5 Best Eyeshadow Primer Alternatives

For some, eyeshadow primer can be a costly and unnecessary purchase. Not everyone can justify buying a primer if they don’t wear eyeshadow often, nor is it worth buying a cheap primer that doesn’t keep the eyeshadow in place for more than 3 hours. 

Anyone with oily eyelids will know the struggle of keeping eyeshadow from creasing and melting off their lids. But what’s the point in buying an eyeshadow primer when there are other options available? 

We have found the best eyeshadow primer alternatives, ranging from household life-hacks to unique methods that offer the same effect as a primer. 

Best Eyeshadow Primer Alternatives: Our Top 5 Picks

1. Our Top Pick: Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Concealer

Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Eraser Dark Circles Treatment Multi-Use Concealer, Light, 0.2 Fl Oz (Pack of 1)

  • Great shade range for a multitude of skin colors 
  • Anti-aging properties help to reduce fine lines and wrinkles 
  • Full-coverage formula
  • Soft built-in applicator is gentle around the eyes
  • Brightens dark circles and redness

Concealers are the most ideal alternative to eyeshadow primers for those with any skin type – whether your eyelids are oily or not. This Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Concealer is as effective when used as a regular concealer as it is for an eyeshadow base. 

This concealer is most popular for its built-in applicator that gently applies the product with its soft tip. Matched with the Haloxyl-based formula, this product is proven to prevent the appearance of aging. This is ideal for eyeshadow primer use because it will blur out the look of natural fine lines on eyelids

This is a high-coverage concealer that comes in a variety of shades for different skin colors. It is designed to cancel out redness and dark circles – which is ideal for creating a flawless base for eyeshadow. 

If you have oily eyelids, it’s best to pair this product with a powder to prevent the concealer from creasing in the lines from long usage. This can also provide a good base for eyeshadows to blend. However, some eyeshadows will work better with a slightly wet base and without the powder, so it depends! 

This is a great option for creating cut-crease looks. You can apply it to your eyelid with either your finger, a brush, or a sponge. 

2. Best For Non-Oily Eyelids: Maybelline Fit Me Matte Pressed Powder

Maybelline Fit Me Matte + Poreless Pressed Powder, Classic Ivory 0.29 Ounce, 1 Count

  • Great range of shades for different skin colors
  • Long-lasting formula keeps makeup in place for hours
  • Reduces the appearance of pores 
  • Adds another layer of coverage to makeup 
  • Doesn’t move foundation, blush, bronzer, eyeshadow, and more

If you’re lucky enough to be blessed with non-oily eyelids, an eyeshadow primer can often be too heavy and thick. Powders are a great way to provide a slight base to eyeshadow without feeling too thick! 

The Maybelline Fit Me powder is one of the most popular drugstore powders on the market. Affordable and lightweight, it’s an ideal addition to a makeup bag. 

This pressed powder comes in a variety of shades and offers a long-lasting finish to a full face of makeup. Whilst it’s mostly for setting foundation and concealer, this powder can be swept across the eyelids as a base for eyeshadow. 

Unless you buy the translucent shade, this powder offers an extra layer of coverage to your makeup. This is ideal to use as an eyeshadow primer, because it will help to even out the color of your eyelids to the rest of your makeup-wearing face. 

If you’re someone who struggles with oily eyelids, you can use a concealer or foundation with a layer of this powder as an eyeshadow primer alternative. It will set your makeup in place whilst providing a base for eyeshadow to cling to. Powder also makes it easier for some eyeshadows to blend. 

This powder can be applied with a brush, but the best application for an eyeshadow base would be from the included sponge. 

3. Best for Enhancing Eyeshadow: NiceFace Liquid Highlighters

NiceFace Makeup Liquid Glow Illuminator Face Highlighters (5 colors)

  • Five colors in one bundle in a range of colors
  • Easy application with a soft precision applicator
  • Provides an illuminated, healthy appearance 
  • Buildable from a dewy to a bright look
  • Long-lasting formula prevents cakey or dry skin

Who said that eyeshadows always have to be nude and matte? Sure, a flawless matte eyeshadow look can be super classy, but it’s always fun to experiment with makeup to create a colorful and unique look. 

An eyeshadow primer alternative you might not have considered is liquid highlighters

This Lamora product comes with five liquid highlighters of different colors, ranging from white champagne to marigold. They are applied similarly to a concealer or lip gloss with a dome precision applicator, which can sweep across an eyelid quickly. 

These highlighters are an awesome eyeshadow primer alternative to add some shine and extra color to your eyeshadow. Whether you’ve gone for a smoky or colorful look, these liquid highlighters will work to brighten your makeup whilst providing a pigmented base for the eyeshadow to stick to! 

Fear not, people with oily eyelids, as these liquid highlighters are long-lasting and will prevent your eyelids from creasing or looking too cakey. However, you can still pair the liquid highlighter with a powder to help your eyeshadows blend or to keep the highlighter base in place for longer. 

Liquid highlighters are a fun way to enhance any eyeshadow look, whether it’s for prom, a wedding, a concert, or just a regular Tuesday evening. It can be applied with the dome applicator and then blended with your finger, brush, or sponge. 

4. Best Value: NYX Professional Makeup Mechanical White Eye Liner Pencil

NYX PROFESSIONAL MAKEUP Mechanical Eyeliner Pencil, White

  • Very affordable and takes up minimal space in a makeup bag
  • Smudge-proof and long-lasting
  • Retractable feature means no sharpening 
  • Stays on in hot weather and oily eyelids
  • Cruelty-free 

Eyeliners are designed for eyelids, so they can be a great alternative to an eyeshadow primer. Of course, you can use eyeliner in whatever color you like for an eyeshadow base, but white liners will provide the most versatility and the best base for blending an array of colors. 

NYX is a popular drugstore brand for its affordable yet high-quality products that are as reliable as they are inexpensive. They are also a cruelty-free brand certified by PETA, which is always a bonus – especially for those passionate about animal rights. 

This white eyeliner is designed for eyelids of all skin types, both oily and dry. It has a smudge-proof formula that keeps the liner in place for many hours without creasing or moving around, yet it doesn’t dry out the eyelid. This is also ideal for those living in hot climates. 

A white eyeliner is a great primer alternative for eyeshadow. Not only does it provide a smooth base for the eyeshadow to stick to, but the white will help the colors to pop better than eyeshadow primers that are translucent. 

This eyeliner can be applied by coloring the pencil over the lid and blending it with a brush or finger. The retractable design means that it is made of smooth plastic rather than a pencil that requires sharpening, so you won’t scratch your eyelid. 

5. Best for Sensitive Eyelids: Célor Aloe Vera Gel

Aloe Vera Gel - 8 Oz - Pure Aloe Gel For Face - Aloe Vera Gel Face Wash and Body After Sun Care - From Fresh Aloe Plants - Soothing & Moisturizing Gel

  • Natural ingredients don’t irritate eyes or skin
  • Hydrating properties are ideal for dry skin
  • Versatile for a variety of uses
  • Great for after-sun care 
  • Helps to correct dark undereye circles 

Hear us out, because this is a bit of a weird one. Aloe vera gel can be used as an eyeshadow primer alternative

We all know the healing properties of aloe vera gel. It helps to hydrate and nourish dry and irritated skin, moisturizes flaky skin, soothes sunburn, and treats skin issues like acne and eczema.

A little bit of aloe vera gel can be used as an eyeshadow primer alternative. Aloe vera gel is made from all-natural ingredients that won’t irritate even the most sensitive of eyes (especially as eyelids can be so sensitive) and is oil-free which won’t budge the eyeshadow. 

Aloe vera gel dries on the skin once applied into a slightly tacky texture, which is ideal for eyeshadows to stick to. You might find that glittery eyeshadow will stick well to aloe vera gel because the texture will force the pigments to shine (literally). 

Aloe vera gel also has properties that help towards dark undereye circles, so if you’re one to struggle with dark circles, aloe vera might help towards that. 

The best way to apply aloe vera gel as an eyeshadow primer is to gently press a small amount onto your eyelids with your fingers. The warmth of your fingers will help the aloe vera to stick to the skin and dry faster. 

Eyeshadow Primer Alternatives: Buyer’s Guide 

What is an eyeshadow primer? 

Eyeshadow primer is a liquid product that works to keep eyeshadow in place for a long time. They often come in a skin color shade to provide a clear base for eyeshadow colors to pop. 

The consistencies and textures of primers will range depending on the brand. Some will have a watery and lightweight feel, and others will be slightly thicker and provide a tacky finish. Neither is better than the other, as this comes down to personal preference and the type of eyeshadow you put on top of it. 

It’s not essential to buy an eyeshadow primer, but most makeup artists and gurus will swear by eyeshadow primer – especially for those with oily eyelids. Oily eyelids will move eyeshadows around to create clumpiness and patchiness, which isn’t a good look. 

Are there alternatives to eyeshadow primer? 

Eyeshadow primers can be expensive for those with oily eyelids who require a heavy-duty and premium-quality primer. However, there are lots of other ways to create an eyeshadow primer – some of which might be in your cupboard already

The most common alternative to eyeshadow primers is concealer. In the same way that some people put concealers over their lips to make their lipstick pop, concealers can help to prepare the eyelid for eyeshadows to look bolder. 

You can set the concealer with powder if you’re worried about the product creasing in your eyelid. This can provide a smooth base for eyeshadow to blend. However, other people find that wet concealers intensify the eyeshadow pigment. 

Other alternatives include foundation, powder, white eyeliner, liquid highlighters, and aloe vera gel. Foundation is generally the least favored option as it’s more likely to move around the eyelid, especially if the formula is oil-based. 

White eyeliner and liquid highlighters are a fun way to get creative with eyeshadows. They help to provide a base similar to a primer, whilst adding the benefit of a shade (either white or shiny) which helps to enhance the eyeshadows. 

How to make your eyeshadow stick and pop

The best way to make your eyeshadow stick and pop is the most affordable way possible – with your fingers! The natural oil of your fingers helps to activate the pigments in eyeshadows, which then translates onto your eyelid. This works best for glitters and shimmer shades rather than matte shades. 

Of course, providing a base to your eyeshadow is the best way to keep the makeup in place for longer. Eyeshadow without a base will be dull and won’t stick to the eyelid, whether the eyelid is oily or not, so a primer base will help the makeup last longer. 

As with eyeshadows, it’s best to apply an eyeshadow base with your finger as the warmth and oils of your skin will help the primer stick to your eyelid. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you really need eyeshadow primer? 

Eyeshadow primer or similar products are almost an essential purchase for those with oily eyelids and hot climates. Eyeshadow has a flaky and dry consistency that requires something to stick to for long periods without creasing or falling off, which is why eyeshadow primers are so popular. 

However, there are so many alternatives to eyeshadow primer that it’s not an essential purchase for everyone. Some people will find that they can use concealer or white eyeliner with some eyeshadows, and others will swear by aloe vera gel or liquid highlighter. Others will only need a sweep of powder to help their eyeshadow stick. 

Can I use concealer instead of eye primer? 

A good-quality concealer can work as an eye primer! However, the way you apply it will determine how long it will keep the eyeshadow in place. 

The best way to apply concealer as an eye primer is a small amount with your fingers. Gently pat the concealer into your eyelids until the product is no longer wet. 

If you have oily eyelids, you might benefit from setting the concealer base with a powder. This will prevent the concealer from building up in the lines and crevices, whilst providing a smooth base for eyeshadows to blend into. However, some may find that wet concealers work best to intensify the pigments. 

Should you put foundation on eyelids? 

Foundation generally has less coverage compared to concealer and eye primer, which is why it isn’t generally recommended for use on eyelids. Whilst it may even out your skin tone, especially if you have dark circles, the watery consistency is more likely to move around on eyelids. 

This will prevent eyeshadow from sticking to your eyelids. It will also create lines of foundation after several hours. Some people find that foundation and powder work as a suitable eyeshadow base for them, but most people with oily eyelids will struggle with this as a base. 

What’s the difference between eye primer and face primer? 

The main difference between both primers is their intended purpose. Eye primers are designed for eyes, whilst face primers are meant for faces. 

It’s not generally recommended to use either primer for either purpose. Face primers aren’t designed for eyelid use because eyelids are so gentle and easily irritated. Eye primer comes in small packaging, which would be a waste to use on your face. 

Final Verdict 

So, there you have it! Proof that you don’t necessarily need an eyeshadow primer to have a great eyeshadow base. 

When it comes to the alternative products we have found for eyeshadow primers, the best is by far the Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Concealer. When blended into the eyelid with your fingers and set with a powder, this is as close to a regular eye primer as possible. It’s also a lot more affordable than most eye primers. 

Whilst there are several ways to create a base for eyeshadow, people with oily eyelids will benefit most from eyeshadow primers. Eye primers are designed specifically for eyeshadow to stick to for hours on end without moving. Due to the oiliness of eyelids, other products like foundation simply aren’t strong enough to resist the oil. 

Having said that, people will have different experiences with primers and eyeshadows! The skin type, application, and quality of the eyeshadow are all factors that can be the difference between creased and perfect eyeshadow. 

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