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The Eyeshadow Primer That Actually Works (and Makes My Makeup Pop)

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Main image – @urbandecaycosmetics/Instagram

As someone who doesn’t think too highly of primers, you might be wondering why I’m dedicating a whole article to one. But there are two kinds – a face primer and an eyeshadow primer. 

A face primer, in my opinion, does not help to enhance your base, nor make it last much longer. You’re much better off doing a really good skincare routine and not wasting your money on that extra step (although some experts disagree.) 

But an eyeshadow primer on the other hand…! Now there’s a primer I can really get on board with. Because anything that makes my eyeshadow stay exactly where I put it and not let it go halfway up my face gets my vote. 

There are some good ones, and there are some not so good ones. But keep scrolling to discover the truly great one that has been a staple item in my makeup bag for over a decade. 



Image – @urbandecaycosmetics/Instagram


Shocking behaviour

I have a confession to make. Last year, I held a party for my 40th birthday. I wore a sequin dress, some incredibly high heels and a very smoky eye. It was fabulous.

We danced, we sang, we got merry. So much so, that when I got home in the early hours of the morning, it must have slipped my mind to take my makeup off*. Bad beauty editor. 

[*I was too merry to remember]

When I got up the next morning, I tiptoed sheepishly to the bathroom to look in the mirror, expecting to witness the makeup version of the apocalypse. To my astonishment, my eye makeup was… erm, flawless. 

OK, my eyelashes had gone a bit skew-whiff. But other than that, my smoky eye was still very much intact. There it was in its shimmery, sultry glory, willing me to get back on that dance floor. The party, for my eye makeup at least, was definitely not over.

There could only be one reason for why this happened. I mean, unless I’d slept motionless on my back all night. But judging by the large creases on each side of my face and the regretful bronzer streaks on my pillow, let’s just agree that didn’t happen. 

Regrets aside, I remembered. Of course! Before putting on any eye makeup the evening before I had, as always, applied my favourite eyeshadow primer – Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion (£19.50 from Boots UK /$21 from Urban Decay US).


Image – @urbandecaycosmetics/Instagram


The last time I’d slept in my makeup would have been in my pre-beauty editor era. The days when I didn’t know any better (yup, this time I should have.) But back then, I wouldn’t have known about this wonder product, which is why I’d wake up with what looked like two black eyes the next morning. 

But not this time! My eye makeup was ready to disco.


Magic potion

Contained in a little tube, Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion is applied with a doe foot applicator, much like a lip gloss, only without the gloss. The product itself is a nude-coloured, silicone based cream. 

The shade I use is ‘Original’ which is a matte finish but there is also ‘Sin’ available which is a nude shimmer. 

I use the applicator to slick it all over my eyelids, then I use my finger to blend it in a little as it can be quite wet. You don’t want to rub it in though, or even smear it too much with your finger. 

Dab it instead, just enough to know it’s blended evenly across the eyelid and still has plenty of tackiness for an eyeshadow to stick to. 


Image – Urban Decay


The results

When applying a powder eyeshadow over the top, you might notice it feels slightly harder to sweep on. That’s normal, but try and dab your eyeshadow powder on instead. With a cream or eyeshadow stick though, it glides on easily.

You might also notice that the colour of your eyeshadow looks more vibrant with the primer on underneath. That’s because wearing an even base colour that’s a bit lighter than your skin tone will naturally make any eyeshadow colour you apply over it, pop. 

It’s a bit like painting a room. If you were to paint a bright blue shade onto a black wall, it wouldn’t look as vibrant as if you were to paint it onto a white wall.

And then there’s the longevity. Crucially, you should notice that your eyeshadow doesn’t budge with this primer on. Whilst some eyeshadows might crease and move up to your eyebrows by lunchtime, this primer stops it in its tracks and keeps it in place. All day. (And, er, all night. ONCE! It happened once.)

It helps with eye liner too. I always apply a bit of liner along my top lash line after applying eyeshadow and this stays in place when wearing the primer too. It’s a little tube of genius. 


The takeaway

This is not an article to reassure readers that it’s ok to sleep with your eye makeup on. Do not try this at home! Your skin needs to be properly cleansed before bed so that it can regenerate overnight and your eyes need a break too. 

But when a girl turns 40, she wants to dance the night away and rebel just a teeny bit. You know, against all the adulting. Plus, it made for a thorough test of this eyeshadow primer. 

And it sure does tick all the boxes. No creasing – check! No budging – check! Makes eyeshadow pop – check! No need to touch-up (or clear up) eye makeup during the day – check!

This is one primer I’d highly recommend investing in. 


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Beauty Editor

The former Beauty Editor of Glamour UK, Philippa has been a beauty and lifestyle journalist for over 16 years, picking up countless tips and tricks from makeup artists, hair stylists, dermatologists and celebrities. In that time she’s written for names like Cosmopolitan, The Sunday Times Style, The Telegraph, Grazia, Refinery 29 and Byrdie. Philippa lives in the UK with her husband, two children and their hyperactive cockapoo, Paddy.

Expertise: Makeup, hair care
Education: Oxford Brookes University

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