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I’ve been using Nars eyeshadow primer for a long time. With lids like mine, it’s a necessity. Eyeliner runs amok, shadow migrates to creases, and by the end of the day, I look like a hot mess. I realize we all have unrealistic expectations of our makeup. Obviously, if you want to look perfect all day, you have to bring a little cosmetic bag with you for touchups throughout the day. Celebrities have makeup artists, and photo shoots are nowhere near reality. However, if you’re like me, and you have a job where taking a minute to touchup your makeup is sometimes out of the question, having some insurance against makeup meltdown is a must!

With my engagement photos approaching (yes, Emery’s getting married!), and a tube of Nars that didn’t make it through a makeup bag fall, I was in desperate need of an eyeshadow primer that would give me some staying power. What a perfect opportunity for a product head-to-head! I dragged the future Mr. Emery to Sephora and picked up some best-sellers: Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion, Nars Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base, and Stila Prime Pot. As a control, I used the same MAC gel eyeliner and Bobbi Brown eyeshadows with each primer.

Sometimes I put too much faith in other peoples’ reviews. I had heard that Urban Decay, despite their younger target market, was one of the best eyeshadow primers out there. There is some serious hype out there about the Urban Decay, and I figured, if it’s got five stars on Sephora.com, maybe there’s something to it. The morning of my engagement photos, I slicked on a small amount of the Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion. I liked the texture, it was creamy and slid on easily. Applying liner and shadow over it was a breeze. Then, on our drive to Half Moon Bay, my eyes started watering. Nars makes my eyes water a bit, so I was expecting this might be the case, but I wasn’t expecting this amount of watering. By the time we got to our shooting location, my shadow and liner was gone on the outer half of my eye, and the liner was a greasy mess on inner corner (unrelated to the watering). Luckily, I had brought my makeup with me and was able to salvage my smoky eye, but the Urban Decay let me down. For someone who does not have sensitive eyes, perhaps this formula would work. The behavior of my gel eyeliner, even after the watering had subsided, would make me a bit skeptical about that though. After doing a bit of research, I found that Urban Decay has changed their packaging, and there is some suspicion that the formula may have changed with it. Many claim it no longer works the same magic it once did. I don’t like writing negative reviews, but I simply cannot endorse this primer. Even Mr. Emery quipped, “Urban Decay? Well, they got the decay right!”

On a more positive note, Nars Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base has had its place in my cosmetic bag for years now. While it does make my eyes water a bit (apparently, I have sensitive eyes), my shadow and liner usually only fades minimally as a result. Once the watering subsides, though, my shadow stays pretty well. At the very end of a long day, some eyeliner may migrate, but overall, its a pretty good primer. I’d say especially if you don’t have sensitive eyes, this would be a great option for you. It applies easily, and a little goes a very long way. If you apply too much, it can work against you and make shadow more difficult to apply and cause creasing later. So just make sure you only use a little. I usually use the applicator to apply a small amount to my ring fingers and gently blend it into my lids. I wait for it to dry, and then apply my eye makeup as usual. When it does make my eyes water, it’s always the outer corners, so I may have to blend my eyeliner a bit to touch up while my eyes adjust to the product.

Now, I’ve saved the best for last. The product that is going to bump the Nars right out of my makeup bag: Stila Prime Pot. If the Nars didn’t make my eyes water, it would be a tie, but the Stila does not irritate my eyes in the least. Again, you don’t need much. I tapped the product with my ring finger and applied a small amount to my lids. If I need more, I can always build up, but it’s easier to add more product than take it away. Once my makeup was done, it stayed put all day. I even tested it through an intense workout, and even my dripping sweat was no match! My eyeshadow and liner was still exactly where I had put it. Any minor migration was easily fixed with the tip of my finger. Stila Prime Pot is great for sensitive eyes, and when used properly, won’t disappoint. An added bonus is that it comes in two colors, and if you’re not into wearing makeup one day, worn alone, it evens out skin tone and adds a bit of polish to your look. Big fan! I used the color Taffy, which compliments lighter skin tones well.

After trying all three eyeshadow primers, I’ll be returning the Nars and Urban Decay. If I could track down the old version of the Urban Decay, I’d love to give it a try. I just can’t believe that a product with all that hype could really let me down so much. If you don’t have trouble with your eyes watering when wearing makeup, and you would prefer a product that does not have any pigment in it, go with the Nars. Otherwise, the Stila Prime Pot is awesome. All products can be found at Sephora.

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