by Michelle

After what was a very long test period (four months!), I am happy to report good things about Youngblood Mineral Cosmetics’ Lash Prime ($24).

As a busy mom of two and full-time college student, I admit to being resistant to primers of any kind. My first thought was, “You mean I have to apply a primer and then the mascara too?” I patently refuse to put any more steps in my makeup routine than absolutely necessary. Most mornings I’m fortunate to get one coat of mascara on before my toddler clambers up onto the step stool next to me, bumps my arm, and the wand applies the mascara all over my face. The thought of a two-step lash routine was daunting, and, well, a bit irksome. I had never used a lash primer and didn’t really see the need for one. So this was a step out of my comfort zone, but I did it diligently every day for the sake of experimentation and TIA’s loyal readers!

First let me say: Be certain to read the application directions. The first time I used this product, I used it incorrectly. I applied it to my lashes, let it dry, and then put on my mascara. I ended up with little round blobs at the end of my lashes. Hmmm… I wasn’t impressed. When I finally had a moment to go online and do my research on Youngblood’s website – I discovered that you need to apply the lash primer, then your mascara immediately over it while the primer is still wet. That made a big difference! No more little blobs on my lash tips.

So what is in it? A look at the ingredients list shows acrylates copolymer, second on the list behind water. This would make sense as this is an ingredient used to create thin coatings or films in cosmetics. There is evidence that it can be a skin and eye irritant (for more reading, see this analysis from the International Journal of Toxicology). Butylene glycol is the third ingredient. Delving into some online research told me that this is likely being used as a humectant and to stabilize and preserve the ingredients. It is also much preferable to its cousin propylene glycol, with better humectant properties and less possibility for irritation and skin sensitivity. Butylene glycol also aids the absorption of the other ingredients in the mix – which combined with the acrylates copolymer and its potential for irritation, could potentially make this a troublesome product for those with severe skin or eye sensitivity. The addition of the plasticizer polybutene (#6 on the ingredients list) is generally regarded as safe, despite some tests showing “transient eye irritation in rabbits” per the International Journal of Toxicology report. Macadamia and kukui nut oils show up down the list (for those with nut allergies) and the ubiquitous preservative phenoxyethanol rears its ugly head toward the bottom of the ingredients list. Despite having eye irritation problems with many commercial mascara formulations, I did not experience any while using the Youngblood lash primer – at least not any that I would attribute primarily to the Primer.

I used the lash primer with three different brands of mascaras to see how it would affect the performance of each. First, I used it with 100% Pure’s Fruit Pigmented Mascara in Black Tea ($18). I have always loved the length and thickness that 100% Pure mascara gave my lashes, but as a very waxy and oil-based formula, I found by midday I was often wearing more under my eyes than on my lashes. So what better product to put over a primer, right? I must say, this was where I saw the most improvement in performance! The addition of the Lash Prime kept my mascara in place all day, without the running and smearing I had experienced when wearing the mascara alone. If you use a waxy/oil-based natural mascara, this primer will help it stay put. The downside? If you went out of your way to purchase mascara with natural ingredients and natural colorants, a lash primer with synthetic ingredients may not be your cup of tea.

Next, I tried Youngblood Lash Prime underneath Maybelline Volum’ Express Falsies Flared Waterproof mascara ($8). As always, this mascara began to irritate my eyes about six to eight hours after application. It always does. I only keep it in my makeup arsenal for times when something waterproof is a necessity. The application of the Lash Prime beneath it did nothing to prevent my mascara’s usual irritation, and I saw no real added benefit. My lashes did not appear longer, nor did the mascara perform any better. Maybelline’s product is already chocked so full of synthetic polymers and plasticizers and binders that adding a primer was really quite redundant.

My final trial was using the primer under my usual mascara – Real Purity Mascara ($13). This mascara tends to be a bit drier and stickier than most. It seemed as though application of this mascara over the Lash Prime, while giving a smoother finish to the lash, also thinned out the mascara and reduced its coating ability. It required multiple swipes with the brush to build up any real volume. I found applying the primer, a thin coat of mascara, allowing it to dry, and then applying another coat of Real Purity Mascara was the best solution. Real Purity generally wears well on its own with little flaking or smudging, so I didn’t notice a huge difference in the longevity of my mascara. Again, if you took the time to seek out an all-natural product like Real Purity’s, using a primer with synthetic ingredients may not be what you want to do. I’ll leave that tradeoff up to you.

It is possible that an underlying benefit of the lash primer, one I could not immediately see, was that it moisturized my lashes. I confess, after a long day of classes, internships, kids, and homework, I often flop into bed at 2 a.m. without removing my mascara. At the beginning of this trial, my right eye showed the result of my carelessness – a sizable chunk of my outer lashes had broken off and were about half the length of the others. Over the four months I used the Youngblood Lash Prime, the lashes did grow back and are now almost the same length as their neighbors. This probably would have happened without the primer. However, I can report that I did not experience any new lash breakage, despite my continued careless ways. So I do suspect the primer may have helped keep my lashes moisturized and less brittle. At a cost of about $24, some good makeup remover would likely be the less-expensive route for someone like me, but if you have chronically brittle lashes, this might be the extra help you need.

Overall, the Youngblood Lash Prime did improve the performance of some of my lower toxicity mascaras, and it is for this use that the product is best suited. It may offer some help to those with brittle lashes as well. Is it worth the extra step in the morning? If you don’t mind a few synthetics and are often looking like a raccoon by lunchtime, then my answer is YES!

Ingredients: Water (Aqua, Eau), Acrylates Copolymer, Butylene Gylcol, Copernicia Cerifera (Carnauba) Wax, Polybutene, Stearic Acid, Glyceryl Stearate, Triethanolamine, Ethylhexylglycerin, Oleic Acid, Macadamia Intergrifolia Seed Oil, Aleurites Moluccana Seed Oil, Simethicone, Tocopheryl Acetate, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Glycerin, Phenoxyethanol, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Sodium Hyaluronate, Panthenol, Rosa Centifolia Flower Water. May Contain: Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891), Iron Oxides (CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499)