e.l.f.'s Poreless Putty Primer Is Worth the TikTok Hype

We tried it in the name of research.

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e.l.f. Poreless Putty Primer

e.l.f. Poreless Putty Primer

Emily Algar

What We Like
  • Colorless formula works across skin tones

  • Smooths pores and overall texture

  • Nourishes with squalane

  • Accessible price point

What We Don't Like
  • Not Byrdie Clean

  • May be drying for some skin types

I’m not big on matte, "poreless" skin, but I can’t deny the fact the Elf Cosmetics Poreless Putty Primer is impressive. I’d definitely use it in the height of summer to smooth out my T-zone underneath makeup.


e.l.f. Poreless Putty Primer

e.l.f. Poreless Putty Primer

Emily Algar

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

Disclaimer: I had to download TikTok for the purpose of this review. It’s not that I’m against social media—actually, I’m obsessed. But as someone born on the cusp of the Millennial/Gen Z transitionary period, it’s just something I haven’t gotten around to yet. But I digress—TikTok is actually a gold mine of beauty content. So many viral products and unbelievable before-and-afters… it’s enough to make me rethink my routine. 

So many products have taken TikTok by storm, but there was one that particularly stood out to me: The e.l.f. Cosmetics Poreless Putty Primer. Usually, I'm not into matte or "poreless" makeup looks, but call me influenced, because the way this transformed strangers’ skin on the Internet had me in hook, line, and sinker. And for $9 a pop? Get in my basket. 

You might already be privy to this makeup secret, but if you’re not, I’ve shared some honest words on the viral product below. Keep scrolling for my full review.

e.l.f. Cosmetics Poreless Putty Primer

Best for: Normal, oily, and combination skin types. 

Uses: As a primer to prep for makeup, smooth overall texture, and minimize the appearance of pores. 

Potential allergens: Not likely

Byrdie Clean? No; contains PEGs.

Price: $9

About the brand: e.l.f. Cosmetics is a drugstore beauty brand known for its affordable price point, trending colors, and viral products that really work.

About My Skin: Shiny T-zone, dehydrated everywhere else

Let the record state that I am not into flat, matte, powdery-looking skin. I'm a luminous girl through and through. But I'm also prone to shine—especially in summer—so it’s paramount to strike a balance between glowing and greasy. 

Interestingly, I don't love primers either, and I often find them cake-y, so you know I'm going to be a tough critic. But while I haven't had the best experiences with many of these types of formulas, I'm always curious to see if a widely beloved product can aid in creating the smooth, balanced glow of my dreams.

The Ingredients: Precise and simple

e.l.f. Cosmetics Poreless Putty Primer Texture

Emily Algar

e.l.f.'s Poreless Putty Primer does contain squalane to increase skin hydration, but outside of that, the focus really isn't on skincare-like benefits. For a drugstore product, it’s nice to see it’s free from irritants like phthalates and parabens. It does, however, contain silicone, which is fine for most skin types and is what gives the product its silky feel—but it’s worth pointing out, as certain people might find that using silicone-based products daily can worsen breakouts. Overall, however, it’s a pretty good formula.

How to Apply: Use the warmth of your fingers

e.l.f.'s Poreless Putty Primer works best after skincare and sunscreen, but before makeup. Scoop out a pea-sized amount and warm it up between your fingers. Personally, I applied it to my nose, forehead, and chin only, using my fingers to really push it into the skin (I think the warmth really helps it to melt). If you prefer, e.l.f. also sells a Putty Applicator tool separately, with a spatula on one end and a buffing brush on the other.

Because it's a silicone-based product, the primer sits on the surface as opposed to absorbing, so you’ll be left with a really smooth-to-the-touch canvas. 

The Results: Velvety skin

e.l.f. Poreless Putty Primer Results on Emily Algar

Emily Algar/Design by Cristina Cianci

e.l.f's Poreless Putty Primer really does what it says it does. Straight after I applied it, my skin felt velvety, almost like a peach. It smoothed out pores and filled fine lines around my mouth, and even softened some flaky skin around my nose. My foundation went on like butter, and I felt more "polished" overall. As for wear, I do feel like my skin slightly dried out (especially around the eyes and lips), but credit where credit's due, my foundation lasted a little longer than usual. 

Overall, I think I prefer the look of foundation pressed into bare skin. I like movement, a little texture—even some sweat shine. But I can definitely see the appeal for oily skin types, or anyone who craves a particularly smooth, matte makeup base and glamorous makeup look. Going forward, I’d use it as an eyelid primer, or maybe to soften my T-zone in the middle of summer.

The Value: Bargain city

I think a big reason why e.l.f.'s Poreless Putty Primer is such a sensation is because of the price. At $9, you can’t deny the value. It’s further proof that e.l.f. really is a category leader when it comes to high-performance drugstore makeup.

Similar Products: You've got options

Tarte Timeless Smoothing Primer: This soft, whipped mousse ($39) glides over skin and blurs the look of pores, uneven tone, and texture. It’s also rich in antioxidants to care for and protect the skin, so your complexion will feel as great as it looks.

Benefit Cosmetics The Porefessional Pore Minimizing Primer: If you're extra shiny or prefer the smoothest look possible, this mattifying primer ($32) will balance the skin for hours without heaviness.

Tatcha The Silk Canvas Protective Primer: This Tatcha primer ($52) is pure luxury, with application experience and quality to justify the price. Enriched with pearl, green tea, algae, rice, and silk, it glides over skin to leave it looking and feeling even and soft.

Final Verdict

I’ve mentioned that poreless, matte skin is not my preferred aesthetic, so I was always going to be skeptical when testing out the e.l.f. Poreless Putty Primer. But it really does deliver on its promise of a miraculously smooth complexion, and when you factor in the price, it’s a winning combination. I don’t think I’d use this every day, but will certainly keep it on hand to suppress shine on hot, humid days. The putty format is also really easy to use, especially when you compare it to fussy loose powders. At such a great price point, you don't have much to lose if you want to give this much-hyped product a try—and if you love a matte look or regularly deal with excess shine, you're almost certain to be impressed.


  • Product Name Poreless Putty Primer
  • Product Brand e.l.f.
  • Price $9.00
  • Weight 0.74 oz.
  • Full Ingredient List Water (Aqua), Cyclopentasiloxane, Ceresin, Dimethicone, Glycerin, Hydrogenated Polyisobutene, HDI/Trimethylol Hexyllactone Crosspolymer, Polymethylsilsesquioxane, Trimethylsiloxysilicate, Propylene Glycol, Lauryl PEG-10 Tris(trimethylsiloxy)silylethyl Dimethicone, Sodium Chloride, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract , Squalane, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Bran Wax, Dimethicone/PEG-10/15 Crosspolymer, Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Silica, Triethoxycaprylylsilane, Talc, Butylene Glycol, Disodium EDTA, Caprylyl Glycol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Phenoxyethanol. May Contain: Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891), Iron Oxides (CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499).

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