e.l.f. makeup review

e.l.f.In case you’ve never heard of e.l.f. cosmetics (eyes lips face), let me tell you that this brand can be a recessionista’s best friend. Most of their products are $1 a piece (yes, I said one dollar) and the quality of their cosmetics is just as good, if not better, than many higher-priced brands. It doesn’t hurt that one of e.l.f. cosmetics’ founders is Scott Vincent Borba (of Borba Skin Care), and it makes sense that their philosophy is to create products that “moisturize, hydrate, and enliven your complexion without taxing your budget.” How is e.l.f. able to keep the prices of their products so low? Well, the answer’s right on their website: “…using the internet for branding rather than higher-priced advertising media; by sourcing the best ingredients at competitive prices; and by prioritizing our products, rather than their packaging, e.l.f. always provides you with quality and value.” Sounds great to me, and my wallet sure loves it too.

I first fell in love with e.l.f. when I purchased one of their Hypershine Glosses (retail: $1) a few years ago, and in an example of how life always comes full circle, this is the exact same product I was given to test for this review. There’s a very popular high-end cosmetics company that makes a similar lip gloss in a click-pen delivery system and, let me tell you, e.l.f.’s Hypershine is just as good as the product that costs almost 20 times its price. The color I received, “Vixen”, is a cheery, sheer berry red. I just so happen to have an obsession with sheer red glosses at the moment but, even if I didn’t, I would still love this color. Hypershine make your lips so glossy (but without the stickiness) and the color makes yours lips looks like you just ate a bowl of strawberries. It’s definitely a “your lips, but better” type of color that I think would look fantastic on anyone. Think naturally flushed, with a kicked-up shine.

I also received one of e.l.f.’s newest products, Mineral Eyeshadow, in the shade “Earthy” (which is now 25% Off with coupon code EGMINERALC and any order of $25.) These Mineral Eyeshadows retail for a whopping $3 each and are composed of 100% natural minerals. They contain no parabens, no preservatives and no chemical dyes. This is a loose pigment that can stand up to the most expensive loose pigments on the market. Seriously, the formula is so smooth and the shadow just glides on the lid, making it a dream to blend. But the best part is that I applied this shadow without the help of an eyeshadow base and it lasted all day without creasing. Oh and the color, “Earthy”, is stunning. It’s a beautiful shade of deep olive green with a golden shimmer that makes your eyes sparkle. It’s one of those shades that’s safe for work because it’s not a “Hey! Look at me!” color, but it’s also not a standard earthtone. Wear “Earthy” on a day when you want to be noticed, but not *too* noticed.

In addition to an assortment of Hypershine Glosses and Mineral Eyeshadows, the we heart this review team also received an assortment of Brightening Eye Color Quads, so be sure to read the comments for their thoughts on those shortly.

13 votes, average: 4.38 out of 513 votes, average: 4.38 out of 513 votes, average: 4.38 out of 513 votes, average: 4.38 out of 513 votes, average: 4.38 out of 5 (13 votes, average: 4.38 out of 5)
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Gianna is obsessed with drugstore and budget beauty products. She is the writer/editor of Nouveau Cheap, a blog that’s devoted to finding quality beauty products that don’t break the bank.

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Written by nouveaucheap

21 Comments

  1. Profile photo of sherrishera
    sherrishera

    I am a sucker for packaging: I buy a book for its cover, rate a man for his bum and baby blues, and I buy much of my makeup for their cute little containers and ornamentation. I judge, therefore I am woman.

    e.l.f. doesn’t give a consumer much by way of packaging. Finding out that the stuff is super inexpensive wasn’t that much of a surprise: both my “Vixen” hypershine gloss and my “Drama” brightening eye color arrived in drugstore-type cardboard and plastic. Eh, Drama and Vixen did NOT have me at “hello.”

    I was, however, surprised when I gave each of these products a go. First, LOVE the hypershine gloss: it smells like a sweet tart tastes and looks just as candy-licious. The color looks just bitten and juicy. I love this one lots. I still don’t think anyone will mistake this click-pen color tube for a fancy, expensive lip gloss, but they may when they see it on your lips.

    The “Drama” brightening Eye Color Quad was equally as superfabtastic. The colors are heavily pigmented and true to what you see in the palette. Even the highlighting white is a one-swipe wonder. If I were to complain about this palette, it might be that the colors are TOO saturated. I found myself applying this melange of greys, blacks and whites and looking as though I were playing with a paint set. I used a tissue to wipe off excess color and blend. Perhaps another reason for this stripey painted-on look was the truly horrible applicator they supply. I do own a nice set of brushes, but felt the need to use the supersmall sponge applicator provided. A word of advice: don’t do it; you own those nice brushes for a reason.

    All in all, both products perform well. They definitley do upstage their competitors in the cheap makeup category (“Wet ‘n’ Wild they ain’t). If you can get past the need for a pretty tube or fancy case give e.l.f. a go; if not, spend lots more money for a similar product.

  2. Profile photo of Stef Andrews
    Stef Andrews

    Yep, it’s true. e.l.f. Hypershine totally rivals Stila’s lip glazes! Stila is a bit more pigmented, but the shine these give is totally beautiful. It’s got that old school, Lip Smackers kind of vibe. Remember those? That glass bottle with a roller ball filled with shiny gloss perfection? Well, e.l.f. has perfected it with this easy to use applicator. And Vixen is this juicy, berry red that looks and smells fab.

    For a dollar? Seriously, what can you get for a dollar?! 5 big ol’ stars from me.

  3. Profile photo of christy
    christy

    I can’t even believe these prices are true! 1 dollar!!!! I can’t even find bubble gum for 1 dollar anymore!!! So when I realized the eye shadow quad I got to try, Pretty in Pink was only 1 dollar I almost fell out! Nouveaucheap is right!! This is totally comparable to products 20xs the price.

    this palette is fantastic. The colors blend and build good as any, and the size is perfect for travel. I also love the handy little mirror under the brush, perfect for peeking at your peepers! The color combos they sell are all great.

    Now for 2 dollars more.. yes only 3 dollars you can try the Mineral Eyeshadow. I can testify for it! I tried Seductive and it is again great for building and blending, and layered it is the ultimate smoky goodness.

    And for 3 dollars I can’t even believe it! Sooooooo worth it!!!!

    I was also lucky enough to try the Hypershine Gloss “VIXEN” too and again..are you kidding!!! This is GREAT Lip gloss, great packaging, great long wearing gloss.

    Elf gets 5 stars across the board from me…in this day, I am amazed a high quality, glamorous look for under 5 dollars is totally possible!!! Thanks to Elf!

  4. Profile photo of Mel
    Mel

    Wow, you’re good, Sherrishera! That’s everything I would say except much funnier!! I knew as soon as I opened this that it must’ve been from a drugstore, but when you say these are a dollar (or three) – dang!! Now I’m impressed. Because of the price, I will up my rating to 5 stars, and ignore the packaging completely. I tested one of the eyeshadow Color Quads, in Brownstone. I love it as a daily shadow. It’s perfect for me right now – just needing a little pick-me-up color and brightening, but no all-nighters at the club looks (I just had a baby). It’s a perfect work set, too. There’s a browbone pink, an all over beige, and 2 darker browns for the crease/outer corner, one being almost gray-black. The applicators do suck, but I’m using them, too – it’s like it’d be too hard to get your brushes in the small pans the colors come in. Even though it’s hard to use the applicators, the actual product still goes on nicely and stays – although these are light colors – don’t know if it’d be harder to get them blended nicely if they were darker. The colors are great for my light brown eyes and I would say they are brightening – they have just a very light amount of sheen. That all being said, know that I’ve been reaching for this every day for the last 2 weeks, not because I knew I’d be writing a review on it, but because they’re the perfect colors and I feel confident and like I look good – and that means ALOT since I just had a baby a month ago!

  5. Profile photo of irene
    irene

    • I started to write my review while I was getting a last minute, (but much-needed) pedicure during my lunch hour with my co-workers dingle berry-blackberry, whatever, and gave up! So, now that I can actually see what I am typing and can place my fingers on actual keys I’m here to tell you that ELF has found a new place front and center in my heart. Not only because the price is beyond right, I like its quality. It’s simple. We have been given quality products for years and can tell in an instant the difference between what’s good and not, period. I had the Mineral Eye shadow in “Temptress” a lovely dusty rose shade and the Hypershine gloss in “Joy”, a very sheer pretty pink, super shiny gloss that even tastes great. I was comparing the lip-gloss to a very expensive line too, and thought this is just a nice. Honestly! What is nice is the price! So, I was more than happy to give this line a whirl and was pleased with both. Thanks for providing a great product without draining our bank accounts. We know that you can sleep well at night because of it! The Eye shadow is just wonderful as well. Just a touch of this natural mineral on a brush or your finger goes a long way- all day. You can blend with other shades.. I enjoyed playing with this. I always make it a habit to wear what’s up for review on the day of its posting making myself really aware of what I’m reviewing.. It looks great and I have had several complements on my eye makeup. This is not heavy and is great for the office. By the way, like most mineral makeup, you can wear this dry or wet! How about those apples!
    • I love the ingredients too. Of course it’s 100% mineral based with no paraben, and no preservatives or chemical dyes They add vitamins A & B, to their eye shadows to be a benefit to your eyelids as they even hydrate and reduce the outward show of fine lines. Yeah for E.L.F. How cute is the name too!!! You guys get 4 big stars from me!

  6. Profile photo of katezena
    katezena

    I may have to go scope out this line again for the shadows. I got one of their hypershine glosses last year and had to throw it out due to the scent (after it gave me a migraine!). Scents tend to react badly with my skin not to mention give me migraines that leave me bedridden.

    Tar-gay, here I come!

  7. Profile photo of brooklynshoebabe
    brooklynshoebabe

    I have heard about E.L.F. (eyeslipsface) products for years, but never bought any. Mainly, I couldn’t find a store near me that sold them. (And New York City is supposed to be the place where you can find anything at anytime, lol.) But one day, I popped into Jack’s 99-Cent store near my dentist’s office and found a whole E.L.F. display. Where to begin? I grabbed the same Hypershine Gloss in Vixen that I was given to review. Lucky me, because I really liked the lip gloss.

    I’ve only recently jumped on the gloss over lipstick bandwagon, and I’m at a loss on how to build my collection. I will be able to do it with E.L.F. very easily. Besides the great price, the Hypershine Gloss is very glossy without being sticky. It doesn’t make my mouth feel heavy or tacky in this hot weather. It also doesn’t attract every piece of dust that blows in the air. I do like the faint, just ate a cherry popsicle, color it leaves on my lips. It is also good over a matte lip pencil or lipstick if you’re going for a more sophisticated look.

    I was slightly disappointed in the Brightening Eye Color Quads. The quality was fine and color is rich, but it didn’t last as long on my eyes as I had hoped the first time I wore it. I tried it with a base, and I still got the same results. On the plus side, I had some banging lilac eyeliner. I will definitely invest in some extra eyeliner brushes (perhaps E.L.F. eyeliner brushes?) and E.L.F. eyeshadow quads. Instead of spending $4 on 4 Wet-n-Wild eyeliners, I can spend $1 and get 4 with the E.L.F. quad.

  8. Profile photo of Cori
    Cori

    I am equally happy as everyone else! I adore my Hypershine Gloss in Flirt. It’s a nice watermelon color in the tube but when you put it on your lips it enhances your natural color and gives them a wonderful shine that last a super long time. I promise! I put some on right after lunch today, around 12:30, and when I got home at 6:00, I could still feel and see the gloss. And I love that it’s in a click tube. I have problems with the lids coming off my glosses or chap sticks and they end up getting on everything in my purse. So far, this click pen has not leaked on anything and stays put until I click it up.

    I also got to try a Eye Brightening Color Quad in Matte Mauve, which is a nice assortment of browns. Not usually my go to for eye color, I usually wear purples and grays, but still nice. I wore the Matte Mauve on days when I just didn’t feel like putting make up on and it gave me a nice natural look. I ended up liking it more than I thought. It blended very nicely…when I used my own brushes. I have to agree with the others, the applicators that come in the compact are no good. They look cute and you will want to use them, but they are just too small. But for the price I could care less! I’ll still be buying more ELF products hands down! 5 Stars from me!

  9. Profile photo of suzan
    suzan

    I received the e.l.f Hypershine Gloss in Joy. It looks like a deep lavender in the tube. It goes very very pale and of course hypershiny. Brace yourselves ladies…..I am not a fan of the Stila lip glazes, in fact when I received a set of them a few years ago I shipped them to Krista after trying one. I think I may like the $1 e.l.f version though. I’m a little pit off by the tackiness it gives my lips after application, but it wears off. I am also not sure I am wild about the scent, kind of like sun tan oil. However I’ve received a number of compliments on this when I’ve worn it, it lasts long and of course it’s only a dollar.
    The other product I received was the e.l.f small smudge brush. This is a nice brush. It’s a small, soft brush but ridged enough for smudging. I have a very nice high end brush set so I’m kind of a brush snob, but I was not dissapointed. I think this is better than the Sephora or Ulta store brand brush and this one is only $1.
    Has anyone tried the nail polish? That have some great colors and they too are only $1. Just wondering how they wear.
    e.l.f gets an overall 4.5 stars from me, solid products and great website.

  10. Profile photo of katezena
    katezena

    Stef,

    E.L.F. is carried in some (not all) Targets. Between the two Targets in my area, one carries part of the line (eyeshadows and lipgloss) and the other does not carry the line at all. There’s a Target thirty minutes from my house that carries some of the line too. It’s really hit-and-miss with the stores. I haven’t seen the mineral line in any of them.

    You might have to visit a few Targets to find the line.

  11. Profile photo of Krista
    Krista

    Susan—I love the fact that you’re not a fan of the Stila lip glazes and that I got to reap the benefits *smooches*
    I received the brightening eyeshadow quad in “Nymph Dreams”, which sounds more like a porno and less like an eyeshadow set, but eh, that makes it more fun in my opinion. The four shadows are shimmery pale gold, shimmery dark bronze, shimmery green/aqua, and shimmery brown. All of the colors look great layered on top on one another, so you can get several looks out of this quad. The green was a little too intense on its own, but looked really lovely with the bronze layered on top of it. This quad had some great shades for my green/brown hazel eyes. As everyone has mentioned, the sponge applicator is pretty much useless—if you use it, it deposits way too much product, so you need to wipe some away with your finger to blend it properly. There’s a mirror strip, which is also useless. I am a fan of large mirrors. Those negatives being mentioned, I’ve got to counter-balance it with the fact that the quad is only $1! At that price, I think I can somehow cope. The best thing about ELF cosmetics is that for $10 you can buy an entire cosmetics wardrobe. How great is that?

  12. Profile photo of tiffany
    tiffany

    I tested the brightening eyeshadow quad also. I was excited to try this because E.L.F. was a brand that I knew was drugstore cheap and I’ve always wanted to try it, but could never find at a store near me. The shades in this quad are right up my alley, but the first time I tried it I knew there was no way I could use the brush that came with it. It was actually a little painful to use…scratchy on my eyelid. But for a $1, I can deal with a scratchy brush. I just replaced it with an extra I had and have been using this quad quite a lot. I would love to try the Hypershine gloss too. Sounds just like the Stila ones, but much cheaper. Overall, I think the quality of this brand is much better than some of the other bargain drugstore brands out there. I would love to try more of their products if I can find them at a store near me.

  13. Profile photo of Rebecca Z
    Rebecca Z

    I got to try out the e.l.f. Hypershine Gloss in Joy. Admittedly, cracking open the plastic and cardboard packaging made me question whether or not I had just slipped through some time vortex and back to middle school. Thankfully, this was not the same junk I used then!

    I found that the sheer dark pink/lavender color was easy to wear and was shiny without making it look like my lips were melting. I’m completely in love with the coconut scent (and taste – it’s yummy)! It’s fairly long lasting and moisturizing. I personally didn’t care for the for the applicator brush at the end of the click pen, but it’s a mild offense considering all the good (especially the price)! When it comes to the Hypershine Glosses, you definitely get more than what you paid for!

  14. Michele Bridgeman

    I tried e.l.f. Brightening Eye Color in Brownstone. It’s a lovely neutral palate. There are four colors ranging from cream to taupe to chocolate to gray, but they are contained in very small triangles (totaling 2 – 1”x1” squares) with a raised plastic lip between individual colors to separate them. Underneath the foam applicator there is an itty bitty mirror. And I do mean itty bitty – ¼ of an inch high by 2 inches long. I’m assuming that this is to help you see how well you are applying the product??? It is very difficult if not impossible to view both eyes at once to see if your application is even. Maybe it’s my 40+ year old eyes??? That being said, I’m not sure if the mirror is absolutely necessary.

    Additionally, because the color triangles are small, I found that it was also difficult to get a lot of color on the applicator without vigorously gliding the applicator across the color. I didn’t want to abuse the product in that manner, so I had to go back to the color multiple times in order to get the desired color on my lids and brow. I should have attempted another applicator (as mentioned above), but I didn’t and probably would have liked the product a lot more know that I know that it retails so inexpensively.

    I guess if you’re going for a compact eye shadow for portability then this is the way to go. I do like the colors and confess that they stayed on fairly well…but I have to take issue with the amount of time that it took to apply the product due to the problems that I had with the application and that the hues, while nice, applied mostly flat without much shimmer – even though sparkles are apparent in the product. I had to layer another product on top to pump it up a little.

    Overall, I’d give the product 2 out of 5 stars – but would add a star or two for the price.

  15. Joy

    e.l.f. products are cheap for one primary reason: they’re all made in China. A second reason is their use of cheap ingredients [e.g., the top ingredient in their tube gloss is mineral oil.]

    I’ve purchased many of their tools and brushes and they’re quite good–especially the Studio line brushes. With their makeup, however, it’s worth a dollar.

  16. Profile photo of kate2004rock
    kate2004rock

    My official review for E.L.F. is there “brightening eye quad” which I had tried on a previous occassion (hey, its only $1.00!). Once again (as in the past) I was disappointed with the color quad. I really had a hard time blending the colors and I got that weird “grainy look” on my lids. Worst of all it really didn’t stay on well. The potted mineral shadows are average, I didn’t see much of a difference between them and the other popular mineral shades I’ve tried but who knows.

    But I still give E.L.F. as a whole three stars because I LOVE LOVE their shimmering facial whips and their awesome nail polishes! I’ve also heard that their brushes are a fairly good quality and I love their eyeliner pencils too – mostly because they come with the best sharpeners I have EVER owned!

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