Battle of the Eye Shadow Primers: Too Faced V Urban Decay

By xgirl | May 8 2009 | 29 Comments


I’m not usually fond of extra steps in the makeup process if I feel they’re unnecessary. This is why I don’t usually wear a makeup base under foundation and never bother with a base coat under nail polish. With eye shadow, however, I have learned that a good base is a must-have if I want my eye shadow to last all day. Without it, my eye shadow will crease or even wear off completely after a few hours.

I started using Urban Decay’s Primer Potion a few years ago and have stuck with it ever since, finding it pretty good at helping my eye makeup to stay put. I recently noticed that Too Faced also makes an eye shadow primer, however, and decided to give it a try. I wanted to give Too Faced’s Shadow Insurance a fair comparison against the Urban Decay product, so I used one primer on each eye in order to judge performance. Read on for my findings…


Too Faced Shadow Insurance comes in a cute blue squeeze tube. Very handy for carrying around and easy to dispense a small amount of product from the tip without overdoing it. Urban Decay Primer Potion comes in a purple container with a wand applicator. As many have already discovered, the shape of the container means a huge amount of product tends to gather around the widest part of the tube, where the wand can’t reach it, so if you didn’t want to waste product, you needed to cut the tube open and scrape out the contents. Urban Decay have been promising a response to this problem for quite some time, and what have their crack team of designers come up with? They’ve… tilted the wand tip so it sits at an angle and will apparently reach that previously unreachable product. A revolutionary approach for sure…

The winner in this round? Shadow Insurance, without a doubt.


On first trying the Shadow Insurance, I found the product seemed to have separated a bit, and a small amount of oil came out of the tube with the primer. However, after giving the tube a shake, and making sure to do this on subsequent uses, this issue has disappeared and hasn’t re-occurred. I squeeze the tiniest amount of Shadow Insurance (about the size of a grain of couscous if you need a comparison) onto my fingertip and then blend it onto my eyelid. It blends easily and evens out the surface of my eyelid, without looking like I’m wearing anything. With the Primer Potion, I use the wand to dab a small amount (probably slightly more than with the Shadow Insurance) of the product onto my lid, then blend again with my fingertip. With a small amount of product, my lid also looks clean, even and product-free.

No winner here, I don’t really have a preference for either based on application.

Applying eye shadow

Next I apply eye shadow with a brush and blend. Application and blending is not negatively affected by either product – the shadow goes on easily and blends nicely. However, when I have finished, I notice that the colour looks that bit stronger on the eye where I have used Shadow Insurance. It’s a tiny difference, noticeable only when examined up close.

Shadow Insurance wins out by a tiny margin.

Lasting Power

And so we come to the most important round. I did always notice that Primer Potion kept my eye shadow on longer than using no base at all. It would last a good 4-6 hours, but by the time I took my makeup off in the evening, I usually noticed some creasing at the very least. When I compared it against Shadow Insurance at the same time, I really noticed a big difference. At the end of the day, after about 10 hours of wear, the shadow on my Primer Potion eye has creased and is beginning to wear off in the centre of the eyelid. The Shadow Insurance eye, however, still looks almost perfect. There is a very slight amount of creasing, but the shadow on the lid is still perfect, with no wearing or fading at all.

Shadow Insurance is a clear winner here.

Overall result

Too Faced’s Shadow Insurance is the clear winner in my experiment and will be a must-have in my makeup bag from now on. Try it yourself for €18 from Too Faced displays in House of Fraser and Debenhams.

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29 Replies to "Battle of the Eye Shadow Primers: Too Faced V Urban Decay"

  • BLUE_Eyes says:

    i just got this recently as a birthday present and i LOVE it- i think i prefer it more coz i didnt like the feeling of the wand on my eyelid on the urban decay one!

  • Efa says:

    How does Benefit’s Lemon-aid compare?

  • stylefreak says:

    im 100% sold :lol:

  • Glitterkitty says:

    ooo how timely, xgirl!!
    i’ve been wondering about eye shada primers allweek, wondering if i should get one

    i’ve noticed that
    lemon aid is not at all what you want in an eye shada primer, it increases creases and it just a fab product to use on eyelids to even out tone when only wearing say line of liquid liner

    mac face and body doesn’t hold eyeshadow either
    this is my daytime foundation and even after a good dusting of powder, no lemon aid on top lid, i get creases

    at night when i wear mac select foundation, this and a good dusting of powder – no lemon aid on top lid – and my eyeshadow has often lasted, ahem, well into the next day if it’s a particularly big evint
    w abs no creasing

    i think i just need a decent primer for daytime… so i’m going to try the too faced!

  • marquise says:

    I was just looking at these two products last night so am delighted to see this article! Will definately be purchasing this over the weekend.

  • BLUE_Eyes says:

    efa i dont get lemonaid at all- ive used it for ages coz I felt I should but it makes the shadow crease so I wouldnt consider it as a primer!

    too faced all the way :)

  • LauraF says:

    Excellent article being using Urban Decay for last year and love it apart from the wastage but def gonna give the Two Faced a go once the others used up, thanks!

  • Brunette says:

    Brilliant post! My eye shadow always creases – so annoying!

    I went to Mac a couple of weeks ago to solve the problem because I’d hear their paint tube thingys were good as a base. The assistant recommended paint pots instead, think the shade I got is called painterly. It works really well most of the time – especially with dark, more matte colours. But it’s not so good with more sparkly shadows like Mac Jest or ricepaper. Still a major improvement though.

    I had used Beneifte F.Y.Eye (think thats the name) and Barbara Daly eye primer before – found both useless.

  • If I use face primer (I have something by Smashbox) on my eyes will my eye lids fall off? Seriously, is the skin that different it needs a different primer?

  • Chica says:

    Too Faced Shadow Insurance didn’t work for me. At all.
    It’s great if you have dry lids but too liquidy if you have oily lids – UDPP works much better for me – wish they’d go with better packaging though, I much prefer the Too Faced tube :)

  • Polly says:

    Really good review! How much do they each cost?

  • xgirl says:

    Polly, I know the TooFaced is €18 and the Urban Decay is around that too, not sure of the exact price at the moment.

    Chica, my lids actually are quite oily and it works for me, but I know what works for one person might not necessarily work for another!

    Kitty, try out the face primer on your lids, but just to be careful, I’d start with a very small amount of it, in case your eyes are at all sensitive and might have a reaction to it. Sometimes something designed for the face might not be suitable for wear close to the eyes for that reason, whereas with products designed for the eye area, at least you know they should be eye safe.

  • Emzie says:

    I usually just rub my foundation over my eyelids and I find this works great! Any one else do this or am I just really missing out by not using primer!! -x-

  • I’ve done the foundation on eyelids thing too.

  • jenizzle says:

    I’m gonna stay faithful to my UDPP! I cut it open there during the week and got the extra out of it and put it into a li’l plastic pot. This stuff is legendary and revolutionised eyeshadow application for me cos my eyelids are so oily! UDPP never creases on me. I guess different primers work for different people. Another one to mention is ArtDeco primer – right up there with this lot :)

  • miffyonline says:

    Between MAC and UD, I have to say I find the MAC Paint Pot in Painterly the best, I tend to wear neutrals most of the time and it both evens out tone and acts as a primer.

    I would love to try out the TFSI but I not only have the PP, I have 2 UDPPs, one unopened!

    So I might get around to trying the TFSI when I use all the others up, say in around 36 years’ time!

  • laineyg says:

    I use MAC Painterly as well – Brunette I think Bare Study is the one recommended for shimmery shadows. I also use the Indianwood paint pot under brown shadows.

    I also use Shadesticks as a base but on top of the painterly usually.

    Found the only use of Lemon aid was to even out tone, no good as a base.

  • laineyg says:

    Emzie I used to use foundation but find the painterly much better – lasts much longer.

  • sweetie says:

    I just do a bit of old-fashioned foundation or concealer, just a teeny weeny amount, then dusting with the powder, then matte nude eyeshadow, and then eye shadows on the top.
    While it’s working quite alright for me, I’ve been reading up on these primers for a while not being able to make a decision which one to try. Now I’ll definitely go for Shadow Insurance. Past experiences have shown that everything xgirl loves suits me great as well :D

  • firenze says:

    Hmmm. Interesting. Have been using the UD for a few years now, and find it to be totally reliable – it keeps my eye shadow perfect, even on long hot days. Tempted to give the Two Faced a go, but have always found their packaging better than the actual product. I also have really oily lids, so I might just stick with the ol’ UD – if it ain’t broke etc. etc. Granted the UD packaging is more suited to a fifteen year old than a grown woman…. Interested to hear that the MAC Painterly works for some people – tried it and found it absolutely useless compared with the UD. If I put it on in the morning I would have creases by lunchtime.

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