All great eye makeup looks begin with a great eyeshadow primer: It’s the only way to lay down the foundation for liner, shadow, and mascara that lasts without creasing, smudging, caking, or making its slow descent down your face until you’ve got a smokey eye practically down to your chin by late afternoon. Fortunately, the best eyeshadow primers out there aren’t necessarily the ones that cost the most. In fact, these 5 are our very favorites, and each one rings in at under $30, so you can go right ahead and put the money you save toward your next eyeshadow purchase.
The original Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion has all the makings of a cult classic: it's ultra sheer, lasts all day long, and really works to keep shadow from creasing without drying out the sensitive skin in the eye area.
Low-maintenance ladies will love the ease of Almay Intense i-Color Liquid Shadow + Color Primer. Not only is it one of the best primers we've tried at such an affordable drugstore price point—no smudging, fading, or creasing—but the formula comes in four different shades, each one designed to complement a different eye color. Genius.
If you have oily lids that get in the way of your liners and shadows working their best, NARS Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base is the only way to go. It dries down instantly to a powdery finish, so you can apply makeup immediately after, and it'll keep your lids dry and makeup intact from application to removal.
Save room in your makeup bag (the tube is fun-sized!) and time getting ready in the morning with bareMinerals Prime Time Brightening Eyelid Primer, which imparts a sheer iridescent sheen to give the eye area a radiant, wide-awake look. This formula is particularly wonderful for sensitive eyes, as it's super gentle and non-irritating.