Review & Comparison: Dior Backstage Eye Primer vs NARS Smudgeproof Eyeshadow Base
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Ever since I first used NARS Smudgeproof Eyeshadow Base, it’s been my gold standard for eye primer. Before I tried it, I thought eye primer were a bunch of baloney. Snake oil. Insert your term of choice “load of crap”. But NARS was the first one that actually made my eyeshadow last longer than noon before creasing – much, much longer. It’s not that it couldn’t be improved though. It’s expensive, considering how much you get. It dries down clear, so it doesn’t even out the color on your lids. The wand isn’t entirely sanitary (I only use it on myself, so whatever) and it can be hard to get the product out once you get toward the end of it.
When Dior came out with their Backstage Eye Prime, I was hoping it would solve some of these issues while still being just as awesome. So, obviously, I picked it up and put it through some long-term testing (which, if you’re wondering, means I didn’t get this review done nearly as soon as I meant to).
Unlike the NARS primer, which comes with a tube & wand applicator, or most other primers that come in squeeze tubes, the Dior eye primer comes in a little glass pot. It’s exactly the same as the pots that the Fusion Monos come in, except with a silver cap. This definitely has its advantages over the NARS packaging. I still find that using my finger is the most convenient way of actually getting it out and onto my eye – which again, is not terribly sanitary – but at least there’s the option of scraping a bit out to use, or spritzing it with alcohol/taking off the top layer if you need to sanitize it. Unfortunately it’s not any more cost-effective – the Dior primer has .21oz/6g for $28, where NARS has .26oz/7.4g for $25. So the Dior version is actually more expensive.
The main thing I was looking for in the Dior primer was a way to even out the skintone on my eyelids, and it delivered. The extremely heavy swatch should give you an idea of the color – my skin right now is around NW30 in MAC terms. The primer is a fairly neutral light beige. It’s not fully opaque, so it blends in very nicely on my lids. I don’t think anyone on the light-medium skintone range would have any issues with the color, but I could imagine it maybe looking a little ashy against dark skin.
Texture, application & wear
The texture of this primer completely explains why it’s in a pot and not some sort of tube. It’s very dense, thick, stiff and sort of dry-feeling. I know it sounds like it should be incredibly unpleasant – but if you rub your finger around in the pot to warm it up and pat it onto your lid, it really applies very evenly and without tugging. I’ve also applied it with a flat synthetic brush which, eh, it works ok, but not quite as well as the good ol’ fingers.
Wear time… sadly, that’s the spot where it falls a little bit short (for me at least – I don’t think everyone will have the same results). Objectively it’s better than most of the primers I’ve tried (UD Primer Potion, Too Faced Shadow Insurance, Lorac Behind the Scenes) but it’s no NARS. I suspected for a long time that it wasn’t keeping my shadow from creasing for quite as long so I finally did an eye to eye comparison and the results sort of speak for themselves.
NARS after 12 hours:
Dior after 12 hours:
As you can see, the Dior primer had significantly more creasing, which I started noticing around the 7-hour mark. Now- if your eyelids aren’t hooded, or if they aren’t oily, I think the primer will work really well. For example, Sunny loved it. My eyes just happen to be oily and hooded, and it really works against basically every product I’ve ever put on them.
In Short: It didn’t quite meet my needs, but I think it’s well worth trying out.
Dior Backstage Eye Prime ($28) is available at Dior counters and sephora.com
bellyheadAugust 13, 2014 at 11:49 am
I LOVE comparison posts like this one, Nikki! thank you also for the “performance” photos. Using eye primers really changed my makeup life. I used to think fading & creasing was just a way of life for me. I see Nars will continue to remain firmly part of my eye makeup routine now, though I do like the slight tint to the Dior for evening out the lid color.
Mirifique BeautyAugust 13, 2014 at 6:13 pm
I’m so happy you did this post. I have been wondering for a long time how the Dior primer would cope. It looks a lot like the Guerlain one i bought which also didn’t last either. There is no comparison to the legendary NARS Smudgeproof primer really. It’s just incredible isn’t it? I have oily eyelids and it has never failed me yet.
NikkiAugust 14, 2014 at 11:02 am
Wow, I don’t think I even knew Guerlain had an eye primer! I keep waiting to come across an eye primer that lasts as long on my lids as NARS, but it hasn’t happened yet – I don’t know what sort of witchcraft they’re putting into that stuff (but I’m ok with it!).
SunnyAugust 14, 2014 at 11:04 am
Oh no, I’m so sorry to hear it doesn’t work that well for you! On me it performs really well. I think everybody is different huh?
NikkiAugust 14, 2014 at 11:26 am
Exactly, there’s no one-size-fits-all (how boring would that be anyway?). I’m glad it worked for you though!