Makeup primer is one of those fickle beasts that when it works, it’s a game-changer, and when it doesn’t, it’s a life-ruiner. Dramatic, sure, but when it comes to fucking with my expertly-applied makeup, I’ll accept no cosmetic saboteurs. Generally speaking, I avoid makeup primer unless I’m prepping for a long event because I don’t like how most of them feel on my skin. The recent exception has been Tatcha’s wildly popular Silk Canvas Primer, beloved for its velvety texture that seems to marry with whatever skin care I’ve got on underneath without matting out my skin’s natural-looking texture. It doesn’t look like primer, basically. For $52, this bad boy is definitely splurge territory, but apparently worth it since it kept selling out upon launch.
But then, E.L.F. released a product that made the Internet cry “dupe!” The Poreless Putty Primer‘s name doesn’t necessarily evoke visuals of geisha-smooth skin, but it’s a functional descriptor with a triple alliteration — massive beauty Scrabble points if that was a thing we’re keeping track of. And for $8, this one also has had an annoying habit of continuously selling out since launching just this past fall. Does it have the same weighty, iridescent disc of a compact and coin-shaped spatula as Tatcha’s? No, of course not — it’s $8 — you’re getting a makeup product in simple functional packaging, and that’s it. L’Experience is something that’s yet to take full and frivolous priority in drugstore beauty, but that isn’t why we’re there in the first place.
I’ve tried both primers with the same makeup over them to compare how each performed. Here are a couple takeaways:
- $52 for 0.7 ounces
- Really fancy-looking packaging
- Smells nice
- Has a cool, coin-shaped spatula so you can scoop out a perfectly measured portion for each application
- Melts into skin seamlessly without that too-slick silicone texture sitting atop your face.
- Balmy, lightweight, velvety feel that holds onto makeup well.
- It did pill the oil-based foundation I put on over it a little bit
- $8 for 0.74 ounces
- Screw-lid plastic jar, no tools or accessories
- No detectable scent
- Feels slightly thicker than Tatcha Silk Canvas Primer
- Melds with skin seamless but takes a bit more blending to fully melt it in
- Also lightweight and velvety-feeling, but ever-so-slightly drier than the Tatcha
- Did not pill my oil-based foundation as much
Both of these primers did the job they were supposed to. Honestly, they are both impressive products. The big difference? The price, duh. If skin-care benefits in your makeup are in your agenda, Tatcha certainly has that covered. I mean, there is literal silk in it, as well as Tatcha’s propriety Hadasei-3 formula. Both contain squalane but E.L.F.’s ingredient list is more mono-functional overall, I’d say. Tatcha clearly put a lot of thought into its formulation, which makes sense since it is a luxury skin-care brand after all. Its customers expect that much from it and it certainly delivers on that front. If you have finicky skin, that could make all the difference. I wouldn’t call the Poreless Putty Primer an exact dupe based on that fundamental difference alone, but if you’re in the market for a good, cheap primer just to keep makeup on your face all day, it’s a definite winner.
More primer prowess:
Here’s a little primer on primer: