Thursday, May 1, 2014

if I could offer you only one tip for the future...

Does anyone else remember Baz Luhrmann's epic graduation song/speech to the class of '99? I've always thought the name of it was Wear Sunscreen, but upon looking it up, it appears that the actual name is Everybody's Free to Wear Sunscreen. Anyway. That song was my JAM back in '99. I realize that some of you were still dwelling in your mothers' wombs in '99, but I was in high school and this song spoke to me. Actually, it still does. The gist of it is that Baz does this really long speech full of all his best advice to the class of '99. The advice is random and not really all that connected, but it's all pretty good and/or funny. But he starts and finishes with his MOST ESSENTIAL bit of advice, the one thing he wants you to take away from his five-minute speech: wear sunscreen. The benefits are indisputable. The rest of his advice may or may not work for you, but wearing can't go wrong with that one.

I feel like I'm a lot like Baz Luhrmann's song sometime. I spew out a lot of random tidbits and advice that may or may not be worth anything, based mostly on my life experience. But if I had to boil it down and give you ONE REALLY GOOD piece of advice to walk away with...what would it be? What's the Erika equivalent of Baz's 'wear sunscreen' (because I'd be a hypocrite to say that MY best advice is to wear sunscreen...ummm...I try to remember to do that. Sometimes.)?

I think I've figured it out. For one topic only-- not best piece of universal, all-inclusive life advice, but my one best piece of beauty advice. Because I get more questions about beauty products than actual life advice, and also because makeup advice is less life-altering than actual LIFE advice. So we'll go with my one essential makeup tip for today (and life). You ready?

Wear eyeshadow primer.

To echo (and slightly alter) Baz's words...if I could offer you only one tip for the future, [eyeshadow primer] would be it. 

These might be hard words to hear. I understand that. When I first decided to step foot into Sephora a number of years ago and I sought my sister's makeup expertise as to what my inaugural purchase should be, I wasn't happy to hear her suggest eyeshadow primer. It's boring! It's colorless! I'm gonna spend $20, put on my makeup, and look exactly the same as I did before I spent $20?!?! Where's the fun in that? Eyeshadow primer is BORING.

That may be true. But it is also amazing.

Let's have a personal testimony, shall we? Because I'm the only one here writing today, I'll go first.

I love eye makeup. But I don't love the way it disappears and/or creases up and gets oily by lunchtime. If I'm going to spend a lot of money on shadow and then 10 minutes of my precious time in the morning applying and blending, I don't want all of my hard work to be gone by noon. I don't want to have to reapply everything if I'm going somewhere at night. I WANT TO DO IT ONCE AND BE DONE WITH IT FOR THE DAY. 

Yet another crappy selfie-in-the car to capture today's eye shadow. And also, I was so busy thinking about primer today that I clearly forgot to put on eyeliner altogether. Ha. As it turns out, I'm easily distracted and only human, after all. But at least you can sorta see the colors.

Enter eyeshadow primer.

In summary...all of my wishes and dreams came true. With a swift application of primer before I put on my shadows, liners, and's there all day. For better or for worse, til death (or makeup remover) do us part. IT STAYS.

And I want you to know what it can stay through. Not just a pansy day sitting in my air conditioned office. It can last through ANYTHING.

Exhibit A: Me after a really hard workout.

 Yeah, I look really gross. Bangs are NOT your friend when you work out and get super sweaty. See how they're completely soaking wet? The sweat then drips down off of my bangs and runs in rivers down my face. I mop it off with a towel every few minutes. Now, obviously this is a sucky picture in bad lighting that was not taken with the intention of showcasing my eye makeup. But this is more or less what I look like after I work out. Would you expect my makeup to look good after that?

I wouldn't. I would expect my makeup to have fully melted off and/or been wiped off with the sweaty towel. And that's what used to happen, in my pre-primer days. But not now.

Now, I kid you not (and Matt, my friends at the gym, and anyone else who happens to run in to me after a hard workout can confirm this, because I force them to notice the situation) makeup looks just as good as it did when I applied it. After that. After sweating buckets, having wet bangs cover my lids, and frequently wiping with a towel- MY EYE MAKEUP IS STILL IMPECCABLE. Every night I marvel over this. Not lying. I stare in the mirror when I get home, in awe of whatever voodoo science makes it possible. There's no creasing, no fading color. Every shade is still accounted for, the blending still blendy. The smoky eye still smoky. AFTER THAT.

Friends, if eye shadow primer isn't a miracle, I don't know what is.

Here are the primers currently taking up real estate in my makeup collection. I'll be honest-- I really only use the UD potion all the way to the left. The purple UD potion is old and dried out, but I save it because they've discontinued that packaging and in a fit of nostalgia, I couldn't bear myself to part with my old tube. The Smashbox and Lorac primers are fine, but I prefer Urban Decay primers by far. 

If you aren't currently using a primer (but you do wear eye makeup), it's time to make the plunge. Your shadow will go on more smoothly and with greater color saturation. (If you don't believe me, swatch it on your arm both with and without a primer underneath!) It will last forever. And so even if you're using a cheap, poorly formulated shadow- IT WILL BE BETTER WITH PRIMER. Primer will make all the stuff you already own BETTER. So in that sense, it's the best $20 you can spend. Because it'd cost a lot more to replace all of your existing shadows with high-end versions...and even THOSE will still be better with primer underneath! Oh, and a $20 tube of primer will last a LONG time. I know the thing on the back indicates that you should only use it for 6 months, but...yeah. The new UD packaging is a squeeze tube, which is way more hygienic and less susceptible to contamination than the old doe-tipped applicator (and it also dries out much more slowly in this packaging)'s entirely likely that I use mine til it's gone, which takes a lot longer than 6 months. And this is with me using it every day, from lashline to browbone, and sometimes on my lower lashline, too. It lasts forever.

So there you have it. The One Makeup Thing You Should Be Doing. Baz says wear sunscreen. I say wear primer. I bet if you did both, you'd live forever. Or at least look great for a long time.


  1. interesting.... guess i will have to go shopping. thanks!

  2. The Urban Decay (in the purple tube) is my favorite, too!! I like it better than the one in the yellow tube. They say it's the same formula, but I say they are LIARS (it's not). I found the purple tube on clearance at Nordstrom Rack and bought about 5. Should last me until 2018 or so.

    I am so with you on the good primer. I might not buy lipstick, and I consider Loreal to be an "upscale" brand, but eye lid primer I will drop some $$ on… :)

  3. My 9 year old daughter would adore you!! I don't know how she learned about this eye shadow primer, but she insists that it's the best beauty product out there and I should be using it every day. I ignored her, because she's 9 and doesn't even wear make-up, so how would she know, right? But, you've confirmed that my daughter is far more versed in beauty care than I am!

  4. I loved that song, too! And for what it's worth, when I bought Naked Palette 3 from Ulta a few weeks ago, they threw in a UD primer sample for free. Not that I've used it yet, of course :). But maybe you've convinced me I should!

  5. I loved that song and still have it on my 90's playlist :-)

    Thanks for the tip! I use primer on my face before foundation and usually swipe it across my lids as well. Would that be able to handle both purposes or do I really need to get a separate eye shadow primer?

  6. How interesting! My eye makeup is gone by about 10am even when I use pricey eye shadow. I think it's because I have dry eyes so I rub them... that or my skin repels makeup... both are equally possible. I typically look like a raccoon by noon at which point I have to clean all the goo from under my eyes. I tried a primer previously based on another friend's recommendation, but I couldn't tell any difference. Maybe it's because I FREAKED OUT at the cost of a tube of the good stuff and ran back to the ULTA brand section. You've almost convinced me.

  7. Don't judge me (I know you will), but I have never actually heard of eyeshadow primer until now!

  8. That Urban Decay stuff is the BOMB! My eye shadow lasts through an afternoon 10-miler in the AZ heat! Also use it on my daughter for dance competitions -- put it on in the early morning and I kid you not, the next day her eye shadow is still there!!! You can NOT go wrong with it!

  9. Oh my goshhhhh!!!

    I have the Body Shop eye shadow palette and I really love the colours but they ALWAYS smudge off and end up in the creases in my eyes. It's because I have to put my face cream around my eyes too because I'm dry everywhere! Do you think the primer would still work even though I have to use face cream too? I think I have to much moisture going on around my eyes to get my makeup to stay. It's actually a major problem for me...

  10. Eye shadow primer changed my life, for real. I have a super oily face and my eye make up would be in a giant line by 9. I used Urban Decay for a while and now I use Mary Kay because it's cheaper, and I really do like it better. Mine doesn't stay all day, because I'm still a freakish oily mess, but it's better than before.

  11. Eeep!! Ur advice could not have come at a better time. Have a wedding to attend and now I am definitely going out hunting for a eye primer.

  12. Don't have it and have never used it!!!! :/ Fail and Fail!!! PS I should work out as hard as you and PPS LOVE(d) that song!

  13. Amen, AMEN, AMEN! I am 90% clueless when it comes to makeup purchasing and application, but there are two areas where I thrive - eyeshadow primer and liquid eyeliner (the kind that comes in a little pot). I simply could not live without either one of these items, and am appalled that anyone in the universe does. My eyelid primer of choice is made by Too Faced (blue tube), so if you ever need another brand to sample, I highly recommend it. As you say, it lasts for forever, and it keeps your eye makeup firmly anchored until you decide to remove it. Love. So much love for eyelid primer.

    That song always kind of annoyed me because it's not really a song and he just keeps talking all the way through, but it does have some good advice, that's true.

  14. I couldn't agree with you more!! I LOVE my urban decay eye shadow primer- another reason we are twinsies!!

  15. I'm a professional photographer and I *always* tell my clients that if they do nothing else (aside from hire me haha!) at their wedding, they MUST use eyeshadow primer! Love the Urban Decay primer too, so good!

  16. ooh!
    Wow. Thanks Erika . . . will have to check it out. Free sample . . . . hmmmmm
    Question: After applying primer
    Will the eyeshadow colors still "blend" and "smudge" on the eyelid to get a softer look before the primer locks the color in to place for the day.

  17. I actually like Benefit's Stay don't Stray over the UD primer! I ran out of it, and have been saving up my birchbox points so i can get it as close to free as possible. I can tell a huge difference without using it :(

  18. #1. I love that Baz Luhrmann song, I had it on a mixed CD and played it all the time. #2. I've never tried eye shadow primer, but I think you have me sold. I've often eyed the UD tube, but didn't think it was really worth adding to my morning routine. But, I must say, I'll give it a go!

  19. Erika,

    I have been a silent reader for a while, but wanted to say... First of all- love you blog. You make me laugh and cry, kind of like a good romantic comedy :) Second- the is really random, but if you want to revive dried out primer you can do so the same way you do mascara, add a teeny tiny bit of contact solution and swirl the wand around. Works like a charm for me. I actually just did it this morning. I love to get every last drop out of my makeup! :)

    Lee Ann

  20. Amen.

    Though I do have to say that the stuff I use isn't technically labeled as a primer, but I first used a neutral colored paint pot from Mac as a base and then on a whim, tried a creme shadow from Ulta. The $4 Ulta stuff works better than Mac and I love how fresh it keeps my eye shadowing looking. I know your undying love for Ulta so I thought I would pass along how good their creme shadow is as a primer in case you wanted to try it next time you're in the store! (tonight? tomorrow? ;)

  21. Have you tried Too Face Shadow Insurance?? It's fantastic! I've got some of the UD primer and am by far a bigger fan of Too Face. Love it! And totally agree, makeup primer and eyeshadow primer are must-haves!

  22. I'd never heard of eyeshadow primer before this post. You are educating the ignorant masses Erika :)


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