I have been obsessed with affordable makeup. Realising you don’t have to sell a kidney on the black market, or put yourself through bankruptcy to look good has been a real eyeopener.
And lately, drugstore brands have been KILLING it. UK brand Revolution have been firing out quality product after quality product, and everything is super affordable and gives amazing results. e.l.f is not a brand that’s completely new to me; I have been using their skincare for a few months now, but I have been eager to try out their makeup, as again, it’s all low price and I have heard some very good things about their products. To top it off, they are also cruelty free and are vegan!
I started out with the odd e.l.f product here and there, but recently, they had a 50% off your order deal, so I stocked up on a butt-tonne of makeup, so I could do a full face and see if we could find some amazing gems that won’t break the bank. It’s been a few weeks, and I definitely can say that there are some diamonds in the rough; so without further ado, let’s get on and see if e.l.f is Hot or Not?
I feel that e.l.f do make some very good primers. They have a wide range, designed to colour correct, blur, hydrate, soothe… whatever your skins concerns, e.l.f has a primer to cover you. The two primers that feature heavy rotation for me, are the Mineral Infused Primer (£7.50 for small, £12.50 for large) and the Hydrating Primer. Both have a similar ‘silicone’ sort of feel, that does give the skin a nice smooth feeling; and I have to admit that my foundation does look a little smoother when applied on top. The Mineral Infused Primer feels light, but leaves my skin feeling smooth.
The Hydrating Primer maybe err’s slightly on the side of feeling a little ‘greasy’ but it does absorb into the skin fairly quickly, so it doesn’t hang around for long. I love the packaging for these primers; they are only frosted plastic – but they look and feel like a more expensive product. One thing I have really enjoyed about e.l.f is a lot of their packaging, especially their skincare.
Foundation / Concealer
e.l.f cosmetics have a small selection of foundations. They have the Flawless Finish Foundation (£7.50 for 20ml) with SPF, an Acne Fighting Foundation, a Foundation Serum and a tinted BB cream. I’ve only tried the Flawless Finish Foundation (for the record, I use shade ‘Natural’, which was previously ‘Porcelain’). The shade range is… small. There are (at least, via the UK website) just 11 shades – with the majority of those shades catering for light to medium skin tones, with only a couple for tan to dark tones.
Truthfully, I don’t get on well the foundation at all. The coverage is OK (I would say it’s a decent buildable medium coverage), and it does blend out fairly easily. However, this foundation just does not last that long for me. It’s not even because of oiliness; it just seems to fade and rub off surprisingly quickly, even with a hefty setting spray on top. I get maybe 4 hours of ‘flawless’ wear before it starts to look a little rough. Not ideal for a busy work day, but for playing around with makeup for Instagram, it does give a nice natural-looking finish that doesn’t feel too heavy. But it’s honestly not something I reach for all that often.
In terms of concealer, their range is very small and limited to just a couple of shades. I tried the HD Lifting Concealer (£4.50) in the shade ‘Light‘; this concealer is a bust for me. Firstly, the shade is WAY too dark for something called ‘Light’. It’s also a very heavy, greasy texture and it just doesn’t dry down. The doe foot applicator is also so tiny, which makes applying it frustrating. Not something I would recommend at all.
I’m not normally a fan of powdering under my eyes. But this is mainly because I had yet to try a powder that not only would set my concealer, but wouldn’t enhance the texture under my eyes (and I do have a LOT of texture there). However, the e.l.f High Definition Banana Powder (£4.00) in Sheer has changed my mind. The powder smoothes and blurs my under eyes like a dream. It doesn’t completely hide all the texture, but it blurs it enough. I am obsessed.
Contour / Bronze / Blush
One of the things I think e.l.f are known for, are their little face palettes. They have several, offering you a selection of various shades for contouring, bronzing, blush… there’s powder or cream and again, the palettes are all around the £8, which I think is so cheap and offers a nice selection of shades.
The Contour Palette (£7.50)is available in 2 shade configurations: Light/Medium and Deep/Dark – I went for the Light/Medium. Inside, you get 2 contour shades and 2 highlight shades. They are not very pigmented right off the bat, but they are buildable and blendable. I think this would be a perfect beginners contour palette, as you can start off slow and build up the colour slowly. I’ve only recently started to try and ‘contour’ and this palette makes it super easy to experiment.
To go along side the contour palette, I also have a Bronzer Palette (£7.50) in the shade ‘Bronzed Beauty’ which has 4 bronzing powders. Truthfully, all 4 shades are very similar, so i’ve been able to use all 4, whether that’s on their own or mixed together to create a ‘custom’ blend. Like the contour palette, they are light on pigment but buildable – again, this has helped me avoid applying too much, stopping it from looking too muddy. It’s not my favourite bronzer, and I personally feel the shades are little ‘cool’ on me, but in a pinch, I do like it.
For Blush, i’ve really been digging the Primer Infused Blush (£7.50); I have the shade ‘Always Cheeky‘. Initially, I thought this was going to be too light and bright for me, but actually, it’s a stunning colour. It’s another one that goes on quite subtle but you can build it up for a nice rosy glow. The blush is fused with a lock-on primer powder, which is supposed to help the blush stay for longer; and I would certainly agree it does have a decent lasting power. I do also have a Blush Palette (£7.50) in the shade ‘Light‘ which has a selection of peachy, coral and pinky blushes. I found these to be highly pigmented, so a lighter hand is best with these, but again, you can build the colour to whatever you desire.
For those days where i’m wanting to have as little/minimal makeup as possible, i’ve really enjoyed the Beautifully Bare Total Face Palette (£9.00). I got this a while back and have used it on days where I want to just be more ‘subtle’. It contains a highlight, 2 blushes and a bronzing shade. All are very subtle but are enough to give you a flush of colour – useful for when i’m wearing lighter coverage foundations or serums. This is only available in one shade set-up, and I feel this is definitely most suited to fair/light skin tones.
I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with e.l.f highlights. I typically LOVE a super blinding highlight; and unfortunately, e.l.f have yet to put out a highlight that has knocked my socks off. However, the highlights I have tried have actually been really nice, dependent on the overall look i’m going for. I tend to prefer the e.l.f highlights for those days i’m doing more simple, wearable neutral looks. The highlights don’t have much of a metallic sheen; they are slightly more on the ‘dewy, wet look’ kind of side. That’s not necessarily a bad thing; I know there are plenty who prefer a more natural looking highlight.
I’ve tried their Shimmer Powder (£6.50 in Sunset Glow), a Baked Highlighter (£5.00 in Moonlight Pearl) and a Holographic Highlight Duo (£7.50 in Siren’s Call). I actually, do, genuinely like them all – but it did take me a little while to fully appreciate them. They are light, and buildable and they don’t show up too much of my skins texture – however they can be a bit more on the ‘dusty’ side. I yearn for e.l.f to put out some gorgeous buttery highlighters, like the Revolution Supreme Highlights (which essentially are dupes for the ABH Amrezy Highlight).
e.l.f have a variety of eyeshadow palettes. I have to admit, i’ve been dubious of their quality but after playing around with a few palettes for a little while, they aren’t too bad. One thing I have noticed, is that out of all of the ‘cheaper’ eyeshadow palettes i’ve tried, e.l.f seems to have the most fall out. After a session at my makeup table, there is usually eyeshadow dust EVERYWHERE. Not on my face, but usually everything else on my table. The only reason I can make my peace with this, is the fact that the shadows are nicely pigmented and do blend out really nicely (and easily) – making them perfect for those who are less experienced.
So far, the Mad for Mattes Palette (£10.00 each) in the shade Summer Breeze has been my favourite. It features a similar colour story to my favourite Naked Heat palette, or the New-trals VS Neutrals palette. It’s a simple palette with plenty of warm mattes to create soft looks which can then be taken up a notch with some glitter or shimmer, of you so wish. I’ve also tried one of their mini Sculpting Silk Eyeshadow (£5.00) palettes in the shade Berry Please. This a very cute 3-shade mini palette, which looks to be ideal for travelling. Out of all the eyeshadows i’ve tried, this was the least pigmented. The middle purple shade of this particular palette looks stunning in the pan, but sadly when applied to the eyes, it’s very subtle and requires a lot of building up. Even then, it still doesn’t quite hit the vibrancy of how it looks in the pan. A shame, because it’s such a beautiful colour.
Feeling a bit more daring, I grabbed a Chromatic Eyeshadow Palette (£14.50) in the shade Posh Peacock. This palette had a gorgeous teal matte shade, a powder blue shimmer along with some neutrals (in both matte and metallic finishes). For me, with only 2 mattes in the palette, it’s not enough for me to create a whole look using just this palette. Also, the teal blue becomes more navy when worked onto the eyes, and quickly became muddy when I tried to blend. However, the powder blue shimmer makes for an otherworldly highlight on the brow bone and inner corner – simply stunning.
At the time of ordering, they only had one shade (Rose Gold) in stock of the Aqua Beauty Molten Metal Liquid Eyeshadow (£5.00). When I swatched it, I was amazed at how shiny and metallic it looked; and figured this would look great on top of shadow looks created with the Summer Breeze Palette (or any neutral palette, such as Soft Glam from ABH). And I was half right. When applied, initially it looks stunning. It dried down fairly quickly after application and I was able to blend over an smudges in my crease. However, this doesn’t last long – and I found that after wearing it for just half an hour. it was soon smudged all over my crease and if I closed my eyes, it did not look cute. If I keep my eyes open, then it does just give a nice pop of shine on the part of the lid you can see. I’ll still use it, but perhaps more for days i’m just messing around for the ‘gram, rather than for a serious trip outside.
I am not someone who normally wears lashes, because I find them super difficult to apply. Still, I wanted to try and e.l.f lashes are far cheaper than most brands, so if I ended up ruining them, I wouldn’t be too butt hurt. I went for the Winged and Bold Luxe Lash Kit (£5.00). This come with a pair of lashes and a small pair of angled tweezers. I was really pleased when I discovered that I didn’t need to trim these lashes; they felt like they would be the perfect size for my eye shape. My biggest gripe with these lashes is the fact they are heavily glued down into the tray; when I took off the right lash, there was a big splotch of glue across some of the actual lashes; removal of which was nigh-on impossible, for I was too worried about damaging the lashes.
However, once they were applied to my lids; I think they look and feel great. They aren’t too heavy, and they looked stunning. I still need practice on applying them perfectly, but we’re getting there. With some gentle care, you can get a few uses out of these lashes; although they are not super premium quality, so they do start to lose their shape after a couple of uses. But at £5 a pair, it’s not too bad, compared to other brands. I personally loved how these lashes look, and will certainly be trying out some others.
I’m going to say it now, I actually really LOVE e.l.f liquid matte lipsticks; and I wish more shades were available through the UK site – because I would buy all shades in a heart beat. I grabbed 4 lipsticks in total: 2 matte Lip Colour’s (£4.50) and 2 Liquid Matte Lipsticks (both in the shades Praline and Tea Rose). In my head, the Lip Colour’s looked like liners. They are definitely far chunkier than your average lip liner – but actually, for me, they have helped me create the perfect lip outline – and as I have the matching liquid lipstick, it’s meant my lipstick application has been far smoother and cleaner.
I also love the frosted component of the Liquid Lipstick – they feel really expensive despite being only £6 each. The finish is definitely matte and is relatively long lasting. They are also enriched with Vitamin E, making them light and nourishing – which is great, as I hate a matte lipstick that feels like it’s sucked all the moisture out of my lips.
I’m not normally one for a gloss, but as I was taking advantage of the 50% sale, I thought i’d grab a couple of shades of the Lip Plumping Gloss (£6.00), Champagne Glam and Mocha Twist. I am personally, on the fence about how I feel about these. On the one hand, they aren’t too sticky, and they do give my lips a glossy sheen – whether applied nude or on top of lipstick. On the other hand, these do tingle a bit more than I would have liked, and I certainly don’t see a ‘plumped’ effect. In general though, they are nice enough and are great for pictures, but naturally do not last long on the lips, so top ups are a necessity.
As for setting spray, the only one I have tried is the Dewy Setting Mist (£9.00) and I don’t like it. The spray is very aggressive and leaves my face soaking; even when I hold it at a distance. It smells beautiful though (it has coconut in it) and i’ve taken to using it as a refreshing facial mist(!) rather than as a setting spray. So far, nothing has beaten my Urban Decay All Nighter.
I discovered recently, that you can often find discounted makeup and beauty products in TK Maxx. I had no idea. Now that I know this, I regularly pop in, just to see if I can find anything exciting. On my most recent trip, I spied an e.l.f 19 piece brush set for £19.99. I double checked the website and saw that this brush set normally retails for £65. BARGAIN. So I of course, had to get it and give it a try.
Now i’ve had a chance to use the brushes properly, I do have some thoughts. For the most part, they are O.K. The flat-topped Powder Brush, I thought, might be good for blending out my foundation, the way my favourite Y6 brush from Morphe does. This is not the case; the bristles aren’t dense enough, but also, the foundation just ‘stuck’ to the bristles, so it became sticky. The Contouring Brush, Flawless Face Brush and the Foundation Blurring Brush work pretty well. The bristles here are different and feel much softer, and blend out product effortlessly. The Highlight and Blush Brush also work relatively well, although the highlight brush is a little big for my liking, but I can work with it.
The small eye brushes they give you in the kit are workable. They aren’t the best, but I was still able to put together a simple look using them. Would I have paid full price for the kit? No, sadly not. I’ve definitely used better brushes that were cheaper (Look up DoColor on Amazon; I bought their Fantasy Brush Set and it was like £18.99 and I am amazed…). But if you can find the kit for £20 like I did, then they aren’t bad as back-ups or maybe for travelling with, in case you don’t want to risk losing your best brushes.
e.l.f Cosmetics – Hot or Not?
Taking everything into account, I would have to say that e.l.f cosmetics are… HOT. The quality of e.l.f’s products have been improving, and I am excited to try out their newest launches (including the Opposites Attract eyeshadow palette). They also have a new ‘metal’ line coming out in the next couple of weeks that I am also super curious to try.
Not everything is a hit; the foundation and concealer left a lot to be desired, and right now, they are being slaughtered by the likes of Revolution, whose recent Conceal & Define Foundation has been rocking my world. But I am in love with everything else. The little face palettes are a great price and are super easy to work with. The eyeshadow palettes are blendable and pigmented, if a little messy. The lipsticks are probably one of my favourite products; ‘Praline’ is my go-to shade currently – the perfect autumn nude for me.
At some point, I will be doing a post on the e.l.f skincare i’ve been using, and I am sure that there will be another post on e.l.f makeup in the future. But for now, I can safely say if you are looking for makeup that is going to offer good results and not break the bank, then e.l.f are worth checking out. You can save even more money if you are from the UK, as e.l.f are sold in Superdrug stores here, and are often in their 3 for 2 deals. They have also recently launched on Feel Unique. If you prefer, you can shop through their official UK website, which often has lots of special offers and deals. They also have the ‘Beauty Squad’ which is a reward points system – earn points as you spend, which you can then trade in for free products (which update every month).
And there you have it! What brands would you like to see in a future Hot or Not feature? Leave me a comment below or hit us up on Instagram or Twitter!