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17 Aug 2012

To Prime or not To Prime, that is the question...

Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
And to suffer your eye makeup creasing into a sea of troubles, and by opposing end them...

Hmmm.  Shakespeare is turning in his grave I'm sure.

Some of the eye primers I've trialled... see thoughts below 
A few words on why we bother to prime...

We prime the lips to ready them for application of lip products (see here and here for some recommendations).

We prime the face (see here for recommended products), essentially for some or all of the following reasons
  • to help smooth out imperfections
  • to provide a gentle filler for fine lines and wrinkles
  • to brighten the face prior to makeup application
  • to provide a barrier between make up and skin (and skincare products)
  • to help makeup last longer
We prime the eyes for similar reasons
  • to provide a smooth base for application of eyeshadows
  • to provide slip where lids are dry (helps shadows to stick and blend-out)
  • to provide a barrier where lids are oily (helps stop shadows from creasing and moving)
  • to help eye makeup last longer
  • to help emphasise the colour of shadows, or to add an interesting undertone to a monochrome shadow
I have ridiculously oily lids and have tried everything to make shadows last longer before creasing.  Inevitably, with oilier lids, your shadows are going to crease.  At some point.  It's just going to happen.  Deal with it.  But, with a good primer, used properly (see below), you can help push this out a bit, time-wise.

The eye primers that I've bought and trialled over a long time include some from the picture above... and probably in the following order of preference/recommendation are as follows:
  1. Too Faced Shadow Insurance.  The One To Rule Them All and by far the best for oily lids, but works for all lids.  This is a silicone-based primer in a neutral enough colour and sheers out to more-or-less clear.  Featuring the simplest and easiest applicator - a micro-fine opening in a squeezy tube, which stops you from wasting it, stops it from drying out, and stops contamination as there can never be any double-dipping.
  2. Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion (this is the one you'll probably hear referenced the most, as UDPP, but I think that the Too Faced offering is just ever so slightly better.  Another silicone-based primer, another "works-for-everyone" offering, I have this (in travel sizes) in Original, Eden and Sin.  The Original (essentially colourless) is by far the best of them all - the UDPP that are coloured and/or shimmery, in my experience, are not nearly as good at stopping creasing*.  This one comes with a bent doe-foot applicator which I hate-hate-hate, but I believe it now also (or instead?) ships as a squeezy tube.
  3. NARS PRO Prime Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base.  Another colourless silicone-based primer.  Supposedly super-duper, I was quite excited to purchase this, thinking it was going to solve all my oily lid problems, from everything I'd read.  It's not at all bad for oily lids, probably deserving of its position in third place as like most NARS offerings, quite expensive.  This features another pointless (from a kit perspective) doe-foot applicator.
  4. Lime Crime Candy Eyed Eyeshadow Helper.  This is a nude coloured thick creamy primer - it's a little dry and like a spackle, so you need to work reasonably quickly with this.  I'm sticking this in fourth place as it really isn't great (in my experience) with dry lids, however with oily lids it probably equals Too Faced Shadow Insurance; what goes on doesn't come off anytime quickly.    However there's a little work required in blending shadows on top (remedied by application of a powder base directly on top).  Annoyingly, the lid never really fully tightens (or perhaps loosens over time) and this stuff dries out after a while, which is probably my main gripe, along with the fact that you need to dig a little of this out before using (presents like a cream concealer, no applicator per se).
  5. Benefit Creaseless Cream Shadow/Liner (eg Birthday Suit), MAC Paints (eg Bare Canvas), MAC Paint Pots (eg Painterly, Groundwork, Soft Ochre...), Shiseido Shimmering Cream Eye Colour (not pictured), Make Up For Ever Aqua Creams (eg Shade 16)... to mention just some of these type of products... all of these are much-of-a-muchness.  These are specifically cream coloured bases (some matte, some shimmery, some glittery...) and on particularly oily lids, they will migrate.  They can be "set" to a certain extent with a powder, but that powder will eventually crease.  These come in a myriad of shades and are great for amping-up the colour of the powder shadows on top, or as eye "shadows" in their own right.  The longest lasting for oilier lids is probably MAC Paints, but not by much.  These are great for drier lids, as they take longer (if ever) to crease and don't look dry like powder shadows on crepe-y lids can do.
  6. Laura Mercier Eye Basics (in Wheat).  This is actually not bad, it's a neutral enough matte nude "light skin" colour, somewhere between a thick liquid and a thin cream :-) and is reasonably ok at lasting on dry-to-average lids.  It creases on oilier lids, but it takes a while before it does it, and setting it with powder helps defray that.  Nothing special, but not bad.
  7. Pixi Eye Bright Primer.  This is a neutral-to-colourless silicone-based offering, and is so-so if you have average enough lids. It didn't work for me on oily lids; shadow slid right off after an hour or so (so no particular difference then).  In the words of Douglas Adams, this one comes under the category of "mostly harmless".  Features another doe-foot applicator *sighs* - seeing a pattern here.
  8. Clinique Touch Base for Eyes (in 10/Canvas) - this is a nude coloured thick creamy primer, similar to the Lime Crime, but there the similarity ends.  I'd read glowing things about this.  It is, however, beyond absolutely useless for oily lids, completely and utterly pointless.  It's ok if you have "normal" lids.  It comes with a foil peel-away lid, which is necessary if you don't want this drying up in Zero Time Flat.  Personally however I wouldn't bother spending on it.  This purchase particularly bugged me.
  9. Concealer + face powder.  This one is an old makeup artist trick; apply a thin layer of concealer on your lids and cement it in place with a lot of face powder, prior to working with shadows.  Personally, I find that this can work, but it depends on the concealer used, the relative oiliness-or-dryness of the lids, the type of powder used... and it doesn't work if you want to use cream products on top.  I generally prefer to use the infinitely better, one-size-fits-all, guaranteed-to-work, Too Faced (#1 above).
* which is ironic, because shimmery nail products last longer than matte ones... the same is not true of "face stuff"

How to use 'em?

There's not a lot to say here, except that with eye primers you really need to use a teeny tiny amount.  And then you're still probably using too much.  If you use too much, you may be adding too much slip and the makeup on top will then crease and move (and you'll think the primer is at fault, whereas it's the application).  You want just enough.  Practice a few times with differing amounts, you'll get the hang of it pretty quickly.  General rule of thumb for anything around your eye area: a rice-grain-sized amount per eye.  Max.  You can apply these with fingers (best, in my opinion, because you can blend away anything you don't use), a flat or a fluffy brush.  Or even the doe-foot applicator they're all so fond of :-)

Why bother?
Sleek "Noir" (powder) eyeshadow
L - > R: no primer, over Too Faced Shadow Insurance,
over MAC Paintpot in Blackground
A picture tells a thousand words.  The powder eyeshadow above is much more black, more dense, more "true to colour" over a black base (rightmost).  But even patted on over a colourless base, the difference is visible (centre) compared to applied on bare skin (left); it's more dense and pigmented.

Same as before, but now about four hours later
A few hours later tells the real story; the shadow with no primer (left) has started to fade, the two applied on top of primers are still holding their own...

And even more importantly, in white...
White eyeshadows are a bloody pain in the proverbial to pack on sufficiently to show up as anything other than a wishy-washy indistinct and usually chalky shade (incidentally, I've done a post on the blackest of all the black powder eyeshadows, I really must do one on the best white shades!)

Left to right, above: Inglot 373 (a matte white powder eyeshadow) on bare skin, on top of UDPP, on top of Too Faced Shadow Insurance, on top of NYX Jumbo Eye Pencil in Milk (the best "primer" for getting white shadows to show up with any decent opacity, just a shame that it moves after about an hour).
The main primers used for the images above
Overall, I highly recommend primers.  They're not just a gimmick to part a fool from his money, they have a definite use and provide definite advantages.

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