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What is Mascara Base?

Stacy C.
Stacy C.

Mascara base is a cosmetic that is applied on the eyelashes before mascara is put on. The desired result is to emphasize the effects of mascara, which is generally used to create the appearance of longer, thicker-looking eyelashes. It also helps stop the mascara from running, smudging, clumping and fading.

Also called mascara primer or eyelash primer, mascara base is a type of makeup base designed to enhance mascara performance. Some include a conditioning ingredient and vitamins to keep lashes soft and separate, since mascara tends to be drying — especially waterproof versions. The base is typically clear, white, or off-white in color, although tinted versions exist as well. Once mascara is applied over the base, the color of the primer underneath should not be visible. White mascara base is helpful for using colored mascaras. Purple or blue mascara might not show up well on dark lashes, but using primer to create a white base helps make tinted mascaras look more brilliant.

A woman applying mascara to her eyelashes.
A woman applying mascara to her eyelashes.

If used properly, mascara base can be a money-saver as well. Since the cosmetic is designed to prime lashes and create a good basic surface for mascara, fewer coats of mascara may be required. Fewer coats can mean a tube of mascara will last longer, although most have a shelf life of three to four months and should be replaced when they reaches their expiration dates. Mascara primer has a similar shelf life.

It is important to switch out tubes of mascara at least once every six months.
It is important to switch out tubes of mascara at least once every six months.

Mascara base is applied in a manner similar to that of regular mascara. Hold the cosmetic wand horizontally, at the base of the eyelashes, and wiggle the brush slowly through the eyelashes to apply a coat of the base. Mascara can be applied while the base is still wet, so there is no need to let the coat dry before proceeding. The wand of a base may look different than a mascara wand, because primer wands tend to have bristles that are shorter, stiffer, and closer together to ensure the fullest coverage of the lashes. Only one coat of base is necessary. Those who wish to curl the eyelashes should do that step before applying base or mascara.

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Discussion Comments


@starrynight - Maybe you need better eye makeup remover? All brands aren't created equal, after all! I've never had any trouble removing my mascara, base and all.

I did want to say though, that most of the time if you buy a good mascara you're not going to need base. I mean, obviously it's beneficial for crazy-colored mascaras. But for just normal mascara, a base shouldn't be necessary.

The base is supposed to stop clumping, running and fading, right? Well a good brand of mascara shouldn't be doing any of those things! Trust me, it's worth it to spend a few extra dollars for some quality makeup products.


I find that I have a lot more trouble getting my mascara off when I use mascara base. Mascara is hard to remove anyway, but the base just makes it stick to my lashes that much more!

I don't wear mascara often, so when I do I don't bother with the base. I don't think the base makes much difference in how my mascara looks, and it's really not worth the trouble of trying to get it off.


My mascara has a base on one end and a mascara on the other. The base has vitamins and natural oils in it that are supposed to nourish the lashes and help them grow longer and stronger.

I really like this base because using mascara everyday really wears the lashes out. I notice that my lashes fall out a lot more while applying and removing the mascara. So it's really nice that they've come up with a mascara base that helps fight against some of these negative side effects.


When I use a mascara base I also notice a lot less clumping when I apply my mascara. The mascara seems to go on with less effort and less mess.

I have never used a clear mascara, but a mascara base is very similar to this. I think you get more definition in your lashes when you use a base first.

I have also noticed how my mascara stays on longer throughout the day when I use a base first. If I don't use a base, by the middle of the day it looks like I don't even have any mascara on.

If I take the time to apply a base coat first, my mascara looks good the whole day and I don't feel like I need to touch it up halfway through the day.


When I first heard of using a mascara base, I thought it was just another thing to spend money on. But since I have very light eyelashes I need all the help I can get.

I bought some Shiseido mascara base after reading good online reviews about it. I really did notice a difference in my lashes after using it.

It made them appear longer, fuller and they stayed curled longer as well. I always use an eyelash curler, but it seemed like they never stayed curled for very long.

When I use the mascara base, my lashes stay curled longer and I don't have to put as many layers of mascara on. I think the more layers of mascara you apply, the more it weighs them down.

When you use a mascara base first, you don't have to use as much mascara, but you get the same effect that seems to last longer too.


@Latte31 - I agree and I wanted to add that when you use a new mascara it is better to turn the wand and pull it out rather than making a pumping motion because when you make a pumping motion you tend to get air in your mascara and it will dry out faster, and you really are not getting more of the application on the wand. I used to work in the cosmetics industry and I would always tell my customers that.


I have used eyelash primer and it does make a difference on how your lashes look. The problem is that I always forget to use it. The nice thing about the eyelash primer is that the lashes become perfectly separated so your lashes don’t clump together and become uncomfortable.

The best mascara that you can use is the volume mascara because they give the appearance of lengthening your lashes because the application goes on so smoothly. Mascara is really one of the things that I always try to use because it really does make an impact on the way your eyes look.

Sometimes I skip the eyeliner and eye shadow and just use mascara. Mascara has a way of making your eyes pop.

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    • A woman applying mascara to her eyelashes.
      By: haveseen
      A woman applying mascara to her eyelashes.
    • It is important to switch out tubes of mascara at least once every six months.
      By: bedya
      It is important to switch out tubes of mascara at least once every six months.
    • A mascara base can help prevent mascara from running.
      By: beornbjorn
      A mascara base can help prevent mascara from running.
    • Sharing make-up applicators with other people may spread bacteria and irritate eyelids.
      By: Minerva Studio
      Sharing make-up applicators with other people may spread bacteria and irritate eyelids.
    • Mascara should enhance a person's eye color.
      By: Antonioguillem
      Mascara should enhance a person's eye color.