The Gloss Report: Lash primers tried and tested

Judy Johnson 20 January 2018
Any products in this article have been selected editorially however if you buy something we mention, we may earn commission

1 / 8

Lash Primer Reviews

The goal: bigger, better, separated, conditioned lashes. The answer? Lash primers, if the buzz is to be believed. But can an eyelash primer - essentially, a pre-mascara mascara - really make a difference to our lashline? In a bid for a fuller flutter that's less clumpy and more Bambi, team GTG put the best of the bunch to the test and reported back. Here's how we got on...

2 / 8

Pixi Black Lacquer Lash Primer, £15

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The promise: "Rich in nourishing ingredients to condition and strengthen fragile hairs, while boosting volume for enhanced lash ‘oomph’."

We give it: 8/10

Review: “Of all the things on my long list of beauty woes I have to say help in the lash department is not one of them. My lashes are naturally quite long and curly, so with a (good) mascara I can usually build them up to get a great ‘false lash’ effect. However despite being blessed in the lash department, I am extremely picky with how they look - I love a really volumised, yet separated lash and am always on the hunt for the best products to fulfil this need. A lash primer has never been part of my routine but I was curious to see how much of a difference adding one would make. This offering from Pixi is different to the usual lash primer formula in the sense that it’s black, as opposed to many that are traditionally white, so it feels as though you are just applying your first coat of mascara. I was quite impressed with how easily this glided through my lashes - I think I can put that down to the synthetic wand which is always my preferred option with mascaras too. When turned on its side the wand creates really impressive volume at the roots of the lashes which can be built up to the desired effect. I followed the primer immediately with my usual mascara while the formula was still wet and loved the effect it gave. I wouldn’t say the results were dramatically different to the way my lashes would look with mascara alone, but to my eyes there was the added ‘oomph’ that the product promises. Although not groundbreaking, I think this is a great product to reserve for nights out when you have extra time and want your lashes to look that little bit more noticeable. Not an essential for everyday but a welcome addition nonetheless.”

Reviewer: ATH

3 / 8

Chado Le Soin Pyjama at Pure Swiss Boutique, £25

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The Promise: "A day and night care for stronger, denser eyebrows and eyelashes, full of volume."

We give it: 8/10

Review: "This multitasking formula for eyebrows and lashes can be applied at night to condition and nourish and morning as a base for mascara and brow products. I worry that decades of mascara use is making my lashes weaker so the idea of a serum undercoat appealed to me. It goes on white, dries clear-ish and provides an eye-popping length for lashes that still looks natural. I particularly noticed increased thickness in the ends of my lashes. I could take it or leave it with brows (mine aren’t that sparse) and as it’s not cheap, I’m definitely saving it for eyes. I tried it with the brand’s own  Masacara Divin, £30  which is amazing on definition as well as with my latest favourite the new  Elizabeth Arden Standing Ovation Mascara, £22  with ceramides (I’m all about the conditioning). In both cases, my mascara lasted better than if used without the primer with no flaking. Best of all, it came off without a murmur at the end of the day with my usual cleanser. I have never used a primer before, and now won’t be without one - and will be hunting down brands like this one which care for lashes too."

Reviewer: VW

4 / 8

Benefit They’re Real! Tinted Mascara Primer, £19.50

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The promise: “Tints, defines and primes lashes to boost length and separation, or can be worn alone for a feathery natural look.”

We give it: 9/10

Review: “I need all the help I can get in the lash department, especially as I love them to look bold - the bigger the better. However, bigger can often mean clumpy (or just hard and spindly which is not flattering at all) and I’ve found this lash primer from Benefit can really help. First up, it’s a mink brown shade - I’ve never understood why brands created those white mascaras for building volume - so it’s wearable on its own as a natural-looking mascara if that's your thing, but for me it’s just right for prepping lashes as a first step. It’s a gel formula which conditions the lashes, and it really does leave them feeling soft (unlike a mascara), and helps to separate. Once dry I then use my usual mascara on top and the separation is still there, with boosted length too. I only wish it could add a bit more drama, but it’s definitely better than wearing mascara alone and that’s good enough for me - plus a coat or two is plenty so it's cost effective.”

Reviewer: JJ

5 / 8

MAC False Lashes Maximizer, £14.50

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The promise: “A luxurious lash treatment that conditions, primes and enhances natural lashes.”

We give it: 7/10

Review: "If I hadn’t known better I wouldn’t have thought this product was a primer from the name. You could easily assume it’s a product to enhance false lashes when in fact it’s a lash treatment and volumizing lash primer rolled into one, with the idea being that it’s supposed to make your real lashes look like falsies. Quite the undertaking for any product when it comes to my Asian, thin and poker straight lashes so I was very keen to test it having never used a primer before. Rather surprisingly the product goes on white, which I found a little worrying as I have such dark black lashes, however it’s actually extremely helpful as you can easily see which lashes you’ve missed. Luckily it doesn’t stay white too long (phew!), quickly drying to near clear. I found it very easy to apply and it went on fairly evenly with no clumping. It works really well as a base, as it made applying my mascara on top quicker and easier than normal - and I used noticeably less product too. Although I can definitely see a difference in volume which is very pleasing, unfortunately I didn’t see any other benefits to warrant the £14.50 price point. I definitely don’t look like I’m wearing false lashes as claimed."

Reviewer: KB

6 / 8

Maybelline Lash Sensational Primer Mascara, £7.99

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The promise: "Boosts the look of mascara volume and length, leaving lashes soft and supple."

We give it: 7/10

Review: "I’m always on the lookout for a helping hand in the lash department and have tried my fair share of wands, curling tools and false lashes with varying degrees of success. I was keen, therefore, to try out the Maybelline Lash Sensational Primer Mascara as another opportunity for boosting lash volume and length.  As a brunette the bright white colouring of this product was a bit disconcerting - I spend much of my time looking for white hairs to pull out so painting them on, even on my eyelashes, just felt wrong!  As it turned out the white colour of this primer was both a blessing and curse for me.  On the one hand it’s a useful guide during application, as it highlights which lashes I’ve covered and any I’ve missed, but on the other it’s an added stress when leaving the house desperately hoping there aren’t any rogue white lashes peaking through.  Nevertheless, once coverage is complete the lashes do instantly appear thicker and with more body and volume then I’ve ever achieved with any standalone mascara.  The length is helped too, though to a lesser degree.  If you’re in a rush clumping can be an issue with this primer so it’s worth taking some time to apply the primer evenly and smoothly to avoid compounding the problem when it comes to the mascara top layer.  All in all I’m sold on this primer - when applied with care."

Reviewer: GB

7 / 8

Dior Diorshow Maximiser 3D Triple Volume Plumping Lash Primer, £25.50

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The promise: “DIORSHOW Lash Maximizer, the exclusive Dior backstage mascara serum-primer that thoroughly plumps lashes.”

We give it: 8/10

Review: "I'm a huge fan of the Dior Show mascara range - it's the only mascara I actually buy as I know I'm guaranteed to look as though I have more lashes than I naturally have, all while looking thicker and longer. I wouldn't even think to pick up a lash primer, especially when the mascara on its own gives such great volume but was interested to see what this could do. Packaged in a chic white tube with a well bristled brush, it's a white formula, so don't be alarmed! Applying this to all of my lashes, it really helps to separate them ready for mascara application, while helping to boost the length and volume. Once dry I applied my usual Dior Show mascara on top and was pleasantly surprised at how much thicker my lashes looked. It's called the 'Triple Volume Plumping' primer, and true to its name it does boost the volume; however, when you use Dior mascara anyway, I don't think you necesarily need this added extra. It probably comes into its own more when your mascara isn't quite so impressive."

Reviewer: SM

8 / 8

Shiro Kombu Mascara Primer, £36

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The promise: “A lash treatment for both daytime and evenings, this is the perfect product to create a long-lasting, bright-eyed look naturally.”

We give it: 7/10

Review: “I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the volumising abilities of certain mascara primers in the past and as a result, usually reserve them for special occasions when I need to add extra oomph to my lash line. I’ve had good experiences so far and this mascara primer certainly made a similar impression on me. Although white in colour, it went on very subtly. So subtly in fact that I wasn’t sure if any had actually gone on initially. However, when I put my usual mascara on top, its effect was suddenly crystal clear. Making my lashes look longer compared to mascara alone, it was great from a lengthening perspective but not so much a curling one as its press release claimed. At £36, I’m hesitant to say that it’s worth the price and the extra step in my routine - I’d rather spend the money on a mascara whose brush hits a range of lash needs in one go.”

Reviewer: AM