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The 5 Best Mascara Primers

By Marissa DeSantis

If you've finally found your holy grail mascara, but are still looking for a bit more lift, curl, or volume, it might be time to invest in an eyelash primer. Lash primers are also great for extending the wear of your mascara; some can even offer a waterproof base coating. But depending on the type of mascara you use, your definition of the best mascara primer might vary. Ahead, a guide to your top options — but first, a quick debrief on the different types of lash primers out there.

Most traditional mascara primers are either white or transparent, which creates a base for your mascara without messing up its pigment; this also makes it easy to ensure that every single lash has been coated. You can also find primers that are tinted, which might be preferable over mascara on days when you want just a subtle wash of color.

If you have dry or brittle lashes, look for a primer that contains conditioning ingredients. Since many mascaras tend to produce a stiff or crunchy effect, using a nourishing primer first can help keep your lashes healthy and soft. On the opposite end of the spectrum, there are primers that turn any mascara waterproof, for those after absolutely won't-budge eye makeup.

Scroll on for five of the best eyelash primers you can buy right now.

1. The Best Drugstore Mascara Primer

For a drugstore primer that really works, L'Oréal Paris Voluminous Lash Primer has more than 1,000 five-star reviews on Amazon. Ophthalmologist-tested and deemed suitable for sensitive eyes, this lightweight primer works to build volume and length on every lash just before you apply your mascara of choice. L'Oréal has even added conditioning ingredients like jojoba oil into the formula to nourish lashes while giving them a boost.

One reviewer raves, "I typically use waterproof mascara but the curl effect wears off after about an hour, my lashes basically start dropping so I have to recurl a few times throughout the day.... This product has eliminated my problems so it saves me a ton a time! ... It make the lash hairs thicker, separates the hairs (helping to fill the gaps making lashes look fuller) and it helps mascara adhere easily and evenly!"

2. The Best Prestige Mascara Primer

The classic Clinique Lash Building Primer does everything you could want in a primer: It conditions lashes, enhances length, and extends your mascara's wear. To help maintain soft, feathery lashes post-mascara removal, Clinique included glycerin and panthenol in the formula which moisturize even the most dried-out lashes. It's also made without parabens, phthalates, or fragrance, making it safe for use near sensitive eyes.

"It keeps my mascara on all day with none rubbing off below my eyelashes," one reviewer reports, while another says, "I have short thin eyelashes and using this gives them length and volume before using mascara."

3. The Best Tinted Mascara Primer

For a your-lashes-but-better look, Benefit's They're Real! Tinted Primer offers a two-in-one approach. The lengthening and separating formula comes in a mink brown color so you can wear it alone for defined lashes or use it as the first step in your amplifying routine. The lightweight gel primer is also water-resistant and formulated with pro-vitamin B5 to prevent your lashes from feeling dry or crunchy.

"For me, this is less a primer and more a daytime mascara," shares one reviewer. "I'm blond(ish), so I find that the tint emphasizes and defines my lashes with a natural look that fits my lifestyle (over 40, working mom). BUT if I do get to take my lashes out at the end of the day, I can add a black mascara on top and get a dramatic evening look. Just a fabulous product, especially if you are fair and don't want to look like you have false eyelashes on at a 9am meeting or playdate."

4. The Best Mascara Primer & Mascara In One

If you hate the thought of adding yet another product to your routine but still love a faux lash look, Honest Beauty's Extreme Length Mascara + Primer has got you (and your lashes) covered. The dual-ended wand features a mini lash primer on one side to lengthen lashes, and a bigger mascara brush on the other which further lengthens, lifts, and imparts a rich black color. Both the primer and the mascara are free of parabens, paraffins, silicones, mineral oil, and synthetic fragrances, making this one of the safest choices for people with allergies and/or sensitive eyes.

"This is the best mascara I’ve ever used," says one customer. "I love the included primer. My favorite thing is I’ve always had problems with my mascara getting all over the bottom of my eyes. But with this it stays put all day and it never moves so at night when I take it off it still looks exactly like I just put it on in the morning!"

5. A Pre- & Post-Coat Primer That Makes Any Mascara Waterproof

There isn't much this Etude House Dr. Mascara Fixer can't do. The clear gel can be applied on bare lashes that have just been curled to thicken and define them while locking in their curled shape. After you apply your mascara, you can add another layer of this gel to achieve a waterproof finish that also prevents flaking and smudging all day long. You can even use this on its own on no-makeup makeup days, as the black bean extract included in the formula gives lashes a glossy, healthy finish.

"I absolutely LOVE this primer! I have stick straight lashes and this base holds my curl through rain, sweat, humidity, and tears. Curl does NOT budge or fall. Paired with [mascara], my lashes are set for the day and nothing comes off or smudges until I remove it in the evening for bedtime," raves one fan.

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