Oily Eyelids Blog Featured Image

Ask Setareh

How To Prime Oily Skin and Eyelids

Ready to take things to the next level? Join my Patreon and put a few dollars in my virtual tip jar!

In return, you’ll get access to exclusive perks for both makeup lovers and makeup artists.

become a patron!

Ask Me

Do you have a beauty or makeup question? Tap the button below and get advice from a pro. Your question may even become a future blog post!

have a pressing makeup question?

want to work with me 1:1?

Used in cosmetology schools around the world, translated in German, this is like having a makeup artist in your back-pocket.
Get your copy >

i wrote a book (and it's really, really good)

Bad habits are hard to shake. Whether you're new to makeup or need a refresher, my course is foundational!
Learn More >

work smarter, not harder 

First thing you have to know is your skin type. Grab my free skin type guide here >

New here?

Oily Eyelids Blog Pinterest Image

You may or may not know that I have a dedicated webpage on my website where you can ask me your beauty questions, for free! If you’d like to ask me a question, either hop on my email list (you can sign up for it in the footer of this page) or you can submit a question at Ask Setareh. Ok, now onto the question!

Dear Natalie,

I was wondering do you know of a good primer for the eyelids or the entire face that’s good for oily skin? The primer I use now works well for about four hours after that it’s time to redo everything. I really need a good all day primer that specifically works for oily eyelids and skin. What do you suggest?

— Shadows23

Hello Shadows 23,

Believe it or not, oily eyelids are pretty common, even for people with overall dry skin. Fortunately for you, cosmetic companies have developed and formulated products specifically for oily eyelids. Eyelids have a tendency to be oilier than other parts of our face. Without knowing what primers you’ve been using, it’s hard to tailor my recommendations. Remember, generic advice = generic results. However, two eye primers come to mind and are favorites of MUAs for oily eyelids. Fortunately, they have two very different price points.

How To Prime Your Oily Eyelids

For The Occasional Eyeshadow Wearer with Oily Eyelids

The more economical option would be the are the Wet N Wild Photo Focus™ Eyeshadow Primer. Now, I cannot speak to the performance of this eye primer but many artists who I have recommended this product. If you don’t wear a ton of eyeshadow and you only need an insurance policy for the occasional times you do, this may be the perfect option. Even better, if you have a friend who also has oily eyelids, I suggest splitting it! There’s no way you’d use up this product if you only wear eyeshadow 1-2x a week and we all know about expiration dates.

Wet N Wild Photo Focus™ Eyeshadow Primer

Wet N Wild Photo Focus™ Eyeshadow Primer


For The Serious Eyeshadow Wearer with Oily Eyelids

Now, if you can afford to splurge a little bit more and you wear eyeshadow more frequently than not, I 100% recommend (and use in my professional kit).


NARS Pro Prime Smudge Proof Eye Primer

 NARS Pro-Prime™ Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base

Product Comparison

Both the NARS and WNW share the first three ingredients, and in the same order! They share an additional nine other ingredients as well. Formula-wise, they could be considered dupes of one another. NARS’ ingredients are less in number and contain more “natural ingredients” vs. their synthetic/less expensive alternatives. See ingredient comparisons at the bottom of the post.


Wet N Wild Photo Focus™ Eyeshadow Primer Ingredients

  • Isododecane
  • Talc
  • Cyclopentasiloxane
  • Trimethylsiloxysilicate
  • Disteardimonium Hectorite
  • Polyethylene
  • VP/Eicosene Copolymer
  • Boron Nitride
  • Aluminum Starch Octenylsuccinate
  • Propylene Carbonate
  • Sorbitan Sesquioleate
  • Synthetic Beeswax
  • Pentaerythrityl Tetraisostearate
  • Methicone
  • Phenoxyethanol
  • Acrylates Copolymer
  • Magnesium Carbonate
  • Dimethicone Crosspolymer
  • Bisabolol,
  • Sorbic Acid
  • Octyldodecyl Stearoyl Stearate
  • Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride
  • Dimethicone/Vinyl Dimethicone
  • Crosspolymer
  • Crithmum Maritimum Extract
  • Dimethiconol
  • Nelumbo Nucifera Stamen Extract
  • Bismuth Oxychloride/CI 77163
  • Iron Oxides/CI 77491
  • CI 77492
  • CI 77499
  • Titanium Dioxide/CI 77891​


NARS Pro-Prime™ Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base Ingredients

  • Isododecane
  • Talc
  • Cyclopentasiloxane
  • Disteardimonium Hectorite
  • Vp/Eicosene Copolymer
  • Dimethicone
  • Cetyl Ethylhexanoate
  • Cyclohexasiloxane
  • Sorbitan Sesquioleate
  • Trimethylsiloxysilicate
  • Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride
  • Propylene Carbonate
  • Peg-40 Stearate
  • Sorbitan Olivate
  • Tocopheryl Acetate
  • Cera Alba (Beeswax)
  • Phenoxyethanol
  • Diethylhexyl Syringylidenemalonate
  • Oryza Sativa [Oryza Sativa (Rice) Bran Oil Extract]
  • Triethoxycaprylylsilane
  • Castor Oil Phosphate
  • Sea Whip Extract
  • Mica
  • Ci 77891 (Titanium Dioxide)
  • Ci 77163 (Bismuth Oxychloride


Natalie’s Recommendation: Try the WNW first to see how that works. If it works well, great! If you think you want to splurge and see if the NARS works better, you always have a great fall back option!


How To Prime Your Oily Skin

(or should you?)

Again, it’s hard for me to specifically answer this question without knowing what you have used or tried in the past as well as your current skin care and skin prep routine (read the difference between skin care and skin prep here).  Now, I will say that more often than not, clients and students of mine with oily skin have a tendency of over-exfoliating and over-drying their gorgeous, age defying skin.

What ends up happening in a nutshell is that they strip off oil from their skin which actually puts the skin in panic mode and creates even more oil! So make sure you are using skin-care products designed specifically for oily skin. If you are unsure that you really have oily skin and/or are using the wrong products for them, take my short and sweet skin type quiz here — or of course refer to my book, Be Your Own Makeup Artist, which goes in way more depth about how to know what products are formulated for your skin.

Step 1: Implement a skin care routine specifically for oily skin (my former assistant Lais shared her insanely popular skin care regime for oily skin here).

Step 2: Invest in a good toner and if you don’t want to splurge, opt for some alcohol-free witch hazel! You don’t need to use witch hazel daily (as a matter of fact, don’t). Just use it when you know you are going to have a long, makeup-wearing day.

Step 3: If you follow the first two steps, you really shouldn’t need to prime your skin unless you are really oily, are going to be under bright studio lights/outside AND wearing makeup all day and want long-lasting action. In which case, here are my three favorite mattefying primers, in order from most economical to least.



Rimmel Stay Matte Primer

Rimmel Stay Matte Primer 


Although I haven’t personally experimented with the common drugstore “dupe” for the MUFE, I’ve heard that this primer works great for oily skin and has been vetted by lots of makeup artists that I trust. Only apply to the oily parts of your face (namely the t-zone).


Make Up Forever Mattyfying Primer

Make Up Forever Mattyfying Primer

This is seriously a primer I use for the oiliest of oiliest (hello male clients!). I have NEVER applied this primer on the entire fact but I have used it quite a bit in between the brows and on the chin. This performs more-or-less like a professional product and I would say, there is a slight learning curve.



Veil Primer by Hourglass

Veil by Hourglass

Now this is one of my favorite primers of all time. You can use this primer on all skin types (and yes, it’s oil-skin friendly) and it has such a beautiful light-reflecting effect when foundation is applied on top. Like the MUFE and Rimmel primers listed above, I have never used this on the entire face but rather (and a bit more liberally) in the t-zone. If you’re a pro, get the big size! If you’re not a pro, start out with the small size to see if you like it.


How these primers compare?

Unlike the Wet N Wild and NARS eyelid primers above, these ingredient lists differ quite a bit. This means that they will not perform that same… and unless you are a cosmetic chemist, it’ll take some trial and error to find the perfect primer for you. Of course, there are WAY more primers out there in the world formulated for oily skin, so please do your research.


Rimmel Stay Matte Primer Ingredients

  • Aqua/Water/Eau
  • Cyclopentasiloxane
  • Talc
  • Cetyl PEG/PPG-10/1 Dimethicone
  • Aluminum Starch Octenylsuccinate
  • Propylene Glycol Vinyl Dimethicone/Methicone Silsesquioxane Crosspolymer
  • Isononyl Isononanoate
  • Polypropylene
  • Silica
  • Silica Dimethyl Silylate
  • Disteardimonium Hectorite
  • Magnesium Sulfate
  • Bis-PEG/PPG-14/14 Dimethicone
  • Glycerin
  • Laureth-7
  • Tribehenin
  • Xanthan Gum
  • Phenoxyethanol
  • Propylene Carbonate
  • Sorbitan Sesquioleate
  • Chlorphenesin
  • Tocopheryl Acetate
  • Disodium EDTA
  • Triethoxycaprylylsilane
  • Pentaerythrityl Tetra-Di-T-Butyl Hydroxyhydrocinnamate
  • May Contain/Peut Contenir/+/-: Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891)


Make Up Forever Mattfying Primer Ingredients

  • Water
  • Magnesium
  • Aluminium Silicate
  • Pentylene Glycol
  • Ethylhexylglycerin
  • Lactic Acid
  • Butylene Glycol
  • Fragrance
  • Avena Sativa (Oat) Kernel Extract
  • Cichorium Intybus (Chicory) Root Extract
  • Phenoxyethanol
  • Sodium Hyaluronate
  • Cinnamomum Cassia Bark Extract
  • Sanguisorba Officinalis Root Extract
  • Zingiber Officinade (Ginger) Root Extract
  • Benzyl Benzoate
  • Benzyl Salicylate


Veil Primer by Hourglass Ingredients 

  • Zinc Oxide (4.2%)
  • Titanium Dioxide (2.45%)
  • Cyclopentasiloxane
  • Isododecane
  • Polysilicone-11
  • Polymethylsilsesquioxane
  • Hexyl Laurate
  • PEG-10 Dimethicone
  • Polyglyceryl-4 Isosterate
  • Stearic Acid
  • Alumina


Non-Makeup Primers For Oily Skin

For days when oily skin is even more prevalent, like when you’re outside where it’s hot, muggy, or sticky, I suggest putting some oil blotting or rice paper wipes in your purse. You can always use a tissue as well but a little blotting throughout the day, especially in areas most prone to oil (t-zone, chin, upper lip), goes a long way!


In Closing

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, generic advice produces generic results.

The best way to really learn what will (and will not) work for you is investing in your education. Reading free blogs like this, and watching countless YouTube vides, and skimming product reviews may help you learn a lot — but honestly, you can save a lot of time, money, and frustration in investing in your beauty education.

Look no Further!

Need Makeup Help?

Beauty is about perception, not about make-up. I think the beginning of all beauty is knowing and liking oneself. You can't put on make-up, or dress yourself, or do you hair with any sort of fun or joy if you're doing it from a position of correction.

kevyn aucoin