It doesn’t matter how beautifully you blend if two hours later your eyeshadow has settled into the creases of your eye socket, so we’ve been testing products that show those oily lids who’s boss.
Primers come in liquid or cream formulas, which you simply sweep across your lids with the tips of your fingers as the first part of your eye make-up routine, and most are pigmented either in a skintone colour (don’t worry about matching it as it will be hidden beneath your eyeshadow) or with brightening or eyeshadow-enhancing shimmer.
All of these helped our eyeshadow (beautifully blended, of course) stay put for 16 hours.
1. Nars Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base: £19.50, Nars
If you don’t want a coloured product, Nars’s offering is your best bet. It goes on (with a stick sponge applicator) slightly white but dries clear, completely mattifies oily lids and holds even cream eyeshadows all day.
2. Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion: £17, Urban Decay
This is a cult product for good reason. It holds shadow on oily eyelids even in serious heat, blends out imperfections and seriously ups the intensity of eyeshadow pigmentation. It has a sponge wand applicator and comes in six shades, from caffeine (great for darker skin tones) to sin, which adds a champagne shimmer to shadow applied on top.
3. Bare Minerals Prime Time Eyelid Primer: £16.50, Escentual
Bare Minerals’ primer comes out of the tube creamy but almost dries to a powder on your fingertips and the tiny tube with a slanted end is really easy to squeeze the right amount from. It’s quite drying so those without properly oily lids may find it hard to blend shadows on top, but it has great staying power.
4. YSL Couture Eye Primer: £23.50, YSL Beauty
This thin, creamy base has become our go-to for sheer ease of application (it warms on your fingertips and glides over easily) and for the fact that it makes an excellent eraser for any mistakes you make applying your shadow. It also amplifies the colour of eyeshadow applied over the top and stops nude colours appearing patchy.
5. Laura Mercier Eye Basics: £21, John Lewis
This comes in six different shades, from a brightening pale blue (less alarming than it sounds) to a warm peach, with more natural skin tone shades in between, so you can wear them alone to cover veins and redness on minimal make-up days. It’s thin and non-drying so it feels barely there on your eyes.
6. Tom Ford Eye Primer Duo: £36, Harrods
This two-stage primer includes a cream base and a sheer powder that you pat or dust over the top, meaning that you don’t have to wait for it to dry matte before applying shadow. Considering the cream feels very thin on the fingers, it gives the most opaque pigmentation of any we tried and it also fills out fine lines; great for more mature skins.
7. Elizabeth Arden Advanced Eye Fix Primer: £20, Escentual
Elizabeth Arden’s primer is a thick, concealer-like (though more drying) formula, that we love worn alone with a simple liquid eyeliner as much as under eyeshadow. It does particularly well holding a smokey eye.
The Verdict: Eyeshadow primers
For its competitive price and does-what-it-says-on-the-tin simplicity, Nars’s primer gets our vote, plus it’s clear, so you don’t have to worry about shade or blending it, while Urban Decay’s range of colours and finishes is unbeatable.
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