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Eyeshadow Primer Comparison V3.0

My first big Eyeshadow Primer comparison was written in November 2009 (seems like such a long time ago!) and compared 7 primers. My second eyeshadow comparison in June 2010 compared a whopping 10!

This comparison pits my reigning champion, Holy Grail Too Faced Shadow Insurance, against two new contenders, NARS Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base and Nyx HD Eye Shadow Base.

The four eyeshadow colors I chose for this comparison are:

Fyrinnae Futuristic Glamrock – A gorgeous bright sky blue with strong green sheen. Closer to light, the green sheen becomes violet, giving it a strong lavender highlight. Metallic & sparkly.
BftE Lava Momma – bright hot fuchsia with pink iridescence.
Sugarpill Dollipop – vibrant, matte hot pink.
Urban Decay Fishnet – iridescent purple.

Too Faced Shadow Insurance Ingredients:
Isododecane,Talc, Cyclopentasiloxane, Disteardimonium Hectorite, Trimethylsiloxysilicate, Glyceryl Triethylhexanoate, Polyethylene, Trihydroxystearin, Sorbitan Sesquioleate, Isopropyl Lanolate, VP/Eicosene Copolymer, Propylene Carbonate, Dimethicone, PEG-40 Stearate, Phenoxyethanol, Tocopherol. May Contain (+/-): Mica, Bismuth Oxychloride (CI 77163), Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891), Iron Oxides (CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499).

NARS Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base Ingredients:
Isododecane, Talc, Cyclopentasiloxane, Disteardimonium Hectorite, Vp/Eicosene Copolymer, Dimethicone, Cetyl Ethylhexanoate, Cyclohexasiloxane, Sorbitan Sesquioleate, Trimethylsiloxysilicate, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Propylene Carbonate, Peg-40 Stearate, Sorbitan Olivate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Cera Alba (Beeswax), Phenoxyethanol, Diethylhexyl Syringylidenemalonate, Oryza Sativa [Oryza Sativa (Rice) Bran Oil Extract], Triethoxycaprylylsilane, Castor Oil Phosphate, Sea Whip Extract, Mica, Ci 77891 (Titanium Dioxide), Ci 77163 (Bismuth Oxychloride).
-Blend of Polymer and Mineral Powders (Mica Titanium Dioxide and a clay derivative): Deliver a firm grip on color.
-Deep Sea Extract: A naturally occurring marine extract. It’s an anti-inflammatory ingredient that is harvested from deep in the Atlantic Ocean.
-Rice Bran Extract: A multi-functional natural ingredient derived from rice bran oil.

Nyx HD Eye Shadow Base Ingredients:
Isododecane, Talc, Beeswax, Dimethicone, Disteardimonium Hectorite, Cyclopentasiloxane, Trimethylsiloxysilicate, VP/Eicosene Copolymer, Propylene Carbonate, Sorbitan Sesquioleate, Phenoxyethanol, Phenoxyethanol/Methylparaben, Ethylparaben/Butylparaben, Propylparaben/Isobutylparaben, Colorant, Titanium Dioxide (CI77891), Iron Oxide Yellow (CI77492), Iron Oxide Black (CI77499), Iron Oxide Red (CI77491).

The ingredients are all very similar! NARS has a few extra luxe ingredients.

I applied all primers with my finger to my bare skin.
I applied all eyeshadows on the primers with a cotton swab.

The top row is NARS Smudge Proof Eyeshadow. The middle row is Too Faced Shadow Insurance. The bottom row is Nyx HD Eye Shadow Base.

The shadows from left to right are: Futuristic Glamrock – Lava Momma – Dollipop – Fishnet.

I feel that Nyx and TF look more intense than NARS. However, NARS still looks vibrant.
None of the three primers dull colors.
All three of them work well with sparkly / glittery shades, mattes and duochromes. So for me and my oily lids, they work well for all types of eyeshadows.

The Nyx primer has creased a few times, but been fine other times, when worn.
The NARS primer has not creased on me at all.
TF doesn’t crease on me at all.

The Nyx primer makes blending slightly more difficult.
The NARS primer and TF primer make blending easy.

NARS Smudge Proof Eyeshadow base is very light, nearly see through. Nyx HD Eye Shadow Base is a porcelain shade. Too Faced Shadow Insurance is a light beige shade. I don’t feel that the hue of the primers negatively affect the colors of eyeshadows. I think all three primers portray eyeshadows as very true to color.

I still love the Too Faced Shadow Insurance container. I can get just about every single drop of product out of this design. I love that!
The NARS and Nyx containers are pretty much identical. Since the design is circular, not a genie shaped bottle like Urban Decay’s original Primer Potion design, I theorize you could get almost all of the product out of the containers. That said, I still prefer the TFSI design.

Pricing and Size:
Too Faced Shadow Insurance – $18 for .35 oz (on amazon.com) – cost per one ounce $51.43
NARS Smudge Proof Eyeshadow – $24.0 for .26 oz (on amazon.com) – cost per one ounce $92.31
Nyx HD Eye Shadow Base – $6.46 for .28 oz (on amazon.com) – cost per one ounce $23.07

Too Faced Shadow Insurance Pros:
Never creases on me. Never dulls my color. Great container design. Works well with all types of shadow.

Too Faced Shadow Insurance Cons:
In my opinion, none. However, I feel I should point out that it is over twice the cost of Nyx per ounce.

NARS Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base Pros:
Never creases on me. Never dulls my color. Makes blending easy. Luxury ingredients. It’s practically colorless on the skin.

NARS Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base Cons:
It’s expensive. It’s nearly twice the cost of TFSI per ounce.

Nyx HD Eye Shadow Base Pros:
Very economical. Less than 1/2 the cost of TFSI per ounce and NARS costs nearly four times as much as Nyx.

Nyx HD Eye Shadow Base Cons:
Creases on occasion. Makes blending slightly more difficult.

Overall Winner:
For me TFSI is the clear winner.

However, both NARS Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base and Nyx HD Eye Shadow Base have their own good points. If you don’t have oily lids like mine, give the Nyx a try. The Nyx is the most economical choice of the three. If you want extra ingredients that are good for your skin, give the NARS a try.

In my opinion, these are all three great primers. Each have their own pros and cons. I feel that they’re all worth recommending.

All three get a 5 Star Rating from me.


What’s your favorite eyeshadow primer? Have you tried any of these? Which would you chose?

Products purchased by me. All opinions are my own.

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    • Danielle

      I love when you do these comparisons! Makes me feel even better about sticking to my TFSI.

      • Phyrra

        I really was pleased with this one. It was nice to see that all 3 primers performed really well. They’re at 3 different price points, but all good. And I was happy that TFSI came out on top for me :)

    • corviddreams

      I am glad to hear that Nyx performs almost as well. I do have oily lids, but I am viciously allergic to bismuth oxychloride, as in it gives me huge break outs and then my skin peel off for weeks. So it is nice to see a B.O. free primer. Most of the good ones seem to have it, alas.

      • Phyrra

        Ack! That’s an awful allergy. I hope this one will work for you.

    • http://alostgirl.wererabbit.net Misato-san

      I only tried Too Faced Shadow Insurance from this batch. It’s my holy grail too!

      • Phyrra

        It really is amazing for me :)

    • http://fiercenerditude.blogspot.com Vijaya

      TFSI is really tough to beat.

      • Phyrra

        It is! It really is!

    • http://www.outinapout.com Jessica Allison

      I’ve heard so much about Nars’ primer that I’ve been considering picking it up despite the fact that I still have plenty of TFSI and UDPP left…you’ve convinced me to at least wait until a sale rolls around!

      • Phyrra

        It’s definitely good, but worth waiting for a sale. I agree :)

    • http://perilouslypale.com Perilously Pale

      Too Faced Shadow Insurance is my favourite. I love the NARS too but at the price I’ll just stick with TF next time I think. I also have the Too Faced Glitter Glue shadow insurance which is really nice as well. It stays a bit tacky to really help more glittery eyeshadows adhere. It doesn’t morpth the shadows to the extent Pixie Epoxy does but I still love it for it’s ease of use.

      • Phyrra

        I’m glad you like it too, PP :)

    • http://sakuradesu.com sakura

      I usef TFSI and I like it a lot. I ran out of it a few weeks ago and ordered Lime Crime’s primer. I was very curious because lots of ppl said its awesome. For me it works perfect and I’m really happy with its results.

      • Phyrra

        I wonder what the ingredients are in the LC primer.

    • http://nailutopia.blogspot.com Chrissy

      Thank you for doing this comparison, my knowledge in makeup sucks! >_< But now I know what eyeshadow primer to buy! :D

      • Phyrra

        I’m glad I can help Chrissy!

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    • Criss

      Well for me Nyx and Tfei, because Nars has a parent company, that Test On animals

      • Phyrra

        Hi Criss,

        I’m not sure what you mean by TFEI.

        NARS states on their website:
        Does NARS test on animals?

        NARS does not test on animals, nor do we have any other parties, such as suppliers, conduct any animal testing on our behalf. NARS uses only the highest quality ingredients which have a proven safety record and are widely used in the cosmetics industry.

        Do NARS products contain any animal products?

        We are continually evaluating alternatives to animal-derived ingredients and have replaced many ingredients with vegetable derived substitutes. However, certain NARS products may contain animal derivatives, such as lanolin. If you would like further information as to which NARS products contain animal derivatives please contact customer care and we will provide that information.

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    • candleashes

      I’ve been using Too Faced for years. Don’t think anything is better than that.

    • Lisa Brown

      I agree about the NYX primer. Whenever I use it, and no matter how little I use, I have the hardest time blending out shadow. It seems to be always uneven when I use NYX. I love TF Shadow Insurance.

    • melissamcadle

      I’ve been wondering what the too faced primer is like…. i use only non-animal tested products… thanks for the post!

    • aitch77

      NARS is definately on my Wish List when my current lid primer is out. I think it has the consistancy I prefer as opposed to the other 2 featured.

    • macface2adore

      I have tried so very many primers from ELF, NARS, Too Faced, Michael Todd, Laura Geller on and on…I am out of my Too Faced Shadow Insurance and right now cannot afford to get a new one. Hubby had a stroke and I got laid off. I like the UDPP potion, but I find it so hard to blend and it doesn’t make everything POP as much. I appreciate it, but it doesn’t do what TFSI does and I totally agree. It is non mistakable. Thanks for the review. I am enjoying going back to read your former blog entries. Thanks again for the opportunity:)

    • Jasmine Valistreri

      I’ve tried the NARS one, TFSI, and Urban Decay’s Primer Potion and everything creases on me. Eyeshadows in brands from Burberry to Urban Decay to Fyrinnae. Nothing can stay on my oily lids for more than a few hours. I love doing my makeup in the morning but lately it’s felt a little silly since it’s a solid line of shadow by lunch. I live in Hawaii so it does get pretty warm, but this kind of wear time across the board is just absurd.

    • Sandra

      I recently got some Ben Nye LiquiSet which I’ve been using to seal my liner when I use loose powder or pressed shadows for lining. It comes in two types of packaging, one of them being a small spray bottle. It works really well. I’ve even tested it by running water over it for a couple of minutes & trying to remove it using my own makeup remover which I make. It’s a dual phase remover which has some carrier oils in it. It really makes product stay on really well. You might want to buy some of that in the sprayer and mist it over your eyes after applying your eyeshadow. If you use it while applying, it sets it completely. Which means you can’t blend it afterwards. Just mist it on after you do all your application & blending. I’m quite sure it’ll keep your eyeshadow in place. It’s not expensive either, I believe I paid less than $5 for it, and it’s not silicone based like most eyeshadow primers. So it’s quite different from typical eye primers on the market. It’s worth a shot since nothing else is working for you.

      Avon, believe it or not, also has some fat shadow pencils out now which really are quite amazing. Once they set, they don’t move. And they’re super gentle on the eyes. You could try using those under your eyeshadow and see if that works. They do have a great money back guarantee, so if they don’t work for you, you can easily get a refund. If I remember correctly, I think they come in 6 or 8 different shades. They’re also very pigmented, but can easily be blended out over the lid for a more sheer application. I picked mine up on sale for about $5 each or so. Regular price is about $9.99.

    • Bonnie C.

      I gravitated to this post right away because I also have terribly oily lids and am always trying to find primers that work. So thank you so much for posting such a comprehensive, honest review of these primers! :-)