Sunday, October 19, 2014

Battle of the Primer: Ulta vs ELF

I've been on the eyeshadow primer train since before there was an actual eyeshadow primer (foundation works, though not as well as the new fancy primer), so I thought I would pit some different primers against one another in an ultimate battle to see which one really is the best. Today I'm comparing the ELF essential eyeshadow primer with the Ulta extreme wear eyeshadow primer. Full disclaimer, the ELF primer is the one I wear on a daily basis, but I want to see which primer is the best so I can use it. I'm serious about my eyeshadow, what can I say.

The ELF Essential Primer is $1, making it the cheapest primer out there hands down.  My personal container has been in use since April, so they do last a while (I use it roughly 5 times a week).The buzz on other blogs and forums is that this is a great dupe for the Urban Decay primer, but since I haven't tested it personally I can't say for sure. I actually haven't read a bad review about this stuff, though I'm sure they're out there. The doe foot applicator makes it quick and clean to apply this to my eyelids and it comes in several different shades (sheer, champagne, pearl, and golden) though I always use the sheer which is just a basic primer. I may eventually buy the other types and test them out, just for testing purposes. These are available at any place that sells ELF stuff, like Target, Kmart, and my local 7-11 (weird right?) or online.

The ULTA Extreme Wear Eyeshadow Primer is $10, making it about mid-range on the cost scale for primer. I got one of these in my ULTA gift bag, this one is more than a deluxe sample but less than a full sized one by a little bit. It looks very identical to the ELF one, complete with the doe foot applicator but only comes in a shade exactly like the sheer ELF one, so that makes comparing them easier. This primer is only available at ULTA stores and on their website, making it a little harder to get than the ELF one as well.

To test these I put one on one eye and the other on the other eye. The ELF went on my right eye (so the left one on the picture) and the ULTA is on my left eye (so the right side of the picture). Application wise they went on exactly the same, couldn't tell them apart at all.

Once I applied my eyeshadow (a plum color) I noticed a difference. The ELF kind of muted the color a bit while with the ULTA the color was exactly like it was in the pan. You can't really tell in the picture and my husband couldn't tell, but I could tell. So that's a point for the ULTA brand right off the bat and I will admit that has been a frustrating thing with the ELF one, if you don't let it dry a bit it messes up your colors. Not a big deal if you're doing neutrals but that bright teal shadow will be a pastel mess.

Once I added my cream color and blended a bit you couldn't see the difference as much I thought but I still thing the left eye is more true to the pan color wise than the right eye.

This is the end of a typical day for me, which included teaching an hour of Taekwondo then working out a bit. As you can see the left eye creased horribly by the end of the day. That's the ULTA eye. My ELF eye held up really well, no creasing though the shadow has faded a bit. The whole point of primer is to keep your shadow in place and prevent creasing so the point goes to ELF here. I was pretty disappointed with how poorly the ULTA held up for me, and while I know my typical day isn't what the average user goes through I still expect it to perform better than sometime ten times cheaper.

At the end of the day I have to declare the ELF primer the winner. Though it can mute or muddy up my colors if I rush things, I need my primer to keep my shadow in place and not crease on me and the ELF primer delivers that every single time. And you seriously can't beat that price, that's couch diving money not lunch money.

So round one goes to the ELF Essential Primer! What primer would you like to see try and take down the champ?


  1. I love the ELF products already and I've been wondering about the ELF Essential Primer - now you've sealed the deal for me and I'm going to buy some. THANK YOU!

    1. Glad I could help! I swear by these, I have oily lids and have a very physically active job and my shadow still looks great at the end of the day. Cannot recommend enough.

  2. I've actually never used primer... just got some this week so we'll see! I wear very little makeup so I'm kind of clueless when it comes to this stuff unfortunately.

    1. There are tons of really great tutorials around, I don't post any on this page but check Instagram and YouTube. is another great resource. Good luck and shoot me a message if you ever get super stuck :)