For thicker, longer, and stronger lashes, optimize the look of your mascara with an eyelash primer. These clear formulas provide a base for mascara and are applied beforehand with a mascara-like wand. They not only condition and moisturize eyelashes, but they also create a coat that increases length and volume.
To learn more about what to look for in a primer, read this quick buying guide. We've also included our top recommendations at the end of this article, like this one from Christian Dior, which plumps lashes to triple their volume.
Considerations when choosing eyelash primers
There are several reasons to add an eyelash primer to your makeup routine. Here's a list of common uses:
Keeps mascara from running. If you're not a fan of raccoon eyes, an eyelash primer may be your solution. Because eyelash primers leave a sticky base, mascara clings onto it and stays put throughout your day, which results in less smudging and flaking.
Lengthens and volumizes. Before you invest in false eyelashes because you're not satisfied with your mascara, try using a primer first. Primers make eyelashes appear thicker and longer.
Helps hold curl. If you have thick straight lashes and use an eyelash curler on them, applying a primer after you curl will help hold that upward curve.
Conditions lashes. Many eyelash primers contain ingredients to moisturize lashes, which can easily become dry and brittle from mascara. Primers also work to strengthen lashes.
Stimulates eyelash growth. Some primers are formulated to stimulate eyelash growth when used consistently over time.
For the best results, look for eyelash primers with some of these active ingredients:
Vitamin E: This natural antioxidant helps prevent free radical damage, which means it will protect your lashes from environmental pollution. It also helps moisturize and condition dry or brittle lashes. Lastly, it may help stimulate lash growth.
B3: This nutrient belonging to the Vitamin B family, also known as niacin, moisturizes and strengthens lashes. It may help promote lash growth as well.
B5: Another version of Vitamin B that nourishes and strengthens lashes is B5 (also called panthenol or pantothenic acid). It helps build hair follicles along your lashline for thicker, fuller-looking lashes.
Microfibers: These tiny threads cling to your lashes to help mascara look more dramatic with longer and thicker lashes.
Peptides: These amino acid chains (the building blocks of protein) strengthen your lashes and condition them. Lash-growth serums often contain peptides, so they may help your lashes grow in the long-term.
Tint: Most eyelash primers go on white and dry clear. If you're looking to darken your lashes, select an eyelash primer that's tinted black or brown. When layered under matching mascara, they will make your eyelashes stand out. They can also be worn solo. Blue-tinted eyelash primers are designed to make your eye color pop, and they should only be paired with blue mascara.
Brush: Select a primer with a narrow short-bristled brush that'll separate each lash and ensure each one is coated with product. Comb-like brushes work well, too.
Eyelash primer prices
Eyelash primers range in price from $3 to $45, depending on the quality of the ingredients and whether it's from a brand name. Expect to pay between $15 and $30 for a primer that'll condition, lengthen, and thicken lashes.
Q. How do I apply an eyelash primer?
A. Eyelash primers are applied to the lashes in the same manner that mascara is. Position the brush at the base of your lashes, and gently pull it through to the tips of your lashes.
Q. Can I wear an eyelash primer every day, even when I'm not wearing mascara?
A. Certainly. It's actually good for your lashes to wear this conditioning and strengthening product every day, even if you're not wearing other makeup.
Eyelash primers we recommend
Best of the best: Christian Dior Diorshow Maximizer 3D Triple-Volume Plumping Lash Primer
Our take: A superior formula from a premium brand known for luxe lash products.
What we like: Resists clumping. Goes on smoothly. Plumps lashes while also extending them. Lashes look lush and defined.
What we dislike: Expensive but delivers impressive results.
Best bang for your buck: Smashbox Photo Finish Lash Primer
Our take: A top-selling lash primer without the top-shelf price tag.
What we like: Affordable without compromising quality. Doesn't clump. Reduces amount of mascara needed. Conditions, defines, and lengthens lashes.
What we dislike: Plastic brush has awkward pointed bristles.
Choice 3: Benefit They're Real! Tinted Lash Primer
Our take: A tinted lash primer for rich buildable color and enhanced length.
What we like: High-performance formula from a brand known for quality products. Its touch of color can be worn without adding mascara. Defines lashes. Gel formula is water-resistant.
What we dislike: Flimsy applicator brush. Dries slowly.
Ana Sanchez is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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