What is Eyelash Primer?

Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel

Eyelash primer is a beauty product that is applied to the eyelashes before mascara. It is designed to create more surface area for the mascara to cover, making the eyelashes look thicker and longer. Most kinds of primer are sold along with an accompanying mascara, sometimes as two matching tubes or one long tube with mascara wands on either end. In the second instance, the cosmetic tube has a barrier in the center to keep the mascara from mixing with the primer.

Eyelash primers help eyelashes look fuller.
Eyelash primers help eyelashes look fuller.

Some eyelash primer is sold without accompanying mascara, and it is formulated to work well with most mascaras. In some cases, these kinds of primer include small fibers that clump around the eyelash in order to maximize the additional surface area on which the mascara will be applied. In so doing, the product makes each lash thicker while also making it look as though the number of eyelashes have increased.

A woman wearing eyelash primer and mascara.
A woman wearing eyelash primer and mascara.

The benefit of using a primer that is not packaged with mascara is that it can be used with almost any other eyelash product. This is useful for people who like to use multiple shades of mascara on a regular basis. People who like to use mascaras with different kinds of finishes — such as matte or glossy — on a regular basis may also prefer it.

Some people use clear mascara as a primer for darker, colored mascara.
Some people use clear mascara as a primer for darker, colored mascara.

In most cases, eyelash primer is white, and the color of the primer is covered when mascara is applied. One of the benefits of this color is that it is easier to see where the primer has been applied, especially for people who have naturally dark lashes. Then, every bit of the primer can be covered with mascara for the illusion of longer, thicker, darker lashes.

Using old mascara can introduce bacteria into the eyes and cause serious health problems.
Using old mascara can introduce bacteria into the eyes and cause serious health problems.

The price of eyelash primer varies. Mascara that comes packaged along with the primer is often more expensive than regular mascara, and such packaged sets can be anywhere from 25% to 100% more expensive than mascara that is sold alone. Some high-end cosmetics companies charge much more for primer than the prices that are found on similar brands that are commonly sold in drug stores.

Using eye makeup that is older than three months old may increase the chances of contracting an eye infection.
Using eye makeup that is older than three months old may increase the chances of contracting an eye infection.
Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel

In addition to her work as a freelance writer for wiseGEEK, Diane is the executive editor of Black Lawrence Press, an independent publishing company based in upstate New York. She has also edited several anthologies, the e-newsletter Sapling, and The Adirondack Review. Diane has a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College and an M.A. from Brooklyn College.

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Discussion Comments


@sinbad - I did not know they had $45 brands! That seems so expensive for just a primer! But I guess one does need a good foundation on which to paint on mascara.

Anywho, I have read the reviews for twenty something dollar primers in trying to find which one I should try (these primers are available at beauty stores such as Ulta or department stores such as Macy's, I did not see that you could get them at any drug stores).

It seems to be the same deal as your experience with the five to fifteen dollar mascara primers. One of the primers even in the twenty dollar range was clumpy while another received rave review after rave review with very few about being clumpy.

Also I have heard that if you do not take the eyelash primer off before you go to bed then the primer could make your eyelash stiff enough to break off while you sleep!


I bought and eyelash primer plus mascara combination accidentally once and I have not gone back to just mascara yet!

I love the thickness the primer gives to my lashes and it seems I do not have to spend as much time putting mascara and because it makes my lashes look thicker my eyes look brighter with it on.

However, I must say that I have noticed that all drugstore brands in the $5 to $15 dollar range of eyelash primer plus mascara are not created equal. One of the primers I bought made my lashes clumpy rather than thick.

So now in reading this article and learning that there are also primers that can cost as much as $45, I am curious. At $45 dollars a pop can you tell a dramatic difference and if so what is in the $45 brand?!


I tried using eyelash primer once, and though it did what it was supposed to do, the mascara did not look good on my eyes. I guess I should have known better than to use it, because my lashes are naturally quite thick.

The primer did increase the area that mascara could cling to, and my lashes appeared much thicker once I swiped on the black mascara. However, they were so thick that they reminded me of spider legs. They looked fake.

I would definitely recommend eyelash primer to people with unnoticeable lashes, because used in conjunction with mascara, it thickens them dramatically. I will be staying away from both products from now on, though.


I have used many mascaras and primers in my search for the perfect one, and I finally found one I am happy with. Since this is the only brand I will buy from now until forever, I am perfectly fine with paying extra for the primer to be included in the tube.

Every mascara I had used previously either caked up too much, was too dry, or smeared too easily. When I found one that clung perfectly to its primer in one coat, did not cake up, and never seemed to dry out, I became a devoted fan.

One end of the tube houses the primer and its brush, and the other end holds the black mascara and wand. Instead of skimping on the product and making the tube the same size as one of regular mascara, the company elongated the tube to hold the same amount of mascara and primer as the ones sold separately.


Eyelash primer can be used alone for a dramatic effect. That’s what my friend did on Halloween. The white primer helped her look more like the fairy she was trying to be.

She wore a glittery white dress with sparkly wings. She sprayed her hair white with a product made for use in costumes, and she finished it off with glitter spray.

Her white eyelashes gave her a magical look. After she applied the white primer, she sprinkled some loose glitter on the ends of her lashes. She really did appear to have flown straight out of a fairy tale.


I have several tubes of mascara in shades of blue, black, and even purple. Each one is also a different brand. So, it was more economical for me to buy a separate primer that would work with all my mascaras.

When I use the primer, I only have to apply one coat of black or blue mascara. If I use more than that, it looks too thick, because my eyelashes are not that thin.

If I use the purple mascara, I apply two coats. It has a thinner consistency than the other shades, and it is also a bit lighter.


Once I began using an eyelash primer on a regular basis, I never wanted to be without it. One of the things I like best is that it helps define the lashes, so applying mascara becomes much easier.

I also have light eyelashes, and by applying the white primer first, I feel I get more even coverage when I apply my mascara.

I always use the same shade of mascara, so it doesn't have an effect on the color of mascara I use. Paying a little bit more for the primer is worth the money to me. I don't think you use as much mascara either because you don't have to put on as many coats.


If you have very light or thin eyelashes, then you would really benefit from using an eyelash primer. I don't have much for eyelashes, so every little bit makes a difference for me.

Because of having such light eyelashes, I am one of those people who really looks different if I don't have mascara on.

Once my friends husband thought I wasn't wearing my glasses. The funny thing was - I don't even wear glasses. He just knew there was something different, but couldn't put his finger on it.

When I use an eyelash primer before applying my mascara, not only does it seem to make my lashes thicker and fuller, but it also stays on for a longer period of time.


@indemnifyme - I tried eyelash primer and I didn't really think it made too much of a difference. My eye lashes are fairly thick though, so maybe this is a product that makes a bigger difference if your lashes are very thin.


One of my friends has very thin lashes and she swears by eyelash primer. The primer just adds a little extra "oomph" to the mascara that makes a big difference if your eye lashes are very thin.

One warning though: it's a little bit harder to get mascara with primer off your eyelashes than just regular mascara. My friend likes to use a pretty strong eye makeup remover when she uses the primer.


When you are buying eyelash primer it is a really good idea to try and visit a store that has a good variety of samples in stock. I have found some eyelash primer to be way to sticky and clumpy. One brand I bought, no matter what I did, it would just fasten my eyelashes together. I wanted dramatic lashes, but not five or six strikingly separate lashes.

I guess it all comes down to trial and error. I eventually found one eyelash primer that seemed to be thinner. It did the job without making my eyelashes look too unnatural. I love a little boost to my makeup, but I hate looking overly made up.


Using eyelash primer is really important if you want your eyes to stand out and look fantastic once you have your mascara on. I find that eyelash primer makes my eyelashes quite a bit longer and it is much easier to use than having to go through the hassle of putting on fake lashes.

One of the best times to use eyelash primer is if you are going for a really dramatic look and want to use another color of mascara besides black or brown. I have some amazing red mascara that I like to use sometimes and it really stands out with the extra length the eyelash primer gives me.

Just a word of warning though, with colored mascaras sometimes you have to really work to cover the white of the eyelash primer.

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