Get ready to take your lash game to a whole new level

Primers and serums – they’re no longer limited to skincare routines. Turns out they could also be our new secret weapons for achieving longer and stronger lashes.

Whether used to prep, set or treat, their formulas can be found brimming with thickening and conditioning ingredients to help boost the lash line in the short and long-term. Plus, they can give our mascara a noticeable upgrade, making it smoother to apply as well as enhancing its look and its wear.

Sounds pretty amazing, right? Here’s everything you need to know about eyelash primers and serums, how they differ and our top tips for getting the most out of them in order to help you find your perfect match. 

What does an eyelash & mascara primer do?

So much! In a nutshell though, it makes mascara live up to its full potential. Not only does it help it to go on with fewer clumps and last longer but depending on the formula and brush, it can also lengthen, thicken and volumise lashes.

Many contain cocktails of nourishing ingredients as well (including oils and ceramides) to help strengthen lashes over time. 

Does mascara primer help with smudging?

In a word, yes – eyelash primers act a little like a gentle mascara magnet. It’s also useful to note that mascara may smudge because of the oil our eyelids produce, so an eyeshadow primer could be useful here, to mattify the eye area and help stop things from sliding around.

Mascara primers can also be a great longwear option if you tend to find some waterproof mascara formulas too drying. Cue a conditioning mascara primer to give lashes the care they need, while also keeping flakes at bay.

How to apply mascara primer?

For best results, we suggest always starting with an eyelash curler to make the most of the natural lashes before applying any product on top.

After this, apply the eyelash primer the same as a mascara, making sure to coat the lashes from root to tip for the perfect base.

The next step divides opinion. Some say that allowing the eyelash primer to fully dry before applying mascara could potentially lead to clumpy lashes, which, of course, is exactly what we don’t want after we’ve gone to the effort of adding an extra step to our make-up routine in order to prevent clumps in the first place.

Some say that at least 30 seconds of drying time is best to fully reap the benefits of the primer while others suggest a few seconds. It’s a good idea to read what the product you’ve chosen recommends or try all the above to see which one works best for you.

For more mascara tips, check out our make-up tutorial, with make-up artist Jesse Walker, on how to do a glam (and easy) gold smokey eye.

What’s an eyelash serum?

An eyelash serum, much like a face serum, is a leave-on treatment that helps hydrate, nourish and strengthen lashes over time, to help reduce breakage and support healthy hair growth – a great choice if you have fragile or weak lashes.

They’ll often contain more ‘active’ ingredients, such as peptides and hyaluronic acid, and many can also be used on the brows for even more benefits.

What’s the difference between an eyelash primer & an eyelash serum?

Generally speaking, eyelash primers are designed to be applied underneath mascara and along the lashes from root to tip. Eyelash serums are designed to be applied along the lash line so they can help support healthy lash growth.

As with most things though, there are some exceptions. Some serums can also be used as primers too, so it can be a good idea to check the product’s instructions to ensure you get as much bang for your buck as possible. 

Nine of the best eyelash primers & best eyelash serums to try at Boots

Whatever your budget or go-to mascara, here are nine eyelash primer and serum picks for helping lashes look their fullest and longest. Trust us, once you add one of these to your eye make-up routine, you won’t look back.

Shop more brilliant lash boosters in our full range.

Best night serum for lashes & brows

Estée Lauder Turbo Lash Revitalising Night Serum for Lash + Brow

• Designed for nightly use

• Tapered applicator

Boost your beauty sleep (and your lash line) with this overnight serum designed for daily use. Containing a thickening complex that includes strengthening amino acids (the building blocks of proteins), rice protein and conditioning panthenol and hyaluronic acid, it’s a great final step to your night-time beauty routine.

Best mascara primer for separation

Clinique Lash Building Primer

• Size: 4.8g

• Helps to separate lashes

Designed to perfectly prime and condition lashes, this stealthy undercoat has also received glowing reviews from fellow Boots customers for its ability to separate lashes. A great choice for those of us who struggle to achieve a clump-free finish.

Best multitasking mascara primer

No7 Lash Impact Primer

• Size: 7ml

• Curved brush

• Water-resistant

Mascara works hard, but this multitasker works harder. Used alone as a lash tint, it helps lashes look separated but defined – perfect for days when you want your make-up to look more subtle. When paired with mascara, it helps boost volume and length and when popped on as a top coat, it helps add water-resistant durability to keep smudges to a minimum. Its curved brush provides great lift, too.

Best volumising mascara primer

Urban Decay Subversion Lash Primer

• Size: 8.5ml

• Cruelty-free

Like your lashes to make a statement? This volumising mascara primer could be your new go-to. Its densely-packed bristles add thickness in just a couple of swipes, while its formula enriched with vitamin E and panthenol leaves lashes feeling nourished. The perfect combo.

Best mascara primer for volume & length

L'Oréal Paris Lash Paradise Mascara Primer

• Size: 7.2ml

• Ultra-soft brush

Reviewers have been bowled over by this primer’s ability to improve the glide and results of their mascara. Creating a smooth canvas thanks to its blend of jojoba oil and vitamins, it’s brilliant at boosting both volume and length.

Best peptide lash & brow serum

The Ordinary Multi-Peptide Lash & Brow Serum

• Size: 5ml

• Silicone-free

• Vegan-friendly

• Cruelty-free

• Patch testing before use is advised

Peptides are having a massive beauty moment right now. While most well-known for making an appearance in skincare products, they’ve also started popping up in hair care. This serum from The Ordinary contains a blend of them, plus reinvigorating caffeine – all in a formula that feels non-greasy and lightweight.

Best eyelash serum & eyelash primer

Lancôme Cils Booster Lash Revitalising Serum

• Serum and primer in one

Skincare meets haircare in this luxe serum/primer hybrid that contains four types of amino acids to support healthy hair growth. What’s more, it’s also enriched with hydrating hyaluronic acid and anti-inflammatory cica to leave lashes feeling smooth and silky.

Best mascara primer for lift

YSL Mascara Volume Effet Faux Cils The Curler Primer

• Size: 5.1ml

• Great for curl and volume

This volumising primer not only increases the plumping effects of your mascara but also helps add lift and curl. With a lash-separating brush that reduces clumps, its fortifying formula helps benefit your lash line in the long-term, too. And while it goes on light pink to help you see how much you’re applying, rest assured that it transforms into a transparent base coat in seconds.

Best budget mascara primer

Rimmel London Ultimate Boost Volume Mascara Primer

• Size: 12ml

• Ophthalmologist tested

• Cruelty-free

You don’t have to wait until payday to get your hands on a great quality eyelash primer. This pick from Rimmel serves up thickness, length and volume at a budget-friendly price. Its micro-fibres add noticeable oomph, while a blend of conditioning oils (argan, jojoba and coconut) leave lashes feeling cocooned and cared for.