Review: Benefit Stay Don’t Stray Eye Primer

By Voxy  

I recently read some internet posts by Benefit sales associates describing Benefit’s aggressive sales practices (as in: your job is to go forth into other departments of, say, Nordstrom’s, and come up to women while they are looking at, say, shoes, and pull them over to the Benefit counter and try to sell them, say, makeup) that make me not really want to buy anything else from this company, and that kind of make me regret having bought the few Benefit products I already own. I don’t want to encourage any company that advocates such aggressive sales tactics. It’s rude.

Nevertheless, I thought I should finish this review I started of Benefit’s Stay Don’t Stray Eye Primer, and we’ll see how likely I am to buy or review Benefit products in future.

I am a staunch fan of Too Faced Shadow Insurance eyeshadow primer (which I have reviewed previously), so it would take a lot to get me to abandon that product. However, when I swatched this product at Sephora, I was impressed by the coverage, and so I thought I would add it to my arsenal. (My TFSI was a little jealous at first but has gotten over it.)

Benefit’s Stay Don’t Stray primer is supposed to be a combination primer and concealer, which is what’s attractive about it. According to Benefit, you can use it both on the eyelid and on the undereye area. Whereas TFSI goes on a sheer cappuccino color but dries nude, Stay Don’t Stray goes on a sort of light camel color (definitely more yellow than pink) and stays that way. It’s relatively opaque. TFSI does not offer anything in the way of coverage, really, but does provide a nice smooth canvas for eyeshadows and helps the color stay fresh.

The pump takes some getting used to, as it is really better thought of not as a “pump” at all. If you use it like a regular pump, which is to say by putting your finger on the top of it and pressing down, you will get far, far too much product, even if you try to use a very light touch. Instead, tap the top of the pump with your index finger several times, like maybe 10-20, until you start to see product appear at the spout. You can keep tapping to get the amount you want. It seems weird, but it works. (The very first time you use the product, you might want to try the traditional pump method, just to make sure product is flowing all the way up the pump, but after that, the tapping method works infinitely better.)

If you have oily skin, or are eighteen and have perfect skin, you will probably like this product a lot. If, like me, you are not eighteen (shocker, I know) and/or have drier skin, this may not be a good choice for you. With TFSI, eyeshadows apply very smoothly. Stay Don’t Stray leaves the lid much drier and very matte, so I have a harder time getting a smooth application. Similar complaints about dryness are often made about Urban Decay Primer Potion, so I suspect it’s a deliberate choice of formulation on Benefit’s part rather than some sort of weird unanticipated side effect. Due to the trouble with blending, I haven’t tried it with any complicated eye makeup looks, just with a simple 2-shade look (lighter on the lid, darker in the crease) and with pencil and gel eyeliners. Shadows do not seem to wander off my eyelid, but I don’t think the staying power is any better than TFSI. Because Stay Don’t Stray is yellow-toned and opaque, however, it does brilliantly cover redness/purpleness at the upper lash line, which I sometimes have in the morning after a bad night, so I’m definitely keeping it around to cover that.

It does cover undereye circles if they aren’t too dark, but I’ve had trouble combining it with other products, again because of the dryness. It makes any other concealer that I’ve tried with or on top of it (liquid, cream, or powder) get dry and crusty and settle into lines — but by itself it isn’t quite enough for me. Maybe in the summer, when dryness is less of an issue, this will work better for me. In the meanwhile, I’ll keep it for covering severe red/purpleness on the upper eyelid near the lash line, but I’m sticking with TFSI as a shadow primer and sticking with my regular undereye concealers for dark circles.

For this amount of money, I’d say skip it unless you either a) are a Benefit-aholic, or 2) have eyelids that are oily enough that TFSI doesn’t work for you.

And watch out the next time you go to a department store shoe section! You may be ambushed by a Benefit sales associate hiding behind the clearance rack. Bring pepper spray.


Benefit Stay Don’t Stray Eye Primer: $24

Provenance: Purchased

Price/Value Ratio (high-end: poor/fair/good/excellent): Good. Given how little you use, it will probably last a long time. Wish it were about $5 cheaper.

Purchase again? Probably not; other products serve my needs better. Also, feeling pretty anti-Benefit at the moment.

(Have you used this product? Love it? Hate it? Want it? Give a holler in the comments!)

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