Do Mascara Lash Primers Work?

Whew! This post is 6 months in the making, y'all. When I would get ready to post, another lash primer would be released, and then I'd start all over, and do my customary month-long test. I'm finally ready and I've picked 6 lash primers from all different price points to see if they work and which one is the best.

What are lash primers?

  • Lash primers, or mascara primers, are products that are applied before a mascara. 
  • Mascara is then applied after. 
  • Sometimes they are tinted black or other colors, sometimes they have fibers in them, and some are white. 
  • The functions vary, but generally, they enhance mascara, making lashes look bigger/thicker/longer. Some boast lash conditioning ability. Some boast the ability to prevent smudging or running.

These are the 6 that I reviewed. I chose to go with all-white, since there aren't as many tinted brands out there and fibers irritate my eyes. All primers were tested for a minimum of 1 month, using at least 3 different brands of mascaras. I also tested them with a mascara that corresponded to that brand to see if it made a difference (it didn't).

For picture taking purposes, I will be wearing Tarte Tarteist Lash Paint Mascara, since it is a wetter mascara and show up well, on the pic on your left. The primer and Tarteist Mascara will be on the right pic. Pics were taken on different days to ensure there was no product buildup from previous primers/mascaras. I'm not wearing any makeup, minus the mascaras. You can purchase these primers online.

L'Oreal Voluminous Primer
  • The newest primer I tried, which was released about a month ago.
  • Drugstores/box stores/ULTA
  • $8.99
  • thinner formula
  • says it will condition lashes
  • strong scent
  • did make lashes thicker, lashes did feel softer, but it was a little clumpy

Tarte Opening Act
  • ULTA/Sephora
  • $22
  • Sometimes comes with a mini Lights, Camera, Lashes mascara
  • drier formula
  • slightly strong scent
  • did clump in certain spots
Lancome Cils Booster XL
  • Sephora/ulta/dept stores
  • $25.50
  • does come in travel size
  • wet formula
  • barely scented
  • says it has micro-fibers, but I couldn't detect them, nor did they affect my eyes
  • really liked this one

Clinique Lash Building Primer
  • Sephora/Ulta/Dept Stores
  • $15.50
  • wettest of the formulas I've tried
  • boasts of lash conditioning
  • barely a scent
  • really liked this one

Urban Decay Subversion: Thicker Longer Stronger
  • Ulta/Sephora
  • $20
  • nicely pigmented
  • smelled the best, as in least-scented
  • hour-glass wand--most of them had typical triangle-shape wand
  • prone to clump, but had nice results

Wet N Wild PhotoFocus Lash Primer (packaging shows French and English)
  • drugstores/box stores
  • $4.45
  • medium consistency
  • very strong scent
  • prone to clumping, and sometimes flaking, depending on brand
  • good for if you have a mascara that's too intense or wet, this will make it look more natural and lashes look more defined

Here are the primers applied on top and bottom lashes, before mascara. It's interesting how well they showed up in pictures, since many times I could barely see some of the brands on my lashes.

And here's a closeup of each brand that I tested. All of them had traditional bristle wands.

Do primers work?
  • As you can tell from the pictures, I would say so
Was the mascara hard to take off?
  • Not as difficult as with a waterproof mascara, but it really depended on the mascara I tested it with. Generally, I could use a wipe to remove them if I had to
Did the mascara last longer after using the primer?
  • It definitely did and really helped with smudging (minus the WNW one)
What about (insert brand here)? Are you going to try that?
  • I skipped any primer with fibers (I didn't know the Lancome one had fibers as I couldn't see them) because I have sensitive eyes. 
  • I have tried the NYX one and didn't like it at all--it wouldn't show up or stick on my lashes, but it is another drugstore option for you. There is also one from Smashbox that I haven't tried yet. I cannot remember what the one from Dior was like. Have you tried those?
Are lash primers necessary?
  • If you would like to enhance your lashes (as in, you have shorter or thinner lashes), this would definitely help. If you have a mascara that's maybe drying out and you want to enhance that, this could help. If mascara runs on you, this might could help with that. However, I don't think it is a necessity, but I really like using primers when I don't mind that extra step.

Have you tried lash primers before?

Extra Elle
  • Thank you SO much for the love on my diy tray! I loved seeing your feedback and your own creations.
  • I got a new mattress! I wanted the really expensive sink-into-a-cloud one, but the budget said no. But I like what I got. Now let's talk about the primers! :)


  1. My mother uses the Clinique one, I´ll see if I can snatch it and give it a go myself.

    Linda, Libra, Loca: Beauty, Baby and Backpacking

  2. Seriously love how much you test out products for! Could you do a quick post on how you save photos, information and research as you wait for the appropriate time to publish a post? Happy Monday! Oh and I don't really use primers much, except on special occasions. So my last tube ran out! Thanks for sharing all of this info!

  3. I didn't know there were so many mascara primers out there! This is so helpful - it looks like it really makes a difference!

    Doused In Pink

  4. I LOVE last primers and use them everyday!! I rotate between origins and the clinique one you tested!! This was a really fun post since I actually use this product daily! You gave me some new ones to try too! xo, Biana -BlovedBoston

  5. I really need to start using a primer again. My lashes are really prone to breaking and they do help out. Great post! Enjoy your new bed!

    Whitney & Blaire
    Peaches In A Pod

  6. I was just thinking to myself that I want to get back into using a lash primer! I used to use a Lancome one for forever and I don't know why I stopped! <3, Pamela Sequins & Sea Breezes

  7. Oh wow! A month to test? Elle, thank you so much for being so meticulous with your testing! You rock:) And now, I want that Clinique one. I've never used one before.

  8. great review chica! clinique of course scores big which is never a surprise. and funny enough i just started using lash primers. i have long curled lashes and rarely used them since they already hit my glasses when i blink at work but i've noticed a good difference for sure!

    xoxo cheshire kat

  9. I love how some of the primers really defined your lashes and separated them, for that reason I would say they are worth it. I am curious about the Dior Lash Primer, I might have a look online at reviews x

    ALittleKiran | Bloglovin

  10. Very interesting! Mascara is my favorite beauty product, I don't use one everyday...but when I do it's Younique. I love the combo with mascara, it does WONDERS for my lashes! The 3D mascara works so well for me!

  11. I haven't used many mascara primers, but I have that CLinique one, but also one that's double sided and it seems to work well when used. Although, I don't think I need it much so I don't use it often. Great post. xx/Madison

  12. I tried out a lash primer about a year ago after a makeup artist used one on me, and I loved it! I just forget to use it, but need to remember on big nights out. Awesome review <3
    Green Fashionista

  13. Thanks for the review! They definitely work! I'll have to order the Clinique one!

    little luxury list formerly Chic 'n Cheap Living

  14. Great, comprehensive post Elle - I love the idea of lash primers but have yet to try one that's made it into my regular routine

    Emma | www.fluffandfripperies.com

  15. The clinique one looks like it worked the best out of all of them!

  16. The only primer I have tried is the Lancome one and I liked it but I didn't feel like it made enough of a difference for me to keep repurchasing it. I think I bought it twice and quit haha. But that was several years ago, I bet it has improved since then. I think the Clinique one showed the most difference in pictures. What kind of bed did you get? We are looking at getting a new one soon too.

  17. You really can tell a difference between your lashes with and without the primers! I don't know if I really need to wear one, but I love the idea of using it when you have a mascara that's running out!

  18. This is such an informative post! I've used the lancome one a few times and love when I get little samples of it because it definitely works, but isn't something I'd spend money on to buy a full-size!

  19. I have only tried the benefit lash primer and so far liking it. Have a great week.


  20. This makes me excited. My lashes are looking just sad lately & I've never tried these products before. I'm now going to be on the hunt for some!!!

  21. I bought the Wet n Wild lash primer after Tati raved about it and I'm on the fence about it. I don't see any differences it made to my lashes and yes, it gets clumpy fast too.

    Shireen | Reflection of Sanity

  22. I could def see the difference with the Lancome and Clinique ones. Thanks for sharing Elle!

  23. I don't think I have ever tried a primer before! Your lashes look amazing though! Maybe I need to try!

    <3 Shannon
    Upbeat Soles

  24. I use the Lancôme primer and love it!!! I definitely want to try Clinique, though, since they have my very favorite mascara!

  25. The only lash primer I've ever tried was one that came with a mascara I bought (it was double ended I think but I don't remember what brand--long time ago). I don't think I would probably buy this, but I'm impressed with how it does seem to make a difference, especially the Clinique and the Lancome.

  26. I've never tried a mascara primer before, and after reading your reviews I want to try a few of these! Thanks for sharing Elle!

  27. This is something I have never, ever tried... which surprises me as I have primers for everything else! I need to find some time to read this deeper and figure out one to try!


  28. Wait, great post and comes at a perfect time because I've been wanting to buy one but which is your absolute favorite?!?! Do tell!!

    Xox Dana Ivy // www.iadorewhatilove.com

  29. Wow - I'm loving your dedication to this post! I've always wanted to try one but never have. xx

    ♥ Carly Susanne ~ A Beauty & Lifestyle Blog

  30. I've never tried a lash primer, though I have decent natural lashes and really never felt the need. A lot of my mascara from my lower lashes transfers to my under eye. Perhaps I need this step so that stops happening. haha

  31. I use the Clinique Lash Building Primer and LOVE it! I started using it last year when a friend recommended it and it has been great. So I love seeing that you recommend it too! :)

  32. Yay for a new mattress! I tried a Mary Kay primer a few years ago, but I wasn't that impressed. I might try one of these though. It seems like they do make a difference!

  33. I have always thought these were unnecessary. Isn't the point of mascara to do this but with color? Thank you for your thorough research, you really work so hard and we appreciate it!

  34. I really like the Lancôme Cils Booster a lot!

  35. I've never tried a lash primer before, but I do hear great things about the Lancome one. Sounds like most of these were pretty decent, but I don't think I'd go for an extra step in my routine...I already take long enough. LOL! Really appreciate your research!
    xo, Lily
    Beauty With Lily

  36. You can totally see a difference! I've never tried a lash primer, but I can definitely see how it improves the look. Thanks for sharing.

    Kathryn • The Fashionography

  37. I usually skip lash primers, but it's so cool the difference they make :)

  38. I haven't ever tried lash primers, but I can really see a different with some of them! Great review and comparison of all of these!

  39. I've never tried lash primers before! I should give them a try. That's nice they help mascara last longer! Your lashes look great and it's nice to see all of the comparisons!

  40. I'm a big fan of lash primers they really make a big difference for me. I usually wear false lashes though so I don't use them that often .

  41. Great and Informative post hun...xoxo, Neha


  42. Great post! I've tried lash primers from Lancome and Dior, both were fine but not life-changing so I feel like it was an unnecessary extra-step for me.


  43. I haven't used lash primers in a long time. I really want to try the Clinique, and I like the separation the WnW gave to your lashes.

  44. Great post! I haven't used a lash primer in ages, completely forgot they exist! But I definitely need them for my sparse lashes. Sigh.

  45. yay for new mattresses! we got a new bed (mattress and box spring thingy) last year and it was definitely a budget option but suited us just fine. i haven't used a lash primer in years, but i think mac might have had one that i used? my ex boyfriend's sister gave it to me, but i never saw a difference (i probably used it wrong). i have heard amazing things about the clinique one so i'm glad you liked that!

  46. I love mascara primers. I thought it was just another product for companies to get you to buy, but it really makes such a difference. I've used the Lancome, Wet n Wild, and the Loreal. I really like the Wet n Wild, but I LOVE the L'oreal one. I really like wet formula mascaras so I need to try the Clinique one next. I have pitiful lashes so primers makes such a difference for me. If I were a rich girl, I would definitely have a temprapedic (sp?). A hotel I stayed at had one and I've never forgotten how amazing it was. One day we'll have them!!


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