e.l.f. Cosmetics' Hydrating Primer Gave Me a Filter-Like Finish—And It's Only $6

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e.l.f. Cosmetics Hydrating Face Primer

elf hydrating face primer

Byrdie / Olivia Hancock

What We Like
  • Affordable

  • Gives makeup a smooth look

  • Helps boost the wear time of makeup

What We Don't Like
  • Heavy

  • Oily residue left behind

  • Doesn't deliver enough hydration

The e.l.f. Cosmetics Hydrating Face Primer is a budget-friendly primer that promises to smooth and hydrate the skin for long-lasting makeup. While it does deliver on its promise to extend the wear time for foundation, its hydrating effects could've been better.


e.l.f. Cosmetics Hydrating Face Primer

elf hydrating face primer

Byrdie / Olivia Hancock

We put e.l.f. Cosmetics' Hydrating Face Primer to the test after receiving a complimentary sample from the brand. Keep reading for our full product review.

When I wanted to start wearing makeup in high school, I remember going to Target one afternoon, browsing through their beauty aisles, and filling my cart with various beauty products. Of the countless products I picked up that day, many of the items happened to be from e.l.f. Cosmetics. As a newbie to makeup, the brand’s wide assortment of beginner-friendly products and affordable pricing has always resonated with me. Over the years, I’ve tried dozens of e.l.f. products—ranging from highlighter palettes to setting sprays. But, one thing I somehow never tried from the beloved beauty line is its primers.

So, when I was asked to try the brand’s Hydrating Face Primer, it was a no-brainer. The primer touts itself as a product that can transform your skin into a smooth canvas, boost complexion, and hydrate your skin. How did it work for me? Read on for my honest review.

e.l.f Cosmetics Hydrating Face Primer

Best for: All skin types

Uses: Priming skin, hydrating skin

Active Ingredients: Grapeseed oil, vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin E

Price: $6

About the Brand: e.l.f. Cosmetics is known for its cruelty-free and affordable makeup and beauty products.

About My Skin: Perpetually parched 

Dryness. Whenever I visit an esthetician for treatment and they ask me about my skin concerns, dryness is at the top of the list. My skin is perpetually parched (especially in the winter), so I like to curate my skincare and makeup routine with products that will boost hydration

These days, I still wear makeup a few times per week to look camera-ready on Zoom calls and boost my overall mood. That’s why having a primer that keeps my skin moisturized and makeup intact long after I apply it is important to me.

The Feel: Heavy and oily

I was expecting the texture of the primer to be reminiscent of a creamy moisturizer. But when I dispensed a bit of product onto my hand, the white-colored cream had more of a heavy, oily feel to it.

I was left with an oily residue on my skin post-application.

elf hydrating face primer

Byrdie / Olivia Hancock

Ingredients: A skin-enriching formula 

This primer is packed with great hydrating, nourishing, anti-aging, and even acne-fighting ingredients like grapeseed oil, Vitamin A, C, and E. Grapeseed oil provides a host of skin benefits including treating breakouts, lessening redness, lightening scars, boosting hydration, and preventing free-radical damage. Meanwhile, Vitamin A helps with anti-aging and acne while Vitamin C boosts collagen production, softens wrinkles, improves skin texture, and reduces sun damage. Finally, Vitamin E locks in moisture, boosts collagen production, and protects against UV rays.

The Results: Greasy but effective

As someone with dry skin, I want my primer to deeply penetrate my skin with moisture and help my makeup go on more seamlessly. With this one, I was left with an oily residue on my skin post-application instead of hydration. However, the primer did earn a few brownie points because my makeup looked incredibly smooth in-person and on camera. By the end of the day, I also noticed that my foundation and concealer were still intact so I can confirm that it also helps boost the wear time of your makeup

elf hydrating face primer

Byrdie / Olivia Hancock

The Value: Very affordable

What I love most about e.l.f. is that their beauty products are incredibly affordable and accessible. This primer rings in at just $6, making it perfect for every budget. And since you only need a little bit of primer with each use, it’ll last a while. In my opinion, you definitely get your money’s worth. 

elf hydrating face primer

Byrdie / Olivia Hancock

Similar Products: You have options

Glossier Priming Moisturizer ($22): This buildable creme moisturizer contains a powerhouse blend of ingredients including hyaluronic acid, mushroom extracts, tea, and honey extracts, and antioxidants to amp up your skin’s hydration and reduce redness.

Laura Mercier Pure Canvas Primer Hydrating ($39): This Laura Mercier primer promises to keep your skin hydrated all day long. Made with olive extract, marine botanicals, and glycerin, it promotes long-term moisture recovery and extends the wear of your makeup.

Final Verdict

In terms of hydration, the e.l.f. Cosmetics Hydrating Face Primer didn’t deliver that result for me. However, it did give my foundation a filter-like finish that I’m obsessed with. If you’re on the hunt for a budget-friendly primer, give this a shot to see how it works on your skin.


  • Product Name Hydrating Face Primer
  • Product Brand e.l.f. Cosmetics
  • UPC 609332834064
  • Price $6.00
  • Weight 0.47 oz.
  • Ingredients Dimethicone, Tridecyl Trimellitate, Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Oil, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol, Retinyl Palmitate (Va), Tocopheryl Acetate (Ve), Ascorbyl Palmitate (Vc), Silica Dimethyl Silylate.

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