e.l.f. haul: 16 eye shadows,10 lip glosses, 4 lipsticks, 8 brushes, 3 blushes, 2 mascaras, eyelid primer, highlighter, eyeliner, makeup set/seal, and a wristlet makeup bag for $40 and free shipping. Saved $38.

As a young fashionista, I was wary of drugstore makeup. Conventional wisdom dictates that cheap makeup is bad for the skin, and more expensive makeup is higher quality and complexion-friendly. Fifteen years ago, this was very well the case. Drugstore makeup didn’t wear as long, clogged pores, and applied poorly.

Drugstore beauty products have come a long way, baby. In many cases, drugstore products have surpassed their department store cousins in terms of quality and application. My foray into drugstore beauty began when I could no longer wear makeup with wheat and oat derivatives. Lipstick and mascara were particularly troublesome to find. After throwing away my entire makeup collection (and most of the items in our pantry), I set out on a quest to find makeup I could wear. I wanted good quality products; however, I also had to scrimp on cost. With the ever-increasing grocery bill and wardrobe replacement costs, I had to lay cosmetics aside for a while.

Then I discovered e.l.f., which stands for eyeslipsface. You may have seen the palettes with 50 eye colors in drugstores and discount retailers. The company celebrates its 10th anniversary this year. Most of the products retail for $1-2. The studio line retails for $6 on average.

Joey Shamah and Scott-Vincent Borba create the company with the goal of providing high-quality beauty products for the average woman with the average budget. Beauty should not be expensive. Their products are available at Walmart, Target, Walgreens, CVS, and other similar retailers. For the full line of products, you can order from their website, which offers promotional deals all the time.

We’re experiencing an employment issue in our household, so I decided to take advantage of one of those promotional deals and stock up on cosmetics while I had extra money to spend. I mean, cosmetics is not a necessary expense. Right?

I cashed in the Smoky and Shimmer set free promo. It’s $25 worth of product for free with a $35 purchase. The 22-piece mini palette was on sale for $10 (originally $15). Of course, I spent $40 to save $8 in shipping.

e.l.f. is hit and miss. Most of the products are hits. Some need improvements. I reviewed the following products:

Smokey and Shimmer Set

Smoky and Shimmer Set (I apologize for the glare)

Smoky Eye Beauty Book

Smoky Look Beauty Book








Smoky and Shimmer Set (promo)

Here’s what I love about e.l.f. They create look books with instructions. The books retail for $5! It’s great for beginners or someone who wants to branch out from their everyday look.

I have mixed feelings about this set. I tried the day look twice. It’s way too dark for me. I felt very made up.  I made it a point to follow the directions exactly, even though I rarely wear liner and mascara on my lower lash line. The day look contains a pink and two purples. The shadow is very pigmented. Even with a light application, it was very dark.

I haven’t tried the night look yet. The night look is silver, gray, and black. I can’t express how excited I am finally to have a black shadow. Maybe I’ll use it for a holiday party or the upcoming Christmas musical I am doing.

I’m not a fan of pencil eyeliners. This eyeliner is easy to apply but tugs during the application process. If you like pencil eyeliners, you will like the one included in this set. I’m a gel girl myself.

The eyelid primer is excellent! A little goes a long way. I have oily skin. This primer really keeps the shadow in place. You have no idea how difficult this is. The struggle is real.

The volumizing mascara is fairly good. I haven’t had much of a track record with e.l.f. mascaras. This one lengthens more than it volumizes. It’s nice for a pared-down day look. The day smoky eye was so dramatic, I used a separate mascara on top of the one that came with the set. I couldn’t leave the house with dramatic liner and shadows and thin lashes.

I haven’t used the fan brush. It’s designed for the baked highlighter. I love the highlighter. I’ve been using the cream facial whip, but I wanted to try a powder. The highlighter has one flaw — it does not easily apply. I used my finger to apply and blended it with my kabuki brush, hence the reason I haven’t used the fan brush. Many users have expressed the same issue in the review section of the e.l.f. website. I normally don’t take a gamble with poorly-reviewed products, but this product was free. I would definitely buy it again. It creates a lovely, long-lasting shimmer. I only wish I could fan it on.

The contour brush, on the other hand, is fabulous. I have no idea why I didn’t purchase one before. I have to contour my crease. I have deep set eyes. If I don’t, the overall look is lost in the socket of my eye. This brush makes it much easier. I really need to get over my brush collection aversion. Brushes are not unneccesary costs like I originally thought. A good brush picks up less product and creates a more refined look. This is a good brush by this definition.

Finally, the set comes with a Matte Lip Color in Natural and a Mineral Lip Gloss in Sorority Girl. The lip color is a little light. It applies well, but it makes me look like a zombie. It’s a nice nude when combined with the lip gloss. I might use the combo in the future when I want an effortless no-makeup look.

22-piece mini palette compared to the size of an iPhone 5c

e.l.f Studio 22-piece Mini On the Go palette compared to the size of an iPhone 5c

e.l.f. Studio 22-piece Mini On the Go Palette

I was really excited about this palette. I rarely carry makeup with me, but when I do, I like to simplify. This palette fits nicely in the wristlet bag pictured with the Smoky and Shimmer Set.

22-piece mini to-go palette top section -- eye shadow

22-piece mini to-go palette top section — eye shadow

The eye shadows are lovely. Some are pigmented; others are not. I use a wet brush to apply most colors. In all fairness, every light green color I have tried, no matter the brand, is translucent.

The colors blend well too. I never use the applicators that come with palettes. My C and contour brushes fit in the wristlet bag as well, so I never used the applicators.

mini palette middle section -- mascara and lip gloss

mini palette middle section — mascara and lip gloss

I’m a little mixed on the lip gloss. Bypass the lip brush. It’s not high quality. My finger worked much better. Most of the glosses except for the purple shade are very opaque. If you read my blog, you know how much I loathe opaque lip products and lip brushes. It’s not e.l.f.’s fault. The texture is creamy, which is a plus.

The mascara is not very good. It didn’t enhance my lashes at all. I would choose the volumizing mascara over this version any day.

mini palette bottom section -- blush

mini palette bottom section — blush

I love the blushes. Warning — they are very pigmented. The blush brush is useless. I use my e.l.f. Studio blush brush to apply and my kabuki brush to blend. The colors on the end are very nice. The middle color requires a light application for my ivory skin tone. The blushes are a nice complement to the highlighter.

IMG_2193Lip Colors

I love lip color. The weather has cooled down, and lip products are a necessity. I have had great success with e.l.f. lip products. Here are the color swatches:

From top to bottom: Matte Lip Color in Natural, Moisturizing Lipstick in Flirty and Fabulous, Moisturizing Lipstick in Rosy-Go-Round, Moisturizing Lipstick in Velvet Rope, Mineral Lip Gloss in Sorority Girl, EX-tra Lip Gloss in Joe, EX-tra Lip Gloss in Michael, EX-tra Lip Gloss in Brett, and Glossy Gloss in Funky Fushia

From top to bottom: Matte Lip Color in Natural, Moisturizing Lipstick in Flirty and Fabulous, Moisturizing Lipstick in Rosy-Go-Round, Moisturizing Lipstick in Velvet Rope, Mineral Lip Gloss in Sorority Girl, EX-tra Lip Gloss in Joe, EX-tra Lip Gloss in Michael, EX-tra Lip Gloss in Brett, and Glossy Gloss in Funky Fushia

The bright pink color (Flirty & Fabulous) is in this season. I love a bold lip color.

The lipsticks hold their own against more expensive brands. I own a M.A.C. lipstick. While the color is nice, the longevity is weak. These lipsticks outlast M.A.C. If you search Pinterest, you will find e.l.f. dupes for department store lipsticks.

The only product that disappointed me was Michael. It’s very, um, liquidy. Messy may be a better word. It might fare better with a lip liner or lipstick. I’m not sure. The color was beautiful, but the formula was subpar.

Other Products

I also purchased a stipple brush, kabuki brush, and the Makeup Lock & Seal.

I haven’t used the stipple brush yet. I plan to use it with e.l.f.’s Studio HD Blush. It’s a cream blush I love. I hope the stipple brush will make application easier.

The kabuki brush is my favorite. The price is $6. Kabuki brushes retail for a lot of money. The brush is so soft and provides a blended airbrushed look. It use it for powder, blush, and highlighter. It fits nicely in my new wristlet bag.

The Makeup Lock & Seal is great for setting eye makeup. I have no intention of using it for facial makeup. I previously used a spray version of this product. It was good, but it caused breakout.

My eye makeup runs and creases after two hours. No matter the color palette, it all mixes to brown by the end of the day. i had high hopes for this product, and it didn’t disappoint.

Place a few drops in the plastic cup thingy and saturate the brush. Warning — this product stinks. If you are sensitive to smells, this may not be for you. The directions state to mix the saturated brush with product and apply. Not so much. It’s very sticky. The brush does not blend well despite its label as a blending brush.

I apply my makeup first, then lightly press the wet brush over my lid. Use the set and seal sparingly, lest your eye lid sticks together. My makeup stayed in place for 14 hours before creasing.

Final Thoughts

I love e.l.f. products. The quality increases the longer the company is in business. Most of their products stand up to more expensive products on the market and to many similar drugstore products. With a few exceptions, the quality was great. Most of my dissatisfaction is based on personal preferences.

The customer service is great. I received my package promptly. Unlike most beauty companies, the color on the website is accurately representative of the actual color of the product. The actuality of color is a problem stemming from technology and is not a problem of the beauty companies. Their website is more accurate than my own camera shots, in all honesty.

Bottom line: If you’re looking for a quality drugstore brand, give e.l.f. a shot.

***I purchased the products reviewed. My opinion is my own. I did not receive compensation or this review. If this changes, I will let you know. My review is based on my personal experience with the products based on my preferences, skin tone, and skin type. You may have a different experience with the same products. This review is designed to provide information for research purposes only to guide you in your frugal fashion purchasing decisions.