Eye primer showdown! Urban Decay, Nars and Too Faced

Eye primers, are they really necessary? Well, if you usually use eyeliners and cream shadows, then probably not. But if you use powder shadows, this is where they shine. Ever been disappointed that vivid blue or orange in the pan just look sheer and watered down on the lid? Ever rubbed your eyes and end up taking off half of the makeup? or going to a sad movie or anywhere you know you probably will end up crying but still want to wear makeup without black streaks running down? use a primer! Just a little dot smoothed over the lid will ensure your eye makeup looks pretty and stay pretty throughout the day.


Please excuse the dirty smudgey finger marks on the Nars primer, which is from back when I tested for the best way to DIY eyeliner from eyeshadow (using water, vaseline and primer). Nars, Urban Decay and Too Faced has been raved many times by many people as the best primer. Since I’ve got all 3 of them here, might as well test it out. To test how good the primer is, I judged it base on the color intensity and if it’s smudge/waterproof. The result…..is rather interesting.


From left to right, they are:

  • Urban Decay original
  • Nars Pro-prime smudge proof eyeshadow base
  • Too Faced Shadow Insurance

Texture: Nars is creamy, spreads easily and rubs on like a moisturizer while Urban Decay original have a slightly more silicone (dry) feel to it and rubs on like a primer. Too Faced is a tad thicker than Nars and have a slightly tacky finish.

Testing: I applied Urban Decay eyeliner, Tarte black eyeshadow, and a MUFE glittery blue eyeshadow to the primed area. All of which are gently swatched twice. First, I gently wiped the area with a tissue twice. Then, I wet and pressed out the water from a tissue then gently wiped the area twice. Lastly, I just rinsed and liberally scrubbed the area with water. EyePrimer3

Color intensity: Because Too Faced have a more tacky/grippy finish, the eyeshadow’s color is more intense on Too Faced primer than UD or Nars. Perhaps due to the smooth finish of the Nars primer, it did not work well with the waxy and creamy eyeliner, so the color of the eyeliner is a bit less intense than on other primers. HOWEVER, when I wiped with a tissue (to test smudgeproof-ness), wiped with wet tissue and rinse/scrubbed the area, the Nars primer held onto the color of the eyeshadow the best! You can also see that the area without primer started off with almost the same color intensity as the primed areas, but definitely did not stand up to the smudge and waterproof test.

I also repeated the experiment again with a different color, a blue from Sephora, since it’s hard to see the light glittery blue above. Instead of apply immediately, I waited half minute for them to set then apply the eyeshadow and eyeliner. It is more difficult to tell here with the lighting, but the colors are more intense over the primed area and more long lasting. Altho Nars still made the colors last the longest, as you can see from the eyeliner after I did 10 wipes with cleansing water.


Conclusion: Interestingly, what I found is that if you are going for intensity, Too Faced primer and Urban Decay are slightly better than Nars, which is a bit too smooth. But when it comes to smudge/waterproof test, if you want something to last through the rain/tear/day, Nars held onto the color until the bitter end even when the colors over UD/Too Faced have disappeared. However, because Urban Decay might flake when over applied and Too Faced have a more grippy/tacky finish, I’m not sure if they will work well on eyes with lots of crease. ALL of the primers performed better than bare skin and definitely made a difference in color intensity and works to  smudge/waterproof your eye makeup. If you want smooth surface for difficult to blend eyeshadow and longlasting colors, then Nars. If you are looking for intensity, then UD or Too Faced.

Also, you definitely need a makeup remover BEFORE cleanser when wearing primer, because none of the 3 primed swatches bulged at all when I washed the area with my Origins Checks and Balance cleanser while the swatch over bare skin came off fine. Also, it took ~3-5 wipes of cleansing water to take off the swatch over bare skin, but ~10 wipes for primed area.


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