Two Reasons You Need An Eye Primer

This horrifying revelation came to me earlier this week when I followed Bobbi Brown’s 5-10 minute makeup routine from her Bobbi Brown Makeup Manual and it instructed me to apply eyeshadow without my usual eye primer. “Hm, ok,” I thought, “this will not end well.” I have used an eye primer under eye shadow since 2007 when a Sephora makeup artist introduced me to TooFaced Shadow Insurance. My life was forever changed.

Why You Need Eye Primer | MAC Painterly MAC Bare Study NARS |

If you don’t bother with eye makeup because it evaporates into thin air within a few hours, this post is for you.

If you don’t understand why $50+ eyeshadow palettes don’t seem to show up on your face like they do on your hand in the store, this post is for you.

If you think all drugstore eye makeup is garbage because it doesn’t show up at all, this post is for you.

If you feel like your eye makeup is always smudging – especially in the summer – this post is for you.

If you already love eye primer and want to know my favorites, this post is for you, too. 😉

Best Eye Primers |

After I completed Bobbi’s ten minute look (which, by the way, took me 19 minutes – yes, I timed it), I felt very naturally pretty. However; considering the full face I applied, my eye makeup looked surprisingly non existent. The instructions called for three shades of eyeshadow and up to two eyeliners (I used both). Less than four hours later, I looked in the mirror and all of my eye makeup was completely gone. My immediate thought was, “Wow, this is why so many of my friends hate or don’t bother wearing makeup! I totally get it now. This is bull.”

Why eye primer will change your life:

Reason #1 // It exponentially extends the wear time of your eye makeup – from eyeshadow to eye liner. Eye primer creates a barrier between the natural oils of your skin and the makeup pigment to create a binding effect. It’s basically why you prime a wall before you paint it, right? Same concept. When using eye primer, my makeup lasts through a 12 hour day. Without eye primer, well, you read above – I was lucky if it was visible for three hours. It also helps hold up against heat, humidity, and moisture; making it a summer essential.

Reason #2 // It kicks up the pigmentation (color saturation) level of any eyeshadow. What may look like a chalky, haphazard application of champagne-colored dust without primer will transform into a multi-dimensional liquid-metal. What initially seems like a dirty, tired muddy brown in your crease elevates into an intentional, rich shadow that creates depth. Whether you are using drugstore eyeshadows or high-end brands, eye primer intensifies the shade. After all, what’s the point of putting on makeup if you can’t even see it? Primer is also the reason certain looks have that very strong, yet blended effect.


If you have never used eye primer before, take a teeny tiny amount (less is more) and lightly apply a thin layer onto clean eyelids prior to eye makeup application. If you apply foundation before your eye makeup, no worries. I’ve used primer over and under foundation with identical results.

I’ve tried so many primers over the years and have found some work better than others (but ANY primer is better than no primer, in my opinion).

Best Eye Primers | MAC Paintpot Painterly Bare Study NARS Smudgeproof Eyeshadow Base |

(Clockwise, L to R: NARS Smudgeproof Eyeshadow Base, MAC Paintpot ‘Bare Study,’ MAC Paintpot ‘Painterly’)

Current faves:

  • MAC Paintpot, Painterly (used for my wedding day makeup). This is a matte, pinkish beige skintone formula. Great for concealing any lid discoloration or veins. If you need a lighter shade, try Soft Ochre. If you’re darker, try Groundwork or Quite Natural.
  • MAC Paintpot, Bare Study. This is almost identical to Painterly, except it’s a shimmery formula. When I purchased this, the sales rep said this is the paintpot provides that JLo glow on the eyes. It’s so true. Can even be worn alone as an eyeshadow. If you need a darker shade, try Rubenesque, Indianwood or Constructivist.
  • NARS Smudge Proof Eyeshadow BaseThis is a clear primer even though it initially appears white out of the tube. I recommend using this either over or under concealer or foundation to cover up any discoloration and give an even canvas before starting eye makeup application.

Past faves:
Nothing wrong with these; just not in my current rotation because I am a makeup addict like to try new things

Can’t wait to try Bobbi’s 10 minute face WITH eye primer next time.

Happy weekend!


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