Saturday, 9 November 2013

The benefits of eyeshadow bases.

An eyeshadow base is something you put on your eye before applying eyeshadow. Sometimes that something is to make your eyeshadow last longer and prevent it from creasing - like a primer - and sometimes it's a coloured base to make the eyeshadows more vibrant and appear to be more pigmented. I thought it would be interesting to show you what a few different bases can do!

For this demonstration I grabbed a few budget brand eyeshadows (Catrice, if you must know) and first applied them without anything underneath them. All of the swatches consist of two applications, taken on the same arm on the same day. All of the photos have been taken with flash.

Eyeshadow Primer as base

First of all, let's see how a primer changes the appearance. The swatches without a base vary, some are obviously not very pigmented at all and some have a nice opaque finish of their own already. As you can see, the bottom row makes all of the eyeshadows appear quite a bit more pigmented, especially the darker ones seem to benefit from a primer.

Black Base

For this black base I used a regular old eyeliner pencil, but you could use a black cream eyeshadow as well. Don't go for a powder black base though, because then the original colours might not show up.

Using a black base makes all of the lighter colours stand out even more, especially sparkles and glitter. I also think that it gives extra dimension to deeper colours, the green on the right and the kaki in the middle look much more interesting on a black base.

White Base

Using a white base might be the most popular thing to do right now, I can't even count how many Youtube guru's I've seen applying NYX Milk on their lids before they went on to the eyeshadow. I can see why, the difference is huge! All the colours appear to be much more pigmented, vibrant and opaque. They also look much more true to pan.

Side by side comparison and a warning.

Using different bases for your eyeshadow can make the world of difference. It means that you can take your mediocre eyeshadows and still get a very nice result out of them. This is very useful to know, but it also means that you have to be careful. 

Yes, careful. I won't call any names, but it has happened a lot that I purchased a product based on a few blogger's reviews and that the eyeshadow simply didn't perform as it had in their swatches. This is because some bloggers (and definitely also companies) secretly use a base under their eyeshadow swatches to make them appear better than they are. I think this isn't exactly a fair way of reviewing a product, so I figured the more people know about eyeshadow bases, the less people will be fooled.

Now that you know, always look up multiple reviews to see what the reviewer thinks. Also go to a consumer's website where there are lots of user reviews (like makeupalley) to see what the general opinion is. Be a critical consumer, because as much as it pains me to say it, not everyone swatches fairly. 

Here's a side by side comparison to give you another example of how much of a difference it makes to use an eyeshadow base. With this particular colour, a black base makes it look unbelievably good! All of these are swatched in two layers, it's just the base that is different.

Photo taken outside in natural light

Photo taken inside with flash

So now that you know, use eyeshadow bases to your advantage! Play around with a black base and use dark, shimmering eyeshadows on it to make them even deeper, or a white base to make everything much more opaque. As you could see, even primers can make a world of difference.

There are more bases than this to try out too. How about using a base that has the same colour as your main colour, or perhaps a base that is close to your skintone? The possibilities are endless!


  1. Wow! I never knew that eye shadow bases were that important! I usually wear my eyeshadow without primer :S It makes the colours so much more vibrant, thanks for sharing these tips :)


  2. Haha I know how you feel! I used to think primer was a much ado about nothing, but when I actually started using it I could really notice the difference. Still, it's interesting seeing it side by side like that isn't it?

  3. My new favorite thing is using my Maybelline Color Tattoos as a base, I have the Pomegranate Punk and Emerald colors and using them under partially-sheer eyeshadows has been really cool, it'll change the color obviously but it has been fun to play with that.

  4. Echt super handig om te weten dit! Ik gebruik altijd wel een primer als ik een look draag maar ik wist niet dat het zo'n duidelijk verschil maakte. Ik moet eigenlijk nog steeds een mooie witte basis aanschaffen zoals het jumbo pencil in milk van NYX. Wel slecht dat sommige blogs zo sneaky zijn met swatches van producten.

  5. hey,
    loved this post and wanted to ask you- what do you think about using concealer as an eye primer? and also, what about using a white eye shadow as a base (but not a cream eyeshadow).
    thanks :)

  6. Hi! You could try and use concealer as a base, but there's a chance it might get in the fine lines or slip and slide. It would be a good sticky base for your eyeshadow though.

    I don't recommend using a white eyeshadow as a base, as the other eyeshadow will just mix with it and appear lighter. A cream base is better because it is not only a base colour, but it's also sticky which makes the eyeshadow adhere to it a lot better which increases the pigmentation as well.