Expert Review: Is ELF Primer Water Based and How It Performs Against Other Primers


Hello, beauty enthusiasts and makeup mavens! Today, we’re zeroing in on a question that’s been buzzing in the beauty sphere: Is ELF primer water-based? In the realm of makeup, the primer is your unsung hero – it sets the stage for your entire look, ensuring everything stays put and looks flawless. So, understanding what goes into this essential product is key. We’re not just going to unravel the mystery behind ELF primer’s formulation; we’re also putting it to the test against its counterparts. Whether you’re a die-hard ELF fan or just curious about your makeup’s ingredients, this is the review you’ve been waiting for!

Overview of ELF Primer

Let’s start with a little background on e.l.f. Cosmetics. Standing for “Eyes, Lips, Face,” this brand has carved a niche for itself in the beauty industry with its affordable, high-quality products. Among their diverse product line, their primers have garnered a special place. These primers are known for their sleek, modern packaging and wallet-friendly prices, making them accessible to a wide range of consumers. ELF offers a variety of primers, each designed to address specific skin concerns – from minimizing pores to hydrating dry skin. But the question remains: what exactly makes their primer formula so special? It’s time to take a closer look.

Is ELF Primer Water Based and How It Performs Against Other Primers

What Does ‘Water-Based’ Mean in Primers?

Before diving into the ELF primer, let’s clarify what we mean by ‘water-based’. In the world of primers, ‘water-based’ refers to products where water is the primary ingredient. These primers are typically lighter in texture and more hydrating than their silicone-based counterparts, making them a favorite for those with sensitive or acne-prone skin. They’re known for their ability to absorb quickly, leaving a non-greasy, smooth finish. This makes water-based primers a fantastic option for those who prefer a natural, barely-there feel to their makeup. However, identifying whether a primer is truly water-based requires more than just a cursory glance at the label – it involves delving into the ingredient list and understanding the formulation.

Analysis of ELF Primer Composition

Upon examining ELF’s primer, the first thing you’ll notice is that water (aqua) indeed tops the ingredient list. This suggests a water-based formulation, but the story doesn’t end there. Following water, there’s a mix of various silicones and skin-conditioning agents. This blend points towards a hybrid formula, combining the hydrating benefits of a water-based primer with the smoothing, pore-filling properties of silicones. This hybrid nature is particularly intriguing as it potentially offers the best of both worlds – hydration for dry patches and smoothing for uneven texture. However, the presence of silicones also raises questions for those with silicone sensitivities or preferences for purely water-based products. In the next section, we’ll explore how this unique formulation translates to real-world performance and compare it to other popular primers.

Is ELF Primer Water Based and How It Performs Against Other Primers

Performance Review

Evaluating a primer’s performance is as crucial as understanding its ingredients. For a comprehensive review, I subjected the ELF primer to various tests, using it under different conditions and pairing it with a variety of makeup products. Here’s what I found:

  • Application: The primer has a silky texture that spreads evenly on the skin. It’s easy to blend and quickly creates a smooth canvas for makeup application. Despite its silicone content, it doesn’t feel heavy or greasy.
  • Feel: Once applied, it feels lightweight and comfortable. The skin feels soft to the touch, with a noticeable but not overwhelming smoothing effect on pores and fine lines.
  • Longevity: I observed a significant improvement in the longevity of my makeup. My foundation appeared fresh and intact for over 8 hours, showing minimal signs of wear even in areas prone to fading.
  • Compatibility: The primer performed admirably with both liquid and powder foundations, enhancing their appearance and wear. It did not cause any pilling or disturbance in the makeup application.

When compared to other primers, ELF holds its own, especially considering its affordability. Its performance is on par with many higher-end brands, offering a balance between hydration and smoothing.

Pros and Cons

In evaluating the ELF primer, several pros and cons emerged:


  • Affordability: This primer is budget-friendly, making it accessible to a wide audience.
  • Hybrid Formula: Its combination of water-based hydration and silicone-based smoothing makes it versatile for different skin types and makeup preferences.
  • Improved Makeup Longevity: It significantly enhances the durability of makeup throughout the day.


  • Silicone Sensitivity: For those sensitive or averse to silicones, this primer might not be the best fit.
  • Not Ideal for Extremely Oily Skin: While it performs well, those with very oily skin might need a more mattifying option.

Suitability for Different Skin Types

The ELF primer’s hybrid nature means it has broad appeal, but its suitability varies by skin type:

  • Oily Skin: Provides decent oil control, but might require additional mattifying products for best results.
  • Dry Skin: The hydrating aspect is beneficial, helping to create a smooth, non-flaky base.
  • Combination Skin: It strikes a nice balance, addressing both oily and dry areas effectively.
  • Sensitive Skin: Generally safe, but as with any cosmetic product, patch testing is recommended.


So, is ELF primer water-based? The answer is yes, but with a caveat. Its formulation is a hybrid, blending the benefits of water-based and silicone-based primers. This unique combination allows it to cater to a variety of skin types and makeup needs. It stands out in terms of affordability and performance, offering a quality primer experience without the high-end price tag. For those navigating the complex world of makeup primers, ELF presents a versatile, effective option worth considering. Whether you’re a makeup enthusiast or a casual user, the ELF primer deserves a spot in your beauty arsenal.

Kelly Rodriguez
Kelly Rodriguez
Where Sophistication and Style Meet.

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