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Have you heard? The solution to short, stubby, and straight-facing lashes may be as simple as swiping on the best eyelash primer. While some beauty products aren’t necessarily essential to your routine, they can certainly make life a little better — and we consider eyelash primers perfectly fitting of that description.
Our Top Picks:
- Best Overall: Tarte Opening Act Lash Primer, $25
- Best for Lengthening: Lancôme Cils Booster XL Super-Enhancing Mascara Base, $30
- Best Drugstore: L’Oreal Paris Voluminous Primer Mascara, $9
- Best for Separation: Too Faced Better Than Sex Foreplay Mascara Primer, $29
- Best Waterproof: Grande Cosmetics GrandePrimer Pre-Mascara Lengthener & Thickener, $25
Much like a foundation primer for your skin or a heat protectant for your hair, eyelash primers are a preliminary first step for your lash routine that helps prepare them for a smoother mascara application, says Tonya Riner, a makeup artist based in Houston, Texas. Beyond making things a little less clumpy, eyelash primers can add volume, length, definition, and fullness to the lashes. According to Riner, the lightweight eyelash formulas of today offer added benefits for the overall health of your lashes (à la moisturizing and nourishing waxes, vitamins, and peptides), making the extra step worthwhile. Eyelash primers also provide mascara with an even more substantial base to cling on to (more so than your bare lashes), which can help make your favorite mascara more long-lasting and prevent it from flaking onto your undereye area, says Martin N. Zaiac, MD, a board-certified dermatologist of Greater Miami Skin and Laser Center.
To apply an eyelash primer, start with clean, dry lashes. After curling them, apply one coat of the primer in an even layer from the base to the tips, making sure to use “feather-like strokes to ensure that each lash has an even amount for a clean, separated look,” says Riner. Allow the primer to dry thoroughly before adding your favorite mascara and voilà! Perfectly prepped lashes.
Below, find nine of our favorite eyelash primer formulas to apply pre-mascara.
Best Overall: Tarte Opening Act Lash Primer
Why It’s Worth It: Fine hairs won’t stand a chance against the Tarte Opening Act Lash Primer, which is a beast when it comes to bold, eye-catching lashes. It’s fortified with cellulose (to thicken) and carnauba wax (a harder wax that intensely lengthens as it glides on). And, because you’ll never want to be without it, it comes in a nifty travel size fit for jet setters.
Editor Tip: It’s ophthalmologist-tested, so those with sensitive eyes can wear it.
Key Ingredients: Cellulose, carnauba wax, olive esters, vitamin C | Who It’s For: People with short, sparse lashes
Best for Lengthening: Lancôme Cils Booster XL Super-Enhancing Mascara Base
Why It’s Worth It: Get ready for your most seamless mascara application yet. The Lancôme Cils Booster XL Super-Enhancing Mascara Base, an Allure 2021 Best of Beauty winner, ensures spider-like lashes are a non-issue. Its formulation reduces clumping and offers even separation and length, all while boasting a nourishing formula that’s chock-full of vitamin E.
Editor Tip: This primer works best when mascara is applied while it’s still wet.
Key Ingredients: Vitamin E | Who It’s For: People who prefer length over volume
Best for Layering: Maybelline New York Lash Sensational Sky High Tinted Primer
Why It’s Worth It: Take your eye makeup to new heights with the Maybelline New York Lash Sensational Sky High Tinted Primer, a 2023 Allure Best of Beauty winner that scores major points for its versatility. It has a tint that can be worn on its own for a more minimal makeup look or layered underneath a mascara for dramatic length.
Editor Tip: The formula takes a page out of the skin-care book by incorporating ceramides, which create a protective barrier on the lashes to shield them from potential mascara-induced breakage.
Key Ingredients: Ceramides, carnauba wax, jojoba oil | Who It’s For: People looking for a multi-use primer that can be worn in different ways
Best for Separation: Too Faced Better Than Sex Foreplay Mascara Primer
Why It’s Worth It: For those part of the Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara fandom, the brand’s Foreplay Mascara Primer is a logical next addition to your makeup bag — especially if you’re looking for the best eyelash primer for separation. Nylon fibers add mega length and fullness to even the tiniest of lash hairs while argan and grapeseed oils work synergistically to strengthen and condition lashes. The curved wand is notable, too — use the outer part if you’re looking for a volume booster and the inner part for separation.
Editor Tip: Apply using a sweeping motion for separation and a wiggling motion for volume.
Key Ingredients: Argan oil, grapeseed oil | Who It’s For: People whose lashes are prone to clumping
Best Waterproof: Grande Cosmetics GrandePrimer Pre-Mascara Lengthener & Thickener
Why It’s Worth It: Fibers and peptides and waxes, oh my! The Grande Cosmetics GrandePrimer Pre-Mascara Lengthener & Thickener has all of the above, which is a major checkmark in the pro column according to Riner. “Formulations with waxes maintain the flexibility of your lashes while reducing clumping,” she says. “When combined with fibers, they strike a perfect balance between lengthening and volumizing.” And, because it’s smudge-proof and waterproof, it can be applied on the lower lashes with no worries of flaking.
Editor Tip: Apply on both the bottom lashes (while eyes are open) and top lashes (while eyes are closed) for best results.
Key Ingredients: Peptides, beeswax, carnauba wax | Who It’s For: People with damaged, breakage-prone lashes
Best Fluffing: L’Oréal Paris Voluminous Primer Mascara
Why It’s Worth It: Fluffy, healthy lashes at a wallet-friendly price tag is possible, as evidenced by the L’Oréal Paris Voluminous Primer Mascara, which we think is one of the best eyelash primers you can find at the drugstore. Think of the two-in-one mascara primer as a push-up bra for your lashes, complete with a flexible brush that helps prep your lashes for a world of volume. It also uses a medley of waxes (like jojoba) to condition.
Editor Tip: The lightweight formula is a great first step for those who like to cocktail their mascaras.
Key Ingredients: Beeswax, carnauba wax, jojoba oil | Who It’s For: People strapped for time, since it dries quickly
Best for Even Application: Blinc Black Lash Primer
Why It’s Worth It: The beauty of the Blinc Black Lash Primer is in the brush, which is unassuming at first glance, but features a slight cone shape that makes it simple to tackle tough-to-reach areas like the inner and outer corners. The formula is equally as memorable: It’s infused with vitamin b5 and vitamin E.
Editor Tip: This can be used on lashes and brows for a one-two punch of fullness all around.
Key Ingredients: Vitamin B5, vitamin E | Who It’s For: People who want to condition their lashes as they prime
Best Mascara-Primer Duo: RevitaLash Double-Ended Volume Primer and Mascara Set
Why It’s Worth It: There’s no excuse for less-than-perfect lashes when this duo from RevitaLash is involved. One end features a blue-tinted voluminous lash primer (which can be worn on its own) while the other is a jet-black mascara. Together, the two make for unbeatable length, volume, and curl, all while supporting the health of your lashes with ingredients like nourishing peptides, polymers, and biotin.
Editor Tip: The blue-tinted primer gives your natural lashes a long-lasting boost even if you wear it sans mascara.
Key Ingredients: Peptides, polymers, biotin | Who It’s For: People who want a no-fuss set
Best for Darkening: Pacifica Vegan Collagen Lash Serum Primer
Why It’s Worth It: It sounds counterintuitive to apply a white eyelash primer onto your lashes but hear us out. Riner says that the contrast between white primer and black mascara helps showcase your mascara’s deepest, blackest hue. The result: pitch-black lashes in an instant. But the formula doesn’t just stop there — it contains a healthy dose of vegan collagen (to support growth) and vitamin E, which Dr. Zaiac says hydrates the lash hairs and can even help curb breakage.
Editor Tip: The formula is vegan and cruelty-free, so it will fit most routines.
Key Ingredients: Vegan collagen, vitamin E | Who It’s For: Those with naturally light lashes
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