e.l.f. face primer deceptive packaging claims
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

It never fails: You open a bag potato chips and, instead of a full bag, you reach in to find that it's mostly air with a few potato chips at the bottom. One woman found that her experience with an e.l.f. face primer gave her the same kind of letdown.

Facebook user Stephanie Marie posted a now-viral vlog about her experience with the e.l.f. Face primer — specifically, the e.l.f. Tone Adjusting Face Primer. In the video, Stephanie explains that she justified her purchase of the e.l.f. face primer because the bottle seemed large enough to last her for at least a year.

"I really liked it and started using it every day," she said in the video.

But after a few weeks, she noticed that the e.l.f Tone Adjusting Face Primer was already near empty despite only using a "tiny, tiny little bit each day." Confused, she unscrewed the lid to the e.l.f. face primer to find that the bottle is made of multiple parts: an outside container, a middle container and then a "teeny tiny" container inside that holds the product.


She then poured the small amount of product into the cap — "it’s just drops," she added before showing the underside of the container to reveal the small container in the middle.

Stephanie Marie’s video shows that e.l.f. Cosmetics is seemingly using deceptive packaging to obscure how much face primer is in a bottle.

Is e.l.f. face primer cheating customers out of the full amount?

Stephanie Marie isn’t the first person to notice possible deceptive packaging with e.l.f. Cosmetics products. Another YouTube video takes apart a bottle similar to the e.l.f. face primer to show that the company obscures the amount of product included in a container.

And this Reddit post also shows that an e.l.f. face primer container was misleading.

So the ELF primer is great but...

We decided to do our own experiment with e.l.f. face primer.

First, a couple of notes: We couldn’t find the same e.l.f. Tone Adjusting Face Primer that Stephanie Marie used, so we opted for a bottle of e.l.f. Hydrating Face Primer assuming that it’s likely all of the company’s face primers are housed in the same type of bottle — an assumption we confirmed on the company's website.

The actual bottle we bought doesn’t have the same multiple containers that Stephanie’s does. With ours, there is no outer container, only one main colored container, a pump that can be unscrewed, a silver cap on the bottom that can be removed to show the inner container that holds the product.

e.l.f. face primer bottom

And this is where our experience starts to differ.

In Stephanie’s video, it’s easy to see that the inner container looks tiny compared to the outside container. However, our bottle of e.l.f. Hydrating Face Primer shows that the inner container lines up with the bottom of the main container. It’s unclear if she’s showing the same bottle of e.l.f. face primer that contained less product than she expected, but it seems that she’s judging her experience on what the bottle looks when it’s almost empty, not full.

It also seems like that’s how the bottle should look when it’s completely used — and e.l.f. is actually using smart packaging technology to ensure we’re getting the most out of our products.

e.l.f. face primer box

The box of e.l.f. Hydrating Face Primer says it contains 1.01 fl. Oz (30 mL) of product. Because the bottle is made of rigid plastic, it’s impossible to cut it open to get the last little bit of product out. Instead, e.l.f. designed the inner container of its face primer to actually push up to the top as the consumer uses the product — when there’s no more product left, the inner container looks like it’s almost at the top. In our experience, the amount of product inside the e.l.f. Hydrating Face Primer seems about accurate to the weight on the product box.

Is e.l.f. face primer trying to dupe customers with clever packaging?

Metro has reached out to e.l.f. Cosmetics for comment on Stephanie Marie’s video and deceptive packaging claims posted on the web.

It’s possible that the company changed the e.l.f. Face primer packaging between when Stephanie bought her bottle and we bought ours in order to address concerns of misleading packaging. All we know is that it seems like e.l.f. Cosmetics is now delivering the amount of product it advertises on the box.

And at $6 a bottle, it’s a more budget-friendly face primer than other products sold in makeup stores like Sephora.

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