Do Eye Shadow Primers Really Do Anything? My Before-and-After Photos Say It All

If you ask any makeup artist, they'll likely tell you primer is seriously key. Whether you're using it as a base for your foundation or on your lids, it can make all the difference in your look. Although it can be an amazing product that helps grip your makeup so it stays in place, it can also feel a tad unnecessary if you like to keep it simple.

If that sounds like you, I'll let you in on a little secret: Concealer can often work just as well and might even save you a few bucks. It's my go-to for everyday use and never lets me down, but I do still reach for the occasional eye primer when my lids are being extra uncooperative. Whichever method you prefer, I've gathered some intel for you about which formulas are worth buying. With a little help from a celebrity makeup artist, I'm sharing all the details below. Keep reading—there are plenty of good recs ahead.

Do Eye Shadow Primers Really Work?


(Image credit: @lefevrediary)

Eye shadow primer is another makeup product that seems to spark heated debates among makeup artists. Some swear by it, while others say concealer works just as well. Personally, I've used and loved both but actually prefer using concealer. Celebrity makeup artist Judi Gabbay, however, also makes a strong argument for the use of an eye shadow primer.

"Eye primers are necessary to create long-lasting shadow looks that can also help get the most color payoff out of your palettes," she says. "While some artists prefer straight-up concealer, I tend to opt for a primer instead. One of my favorite primers would have to be MAC's Paint Pot Cream in Soft Ochre. It's a pale-yellow eye base that is full coverage, helping to cover any discoloration or periorbital veins for an even canvas."

Do you absolutely need a primer? No, you don't. But it can be extremely useful if you have eyelids that tend to turn into an oil slick after a few hours or you struggle to achieve that high pigment payoff you're looking for when doing a vibrant eye shadow look. There are definitely formulas on the market that work well for this and keep your eye shadow in place all day. If you're looking for a solid one that won't totally break the bank and does what it says, keep scrolling for our top choice.

Best Overall Eye Shadow Primer: Elizabeth Mott Thank Me Later Primer


Without Eye Shadow Primer
(Image credit: @shawnasimonee)


With Eye Shadow Primer
(Image credit: @shawnasimonee)

I have a confession to make. Once I discovered that concealer can also act as a fantastic primer, I stopped picking up most of my old priming potions and started using concealer instead. I also started using concealer because my lids can get extremely oily. It really just creates the best matte layer for eye shadow to sit on without being too heavy. Occasionally, though, I still opt for an eye shadow primer if I'm creating a brighter or more dramatic look. This primer from Elizabeth Mott happened to be a random Amazon find for me. With so many glowing reviews, I figured it was worth a shot.

First of all, it's pretty affordable compared to a lot of other eye shadow primers on the market. Second, it's definitely one of the best formulas I've tried that doesn't crease and helps immensely with lid oiliness. If you struggle with either of those things when it comes to eye shadow application, this one is definitely worth a shot. It also goes on and creates a weightless, non-greasy film and helps with any discoloration around the lid area.

I know it's hard to tell in my photos, but I wanted to show what my eye shadow looked like with primer and without it. The shadow tends to apply a bit patchier and looks less pigmented when you don't use a primer. With the primer, however, the colors adhere to the lid a lot easier and look so much more vibrant.

More of the Best Eye Shadow Primers


(Image credit: @itsheymorgan)


(Image credit: @tobimakeup)

This article was originally published at an earlier date and has since been updated.

Shawna Hudson
Associate Beauty Editor

Shawna Hudson has worked in editorial for over six years, with experience covering entertainment, fashion, culture, celebrities, and her favorite topic of all, beauty. She graduated from California State University, Fullerton, with a degree in journalism and has written for other publications such as Bustle, The Zoe Report, Byrdie, Elite Daily, Mane Addicts, and more. She is currently an associate beauty editor at Who What Wear and hopes to continue feeding her (completely out-of-control) beauty obsession as long as she can. Stay up to date on her latest finds on Instagram @shawnasimonee.