Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Beauty Experiment: Glycerine as an eyeshadow primer

Jup, you've read it right. I did an experiment where I tried to use pure Glycerine as an eye primer! I didn't do this experiment recklessly though, in my previous article about pressing eyeshadows I used Glycerine as one of the mixing ingredients and because it worked so well I got curious and had a look on the internet to see if I could use it for something else.

As it turns out, people are using Glycerine for all sorts of things! Some people have used it as a very gentle moisturiser when diluted with water, or as a face primer, also diluted with water. It is of course used in cooking to enhance flavour and some people were using it undiluted on the lips as a lip balm. One lady even talked about how she applies loose eyeshadow with some Glycerine to give it vibrancy and staying power, which gave me the idea to try and use it as an eye primer! I used vegetable Glycerine for this, which is for sale in almost every drugstore for only a few pounds, so if this works it would be such a steal compared to the more expensive alternatives that I'm using now.

I'm not a complete idiot, so I tested some pure Glycerine on my wrist first to see if it would cause some sort of reaction. I walked around all day with the gloopy stuff on my wrist and I experienced no irritation whatsoever. I also did a bit of research and found out that Glycerine is used in a lot of primers anyway, acting like an emollient, making the eyeshadow adhere to the skin better and making the surface smooth and easier to work with.

But, what is an eyeshadow primer for anyway?

Using a primer for the eyes has become quite common in the last few years. It makes the eyeshadow appear more vibrant, makes it last longer on the eyes and prevents the eyeshadow from collecting in the creases. The most popular primers are sadly also quite expensive, don't be surprised if you pay over £15 for a little tube of eyeshadow primer. This is why I figured it couldn't hurt to try out this cheap alternative, let's see what the results were shall we?

The test:

So what I did was that I made a dramatic purple smoky eyed look, and I put my regular Urban Decay Primer Potion on the left - your left! - eye and the bit of Glycerine on the right. I used the same techniques and the same colour and amounts of eyeshadow on both eyes, it's really just the primer that's different.

Left is Urban Decay, right is Glycerine

What I noticed right away was that the Urban Decay primer dried up a lot quicker, I really did only need the tiniest bit of Glycerine because if it didn't dry up it would be harder to work with.

What I noticed on the Glycerine side was that the application was just as easy as usual, the colours became very vibrant and the lustre was amazing right away.

Urban Decay's Primer Potion is my first primer ever and I've always been very happy with it, so I was shocked to see that the Glycerine actually performed better! The colours are less vibrant in this version and seem a bit pale in comparison. 

This was just the first bit of the experiment though, I also wanted to see how it would hold up when I had worn the look for hours and hours. I was going to go out that day and it was very hot outside, also consider the fact that my eyes tend to water like crazy. Eyeshadow never lasts brilliantly on me, so let's see the photos that I made when I came home and compare the two primers again.

When I got back there was no daylight left, so the following pictures have all been made with the flash on, which is why the colours look a bit different.

The Glycerine held up pretty well, there is some smudging under the eye and in the outer corners but the vibrancy is definitely still there. The colours don't look nicely blended anymore though, which is a shame but I half expected this eye to crease really badly and feel really sticky. This wasn't the case, my eye didn't feel itchy or sticky and it actually felt like I wasn't wearing anything, which is pretty good considering.

The Urban Decay Version still looks ok on the lid. The inner corners are void of eyeshadow though and it creased over there as well. Also note that there's almost no colour left under the eye, which is a shame. For the rest the colour has faded a bit, but since the Primer Potion had less vibrant results anyway I could say that it hasn't changed much. There's a lot of smudging under the eye and in the outer corners though, which isn't very good. My eye also felt irritated by the end of the night, it felt quite scratchy and itchy and I was quite happy when I got home and I could take it off.

Eye by eye comparison

Left is Urban Decay, right is Glycerine

Final Verdict

I'm a bit shocked, but I have to conclude that the Glycerine did a better job! The blending looks a bit better on the left side which had the Urban Decay Primer Potion on it, but with Glycerine the colours stayed a lot more vibrant and didn't smudge as much as the Urban Decay primer did. Glycerine also didn't irritate my eyes nearly as much, in fact I couldn't even feel it was there. Considering the difference in price, this is amazing! You can get Glycerine for just a few pounds in the drugstore or supermarket, whereas you pay £15 for the Urban Decay version which has a lot less product in it. 

Do I recommend you using Glycerine instead? I don't know if I should. I know that Glycerine is used in a lot of primers and body lotions and that it's even a common ingredient in food. I also know that it's been safe for me so far and that I haven't had any problems, but I'm not science savvy enough to know if there could be any complications. I'm quite happy to risk it, but I don't want to tell the world to do the same because the results might be different for you. 

I've used Glycerine as a primer about five or six times now and haven't run into any problems, but it is of course a risk I choose to take.

If you do want to try this, I recommend you put some on your wrist first to test it. If you feel any burning, itching or numbness take it off right away and definitely don't put it on your eye. And if you're fine, it's up to you to take the risk. 


  1. Erg interessant! Ik heb zelf zeer olieachtige oogleden, en bijna geen enkele primer werkt bij mij - ok, degenen die ik heb aangeschaft. Ik wil geen Too Faced, NARS of UD aanschaffen, omdat er geen garantie is dat het werkt en ik mijn geld ook niet terug kan krijgen. Zeer, zeer jammer. Zouden ze ook iets mee moeten doen in Europa, ik weet dat ze het in Amerika doen!

    Misschien toch maar eens glycerine gebruiken? Al denk ik dat het toch gaat creasen bij mijn onmogelijke oogleden. :)

    1. Ja in Amerika kun je het zo terug brengen als het niet werkt, echt chill zijn ze daar! Ik weet wel dat veel meiden met olieachtige oogleden succes hadden met de UD primer, maar het is wel meteen 18 euro ofzo voor een full size. Misschien kun je ergens op ebay voor goedkoop een sample op de kop tikken? Of inderdaad toch maar glycerine proberen haha, als het niet werkt kun je er kennelijk altijd nog duizend andere dingen mee doen. :p

  2. I've never been a huge fan of the UD primer, but I'm surprised it performed so poorly.

    1. I know! I've never used another primer and I was always quite happy with it compared to the way my eyeshadow would look without, but seeing what Glycerine does and knowing how cheap it is it's almost sad haha.

  3. Kun je ook een testje doen zonder primer met glycerine op het andere oog? Of in ieder geval vertellen hoe jouw oogleden normaal reageren op oogschaduw? Heb je vette oogleden en creast hetnormaal al heel erg?

    1. Goed idee! Ik heb volgens mij hele normale oogleden, het enige probleem is dat ik soms last heb van allergie├źn (in deze foto ook) en dat mijn ogen daarvan gaan tranen. Ik zal binnenkort even een test doen met Glycerine en zonder iets om te zien of het nog steeds beter is haha, thanks!

  4. I prefer the Nars base anyway. UD feels like cement. What eyeshadow did you use? It's gorgeous!

  5. Thank you! I think I used Shiro's Day of Reckoning, but it could also have been Shiro's Task Force.

  6. Just read your post on Shiro and checked their site. So cool, I love the fantasy twist, so different than the main stream cosmetics. I also love purples and they have other cool, hard to describe colors, I'll definitely give them a try. Thank you for the tip! Love you blog btw, will add it on my Bloglovin!