Elf Hydrating Primer
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Elf Hydrating Primer Review: Will It Work For Your Skin?

There’s no shortage of makeup products on the market, and with so many different options that promise to do amazing things for your skin, the selection process can be overwhelming.

In particular, face primers are one of those products that come in all shapes in sizes, toting buzz words like “blurring,” “plumping,” “hydrating” and “mattifying.” Unless you know exactly what your skin needs, it can be difficult to zero in on the perfect option.

Well, let me introduce you to Elf’s Hydrating Primer! Anyone familiar with the brand knows that Elf is widely available in drugstores and beauty supply stores around the world and has a great selection of inexpensive makeup and skincare products.

The Hydrating Primer is something both brand-loyalists and newbies will appreciate; it provides a texture that feels luxurious and the ingredients soothe and prep the skin. It truly delivers on all its promises!

Elf Hydrating Primer Review: What You Can Expect

Elf Hydrating Primer Review

  • A thick, silky product that soothes and mildly cools skin upon application
  • A blurring effect with a natural finish
  • Deep, long-lasting hydration
  • Sheer coverage
  • Preps skin to keep makeup in place all day long

What’s Inside

Grapeseed Oil

This powerful oil is something you may have used for cooking, but on the skin it provides a soothing effect to calm redness and even skin tone. It’s also rich in an omega-6 fatty acid, which protects the skin’s natural barrier and works to reduce loss of water in the skin.

Vitamin A

Found in many hydrating products, Vitamin A is a key factor in helping skin retain its natural moisture. This powerhouse ingredient can even help reduce the effects of aging by minimizing fine lines. It achieves this by working on the dermis- the deepest layer of the skin- and boosting collagen production.

Vitamin C

 Vitamin C has swept the skincare market lately and can be found in everything from sunscreen to foundation. It’s known for brightening the skin and reducing the intensity of dark spots. In this primer, Vitamin C provides a great base for your favorite foundation or concealer by helping to even skin tone and provide a subtle brightening effect.

Vitamin E

This essential nutrient is a natural anti-inflammatory and supports cell rejuvenation in the skin. It can also help protect the skin against UV damage, making this an excellent product to use in tandem with your favorite sunscreen.


This ingredient is certainly a bit harder to pronounce than the others, but it’s an important one to call out because it has a significant effect on the product’s texture. Dimethicone is a compound that belongs to the silicone group and lends Elf’s Hydrating Primer a slippery almost plastic-like feel.

Caprylyl Glycol

Once again, this one is a mouthful, but it’s a great ingredient to know about as it’s found in many skincare products from creams to lipsticks. Caprylyl Glycol has a conditioning effect on the skin and is actually derived from coconut. This ingredient is also a humectant, which means it attracts water and moisture to the skin and also helps retain it.

How to Use the Product

Elf Hydrating Primer Before and After

The instructions on the box itself are limited and for good reason. This is truly an easy-to-use product that anyone can work with. After cleansing your skin, go through your normal skincare routine, being sure not to skip your daily moisturizer. If you use sunscreen every day, I’d recommend applying it after your moisturizer and before primer.

Let your skincare soak in for a few minutes until the skin feels dry and all the products are set. Next, pump one to two drops of Elf’s Hydrating Primer into your hands and gently warm with your fingertips.

Apply a thin, even layer all over your face, focusing on the driest areas of your skin. The product should dry quickly, and then you’re ready to go in with your makeup. I’d recommend applying your foundation with a sponge and then topping it all off with concealer.

If you tend to get oily throughout the day, consider applying a layer of setting powder on those oiliest spots for ultimate staying power!

Pros and Cons


  • Readily available in drugstores, Ulta, and Targets across the country
  • Well priced
  • The clear container allows you to see how much product is left
  • Works for normal, combination, and dry skin types
  • Delivers a natural finish
  • Helps brighten the skin and reduces dark spots
  • Extends the life of your makeup look


  • Strong, rubbery smell
  • Slippery, silicone texture
  • May deliver too much moisture for oily skin types
  • Can cause breakouts on very sensitive skin

My Experience

Elf Hydrating Primer

I have to admit, I am neither a primer expert nor a die-hard fan of any particular priming product. It always seemed like one of those products that I didn’t really need, and let’s be honest, my makeup routine is long enough already. But this Elf Hydrating Primer may have converted me.

For one, it’s an inexpensive addition to my makeup collection, clocking in anywhere from $7 to $10 depending on where you shop. I’m also a sucker for some good packaging, and this primer looks and feels like a much more luxurious product, making it a welcome addition to my beauty cabinet.

The frosted bottle and pump are also quite user-friendly and help to prevent leakage while allowing you to see how much product is left in your bottle.

Now let’s talk about the application. The instructions on the back of the bottle say to apply a “small amount” and I was pleased that one pump naturally delivered just that. I decided on two pumps, but it’s completely up to you as to how much you’d like to use. I found that two pumps allowed for an even, but thin layer of product all over my face.

Once I began warming the product in my hands, that’s when I started to run into issues. This is ultimately a matter of personal preference, but I found this primer to be an especially slick and slippery feeling and not something I particularly enjoyed putting on my skin.

It also has a smell to match. If you can imagine what melted car tires smell like, that’s about how I would describe the odor of this primer.

However, once I smeared the slippery silicone primer on my face, I started to like it all over again. It dried quickly, making the initial, off-putting texture more manageable. I also have very dry skin and the thickness of this product instantly made my skin feel more hydrated and plump.

It was hard to notice an immediate difference in my skin’s appearance, but it certainly did feel ready for my next layer of makeup.

I used this primer under my Giorgio Armani Neo Nude Foundation, which is a hydrating, light to medium coverage foundation with a dewy finish. I was curious to see how these products would interact since the Elf Hydrating Primer did promise to mattify the skin, despite calling it a natural finish.

Ultimately, I did not notice much mattifying, which was fine for me, but may disappoint anyone who prefers that type of finish to their skin.

All in all, the products worked well together and didn’t cause any problems like curdling or caking. My foundation still achieved a very dewy finish, and on days when I planned on wearing my makeup for several hours, I did apply a thin layer of powder over top.

After wearing this primer and makeup for eight hours, I was truly impressed with how long my makeup lasted. My skin looked even and my makeup stayed put, even in the hot summer weather.

While I can’t say I noticed any significant changes in the color, brightness, or texture of my skin, I think it served its purpose and extended the life and efficacy of my makeup, which is a win in my books!

Alternative Elf Primers

Elf Putty Primer

Elf Poreless Putty Primer

Elf Putty Primer is actually a whole line of products in and of itself, with four different options depending on your skincare needs. They include Poreless Putty Primer, Acne Fighting Putty Primer, Matte Putty Primer, and Luminous Putty Primer.

The uniqueness of this product is mainly in the texture, which truly is a putty-like, thick cream. It’s meant to grip makeup for all-day wear, with a velvety almost mousse-like texture for smoothness.

Read More: Elf Poreless Putty Primer Review: Does This Primer Make A Difference?

Elf Poreless Face Primer

elf porelss primer

Unlike the putty primer, this formula is a more traditional, gel-like substance that aims to fill pores and fine lines for a flawless foundation for your makeup. The product dries quickly and creates a satin-like finish, which may be particularly appealing to those with oily skin types. It’s also infused with tea tree oil to calm irritation and redness.

Elf Hydrating Primer Mist

Elf Hydrating Primer Mist

This two-in-one product acts as both a primer and setting spray and promises to deliver a boost of hydration with every spritz.

While it shouldn’t be used in place of moisturizer, Elf’s Hydrating Primer Mist helps create a dewy finish to the skin and soothes sensitive or irritated skin with a dose of cooling cucumber. Many reviewers of this product argue that it’s more of an aggressive spray than a true mist, but the ease of application can’t be beat!

Elf Puff Puff Primer

elf puff puff primer

Elf’s jumping on the cannabis trend with this hemp-derived, cannabis seed oil primer. It’s meant to hydrate and nourish the skin ahead of makeup application and is packed with vitamins A and C for brightening effects. The hemp seed oil soothes and moisturizes the skin while CBD has an awakening effect for bright, plump skin. Overall, this is one of Elf’s more unique primer options, and a great one to try for all skin types.

And don’t worry, there’s no actual THC in this product, meaning you can take it through airport security without fear of missing your flight!


Question: Is Elf Hydrating Primer Good for Dry Skin?

Answer: Yes! In fact, this product is designed for people with dry skin and helps create a natural, hydrating base for makeup. It will also keep your skin hydrated throughout the day, preventing your makeup from flaking or getting cakey.

Question: How Do You Use Elf Hydrating Primer?

Answer: The primer should be applied to clean, dry skin as the last step of your skincare routine before makeup. If you use daily sunscreen, I’d recommend applying this primer on top of it.

Question: What Does Elf Primer Do?

Answer: Like most primers, Elf’s Hydrating Primer aims to prep the skin for makeup to extend the life of your makeup and prevent melting, running or movement throughout the day. This particular primer also hydrates and provides a blurring effect to even the look of your skin’s texture.

Question: Are Primer and Serum the Same Thing?

Answer: You may see these two terms used together in the same product, but they are typically quite different. Face serums can come in shapes, sizes, and forms, but they are usually advertised as skincare rather than makeup and are packed with vitamins and nutrients to improve skin’s overall health. Primer can also contain great skincare properties but is ultimately a makeup product that is used in tandem with your base products like foundation and concealer.

Question: Does Elf Primer Clog Your Pores?

Answer: Those with very oily skin may want to stay away from Elf’s more hydrating and oil-based primers. The Putty Primers or Poreless Face Primer will be less likely to clog your pores.

Question: Is Elf a Good Brand?

Answer: Elf is a very dependable brand that sells all its products at a great price point. While you can’t expect any life-changing products to come out of this brand, it’s a great standby for basics like primers, base products, and fun extras like eyeshadows and lipsticks.


Anyone with dry skin will understand the challenges of finding hydrating yet effective products, and Elf’s Hydrating Primer is truly one of those staples that should live in your makeup collection forever. It doesn’t overpromise and provides just enough added benefits like brightening and soothing the skin to make it a powerhouse product you can use every single day.

In the end, though, this is simply an effective, affordable product that will extend the life of your makeup, and who doesn’t want that?Recommended Reads:• Is Elf Cruelty Free: Should You Support This Drugstore Brand?

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