Battle of the Drugstore Primers, Take 2

Drugstore Primers, Revlon, e.l.f., NYX, and L'Oreal

Drugstore Primers, Revlon, e.l.f., NYX, and L’Oreal

So way back in 2011 I did a little post entitled Battle of the Drugstore Primers.  My blog was only two months old, and I had a lot to learn.  However, that little post has remained the most popular of all my posts, even years later.  Obviously y’all want the skinny on primers.  So that being said, I wanted to take another crack at it and tackle some new drugstore primers that have come out since then.  Today I have four different primers to review and compare, all of which can be found at the drugstore or Target, and online.  If you are new to this blog and are not sure what a face primer is, a primer is a product that you put on before your foundation.  It is used to smooth out your skin so that you have an even canvas to apply your foundation, similar to priming a wall before you paint it.  Primers also help to extend the wear-time of foundation by creating a barrier that controls oil from breaking down foundation or prevents dry skin from sucking up the moisture in a foundation.  If you have never used a primer, I definitely recommend you try one because it truly makes a huge difference in the appearance and performance of your foundation.

Before we begin, I should tell you a little about my skin type and what I prefer in a primer.  I have dry skin that, in the summertime, becomes a combination of dry/normal.  I never have oil control issues, rarely have products break me out, and do not need a primer to mattify.  My foundation usually lasts pretty well even without a primer.  I do, however often have dry patches and sometimes eczema spots.  My main focus with primers is to even my skin out and fill my ginormous pores (thanks dad).  I’m trying to give myself the smoothest possible canvas.  I usually gravitate to silicone based primers, and my favorite one of all time is the Smashbox Photo Finish Primer.  So, now that you understand what I look for in a primer and my particular bias (because we all have them) let’s get into the reviews.

L-R: Revlon Photoready, e.l.f. Mineral Infused, NYX Studio Perfect Photo-Loving, and L'Oreal Miracle Blur

L-R: Revlon Photoready, e.l.f. Mineral Infused, NYX Studio Perfect Photo-Loving, and L’Oreal Miracle Blur

I have four primers to talk about today.  I went ahead and swatched a dollop of each primer so that you could see how they look in comparison to each other.  From left to right, we have Revlon Photoready Color Correcting Primer, e.l.f. Studio Mineral Infused Face Primer, NYX Studio Perfect Photo-Loving Primer, and L’Oreal Revitalift Miracle Blur Instant Skin Smoother.  All four primers, regardless of initial appearance blend out translucent on the skin.  I’ve described each one in detail below, but I wanted you to get a visual reference of all of them next to each other first.

Revlon Photoready Color Correcting Primer

Revlon Photoready Color Correcting Primer

Revlon Photoready Color Correcting Primer comes in a glass jar with a pump style applicator.  The pump flows easily and is controllable to provide just the right amount of primer to cover the face without wasting product.  Revlon claims that the Photoready Color Correcting Primer’s soft lavender color “Brightens skin and neutralizes redness while evening out uneven skin tone.”  This is the only one of the four that I have today that isn’t a silicone primer.  The consistency is more a cross between lotion and liquid foundation.  The formula dries down to a satiny finish that offers a bit of hydration, without getting oily.  I actually really like the formula quite a bit.  It does sort of sit on top of the skin a little, but it feels lightweight and still wears comfortably.  My makeup blends over it very easily and evenly.  You do want to wait a minute for the primer to dry down a little before applying foundation over it, though.  Despite its claims, Revlon Photoready Color Correcting Primer doesn’t do a great job at color-correcting or brightening, but it does give the skin a lovely soft-focus look.  It absolutely diminishes the look of fine lines and pores.  It even fuzzes out my freckles a bit.  My skin looks younger and more even with Revlon Photoready Color Correcting Primer.  Revlon also has a “Perfecting” version of this primer which is almost identical.  Though this isn’t my favorite formula, the Revlon Photoready Color Correcting Primer is a very good option, especially for those who don’t like silicone primers or who break out from them.  I think the formula is unique for the drugstore, and worth checking out.  Revlon Photoready Color Correcting Primer retails for around $11-$13, regular price, and is 0.91 fl oz.

e.l.f. Studio Mineral Infused Face Primer

e.l.f. Studio Mineral Infused Face Primer

Now onto the silicone based primers, the first of which is the e.l.f. Studio Mineral Infused Face Primer.  In my opinion, the e.l.f. Mineral Primer and the NYX Photo-Loving primer are the most similar.  The main difference is that the e.l.f primer is a little dryer, and a little thinner than NYX.  I really like the silky smooth texture of the e.l.f. Studio Mineral Infused Face Primer.  It is a fragrance-free silicone primer that, for me, does a great job of filling in my pores and smoothing over any dry patches to prep my face for an even foundation application. It blends into my skin easily and has a really quick dry-down time.  There is no blurring or anything like that with the e.l.f. Studio Mineral Infused Face Primer, but that allows for a more natural finish.  It is very similar to the Smashbox Photo Finish.  I’ve tried it under all sorts of foundations and have had great success with it.  The e.l.f. Studio Mineral Infused Face Primer is available in four shades.  E.l.f. has the Clear one that I am showing you today, Tone Adjusting Green, Brightening Lavender, and Radiant Glow.  When they added the three additional shades, e.l.f. thankfully redesigned the pump, because the old one was terrible.  It was a common problem, and e.l.f. needed to change the packaging because half the pumps didn’t work.  Luckily, the redesign works perfectly and that makes the e.l.f. Studio Mineral Infused Face Primer and excellent option.  E.l.f. Studio Mineral Infused Face Primer retails for $6 full price for 0.49 oz. and can be found at Target or online at

NYX Studio Perfect Photo-Loving Primer

NYX Studio Perfect Photo-Loving Primer

NYX Studio Perfect Photo-Loving Primer is pretty much a dead-on dupe for Smashbox Photo Finish.  They are nearly identical.  It glides on so smoothly and evenly, and it disappears into nothing on the skin, leaving a perfect, yet undetectable canvas.  If you like silicone primers, this is the one.  There is only one thing that I have to complain about the NYX Studio Perfect Photo-Loving Primer and it is that the primer separates, so you need to shake it up first before applying.  I have never had this issue with the Smashbox or e.l.f. primers.  The tube clearly states on the back that separation is normal and does not effect the quality of the formula, but it can be annoying and a little wasteful if you forget to shake first.  I don’t really understand how NYX Studio Perfect Photo-Loving Primer can be so similar to Smashbox Photo Finish, but one separates and the other doesn’t.  Either way, I highly recommend NYX Studio Perfect Photo-Loving Primer.  It is becoming my number one drugstore primer choice.  If you shop, you can find the Studio Perfect Photo-Loving Primer in Clear, Green, and Lavender but Target and Ulta only carry the clear version.  NYX Studio Perfect Photo-Loving Primer retails for $12-$13 regular price, and is 1 fl oz.

L'Oreal Revitalift Miracle Blur Instant Skin Smoother

L’Oreal Revitalift Miracle Blur Instant Skin Smoother

The final primer I have to review today is the L’Oreal Revitalift Miracle Blur Instant Skin Smoother.  Though L’Oreal says that Miracle Blur is more than a primer, with it’s claim to “Instantly erase the look of lines, wrinkles, and pores; Skin instantly looks and feels smooth, leaving a velvet soft matte finish that lasts all day,” it functions as a primer so I’m counting it as such.  L’Oreal Miracle Blur is really thick, so much so that it is tough to squeeze out of the tube.  I don’t like the way it feels at all.  It does not like to blend into my skin, and it pills on me so that it doesn’t go on evenly at all.  It feels heavy and greasy, even on my dry skin, so I can only imagine how it feels for those with oily skin.  The dry-down time is pretty long, but necessary, because if you don’t wait it leaves a slippery canvas that repels makeup.  L’Oreal Miracle Blur doesn’t help out my foundation at all.  I get an uneven application with several different foundations which makes me think that L’Oreal Miracle Blur just doesn’t play well with others.  The formula is simply not made for my skin and looks terrible on me.  The other draw back is the price.  Though you get a lot of product, 1.8 fl oz, L’Oreal Miracle Blur retails anywhere from $20-$25.  It would have been better if L’Oreal had made smaller tubes for less money.  I personally do not recommend L’Oreal Revitalift Miracle Blur Instant Skin Smoother because it did not work for me at all.

I hope that this overview of drugstore primers was helpful to you.  To recap, if you like silicone primers like Smashbox Photo Finish, both the NYX Studio Perfect Photo-Loving Primer and e.l.f. Studio Mineral Infused Face Primer are good options.  I prefer the NYX over the e.l.f., but only slightly.  I would skip the L’Oreal Revitalift Miracle Blur Instant Skin Smoother because of the inflated price and difficult formula.  If silicone primers aren’t your thing, Revlon Photoready Color Correcting Primer is a pretty good drugstore option.  God luck on your hunt, and happy shopping.  Have you tried any of these products, or do you have a drugstore primer that you recommend?  Let us know in the comments below.

18 responses »

  1. Great review! My favorite primer EVER is the Revlon Photoready Color Correcting–great stuff. I am glad to know I wasn’t the only one who hated L’Oreal’s Miracle Blur. You described the way I felt about it perfectly. It’s so greasy and heavy, and I tried tons of foundations over it and they all looked awful. My skin is really oily anyway, but the Miracle Blur made it much worse. Total waste of money. Glad we agree on that!

  2. If I have the opportunity to try a high-end product and like it, I always try to find a similar product at a lower price point. I loved the mini Smashbox Photo Ready Primer in the “Try Me” kit I purchased quite some time ago, but I thought the price for the full size product was ridiculous. After comparing ingredients, I discovered the NYX Studioe Perfect Photo Loving Primer had the formula most similar to the Smashbox primer, and I’ve been using it ever since. Thus far, I haven’t had the separation problem you mentioned, but now that you’ve said it, I’ll take a closer look at the tube before I squeeze!!

  3. I’ve tried just about every primer out there for my oily skin. None of them mattify my skin for long, leaving me with a shiny nose and very visible pores (and they get bigger as you get older, ladies!). Sometimes I think I’m just throwing my money away. I’m grateful for my oily skin in some ways because I look younger than my age (at least that’s what people tell me) , but it is so frustrating to spend money on primer, foundation and powder and look in the mirror and hour later and realize that the effort was wasted. But I am still glad to have read this review. I stopped using the elf primer because of the packaging problem and I stopped using Smashbox because $40 is too much to pay for it. I’ll have to try the elf again.

    • Linda,

      I have an oily T-zone in the warm weather months. During the summer, I change things up a bit with primers. I use Benefit’s Dr. Feelgood on my oily bits….(they sell a mini which lasts quite a long time if you’d like to try it). I apply the Dr. Feelgood *lightly* using a brush, not my fingers or the sponge that is included.

      Then, I dust over my entire face with a powder comprised of dimethicone/vinyl dimethicone cross polymer and silica (E.L.F. Studio High Definition Powder works). Yes, you can use a powder as a primer underneath liquid or cream foundation! The dimethicone fills pores, and the silica absorbs oil. Apply your regular foundation over this, let wet, then another light dusting of the powder.

      Just a suggestion – hope it helps!

      • A-r-g-h! The above should read

        “Apply your regular foundation over this, let DRY, then another light dusting of the powder.”

        • I tried it today with the Boots No. 7 powder I have and it worked pretty well. To my surprise I discovered the e.l.f. Studio HD Powder in my box of accumulated makeup, so I’m going to use that tomorrow. I like the idea of using the powder.

          • Linda,

            I don’t have anything from the Boots no 7 line. I went to their website to try and find the product you used. Is it the No7 Light Loose Powder, or something else? I ask because the No7 Light Loose Powder’s main ingredient is talc, and it does not have any silica in the formula.

            Not that there is anything wrong with talc, but to get the best result you really want something that uses the two main ingredients in a liquid primer in powder form – which are silicone and silica. The silica is what is going to help with absorbing the oil. The fewer “extra” ingredients the better.

            If the ELF powder works for you, an even less expensive option is this:


            The Wrinkle Blur contains JUST the powder silicone (dimethicone/vinyl dimethicone cross polymer) and silica. No extra ingredients. It’s also cheaper per ounce than the ELF powder. (Cheaper than ELF? Shut the door! LOL!)

            I bought the smallest size (1 oz) over a year ago and I still have some left in the jar!

            You can also buy a small sifter jar at the same website (one of the biggest complaints I’ve heard about the ELF powder is that the jar it comes in doesn’t have a sifter):


            Yes, the jars are small (2.2 in. diameter), but to use it I open the sifter top a bit, shake some product into the lid, then pick up the product from the lid with my brush.

            One of the things I forgot to mention about Benefit’s Dr. Feelgood; if you are sensitive to scents, you may not like the product. It smells strongly of the herb rosemary. I am not scent-sensitive so it doesn’t bother me, but if you are, it may turn you off.

            Do you have a Sephora near you? Sephora will give you free samples of just about everything they sell. I went to Sephora wanting to buy a mini of the Dr. Feelgood to try, but they didn’t have any of the mini’s for sale in-store. So the SA took a full size and scraped quite a good-sized portion of it into a plastic container and gave it to me. That sample lasted me a couple of weeks! Long enough for me to give the product a good test drive and convince me to go back and buy the full-size. (Be nice to the Sephora SA’s. They’ll give you all kinds of freebies!)

            If you do get an opportunity to try the Dr. Feelgood, please remember what I said earlier – do not use a sponge to apply it – especially since you have oily skin. You’ll be transferring that oil to the sponge, into the product, then back on your face again every time you use it. Not good! Use a brush, and clean it thoroughly after every use. Trust me on this – it makes a huge difference!

            One other thing I forgot to tell you (see? I’m getting older and the mind is the first to go). Do you use blotting papers? I’ve discovered it’s much better to blot away any oily breakthroughs than to keep re-applying powder. The best blotting papers I’ve found are not the white paper type, but the blue ones. CVS sells them:


            Instead of being made of paper, these are made of a polymer. They almost feel “rubbery.”

            The difference between these and the “regular” blotting papers is that this type doesn’t remove your makeup when you blot. They just remove the oil and leave your makeup intact. Not sure how they work….but they do!

  4. Pingback: Battle of the Drugstore Primers | Beauty in Budget Blog

  5. I am looking for a primer that extends the wear of my foundation from the drugstore. I have so many foundations that I love, but do not wear because they are not long wearing. Do you have a favorite that extends wear? I don’t really need smoothing or pore filling.Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated. I love your blog, it is on my “must read” list!!

    • I would recommend any of the primers in this post except for the L’Oreal one. Both the NYX and the Revlon are easy to find. Both will help to extend the wear of your foundation, though if you have oily skin that breaks down foundations easily, I would recommend looking for a mattifying primer or one that specifically controls oil.

  6. Hello!! I have to agree with youbon the Loreal instant blur. Didn’t do a thing for me but waste my 20$. Ugh. I of course love Smashbox but not the price. I will try the elf and the nyx silicone primer based on your blog here. Thank you so much!! 🙂 -Hope

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