We love hearing from our panel of beauty pros about the latest and greatest beauty tricks. Today, we're lucky enough to hear from Los Angeles-based makeup pro Emily Oliver on the benefits of face primer.

For most people, primer’s that stuff that goes on a wall before you paint it.  For makeup artists, like myself, primer is a must-have product that should be applied before any makeup products, especially eye shadow. Think about it: What’s worse than creating a perfect masterpiece on your eyes, only to have it crease, fade or smudge just an hour or so later. Nothing. It’s important to keep your eye makeup insured, and primer is that insurance.

Primer is quick and easy to swipe on and makes a world of difference in the pigment and longevity of your shadow. These days primers are stronger and more efficient than ever and often do way more than just prime. So how does one work primer into their makeup routine? And what’s so great about it? And how much should I use? We get to the bottom of all of these questions, and more. Check out our rundown on all things primer.


model shot


What Exactly Is Eye Primer?

In a nutshell, eye shadow primer is a liquid- or cream-based product that is applied on the eyelids to make shadows and eyeliner go on smoother and last longer. It serves as a double-sided tape of sorts that grips to your eyeshadow and makeup, making it last longer and ensuring it sticks to your lids and doesn’t stray. It can also help enhance your makeup hues and make them even brighter.

Why Do You Need it?

Here’s how it works: Primer creates a base for the eyelids, absorbing excess oil and allowing for an even surface on which to work. Without primer, greasy eyelids can cause shadows to get that “creased” effect throughout the day, or have patchy and uneven application. Adversely, those with dry, primer-less eyelids will have shadow pigment disappear entirely in a matter of hours.

Also, just like lips, eyelids often can have a slight natural pigment or tone to them that can make it difficult for certain shadow colors to pop. Primers, especially those with nude or white tones to them serve as clean canvases that allow any and all shadow colors to pop. Heck, if you doled out big bucks for those shadow singles and palettes, you should get your money’s worth with solid makeup looks, right?

If any of these issues are happening to you, grab your favorite eye shadow primer and follow my how-to below!


PRIMER: How to Apply Primer Like a Pro


How to Use It

After applying your daily eye creams and facial moisturizers, squeeze a tiny bit of primer onto a flat eyeshadow brush, (I like the Giorgio Armani Concealer Brush) or your fingertips. The layer should be thin and quickly absorbed into the skin so it can make the skin smooth and shadow-ready. Just a mustard-seed-sized amount for each lid will do the trick. Use rapid, gentle tapping motions to blend the formula into the skin. Start at your lash line and work all the way into the brows (yes, the brows — this will make your brow products last longer too). Remember to apply primer under the bottom lashes as well if you intend to use shadow or liner there. Allow about a minute for the formula to dry and absorb.


Want to reach makeup pro status? Check out our latest makeup tips and tutorials! Click through our slideshow to find the perfect eyeshadow primer for you. 


Let's Stay in Touch

Get our top stories straight to your inbox!