With most makeup items clocking in at $8 or less (some things are as little as 2 bucks!), e.l.f., which stands for eye, lip and face if you’ve ever wondered, is about as budget friendly as they come. This brand beats most other drugstore price points, and the range of products offered is incredible. Did we mention that e.l.f. is also 100% vegan and cruelty and paraben free? We hauled so many e.l.f. products that we’re bringing you TWO posts on all the winners and losers. Read on for our Best Coast Brand Haul, Liz Edition.
Price: $3-$14 (as reviewed)
Find them HERE
Tested October-November 2020
Over the years, I’ve picked up an e.l.f. product here and there (the brand is sold at stores like CVS, Target, Ulta and Rite Aid, as well as through e.l.f.’s own website), but I’ve never truly explored what the brand has to offer. Lea and I had been hearing good things about the Ride or Die Lip Balm, so we decided to really give e.l.f. a go and do a brand haul. I’m not sure I’ve ever looked at an online shopping cart with eight beauty products where my grand total (with tax!) was less than $30, but that’s e.l.f. for you. I even got two products as free gifts!
In e.l.f. fashion, let’s go through each of the products by category, starting with eyes, then lips, then face.
Putty Eye Primer, $5
Available in six shades that each have a different goal (i.e. White maximizes vibrancy and intensifies brights; Cream color corrects, adds depth and intensifies shadow for yellow undertones), the e.l.f. Putty Eye Primer is “formulated to extend your eyeshadow wear for up to 12 hours” and “lock in eyeshadow for a crease-proof look.” It’s even infused with squalene to moisturize the eyelid area.
I grabbed the shade Rose, which is designed to intensify shadow for pink undertones like mine.
With the tacky consistency of a cream shadow, this totally matte primer looks like a pinky-taupe on my eyelids. I blend all over the lid with my fingertip and the product applies quickly and evenly, and does not budge once it sets.
Every day I wore it, my shadows stayed put and I didn’t have any trouble with creasing. I’m not sure it really intensifies shadow colors, but this product absolutely color corrects any discoloration on the lids and creates a smooth canvas for eyeshadows. It works, and I’m totally happy with it.
Waterproof Gel Eyeliner, $4
The Waterproof Gel Eyeliner in Coffee was a free gift with my recent e.l.f. purchase, and it might be because they were phasing it out. This product may be discontinued, but I’m including it here in case you already have it or find it on sale somewhere.
I had a perfectly adequate experience using this eyeliner. It’s a nice, deep brown color and I was able to create a quick winged liner by dragging this out with a precise shadow brush, so it does have some blendability if you’re looking to use it for a less precise look, like a smoky eye.
Applied to the waterline, it lasted as well as many other liners, but isn’t budge-proof (see also, blendability above). It’s not trash, but it isn’t a treasure either.
Bite Size Eyeshadows, $3
Do not, I repeat, do not sleep on these e.l.f. Bite Size Eyeshadows. They are tiny wonders for their ridiculously tiny price tags (again, $3!!). I have two of the eight palettes available, the pinky-brown Rose Water and warm-nudes-with-a-pop-of-color that is Carnival Candy.
Each palette has four shades, and the palettes don’t seem to have a formula for how many of those shades are matte versus shimmer. Rose Water has only one matte, while Carnival Candy has three.
I had low expectations when I tried these, but to my surprise, all of colors are surprisingly pigmented. The cool-toned matte in Rose Water, for example, is a killer crease/transition shade that I can use with more than just this palette. The only shade that doesn’t do much for me is the pale cream in the Carnival Candy palette because it’s so close to my skin tone. I am kind of obsessed with the warm browns and blue in this one, however, and I created the dreamiest eye look using all the shades. It reminds me of a desert sunset or the colors of New Mexico distilled into an eyeshadow look.
The Bite Size Eyeshadows are dusty, dusty, dusty in the pan, but this is the only thing I would fix about them. But, give that eyeshadow brush a really good tap before applying to the eye and problem solved! I had surprisingly little fallout with all the e.l.f. powder shadows I used, which shocked me. These bitsy palettes are not only worth $3, I think they might be the best shadow quads available at the drugstore.
The New Classics Eyeshadow Palette, $14
I have similarly good things to say about The New Classics 18-shade palette.
This one leans toward warm tones on the whole, and contains an almost half and half split of mattes and shimmers that provide a lot of options for different looks. The shimmers all apply much better with my fingertip than a shadow brush, so keep that in mind.
I noticed as I used this palette that there is a dud in the mix in the shade Glamour. It looks like it would be a pretty a metallic pink with iridescent shift, but it has virtually no impact once applied on my lids.
It’s not perfect (again, the shades are dusty), but most of the colors are highly pigmented, easy to blend, and capable of creating a lot of classic looks. It’s a solid option for a quarter of the cost of many other eyeshadow palettes with the same number of shades.
Beautifully Bare Smooth Matte Eyeshadow, $4
A liquid shadow that claims to be lightweight and silky, e.l.f.’s Beautifully Bare Smooth Matte Eyeshadow in Blushing Rose looks like a lip gloss in its packaging. The first time I used it, it was really shiny and wet, and when I swiped it onto my eyelid, I had a moment where I genuinely thought I had just put lip gloss all over. It doesn’t help that the tube doesn’t have the name of the product printed on it anywhere, which is somewhat annoying.
Once I convinced myself this was supposed to be eyeshadow, I used my finger to swipe and blend this all over the eyelid. Definitely swipe this across the lid instead of tapping it on, because tapping leads to patchiness. Apply this to only one eye, work it in, and then apply to the other eye because you don’t want this to dry before you’ve blended. Once it sets, it’s there to stay for the rest of the day.
The texture of this product completely transforms in a few minutes. It goes from a shiny, slick liquid to a locked down matte with a powdery finish. I applied a swatch on my hand, waited five minutes, and then applied another fresh swatch on top to show what this eyeshadow looks like at application and after some time has passed (see the photo below).
I like the matte finish, and used this a few times totally on its own. The shade creates a nice contour and the appearance of some depth on the eyelid, which can go a long way to make me feel more put together than I do with bare lids.
It can be challenging to get the edges to blend out seamlessly though, especially at the outer corner of the eye, because of this formula’s unique texture. I’ll probably keep using this, but I’m not over the moon about it.
Matte Lip Color, $4
I have two shades of this slim, twist-up lipstick, Tea Rose and Berry Sorbet. They are both gorgeous. Tea Rose is a nude pink that looks good with everything, and Berry Sorbet is an orchid-berry, which is one of my favorite shades of lipstick.
Although these are called “Matte Lip Color”, I don’t think they’re very matte at all. Once applied, the colors have a creamy finish. I love the semi-pointed pencil tip of this lipstick because it makes it so easy to line the lips and then fill them in with the same color.
I didn’t use a lip liner or a lip brush in either of my lip swatches, just swiped it on directly.
I easily get a few hours of normal wear without the color fading, but these lippies will need to be reapplied after a meal. They are great traditional lipsticks, and I would wholeheartedly recommend them.
Jelly Pop Juicy Gloss, $5
I feel like e.l.f.’s Jelly Pop Juicy Gloss was an attempt to be super trendy and, therefore, worth an upcharge that puts this a dollar or two over some of e.l.f.’s other glosses. Maybe I feel this way because the first line of the product description is “This lip gloss is poppin’, this lip gloss is cool”? Cue eye roll and “I’m too old for this” thoughts.
In my experience with this poppin’ gloss (sorry, couldn’t resist), it’s a clear example of an e.l.f. product that’s more gimmick than quality. When I first opened this tube of gloss, the scent of watermelon Jolly Ranchers flooded my nose. The fragrance is a dead ringer for watermelon candy, and I like it; it’s light and fun.
Although my shade is called Cherry Pop and appears red in the tube and swatch, it has basically no color when blended across the lips. There are three shades available in this formula, and I’d put money on the fact that you could pick up any one of them and they’d look the same.
I don’t have any explanation for how this happened, but after wearing this gloss for 45 minutes one day, I went to check on it in the mirror and GASP. I saw this.
The gloss had faded but kind of balled up in little gloss chunks at the edge of my lips. Heck no! Don’t waste your money on this.
Ride or Die Lip Balm, $5
Now that we’re all living #masklife, I was on the lookout for a hydrating lip balm without color that I could apply without while wearing a mask to keep my lips from drying out.
I tried the Ride or Die Lip Balm in Mighty Mint, which is clear with a minty scent. I was slightly bummed to see the applicator on this balm. It’s toothpaste style, and I don’t understand why anybody still makes lip balm applicators like this.
I would much rather have a slanted tip with a little hole that I can apply directly to the lips on the go. I can’t be the only person who looks at this and thinks it’s gross to have to squeeze product out, then swipe it off with my finger and apply to the lips. And then I have lip balm on my index finger. What do I do now? Wash my hands? Try to rub it into my fingertips? Wipe it off somewhere? Please stop making lip balm applicators like this so I don’t have to keep experiencing this dilemma.
Ride or Die Lip Balm feels like a thick gel when applied, and a little of this balm goes a long way. I started using too much and it made me dislike this product. When I cut back on how much I used per application, I was much happier with it. My lips look shiny and healthy and it continues to moisturize for quite a while.
It’s not transfer resistant though, so it isn’t perfect for my mask-wearing needs. I don’t hate the product inside the tube, but I also wouldn’t buy this again because of the packaging.
Hydrating Booster Drops, $10
This is one of the few e.l.f. products I already had in my collection. These drops are used to boost hydration on the skin and can be added to other products, like foundations or creams, to make them more hydrating.
I primarily use the drops to make foundations that aren’t super dry-skin friendly more usable for me. One or two drops really does make a product more hydrating. I also use it to sheer out a formula that’s more full-coverage than I’m looking for. The Hydrating Booster Drops probably aren’t essential for everyone, but I like to have them as an extra helping hand when my skin is dry (like right now as we move into the winter months).
Tone Adjusting Face Primer, $10
For some reason, I acquired two shades of this primer, Neutralizing Green and Brightening Lavender.
Both look like baby food and that’s the most interesting thing about them.
My face might feel a little smoother after applying these primers, but I see zero neutralizing or brightening effects whatsoever. Pass.
Glow Primer Stick, $8
Swiped directly onto the face, this primer stick with a “hint of golden shimmer” is actually quite nice.
I like a glowy complexion, so I have no problems with the slight sheen this product leaves on the skin.
It smells amazing, like coconut, and has a very temporary cooling effect right after it’s applied. Don’t count on this primer to make your makeup last longer than usual, because I don’t think it will. I was pleasantly surprised, however, that this did blur the pores on my cheeks and made my annoying nose blackheads less visible after I let it sit for a minute on the skin. I’ll take it!
If you’re looking for a similar effect without the glow, you might like e.l.f.’s Poreless Putty Primer, which I previously reviewed here.
16HR Camo Concealer, $6
Considered one of the star players in the e.l.f. lineup, the 16HR Camo Concealer is often raved about in magazines and by beauty YouTubers.
Unfortunately, I picked up the wrong shade in this concealer, as Fair Rose is (shocker!) too light for me.
I had to mix it with a deeper concealer (the L’Oréal Infallible Pro Glow Concealer, which I love for the formula, but hate for the fact that the lightest shade, Classic Ivory, is too dark for me). In the photo below, you can see how much of each shade I applied to get a better color match.
I have mixed feelings about this concealer. The doe foot applicator is crazy big, which isn’t necessarily a problem, but I had some trouble with little flecks of concealer spurting out when I put it back in the tube. I’m also noticing some product collecting in the cap and over time this can get messy.
The coverage of this concealer is good, although it’s a little too concentrated for me when applied with a brush. I prefer applying with a sponge and then using my finger to tap and blend the product into the skin around my eye area. Without doing this, it looked a little heavy. The finish is a natural matte and I didn’t need to set with powder, which was an added bonus for me.
I feel like I would need to get this in a better shade to really solidify my feelings, but I can see why a lot of people like this concealer, especially for more full coverage or glam looks.
Glow Dewy Mist, $8
Ingredients like coconut water, hyaluronic acid and argan oil make this face mist a cocktail of dewiness. I use it as a setting spray, particularly when the rest of my makeup isn’t glowy. Because you will glow after spritzing this on! I actually skip highlighter when I want to use this mist for that reason.
Here’s the drawback: the pump is horrible and it refuses to spray in a light, even mist. Instead, you squish up your face in surprise as you get pelted with spray and end up with droplets all over. Not kidding, I had drops on my phone and countertop that I had to clean after using this. I quickly learned to grab a towel and cover my clothes before spraying and recommend you do the same.
In spite of this, I still like this product because of the end result. After spraying on the face, I always go over the entire complexion lightly with a sponge to melt this into the skin (and combat the droplet issue). This really works and leaves my entire complexion glowing and healthy.
Bonus tip: if you like a spray, but hate the applicator pump, pour the product into an empty bottle that sprays better. I keep empty Urban Decay All Nighter and Tatcha Luminous Dewy Skin Mist bottles for this very purpose, and will probably decant this e.l.f. spray into one of those.
Hydrogel Under Eye Masks, $8 for 3 sets
Eye masks have always looked fun (see Lea’s review of the Wander Beauty Baggage Claim Eye Masks), but I have a hard time justifying the price of many of these single-use masks. For those bad at math like me, these e.l.f. masks are just over $2.60 per set. Much more my speed.
These masks are really heavy on the packaging. Each eye mask is attached to a white backing (the masks themselves are clear), they’re sealed inside a plastic container, placed into a silver pouch and then into a paper box. I feel kind of bad throwing all of that away just to use an eye mask for a few minutes (I recycled what I could).
I do enjoy the masks. The fit the under eye area well and don’t slide around. I leave them on 15-20 minutes, do my eye makeup or some other task and then gently peel them off. The benefit to having them on while doing eyeshadow is that they’ll pick up any fall out under the eye.
I’ll buy these again because they aren’t crazy expensive, and I think they will come in handy the morning after, say, crying during a sad movie or being unable to sleep. I find the e.l.f. Hydrogel Under Eye Masks do everything they claim to: they “plump, moisturize and soothe the under eye area” to “nourish and brighten the skin.”
Leave a Reply