Pass or Purchase? The Budget Brand E.L.F

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I have been a long time user of E.L.F, ever since I discovered my favorite $2 liquid eyeliner while I wasn’t exactly rolling in the dough in my college days. I have been testing, loving and deciding a verdict on virtually all of their products ever since. Because with nothing in the line costing $10 – and most costing under $4 – why the heck not?!

I love makeup. I’m a girly girl at heart and adore the feeling of gussying up. I use everything from $.99 nail polish to $100 eyeshadow palettes. But one thing is consistent in my makeup bag, I always look for the best value (which is totally different than the price tag).

For example, a $1 eyeshadow might not apply well and you have to use more of it. The same color in a $15 department store brand (like MAC) can literally last a decade and not run out and last for days. In this case, the better value is certainly the MAC eyeshadow, so I have zero problem shelling out more cash.

Let’s start with my time-tested favorites.



1. The Liquid Eyeliner ($2). I have used everything including pens, pencils, gels and more and I still swear by this $2 bottle. The applicator makes it so easy to get the perfect cat eye wing that I rock on the daily. Plus, this one bottle (with every day use) lasts a few months easy. With it only being $2, you can experiment with navy or grey liner guilt-free.



2. The Makeup Mist & Set Spray ($2.99). When makeup setting sprays became a hot topic, I tried many of them to see what would work best for the way I apply face makeup. I like a very full coverage that can very easily border looking “cakey.” I was looking for an inexpensive alternative to MAC’s Prep + Prime Fix Spray and found it with this product. It turns a powdery finish into a flawless one.




3. The Kabuki Face Brush ($5.59). I really wasn’t in love with any of my foundation brushes for the longest time. I was actually ready to invest in a pricier one when I found a rave review for this one. If I hadn’t paid $5 myself for it, I would have no idea that it didn’t come from a department store. It’s great for blending and stippling in powder for a fuller coverage.




4. The Contouring Brush ($6). Department store contour brushed can easily run you $40 – words from the wise – pick up this $6 one instead. It is amazing from getting clean and crisp lines that will make your face look fierce and defined. Just make sure to have another brush to contour with (I use these ones that are rose gold from Amazon! it is only $20 for 10 brushes plus a beauty blender) or this $5 E.L.F. one is great for blending.




5. The Studio Makeup Removing Cleanser Wipes ($2.99). This is one product that is great for saving money. I use these every single night to take off my makeup and it really helps me keep my pores unclogged as well. I have about three packs back-stocked on me at any given time because they are that much of a must-have for me. Plus, they are a fraction of the price of other brands and I can’t tell a difference.

Now, my new discoveries that I love.




1. The Lipstick in “Wine Tour” ($3). I recently lost my favorite fall lipstick, “Rebel” by MAC. I was hesitant to bite the $17 cost for a replacement and was beyond thrilled when I found this. It is the same flattering and fall-ready shade. It applies more nourishing and less matte than the MAC one but I was pleasantly surprised at this cheap lipsticks serious staying power.



2. The Mad for Matte Lip Pens ($10 for 4). These lip pens were surprisingly pretty in both application, color and lasting power. This $10 set is filled with beautiful berry and red tones for fall while the “Natural” pen (sold individually for $3) is a great neutral lip that is perfect for everyday.




3. The Contour Palette ($6). Once again, I would totally recommend this is you are on the fairer side or want a natural contoured look. It leaves me looking glowing and I love the easiness of having this in one palette. Plus, it doubles as a pretty eyeshadow.




4. The Clear Eyebrow and Eyelash Mascara ($2). I will never let this product go. It has transformed my eyebrows. The mascara side isn’t as life-changing because I like a very full lash look. But reviewers who don’t wear makeup or can’t wear mascara love this as an option. I apply this before putting on my eyebrow gel and it changed the way my brows look!




5. The Studio Blush and Contouring Powder ($2.99). I love this compact for being on the go and traveling because it is little, and combines your contouring, bronzer and blush into a tiny piece. It looks great on fairer skin tones and very natural on beige and medium ones. I used the “St. Lucia” color duo and it looked so glowing and beautiful!

Next, the pieces you should pass on.

1. This Eyeshadow Palette ($10). This is such a bummer because this palette looks so high end and at $10, it seemed like a steal for so many gorgeous colors. Unfortunately, these do not apply at all! I used multiple brushes, my fingers and anything I could think of and it was basically non-existent. I’ve heard great things about the matte palettes though (also $10 for a palette).

2. The Blush ($3). This is where quality wins every time. The e.l.f. blush must be layered and built up to see any effect at all and the lasting power is simply not there. I swear by MAC blush in ‘Gingerly’.

Finally, new pieces with great reviews that I need to try A.S.A.P.



1. The Eyebrow Duo ($3). I’ve heard such amazing things about any eyebrow products from e.l.f.! From reviews, this eyebrow duo is a must and is a dupe for department store products that are $30+. But I must confess, I’m still in love (like everyone else) with the Anastasia Beverly Hills ‘Dipbrow Pomade’ in ‘Soft Brown.’



2. This Studio Mascara and Shadow Shield ($3). For those days (or nights) you want to rock a smokey eye without getting eyeshadow shrapnel all under your eyes, this is your friend. I spend way too much time on my under eye concealer to screw it up with mascara!



3. The BB Cream ($6.09). Most BB creams are needlessly expensive (in my opinion) and have next to no coverage. According to the reviews, the coverage for the price is unmatched. I also could see buying two colors and blending them to get the perfect match (because for $6 each – why not?!)



4. The Studio Mineral Infused Mascara ($3). In my experience, the cheap mascaras tend to be the ones that build on each other the best. Reviewers are raving about this $3 mascara and claim it gives them both volume and and length without the clumps – yes please!



5. The Acne Fighting Foundation ($6). To find a foundation for under $10 seems to be impossible lately, but not with e.l.f. There are reviews pleading the brand to never discontinue this foundation because it’s light weight, covers, controls acne and fights shine. Yes, I need to try this, like yesterday.


Did you guys like this review type of post? What other brands would you like me to do this for? What are your favorite beauty steals? I’d love to hear!

As always, thank you for reading.

  1. Elena Wrote:

    Thanks for your review! Now I know what I SHOULD try 🙂

    • Brenna Wrote:

      Thanks so much, Elena! Hope you like them all as well.


  2. WendY Wrote:

    Love GETTING your take on this line! Beauty on a budget is always welcome.

    • Brenna Wrote:

      Aw thank you, Wendy! I always try to focus on value, not price.