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How lash primers work

How lash primers work

Written by Jess Beech

8 Jun 2023

Close up of eye makeup

It’s the work of a moment - but you can make your mascara work MUCH smarter with the addition of a lash primer to your eye makeup routine.

What is a lash primer?

As the name suggests, a lash primer is a product that goes onto your lashes before mascara to prep them for the main event, i.e. mascara. Just as you’d layer a complexion primer beneath your base or an eyeshadow primer beneath your eye makeup. Lash primers are formulated to help your mascara stay put for longer without smudging or fading, to condition the lashes, and to make them look longer and thicker. Everyone can benefit from using one - but you’ll see the biggest benefits if you have short, sparse or oily lashes (how to tell if you have oily lashes? Likely you get some mascara ‘slide’ during the day). Unlike mascara which, unless you’re feeling brave and a little bit 90s, is most commonly black or brown, lash primers are normally white in colour.  

Why are everyone’s eyelashes different?

In a sentence: everyone’s eyelashes are different because everyone’s genes are different. Lashes are exactly the same as the hair on your head, which can be curly or straight, fine or thick, blonde or brunette – all thanks to genetics. So your lashes can be long or short, thick or thin, curly or straight and span the entire spectrum between these definitions. 

But as well as ‘nature’, ‘nurture’ comes into play with the appearance of your lashes too. If you’re someone who is rough with your lashes or sleeps in their mascara (a metaphorical tap on the wrist for you) then you may find that your lashes start to thin or break. Some people go down the route of professional lash treatments, which can change the appearance of your lashes: lash lifts can give your lashes a semi-permanent curl, and lash extensions offer the temporary appearance of fuller lashes.

In the case of false lashes, the more that are applied to each individual natural lash, the more pressure you will put on them, and over time can lead to them looking a little sparse. (If you do go for false lashes, it’s best to give your own lashes a break every so often.)

Older women staring into the camera

What kind of difference can you expect to see if you use a lash primer under your mascara?

Wearing a lash primer under your mascara will give your lashes more oomph, as the extra fibres will make them look fuller and thicker. If you’re prone to panda eyes where your mascara has migrated and smudged throughout the day (this one is especially common if you have oily lashes or hayfever) then a lash primer will put a stop to this by giving your mascara something to hold onto. Finally, It’s not really a visible difference, but a good lash primer will also condition your lashes, which means they’ll feel less brittle and won’t be so prone to breakage. 

What sort of ingredients do lash primers generally contain?

Interested in the INCI? You’d expect to find the following ingredients in a lash primer:

  • Waxes - These are the glue that holds the formula together – and to your lashes. The waxes in a primer will allow it to cling to and wrap around each lash for a soft, textured finish with added volume. 

  • Conditioners - Conditioning and nourishing ingredients offer the TLC your lashes need to stop them from drying out. They’ll also prevent your mascara from becoming flaky too. 

  • Fibres - Just like mascara, lash primers also contain fibres. These attach to the lashes like teeny tiny micro extensions to add volume and length. 

Can you use lash primers too often?

In our opinion, you can’t use a lash primer too often. Some experts believe that not removing mascara properly can lead to breakage and fall, and there are also concerns about the fact that pollution and other daily grime can get stuck to the fibres of your mascara, but you can stop this from causing any problems by cleansing properly at the end of the day.

If you’re worried about brittleness or your lashes drying out due to mascara application, then the conditioning ingredients in your primer will counteract these concerns. You can wear a primer every time you wear mascara, or just when you feel your lashes need a little extra help. 

Can you use a lash primer with any kind of mascara?

All types of mascara can be used with a lash primer. A good lash primer is essentially laying the groundwork for your mascara, so you can top it with one that aims to curl, lengthen or volumise your lashes depending on the look you want to go for. Tubing mascara works especially well with a lash primer, as it contains sleeve-like fibres that wrap around every single lash. Not only will this help to disguise the whiteness of the primer formula, but it will add extra length too.

Tubing mascaras also tend to be longer lasting than traditional formulas. If you’re layering waterproof mascara over your lash primer, just make sure you’re removing it properly with an oil-based cleanser as these can be harder to shift. 

Beauty Pie mascara's and primers

Tubing mascara works especially well with a lash primer, as it contains fibres that wrap around every single lash

What is the best way to apply your lash primer and mascara?

Follow this step-by-step for the best way to apply your lash primer and mascara:

  • Step 1: Make sure your lashes are clean and dry. 

  • Step 2: Hold the wand of your mascara primer horizontally, then press into the base of your lashes before sweeping from root to tip. Repeat if you want more volume, or to tease out any areas where the product has gathered to avoid clumps. 

  • Step 3: Layer your mascara over the top of your lash primer. It should be applied with the same technique (pressed into the lashes before combing upwards). Pay extra attention to the very ends of the lashes to ensure all of the white from the primer is covered. Repeat until your lashes are as long and thick as you’d like. 

How do you remove lash primers?

There’s no need to use a special technique when removing a lash primer. But, as always, we do recommend taking extra care when cleansing the eye area. The skin is thinner and more delicate here, so it needs to be treated nicely to avoid damaging the skin. One option is to saturate two cotton pads in eye makeup remover and place them over your closed lids. Wait for a moment to allow the formula to start to dissolve your primer and mascara, and then gently sweep the pads away. Depending on how stubborn your mascara is, you might need to repeat this more than once. If you prefer to remove your eye makeup with a balm or oil cleanser, massage a little of this onto your eyelashes. Then, using the same technique, hold a warm, damp flannel over the eye area for a moment before sweeping your mascara down and away. 


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© 2023 Beauty Pie. All rights reserved.From The New York Times. © 2020 The New York Times Company. All rights reserved. Used under license.

© 2023 Beauty Pie. All rights reserved.From The New York Times. © 2020 The New York Times Company. All rights reserved. Used under license.