Let’s talk about eyeshadow primers and bases, their differences, and their similarities. This is a topic I’ve been meaning to talk about for a while now, so let’s just get into it shall we?

Primers and bases are often swirled into a big misunderstood cosmetic milkshake, meaning their individualities sometimes get lost and hard to identify. To be honest, at the end of the day both primers and bases can do the same things for your eyeshadow, but not always because “technically” they’re not the same, despite being referred to as such. Most eyeshadow primers or bases will specifically point out if they prevent creasing, smudging, loss of wear, etc. If a product doesn’t state these things, then don’t expect it to.

Eyeshadow Primers vs. Eyeshadow Bases

Eyeshadow Primers vs. Eyeshadow Bases


An eyeshadow primer’s main intentions are to prep the eye for whatever is to come, and to help prevent the natural oils of your eyelids to break down your eyeshadow throughout the day. They also help give you a smooth surface to apply your shadow while intensifying their vibrancy and pigmentation, also helping them to be more blendable. Primers can also help neutralize the color of your lids so that discolorations don’t show thru the shadow, basically giving you the benefits of a light-weight concealer.

As for bases, you can use just about anything moist or sticky and get great color pay-off (even a primer). Bases are the products used to help intensify an eyeshadow by helping it stick to your eye — but not all of them “prime” the eye. You can use concealer, moisturizers, paint pots, cream eyeshadows, gel liners, eye pencils — anything emollient to use as a base and usually end up pleased with the results. However, bases don’t always have the same ingredients as primers to help prevent creasing — but several companies have combined both base and primer to give you a little more protection.

For example, MAC paint pots can be used to prime and base the eye by giving you a shield against oil while also giving you a neutral or colorful base to help intensify your eyeshadow. Paint pots don’t crease or break down on me at all and that’s why I love using them, but they don’t work for everyone.


If you’ve ever used a primer or base and your eyeshadow still creased it can be a few reasons why…

  • 1. It’s not enough protection for your oily lid
  • 2. You applied too much
  • 3. You applied too little
  • 4. Your eyeshadow may not be the best quality — remember, great pigmentation doesn’t always mean great quality
  • 5. In the worst case, you may be allergic to the ingredients in a primer or base and totally unable to use them at all

Lots of people tend to go overboard when applying either a primer or a base. I’ve seen many girls on Youtube using heavy amounts of any given primer/base and complain later that their eyeshadow is caking up or creasing. The key is to find the right amount for your individual eyelid. You basically want to get enough just to give a super thin barrier between your oily lid and your eyeshadow. If you apply a basic primer (which tends to turn out transparent or sheer for the most part) and you can still see a heavy cast of it before applying your shadow, you’ve probably used too much. Same with bases, you only need enough to provide that thin barrier — anything more will just cause build up and cause your eyeshadow to shift and look a hot mess. Using NYX Jumbo Eye pencils as a base is really popular, and for the most part it does work — but don’t expect it to prevent creasing on your oily lids because it wont. It’s only going to help intensify your eyeshadow. Some people can get away with using just a NYX Jumbo pencil alone and experience zero creasing, again it depends on your specific eyelid situation.

If you have super oily lids, you may benefit by using two products for your eyes. Try using a primer such as UDPP or TFSI and a base, such as a MAC paint pot — which will not break down the primer you just applied. Using two products that will end up nullifying each other won’t always help. Don’t use an super oily product on top of a primer designed to block oil, because then your primer will fail — always check the ingredients. You just want to beef up your primer by using a second base (with similar ingredients) to give you the most protection.

I personally don’t have the oiliest lids, but they do get a little sheen after a long day. If I wear a cheap eyeshadow without a base, it’ll start to crease on me and the color will fade. If I wear a more pricey eyeshadow without a base (such as MAC, NARS, MUFE), I wont get creasing or dull color pay-off at all. So yes, your eyeshadows play a big part in all of this too. If you’re using a cheap product without a good primer/base, expect cheap results.

In the event you find that you’re allergic to an ingredient in a primer and/or base, find out what it is that you’re allergic to and seek a product that doesn’t have that ingredient. Lots of primers/bases use silica, which some people are allergic to — however this is one of the main ingredients that help prevent/soak up oil so that your shadows don’t crease.


More and more cosmetic companies are pumping out primers/bases into the market, so it’s easy to be overwhelmed for feel the need to try them all. Here are some great ones that may be easier to get a hold of:

Overall, primers and bases can casually be called the same thing in general. There are technical differences between the two, but nobody is going to shoot you if you refer to a primer as base or vice-versa, it’s not that serious. You can get the same results from either one, but it varies from person to person. Not everything will work for everyone — and you should go into each product with neutral expectations so that you don’t come out feeling disappointed if it doesn’t work for you. If you find that primers don’t work well enough alone, try combining it with a base (again, of similar ingredients) — just try different things until you’re happy.

I hope that all of this makes sense — let me know if you’re lost by now lol. Feel free to share which primers/bases you like to use, I’d love to know!

-Stay beautiful