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Shopping for an eyelash primer might initially seem like it’d be easier than shopping for the perfect mascara — but soon enough, you’ll see that there are just as many options to choose from. To make your life easier, you’ll find the best drugstore eyelash primers rounded up ahead. They all cost less than $20, and they’ll all make your mascara last a lot longer, but each one offers its own unique benefits, so depending on what exactly it is that you’re hoping to get from your primer, some may be better suited to your needs than others. For example, a few of the options on this list are great for boosting volume; one can make any mascara waterproof; and another combines both mascara and primer in one. Or if the only thing you care about is saving as much money as possible (so, you know, you can prioritize splurging on a new tube of Diorshow instead), there’s a primer on this list that costs just $5.
Regardless of which primer you choose, most eyelash primers have a few things in common. Mainly, eyelash primers should be followed soon after by your mascara, before the primer fully dries. Otherwise, it might make it harder for your mascara to go on clump-free. And use the product sparingly — a thin layer is all you need.
That’s really the only tip you need to know. Beyond that, using a lash primer couldn’t be easier. So scroll on to shop five of the best mascara primers for under $20, all conveniently available on Amazon.
1. The Fan-Favorite
A fan favorite both on the internet and IRL, L'Oreal’s Voluminous Primer Base has been awarded over 20,000 five-star ratings by Amazon shoppers thus far. The formula is made with conditioning ingredients like rosehip oil, jojoba oil, and beeswax to nourish your lashes, but it also works to boost your mascara so your lashes look thicker and longer. Pair it with L’Oreal’s best-selling Voluminous Original mascara for the fullest, fluffiest lashes of your dreams.
2. Another Popular (& Even Cheaper) Drugstore Primer
Another great and even cheaper drugstore eyelash primer (it rings up at just under $5 on Amazon), essence Volume Booster Lash Primer uses açaí oil and mango butter to soften and care for dry, brittle lashes. Amp up the volume even further by pairing it with the brand’s cult-favorite Lash Princess False Lash Effect Mascara. Like the L’Oreal primer, this goes on white but appears invisible under any color mascara.
3. Best For Curled, Waterproofed Lashes
Though not technically a drugstore product, Etude House’s Dr. Mascara Fixer lands a spot on this list thanks to its drugstore price tag — and its innovative, multitasking formula. This unique primer, which is made with black bean extract, caffeine, and iris ensata (also known as Japanese water iris) can be used three ways. You can use it as a lash primer to boost your mascara’s volume; as a clear lash gel for no-makeup days when you just want a bit of curl; or, you can apply it on top of your mascara to prevent smudging. For the most dramatic results, use this with an eyelash curler to lock in the curl. One Amazon reviewer even reported that it “saves all [their] ready-to-throw-away mascaras.”
4. Best Primer & Mascara Duo
It’s hard to resist the charm of a good two-in-one product, like Honest Beauty’s Mascara + Primer duo. The award-winning tube (it’s won both Allure and PEOPLE beauty awards) has a moisturizing primer on one side and an inky black mascara on the other. While it may be a lot pricier than the other primers on this list, you’re getting two products for one here. It lifts, defines, and lasts — and it’s made with gentle, nourishing ingredients that shouldn’t irritate sensitive, allergy-prone eyes. Countless Amazon reviewers (it has over 7,000 five-star ratings) called this the best mascara they’ve ever tried.
5. Honorable Mention
Here’s one last great, affordable eyelash primer to consider. Unlike the other white and clear lash primers on this list, this has a lilac color — but don’t worry, that purple hue won’t show up underneath your mascara. Using jasmine wax as the hero ingredient, it helps lengthen, volumize, and condition your lashes while also preventing your mascara from flaking. “I've used some of the higher-end lash primers like Lancome and Milk, but this works just as nicely as the expensive stuff at a fraction of the cost,” commented one Amazon reviewer.