This post covers the:
- Differences between eyeshadow primer and eyeshadow base
- Common eyeshadow primer ingredients
- Factors contributing to the performance of eyeshadow primers
- Types of eyeshadow primers
- Various brands of eyeshadow primers and their effectiveness
- Alternative methods to make your eyeshadow last longer
NOTE: This is a very lengthy post, I know. Feel free to skip whichever section that you're not interested in reading. Also, all the information here are partly factual but mostly based on my own opinions and interpretation of whatever information that I've obtained through my experience and what I've learned. I'm in no way a cosmetology expert so what I'm presenting is not so much the facts but rather what I can make sense out of
Differences Between Eyeshadow Primer and Eyeshadow Base
Many people get confused when they come across these two terms. Eyeshadow primer, as defined in the introduction, is applied before eyeshadow to promote vibrancy and long lasting wear. So, what does an eyeshadow base do? The main difference is that an eyeshadow base is usually colored, which helps to bring out the color of the powder eyeshadow used later on. A more common term for eyeshadow base is cream eyeshadow. While some eyeshadow base that are nude-colored can act as primers, they still have a tendency to crease. A layer of eyeshadow used wet before applying powder eyeshadow of the same color is also called an eyeshadow base.
If you want your eyeshadow to really last and look vibrant the whole day, first apply eyeshadow primer then follow with an eyeshadow base of the corresponding eyeshadow color that you will apply. Examples of eyeshadow base/cream eyeshadow are MAC Paint Pot, Benefit Creaseless Cream Eyeshadow and NYX Jumbo Eyeshadow Pencil.
Common Eyeshadow Primer Ingredients
- Talc: A soft mineral used as an absorbent, anti-caking agent and to improve the feel of the product
- Dimethicone: Substance derived from silica. The unique fluid properties of silicone give it a great deal of slip, and in its various forms it can feel like silk on the skin, impart emolliency, and be a water-binding agent that holds up well, even when skin becomes wet
- Isododecane: Hydrocarbon ingredient used as a solvent. Isododecane enhances the spreadability of products and has a weightless feel on skin. All hydrocarbons used in cosmetics help prevent the evaporation of water from the skin
Factors Contributing to the Performance of Eyeshadow Primers
How an eyeshadow primer performs depends not only on your own skin but also the environment and the eyeshadow that you apply over it.
- Oily skin: People with oily skin will often have problem with oily/creasing lids. You may want to make sure that your skin (especially the forehead and skin around the eye area) is kept oil-free with silicone-based primers and oil-absorbing powder
- "Creamy" eyeshadow: You know those powder eyeshadows that are so smooth that they feel almost creamy? Those usually apply very thick because the eyeshadow particles are so large. While the bottom layer of the eyeshadow sticks to the primer, the top layer doesn't and thus it'll have a tendency to move, resulting in creasing
- Poor quality eyeshadow: Poorly pigmented (usually chalky and powdery) eyeshadows that contain a lot of fillers cannot sustain enough color so while the eyeshadow primer is able to intensify the color, it won't stay vibrant for long compared to better quality eyeshadows
- Eye cream: Applying eye cream or moisturizer on the lid can compromise the performance of the eyeshadow primer because you've created a barrier that prevents the primer from grabbing onto your skin
- Hot and humid conditions: Some eyeshadow primers may work well in cool and dry climates but in Malaysia, they simply refuse to work. The temperature and humidity can have an effect on a product's consistency and performance
Types of Eyeshadow Primers
- Tube: Comes in a lipgloss-like tube with a wand applicator. Easy to apply. Product wastage when you can't dig out the product at the bottom and on the sides of the tube
- Squeeze-tube: Usually doesn't come with an applicator so you'd have to use your fingers. May squeeze out too much product
- Pot: The primer is usually a solid cream type instead of a soft cream/liquid. Doesn't have an applicator and may require some warming up before application. It has the least product wastage since you can get all the product out BUT the wide opening of the jar exposes the product to the air which may cause the product to dry out
- Dial-up Pen: Most efficient way to get the most out of your product without the risk of it drying out. Unfortunately, most cosmetic companies put very little product in dial-up pens so they're not quite value for money
Various Brands of Eyeshadow Primers and Their Effectiveness
e.l.f. Mineral Eyeshadow Primer (USD$3): For how much it costs, I'm very impressed with this one. The slightly runny cream applies smoothly and feels extremely lightweight. Eyeshadows appear more vibrant, stay on longer, no fading... However, I can't really say that it prevents creasing because sometimes it does happen but not very often. The color is fairly transparent and have a pinkish tint so it won't help to even out discolorations. If you don't want to invest a lot of money in an eyeshadow primer, I highly recommend this.
Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion (USD$17): This legendary King of all eyeshadow primers, as much as we hate to admit it, lives up to its claims. Although I can't guarantee it's awesomeness, I can almost always depend on this baby to prevent creasing. This stuff is so good that you can probably go swimming with eyeshadow on. Way back in Skin Deco history, my friend Carmen did a review on it and there was a picture of her, completely drenched from a thunderstorm -- her eyeshadow was still very much intact. Besides the awful product-wasting packaging, one major gripe about this primer is that some eyeshadows, especially matte ones, can become difficult to blend. But this primer grabs onto eyeshadow like there's no tomorrow so regardless, it's a definite winner!
L'Oreal De Crease (USD$8): This primer is a lot thicker and pigmented compared to the other two primers so it works well to even out discolorations. However, the formula is somewhat chalky so if you don't blend quick enough or if you have dry flaky lids like I do, the product will appear patchy and make your eyeshadow look that way as well. It performs slightly better than the e.l.f. Mineral Primer in terms of preventing creasing.
These more dependable primers are the ones that I use most often. Some others (including bases) that I've tried before:
- Too Face Shadow Insurance: Not meant for our climate. May crease
- MAC Paint Pot: A tad too thick. May crease
- MAC Paint: May not pick up color of poorly pigmented eyeshadow
- Benefit Creaseless Cream Eyeshadow: Low tendency of creasing but color may fade
- Beauticontrol Shadow Control Cream: Sometimes it works marvelously, sometimes it doesn't. Not very consistent
- NYX Jumbo Eyeshadow Pencil: Too creamy and creases on me
- Paul & Joe Eye Gloss: Doesn't crease and keep eye area dry for a long period. Doesn't pick up eyeshadow color well
Alternative Methods to Make Your Eyeshadow Last Longer
- Foundation/concealer: Apply a thin (and I mean THIN!) layer of foundation or concealer onto your lid and lightly dust with some loose powder or nude eyeshadow to set before proceeding with colored eyeshadows
- Layering: If you apply your eyeshadow heavily at one go, chances are you're gonna experience creasing. That's because the excess product doesn't have anything to grab onto therefore, it slides/smudges. When you apply eyeshadow layer by layer to intensify the color, every layer grabs onto the one below so ultimately, your eyeshadow becomes more "sturdy" and lasts longer
- Use Eyeshadow Wet: This is a great way to create your own eyeshadow base without having to buy additional products. Take a face spray or mixing medium and moisten your brush with it before dipping into eyeshadow. Apply over lids and allow it to dry before proceeding with powder eyeshadow. Mixing mediums and face sprays have moisture-binding ingredients which keeps the inside of the layer moist but repels the moisture outside (please don't quote me). When you apply dry eyeshadow over the "wet" base, the eyeshadow will grab on better and at the same time, become less affected by the moisture outside that tries to slide it off