Review: ELF Face Primer (A Hydrating Cheap Must-Have!)

ELF’s Face Primer is a hydrating vitamin-infused primer formulation, designed to prep the skin prior to makeup application to deliver a smooth, soft, and radiant finish.

For just under the price of $6, I will admit to a certain level of initial skepticism and trepidation, but considering the low cost investment and potentially high risk reward (given so many glowing, no pun intended, reviews), I decided to test my luck and try to provide other readers and anyone else who may be interested in trying out this product with the most objective account and review possible.

ELF is a line that has been highly recommended to me over the years for various reasons, known for a very inexpensive line of cosmetics that prove actual efficacy upon use but also tend to use high quality formulations and are all vegan and cruelty-free (not containing any parabens, sulfates, or harsh chemical additives).

Prior to trying out this product, my only experience with the brand was a makeup brush set received as a gift- which I was actually blown away by, and would compare in quality to Sephora Brand brushes or even those at higher price points.

The cosmetics line offers a vast array of cruelty-free and vegan cosmetics that actually work upon use and always sell for an extremely affordable price point, particularly in comparison to use and benefits.

The product also has suitable multi-use benefits, with a formulation that provides anti-aging benefits in conjunction with improved radiance to treat any signs of sallowness or dull skin, leaving the skin fully primed for a makeup application while providing balance and hydration throughout the day.

With that said, while Elf’s Hydrating Face Primer worked extremely well especially in comparison to cost for my dry skin type, some reviewers with more oily or combination complexions did feel the product made their skin feel greasy or oily throughout the day, so it is important to note that individual results will always vary.

Before we begin, make sure you’re ordering ELF from a legitimate retailer, NOT from a counterfeit seller. For your convenience, here is the Amazon link to an authentic ELF retailer.


This review will cover some main product features, some key ingredients in Elf’s Primer, some main pros and cons to bear in mind prior to purchase, and a final verdict, to help you make a more informed purchasing choice prior to any official point of sale.

ELF Cosmetics Hydrating Face Primer Model
Image Credit: ELF Cosmetics

Review: ELF Face Primer (A Hydrating Cheap Must-Have!) 1

Review: ELF Face Primer

ELF’s Hydrating Skin Primer is a .5oz multi-use product, mainly designed to prime the skin prior to makeup application for a more flawless and radiant finishing aesthetic. It helps to smoothen and soften the skin while minimizing the appearance of pore size, and less makeup is needed following use.

It can also be used as a standalone hydrating treatment for those with very dry skin, and it is ideal for those with normal-very dry skin types. While using the product, I definitely noticed the need to use less makeup and a smoother application process that left the skin looking more radiant, soft, and smooth following application.

Infused with vitamins and devoid of any parabens, sulfates, or harsh chemical additives, it is also one of the least expensive products on the market and drugstore formulations you can find that has such a clean formulation.

To date, it is definitely the best drugstore primer and product in its category at its price point I have found that offers benefits with use and actual efficacy following use, and feels rich and hydrating on the skin.

With that in mind, this is also not a perfect product, and unless you have used it with positive results in the past, I would not recommend this for those with combination or oily complexions. It tends to be a bit greasy in texture and for those who are already oily, this product may tend to look overly shiny or create makeup slip or spill throughout the day.

However, if you are seeking an inexpensive daily go-to primer to hydrate and create a more luminous aesthetic, I would definitely recommend checking this product out.

ELF Cosmetics Hydrating Face Primer and Products
Image Credit: ELF Cosmetics

ELF Face Primer: Pros & Cons

While I enjoyed this product and felt it offered great multi-use benefits, especially for those with dry skin, it is definitely a “love it or hate it” type product.

To reiterate, this is not a product I would recommend for those with oily skin. For dryer, types, this is definitely a very hydrating product that can be used as a moisturizer and definitely leaves a more radiant finish following makeup application. It also helps minimize the appearance of pore size dramatically.

For anyone, the scent could really use some improvement, but thankfully dissipates very quickly. In general, this is still the best drugstore primer I have found to date and I would definitely recommend this as a multi-use product for those with dry skin.

Here are a look at some objective pros and cons to consider prior to purchase:


  • At just under $6, in comparison to benefits and actual use and product efficacy, this primer is quite a steal, and is definitely the best product in its category at this price point I have tried to date (I would certainly purchase this again)
  • While this is opinion based, this is likely the best drugstore primer formulation on the market with the cleanest ingredients available
  • The product does not contain any parabens, sulfates, or harsh chemical additives
  • Even with sensitive and acne-prone skin, I did not experience any redness, reactivity, breakouts or irritation
  • Vegan and cruelty-free company: company does not test any of its products on any animals, use any animal product in any of its formulations, or use any animal product during any manufacturing processes
  • Suitable for all skin types, including sensitive skin and very dry skin, with nourishing and gentle ingredients (with that in mind, those with oily skin are probably best using a more matte formulation, as this may create too much additional shine when used as a primer or feel overly greasy on the skin)
  • Suitable for those of all ages and demographics (perfect for younger users as well as those more mature)
  • Does not clog the skin or pores and glides on smoothly and absorbs quickly, and I also noticed a slight decrease in the appearance of pore size
  • Following makeup application, I noticed a more radiant and glowing finishing aesthetic and needed to apply less foundation
  • Made the skin feel smoother, softer, firmer, and more hydrated
  • Multi-use benefits: it can work as a moisturizer after a cleanser as well as a priming product prior to makeup application
  • Tones the skin and helps provide a more even tone and texture following makeup application (but helps tone and texture of the skin in general as well)


  • Many users, especially those with oiler or combination complexions, felt that the formulation was too greasy in texture (even with very dry skin, I can attest to that this formulation does feel a bit greasy on the skin following application)
  • The scent, while it dissipates quickly, is not extremely pleasant, and smells rather greasy, for lack of a better term, I definitely would have preferred a pleasant scent or odor free formulation
  • While this was not a personal experience, some reviewers with very sensitive skin claim to have experienced breakouts or skin redness following use (spot testing is always highly recommended prior to a full use on the face)
ELF Cosmetics Hydrating Face Primer and Makeup
Image Credit: ELF Cosmetics

Elf Face Primer Ingredients

For those of us with very sensitive or acne prone skin, we may experience a fair degree of understandable trepidation prior to using any topical product (which is completely fair, given prior experience). So for many of us, understanding the ingredients contained in the formulations of products can be as important as understanding the ingredients contained in foods we eat or checking labels in grocery stores or when using meal delivery service options.

With that in mind, here are some key ingredients contained in ELF’s Hydrating Primer and corresponding benefits with everyday topical use:

Vitamin C

  • Natural anti-inflammatory benefits: helps to expedite healing rates, great for treating redness, soothing topical abrasions, and any skin irritation
  • Safe and suitable for all skin types, including acne-prone skin, may offer benefits including decreasing breakouts and preventing acne-causing bacteria
  • Treats signs of sallowness or dullness on the skin and improves and restores radiance, leaving skin hydrated and glowing
  • Brightens the skin naturally and reduces signs of uneven tone and discoloration, promoting an even and smooth overall tone for an even aesthetic after application, with longterm continual daily use helps in decreasing signs of hyper-pigmentation
  • Helps heal sunburns and promotes skin repair after exposure to UVA/B radiation, acts as a natural sun protective factor to help heal future damage as well (preventative care)
  • Anti-aging, antioxidant-rich vitamin C helps boost collagen production and elasticity, diminishing the appearance of any wrinkles or lines, this is the active ingredient in the product with respect to anti-aging benefits of use
  • Improves hydration and moisture, helps bind moisture into the skin and restores any depleted hydration, promoting a smoother aesthetic
  • Works in tandem with the other ingredients in the formulation to support overall skin health and restore vibrance and radiance
  • Helps to prep the skin prior to makeup application and deliver the most radiant finishing aesthetic with a smooth and vibrant glow

Vitamin E

  • Safe and suitable for those of all skin types, including sensitive skin, and the treatment of many topical conditions
  • Protects the skin by forming a protective barrier against environmental and pollution damage
  • For dry or dull skin: helps contribute to a smoother, softer, and more radiant overall aesthetic, eliminating any sallow tones
  • Protects skin from sun damage naturally and heals from prior damage
  • Neutralizes the effects of free radical damage from pollution and UV radiation
  • Anti-aging benefits: helps address concerns like fine lines, wrinkles, and over time hyper-pigmentation and sun spots
  • Compliments SPF and helps further fight the harmful effects of sun damage
  • Keeps skin hydrated, while helping to calm and soothe the skin
  • Acts as an anti-inflammatory, can help with skin rash, itch or irritation
  • Brightens the skin naturally and reduces signs of uneven tone and discoloration, promoting an even and smooth overall tone
  • Over time, helps minimize and decrease the appearance of hyper-pigmentation and sun spots
  • Improves hydration and moisture, helps bind moisture into the skin and restores any depleted hydration
  • Acts as an anti-inflammatory and expedites healing rates for any topical abrasions, minor cuts, wounds, or irritations

Vitamin A

  • Naturally protects against UV damage and acts as an environmental barrier to protect against sun damage, pollution, and prevents future damage
  • Anti-aging benefits: helps prevent and treats signs of fine lines, wrinkles, sun damage and spots, loss of elasticity, and pigmentation issues
  • Helps expedite wound healing and any topical damage, redness, or irritation
  • Encourages healthy skin cell production and expedites the cellular turnover process
  • Protects against topical infection and bacteria (including acne-causing bacteria)
  • May help in the treatment of various topical conditions, including cystic acne (it is always advisable to consult with a dermatologist or physician prior to starting any new skincare regimen with a topical condition or infection)
ELF Cosmetics Hydrating Face Primer Feature
Image Credit: ELF Cosmetics

Money-Back Guarantee

Especially considering the sensitivity concerns or if you are new to ELF cosmetics, the return policy in this case may be a highly important factor for you.

The manufacturer, ELF cosmetics, has a strong return and exchange policy that honors full refunds upon dissatisfaction or allergy, and this policy favors the consumer, both new and returning.

If you are dissatisfied with the use of the primer, or if it does not work for your skin to provide suitable hydrating or priming benefits, or you experience any product allergy or reaction to the formulation, you may elect to return it at any time. In this case, you will receive a full refund equal to the entire purchase price of the item. If the item was received as a gift (without receipt), the policy applies for an even exchange, and this policy is applicable to online purchase, as individual store policy may vary depending on location and distributer.

If you feel the policy if not taken into consideration, you may contact customer service, and you can remain ensured you will receive a full refund.

I was happy to discover that the formulation was gentle enough to use even with very sensitive skin/acne-prone and did not cause any breakouts or topical irritation, but due to any specific sensitivity concerns this policy may help assuage fears, as individual allergies are highly variable.

While I felt compared to the longevity and benefits this was quite a steal, this is a highly individual choice, and only one you as a consumer can decide on, based on individual skin type and preferences.

ELF Cosmetics Hydrating Face Primer Prods
Image Credit: ELF Cosmetics

Review: ELF Face Primer (A Hydrating Cheap Must-Have!) 1

ELF Face Primer: Is It Worth It?

While this is not a perfect product (mainly due to a texture that is slightly greasy in conjunction with an odor that is not quite ideal), and I would not recommend this for those who are oily or combination complexion types (unless you have used and like the product already), it is still the best drugstore type primer and product in its category at this price point I have found to date and ideal for those with dry skin types.

It’s great as a multi-use product especially for those with dry skin, as it can be used to hydrate the skin after cleansing and also used as a primer for a more radiant and dewy finishing aesthetic following makeup application.

It helps to minimize the appearance of pores while hydrating.

Additionally, in comparison to the vast majority of drugstore products on the market in the category, this product is formulated with clean and natural ingredients, and is also a vegan and cruelty-free company.

If you are seeking an inexpensive multi-use primer and moisturizer that can be used as a standalone product or prior to makeup application, particularly if you have a dry or dull skin type, I would highly recommend ELF’s Face Primer.

As an aside, if you are a fan of inexpensive cosmetics products that provide actual benefits with use that are comparable to more expensive brands, ELF is definitely a line I would recommend looking into in general (irrespective of skin type).

Their collection of makeup tools and products provide some of the highest quality ingredients and best benefits with use in comparison to price point you can find on the market.

With that in mind, recommended!

ELF Hydrating Face Primer

Pore Size Reduction


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