’s eyeshadow primer and Urban Decay’s Primer Potion are quite silicone-y, and these are some tried and true formulas.

Some primers are tacky, too. Silicone primers help with color intensity, sure, but not as much as sticky ones do. They give something for the shadow to grip on, making the color payoff more intense. You can try the CoverGirl Lid Lock Up if you want to give a sticky primer a go.

A Case Study

In order to really put primers to the test, I decided to do my eyes with primer on one eye and not on the other.


To start, I used a palette I adore for its color story but dislike for its short life span on the lid: the Hasina II from the now-defunct Blush Tribe.

Blush Tribe's Hasina II, full of blues, purples, and greens.
She’s a beaut, but she doesn’t hold up under the pressure of time.

Then I put my trustworthy Milani Eyeshadow Primer on my left lid (right side in the picture) and no primer on the right (left side of the picture) and threw on some shadow.

Purple on lid, blue on lower lash line, with primer side more vibrant than non primer side
Simple look with primer on the right, no primer on the left. I used Iris on the lid and Anika on the lower lash line. Inner corner is Clionadh Cosmetic’s Circuit.

You can see that the color is way more saturated on the primer side.


About 10 hours later, I was ready for a bathroom lighting close up to show you how the eyeshadow had fared on my oily lids.

Eyes open with a lot of fading on the non primer side
Eyes closed with a lot of fading on the non primer side
Primer on the right eye, none on the left. Only little blotches of color remain on the non-primed lid. Also I’m a little uncomfortable seeing my eyelids this close up.

As you can see, the non-primed lid barely has any shadow left, while the right side is still going pretty strong.


This proves something I know about myself already—I need primer. Indeed, there are no days that I wear makeup and don’t use a primer. But here’s the thing about me.

  1. I love vibrancy and true-to-pan colors.
  2. I have oily lids that mess with eyeshadow.
  3. I know I experience fading and sometimes creasing.

If all of these things aren’t true for you, you probably don’t need a primer quite as much.

If you still like vibrancy but don’t have oily lids or trouble with longevity, a nice, brightening concealer can be a good base for your shadow.

But to fight fading and creasing, primer is your bet.


So, are eyeshadow primers worth it? It depends.

Does eyeshadow generally not show up true to color when you apply?

Do you deal with creasing or fading throughout the day?

Do you have oily skin?

Then yeah, girl/boy, get you some eyeshadow primer!