Skin Deco

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Eyeshadow Primers 101

Eyeshadow Primer = A skin-colored cream that is applied onto the lid before applying eyeshadow. It functions to create a smooth canvas to make eyeshadow appear more vibrant. Additionally, eye makeup becomes more long lasting as the primer prevents smudging, creasing and fading

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
Read on to learn more...


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
Ingredient definition from Paula's Choice and Cosmetics Info


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
See here for eyeshadow base comparison post


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
The products mentioned in this post are not available in Malaysia except for MAC, Benefit and Paul & Joe. Beauticontrol are sometimes available via Tupperware resellers/representatives. If you'd like to purchase products from the US, please refer to sgdrugstore

23 comments:

❤ Ee Von said...

wow this is such a great post! too bad i already bought tfsi before this and it doesn't work on me cos i have super oily lids and the climate here is not helping at all. i've just ordered udpp and i'm so excited to try it! i read the battle of eyeshadow bases post too and i'm so amazed that you showed the shadows' lasting power for different hours! great job!!

germaine said...

i used the one from stage, the one with the silver compact. but i'm not sure whether it is a eyeshadow base or primer. i still haven find anyth locally that wont make my eyeshadow crease. My eye area are dry but whenever I put on makeup it gets so oily,sob...do u know wat this happen?

Lavender said...

This is a superb post. Understand this topic better now.

ning * star said...

thanks for the tips... wink, wuhuuu, i got loreal D'crease @.@, but i think it should be okay for me to just try it out?

Chloevien said...

The best post about eye primer that I've ever read. Really now, well researched and I think this gonna answer all the question about eye primer and eyeshadow base. Thank you Connie:)

Connie De Alwis said...

Ee Von: Thank you :) I'm quite relieved that the TFSI I tried was just a sample because I've came close many times to buying a full-sized one. Hope you'll have a better experience with the UDPP!

Germaine: It should be an eyeshadow primer. I too haven't found an eyeshadow primer that's affordable and available locally. I'm totally winging this but I think it could be the skin's natural reaction to push out oil when it's exposed to dryness (the eyeshadow). But of course, I'm just making assumptions. LOL! Don't really know why that's happening to you :-/ Sorry

Connie De Alwis said...

Lavender: Thanks! Glad this was helpful to you :)

ning*star: Welcome! L'oreal de crease is still an excellent eyeshadow primer even if it's not the best so go for it!

Chloevien: Lots of rambling and assumptions but not actually "researched". But thank you :) I'm glad you like the post

Alyssamae. said...

Awesome post with great tips and suggestions Connie! :)

Marie. said...

This covered the reason for primers and bases perfectly! I personally LOVE the ELF Mineral Primer over any other primer including UDPP!

Sue said...

I agree with the ELF primer! Cheap + good! Some more can replace a few UDPP. hehe. :D

xin said...

O_o this is really detailed connie. i have only tried a few primers and so far inuovi eye base works the best for me, esp if i double 2 layers of base, works like magic. and a tube can easily last for 2 years for me

Kahani said...

Wahliao Connie - this is a THESIS on eyeshadow primers. *kaotaos*

e.motion in motion said...

Thanks for this post! So helpful :D I have the ELF primer and I think it's okay. I agree it feels a bit liquidy though. I've only used UDPP a few times but I also agree sometimes it adheres the color so well it's hard to blend! I'll have to look into different primers (:

kay kamal said...

i have been using too faced n it works on me really well..but mayb partly cz my lids are not dat oily or anything...

since thhe small tube has been lasting me forver..im yet to try the others.

great infos tho.tx

Sherry said...

ELF is so good I help my mom makeup and she loves it. usually if not put any primer the eyeshadow will fall out.

shaynaJo said...

hi there, i'm ur silent reader for a few months now. hahah. Love ur eye makeup tutorials alot!
btw, I'm frm KL too and I'm currently using UDPP and TFSI. Yeah, as u've mentioned.. i have this serious love & hate relationship with UDPP. Sometimes it's a little rubbery and made it hard for me to blend my eyeshadows. As for TFSI, I think it's performing pretty good on me. Well, ya it's a little oilier compared to UDPP but colors turned out more vibrant and so far, it didn't really crease on me yet. =)

SueLynn76 said...

I have the Etude House Proof 10 - 24 hours Eye Primer. Pretty good actually - doesn't crease on me and it's better than the INuovi Eye Primer.

The only thing is, it DARKENS/"muddifies" the e/shadow, not so much as intensifies.

And it's a genie-shaped bottle :(

Connie De Alwis said...

Alyssamae: Thanks! Glad you found it helpful :)

Marie: Always exciting when a cheaper alternative works :D

Sue: Yeah! Nowadays I only use my UDPP if I know I have to wear my makeup for very long hours or sweaty conditions

Connie De Alwis said...

Xin: :p Glad that the I Nuovi one works for you! I've never tried it before

Kahani: Was still in exam mode when I was writing this post. I only intended to do the brands bit but this kinda happened... lol! a tad overwhelming right? :p

Erynn: You're welcome! I've read that the Bare Escentuals and Smashbox ones are pretty good. I just got my Smahbox primer so we'll see how that goes!

Connie De Alwis said...

Kay: Good to know that TFSI is working for you! I much prefer its packaging and was hoping that it'd work for me but nooooo :(

Sherry: In this day an age, eyeshadow primers do make life very much easier. Like, who's got time to layer??

Shayna: Glad that you're finally commenting! :D I normally won't use the UDPP if I'm working with matte shadows. Just not worth the blending hassle! Another Malaysian that has TFSI working for her! YAY. Looks like it really varies from person to person

SueLynn: ooh, muddifying is not good :( I'm still very curious though!

LyNn said...

great post!
i would have thought that elf mineral works better than loreal decrease :P
elf now has like 3 eyeshadow primers.
weee!

Alexandra said...

hy connie, i REALLY LOVE this post since i'm new on make-up and really want to understand better about them primers. one thing i'd like to ask is where can i find E.L.F. mineral eyeshadow primer here in malaysia? and how much it costs? thx a lot!

Jan said...

I have Etude House's Proof 10 Eye Primer too! It's the first primer I've ever used, but I love it! It's cheap, easy to get in M'sia and eyeshadow stays on all day. I don't really see the 'muddifying' effect though, I think it looks great :)

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<3 Connie

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