Eyes, Reviews

Eye Primer Round-up

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Eye Primer Comparison

During a mass reorganization of my makeup drawers recently, I realized that I’m up to a whopping four eye primers. For someone who used to think primers of all sorts were snake oil and marketing BS (I’ve since seen the error of my ways), that’s kind of a lot. I realized I’ve never seen a side-by-side test of these, so yeah, I decided to make that happen. It’s probably a futile effort because eye primer performance is highly individual, and sort of a divisive topic – the one I swear by might do absolutely nothing for you, and vice-versa. Still, a comparison might be helpful for someone out there (probably someone with oily, hooded eyelids since that’s what I have) so I might as well let it float around the internet just in case.

Fair warning, this wasn’t constructed to be a highly scientific comparison, but I did make at least a small attempt to even the playing field. I tested them over the course of two days (since I only have two eyes at a time to work with, obvs). I used shimmer colors from the Lorac Pro Palette 2 both days so there wouldn’t be big differences in eyeshadow formula to foul things up. In all cases I used just enough primer to cover my lid and gave it about five minutes to set before I added eyeshadow. The pictures were taken after 12 hours of wear. Please pardon the weird raised eyebrows in the photos – it was necessary in order to get rid of the natural fold in my lids.

Lorac Behind the Scenes Eye Primer ($21/.53oz)

Lorac Eye Primer ComparisonThe Lorac primer looked great when I checked my eyeshadow around 5 hours into the experiment. However, by the time I took this photo, there was some creasing and the colors had faded. A lot. And whatever mascara I was wearing that day was apparently pretty flaky, but that’s beside the point. Of all of them, the Lorac eye had the most fading. The texture of this primer is very pleasant to use – it’s somewhat thin and spreads easily with a colorless finish.

Dior Backstage Eye Prime ($28/.21oz)

Dior Eye Primer ComparisonWhen I first applied the Dior primer, there was a noticeable difference in my eyeshadow versus the eye that was wearing the Lorac primer. The Dior is a light nude color, and my shadows on that eye were a little more opaque and true to the color in the pan. Unfortunately I started to see some minor creasing by lunchtime, and after twelve hours I got this. This primer was the worst as far as creasing goes, but the color didn’t fade in the spots where the shadows actually stayed put. This one also has the trickiest application, because it’s very thick and dry-feeling, so you need to warm it up first. That doesn’t bother me much, but it’s probably not for everyone.

Smashbox Photo Finish 24-Hour Shadow Primer ($20/.41oz)

Smashbox Eye Primer ComparisonI acquired the Smashbox primer fairly recently, as a deluxe sample from Sephora. I’ve had sort of mixed experiences with Smashbox products in the past, but I was very pleased with how this primer performed. At mid-day my eyeshadow was flawless. Even by hour twelve the creasing was pretty minor, and fading was non-existent. The formula is thicker than most eye primers that have tube packaging, but it’s still fairly easy to spread over the lid.

NARS Smudgeproof Eye Shadow Base ($25/.26oz)

NARS Eye Primer ComparisonI’ve been using this eye primer for a fairly long time now, so of course you knew it would be in here. The NARS eye also looked freshly-applied by the middle of the day, and there was pretty minimal creasing by the time its twelve hours were up. There may have been a tiny bit of fading (or the lighting is slightly different in the photos?) but at the time I didn’t notice any difference from the Smashbox side. I’ve mentioned it before, but I’m not a huge fan of the wand packaging for this primer because when you start running low it’s pretty hard to get the product out. Otherwise the formula is nice, thin and silky-feeling.


This test was very… educational. I’ve used the Lorac and Dior primers in the past and not been unhappy with them, but they certainly were in the bottom half of the class here. I do enjoy the color boost that I get from the Dior primer though, so I’ve actually been using that over another primer as a type of cream base. I wouldn’t recommend buying it for that purpose, but I have it so I might as well use it. The NARS and Smashbox primers passed with flying colors though, and the difference between them at the end of the day was pretty negligible. I’d recommend either one for oily lids. I might even recommend the Smashbox primer over the NARS one, just because it’s five bucks cheaper and you get more product (.41oz with Smashbox vs .26oz with NARS). For performance and price, Smashbox gets you the most for your money.

Lorac Behind the Scenes Eye Primer is available at ulta.com and the rest are available at sephora.com

1 Comment

  1. Jess

    December 11, 2014 at 1:33 am

    Among these, I think I would go for the NARS one. I find it perfect for an eyeshadow. Love the shades too.

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