elf Primer Showdown: The Oily Skin Test

we test 4 elf primers for oily skin to see which is bestpress sample affiliate link

Which Will Be the Last Primer Standing?

I went through much of my life without even thinking about a primer for my face. When I was old enough to afford such luxuries, I bought an expensive primer touted for airbrushed, photo-ready results. I didn’t get ’em. I did get clogged pores and makeup that slid of my oily face. Since then, primers have evolved for all skin types.

My current favorite primer is rather spendy; therefore, sometimes I go without. I have a high-end fave and a low-end counterpart for almost every makeup/skincare need, but I never really found my reasonably priced primer. I need to. Then in walks we heart this and I am given this assignment: The elf Primer Showdown.

Elf is known for reasonably priced/good quality cosmetics, and they have primers galore. But how do they work? Which one is best for an oily gal like me? Can I find a bargain primer that measures up to my pricy one?

elf makes affordable primers for many skin types

The assignment: Find the e.l.f. primer that best works to make my skin look great, my makeup last and keep my oil at bay.

The players:
Beauty Shield SPF Skin Shielding Primer
Prep and Hydrate Balm
Oil Control Primer Mist
Poreless Face Primer
Note: they actually has even more primers than this (some specifically for oily, sensitive and blemish-prone skin). This showdown, however, concentrates on these four.

The results: (in no particular order)

elf beauty shield primer review and results

1. Beauty Shield SPF 50 Skin Shielding Primer in Universal Tint ($12) was they only tinted primer I tried, as well as the only one with SPF. This one sounded fantastic, packed full of antioxidants to fight environmental stressors, lightweight and with a universal tint that “blurs the look of fine lines.” Since it’s “universally” tinted, it can be worn alone or under makeup.

Well, I could never wear this alone. It does fill in every fine line and pore, but the soft beige looked chalky on my skin and I could see it sit in every imperfection on my face. Also, I wouldn’t call this “lightweight” as it felt heavy on my face.

Nonetheless, I used my usual foundation on top, spritzed with a setting mist and went on my merry way. I went to work where I spent the next eight hours in a shirt, coat and tie, running nearly non-stop in 80+ degree heat. Nine hours after applying, I was pretty impressed. Not too much oil considering, and my makeup seemed to settle, almost looking better that when I started. The only downside was that it did still feel heavy.

how elf beauty shield primer looks after 9 hours of wear

elf Beauty Shield Skin Shielding Primer 9 hour wear results A rough start, but 9 hours later my makeup is still in place and I’m relatively oil-free.

elf primer line up

2. Poreless Face Primer ($6.00) claims to transform your face into a “flawless, smooth canvas ideal for long-lasting makeup application.” The addition of Tea Tree (great for blemishes and roseacea, both of which I have) and Vitamins A & E made this primer sound pretty good.

This was my fail. Poreless Face Primer reminds me of the high-end primer I first tried years ago, making me want to swear off primers altogether. The formula is slippery with silicone, anxious to clog every one of my big pores. The greasy feel of the primer did nothing to help my oiliness, and everything to exacerbate it.

By the end of the day, I was an oily mess and my makeup either slid off my face or smudged. And, unlike the hydrating balm, my skin wasn’t the least bit smoothed. I couldn’t wait to wash my face. When I did wash my face, it was red with the makings of fresh blemishes. Nope, nope, nope. Maybe some of you out there with dry skin could benefit from this one, but not me.

elf beauty shield primer consistency

elf poreless face primer consistency

elf prep and hydrate balm consistency

3. Prep & Hydrate Balm ($8) is bigger than a lip balm, smaller than a stick of deodorant, and is a water-based wonder wand infused with shea butter, cocoa, aloe and grape to hydrate and refresh your skin. It’s portable and easy to apply with zero mess. The balm feels cool, smooth and delicious upon application. I wanted this one to work the best SO BAD.

It wasn’t the best. My skin was smoothed to perfection, and this balm’s lightness is positively exhilarating. But the oil. Sigh. Nothing kept the floodgates from pouring forth from the pores after my long hot day at work. I adore how this primer feels when it goes on though, so much that I would definitely wear this under my makeup or alone for less taxing days. Still, while my face was oily, it did look pretty smooth at the end of the day.

Sidebar: my husband had razor burn on his face and he asked my for something that would help it. Before I even had a chance to use this for myself, I handed Prep & Hydrate to him to try. He wants to buy a boatload. We can share.

elf oil control primer pacakging

4. Oil Control Primer Mist ($8.00) is a water-based primer mist that is enriched with cucumber as well as vitamins B and E to prep and hydrate the skin while keeping oil far, far away.

Honestly, I’d like to put this in a different category than the “primer” one. This did keep oil away better than any of the others, but my skin didn’t look much smoother to me. I would definitely use this, but I think it would be more useful as a setting spray.

elf primer 9 hour wear test results

elf Prep & Hydrate Balm 9 hour wear results I’m definitely oily, but I feel pretty smoothed out. Plus, this one felt GREAT—not heavy like the Beauty Shield or Poreless Face Primers.

elf Oil Control Primer Mist 9 hour wear results After 9 particularly long, hot hours, it did control oil better, but I don’t think it smoothed the skin surface as much as all 3 others did.

elf Poreless Face Primer 9 hour wear results I think my face says it all; this is my least favorite. I just felt slippery, my skin couldn’t breathe, I’m oily, not smooth, and my makeup didn’t stay put.

So we heartsters, who do YOU think won the elf Primer Showdown? And which one is your favorite? Tell us in the comments.

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Sherri is a writer, dog lover, old movie fanatic, history detective, political junkie, fashion pundit and social media consumer advocate. “A fancy dinner and expensive champagne are better than writing a rent check any day of the week.”
skin tone: NC 25
skin type: oily/sensitive
favorite beauty product: anti-aging anything

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