The Contenders create a smooth base for eye shadow application; extend its wear; prevent creasing; and disguise eyelid imperfections. Like face primers, most rely on silicones or waxes.
Testing Time: Six hours in the lab to test the ability to extend eye shadow wear; one week at home.
• Gold Winner:
Eye shadow lasted longest with Laura Mercier Eye Basics ($24, Sephora.com; eight shades), per testers and the lab. Shadow went over it smoothly, volunteers noted, and colors looked more vibrant.
Testers said: "I cannot rave enough about this product. It glides on, so you don't need to pull at delicate eye skin. And it holds eye shadow like a charm!" "My eye shadow lasted all day instead of wearing off by noon as it normally would."
Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion ($20, Sephora; four shades) virtually matched the Laura Mercier in lab tests for extending wear and preventing creasing. Volunteers gave it kudos for being nonirritating and going on smoothly. It also rated well for disguising eyelid imperfections like redness and spots.
Testers said: "It is simply the best eye shadow primer that I've ever tried. The product keeps shadow on all day and doesn't crease. You can wear it alone, and it takes away any discoloration on your eyelid."
Tip: Try a nude or neutral-colored eye primer on days you want to skip shadow. It will brighten your eyes for a youthful, wide-awake look.
The Contenders lengthen and thicken eyelashes without flaking, smudging, or clumping.
Testing Time: One week.
• Gold Winner:
An all-around champ, MAC False Lashes ($20, MAC stores; two shades) was deemed best by testers at lengthening, thickening, and separating fringe (while being no sweat to remove). Lab tests proved that it didn't clump.
Testers said: "A silky, non-clumpy formula that coated every lash without being thick, and didn't flake." "I have very little lashes, and it worked great."
Lancôme Définicils ($26, department stores; four shades) was favored for its maximum staying power. While none of the products scored high for curling, testers found this was best at curling lashes.
Testers said: "Wow! This is a game changer. It's the only mascara that didn't smudge on my oily skin. Plus, it creates lush, fringy lashes that look terrific. It's my new favorite product." "I had no idea my eyelashes could be so defined. I even received some compliments on how long and pretty they looked."
Tip: The MAC mascara comes in two shades of black. If you prefer brown or deep brown, try the Lancôme.
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