Category Archives: E.L.F.

ELF Essential and Studio Moisturizing Lipstick Swatches & Reviews

Purchased – No Affiliate Links

elf moisturizing lipstick E.L.F. makeup is definitely hit or miss, but they have some amazing products for very little money, so I keep going back! The website had a 50% off sale over Black Friday / Cyber Monday weekend, so I purchased everything I had been wanting, plus perhaps a little more to get free shipping.

I spent $35 for this:

Six lipsticks, three glosses, two tinted balms, one eyebrow gel, one glitter eyeshadow primer, two liquid blushes, one eyeshadow, one highlighter, and eleven brushes. I haven’t tried everything yet, but I have swatches plus some thoughts about the (new, or at least new-ish) Studio Moisturizing lipsticks and the not-so-new Essential Lipsticks.

First up: the Studio Moisturizing Lipsticks, which sell for $3 each (full price) and are pictured at the top of this post. These are fantastic – creamy but not too slippery in texture, no taste, light vanilla scent.  They sit very nicely on the lips as well.  Both colors I bought, Ravishing Rose and Red Carpet, are flattering and pretty – I especially like Ravishing Rose.

The packaging is great too – the casings are lightweight metal, not plastic, so they feel much more nicer than most drugstore lipsticks (and even some high end lipsticks!). They don’t seem to be particularly long-lasting, but since they don’t dry out my lips that’s not a dealbreaker for me.  I love both of the ones I bought, and I will definitely be buying more the next time I place an order.

ELF Red Carpet Ravishing Rose lipstick swatches

Red Carpet // Ravishing Rose

ELF Ravishing Rose Moisturizing Lipstick swatch

ELF Moisturizing Lipstick – Ravishing Rose

ELF Red Carpet Moisturizing Lipstick swatch

ELF Moisturizing Lipstick – Red Carpet

The Essential lipsticks, however, are not so good. They have a slight chemical scent; they don’t apply smoothly; and the packaging is barely functional. Not only does the lipstick bullet not fully retract, but I had trouble twisting all four of them up & down. That said, Posh is a great color and they are only $1 each (full price).

ELF Essential lipsticks

ELF Essential lipsticks

ELF Essential lipsticks-2

Seductive // Gypsy // Voodoo // Posh

ELF Essential lipstick swatches

Seductive // Gypsy // Voodoo // Posh

ELF Posh Essential lipstick swatch


See anything you like?

ELF 3-in-1 Mascara Review, Swatches, Photos


ELF 3 in 1 Mascara

A few weeks ago, I gave a rather bad review to Rimmel’s Scandal Eyes Show Off mascara – you can read the full review here, but the gist of it was that the formula was terrible (lots of smudging!) but I liked the shape of the brush.  Lyn from Cheap as F suggested that I try ELF’s 3-in-1 mascara instead, which has a similar brush, with a spiked ball on the end, but is a tubing mascara with a good formula.  A $3 tubing mascara? I bought it two days later.

ELF 3 in 1 Mascara  brush

I apologize for the poor quality of the above picture, but you can see the shape of the brush well. It’s a silicone brush with very short bristles, and the spiked ball at the top. It does tend to come out of the tube with a little extra drop of mascara on the tip, but it’s easily wiped away with either a tissue or the edge of the mascara tube.

I love the shape of this mascara brush – smaller silicone brush tend to work well for my lashes, and this is no exception.  Both the standard part of the tube and the ball tip work well; they separate my lashes and leave them completely free of clumps while adding length and a little bit of volume. I’ve never tried a tubing mascara that adds much volume – this is about as good as it gets.  There was a bit of a learning curve in terms of not getting mascara on my face with the ball part while using the other part of the wand to apply mascara, but I figured it out pretty quickly.  Also worth noting is that the wand is fairly flexible – I don’t like the flexibility, as it’s a bit harder to use the wand, but it’s workable. For a $3 mascara this good, I can live with it!

I unfortunately don’t have a good before picture at hand, but here’s the after picture, which I think shows the mascara off very well:

ELF 3 in 1 Mascara  swatch  applied

I can wear this mascara all day (12+ hours) with no smudging, smearing or flaking.  Since it’s a tubing mascara, it removes easily with warm water. Oddly, it seems to come off in small pieces rather than in long tubes – as other tubing mascaras I have tried have – but that is just an oddity, not a problem.

Overall, I definitely recommend this mascara! It is super cheap, has a great wand, a great formula, and is my new every day mascara when I want a more natural look and / or easy removal.  Thank you so much, Lyn, this mascara is great!

*I purchased the product(s) featured in this post. Please see my disclosure policy for more information.

My Makeup Brush Collection

Makeup Brush Storage

Makeup Brush Storage

Today, I have brush picture spam for you! Above, is my brush storage – I started off with the two containers on the left, for face and eye brushes. However, I now have too many burhses for just those two containers, and they’re also too tall for some of my brushes – so I’m using a wine glass and a shot glass as well (the shot glass works surprisingly well for travel-length handles).

On to the pictures! This post is going to be mostly pictures with minimal text, but I’d be happy to answer questions in the comments.  I apologize that several brushes are dirty; they’re never all clean at the same time – since most of them are clean right now, I though this was a good time to take photos.

First, Hakuhodo brushes – these have a reputation for being very expensive – and some are! – but most of the eye brushes I love are in the $15 – $25 range.

Hakuhodo J110, K020, G5533 BkSL, G5529 BkSL, J515, G5515 BkSL, K005, K005, K007, 270

Hakuhodo: J110, K020, G5533 BkSL, G5529 BkSL, J515, G5515 BkSL, K005, K005, K007, 270

I would recommend all of these brushes except the G5533, which is too floppy to be useful. My favorites are the K020 blush brush, the J515, G5515, and K005 eye brushes, and the 270 lip brush.

Here’s a close up of the eye brushes & the lip brush:

Hakuhodo G5533 BkSL, G5529 BkSL, J515, G5515 BkSL, K005, K005, K007, 270

Hakuhodo G5533 BkSL, G5529 BkSL, J515, G5515 BkSL, K005, K005, K007, 270

My MAC eye brushes are also staples, and I sometimes use my 188 to contour with eyeshadow.

MAC 188, 239,239, 219, 217

MAC 188, 239,239, 219, 217

Notice anything odd about the two 239s?

I have two Shu Uemura eye brushes – they’re the most expensive eye brushes I own, but they really are fantastic.

Shu Uemura natural 10, 5r

Shu Uemura natural 10, 5r

I recently bought some short-handled Sonia Kashuk brushes, mainly because I was intrigued by the shape of the 3rd brush – I haven’t figured out what to do with it yet though. It’s very small – about an inch across; you can see it in the shot glass in the first picture in this post.  The 4th one is a fantastic pencil brush, though.

Sonia Kashuk set

Sonia Kashuk set

Here are some miscellaneous eye brushes:

Laura Mercier Finishing Eye Brush, Monda Brush , Smashbox brush

Laura Mercier Finishing Eye Brush, Monda Brush (from beauty
supply store), Smashbox brush (from unknown source)

Benefit Get Bent brush, L'oreal brush x2, spoolie

Benefit Get Bent brush (discontinued), L’oreal brush (comes with
gel liner) x2, spoolie

Sephora brow brush, Maybelline cream eyeshadow brush

Sephora brow brush (trimmed a bit), Maybelline cream eyeshadow brush

Moving on to (mostly) face brushes, here are the mixed brands.  I adore the Ecotools Bronzer brush especially, it’s wonderful for buffing in powder.

Ecotools Bronzer brush, Sigma F80, Sonia Kashuk Medium Angled Multipurpose brush, MUFE 24S,  Illamasqua Blending Brush 2

Ecotools Bronzer brush, Sigma F80, Sonia Kashuk Medium Angled Multipurpose brush,
MUFE 24S, Illamasqua Blending Brush 2

I have several Real Techniques brushes; I really like them, but tend to find myself using them for purposes other than what they are intended for. The crease brush (second from right) is a great concealer brush, and the brow brush (right) is terrible as a brow brush, but great for using dry eyeshadow to on the upper lash line.

Real Techniques brushes

Real Techniques brushes – combined from various sets

I also love for ELF Studio brushes.  My favorite is the eye contour brush (third from the right) – it’s just fantastic at laying down a cream base. I actually have a second one, which was hiding for this photoshoot.

ELF Studio Complexion Brush, Blush Brush, Small Tapered Brush, C Brush, Contour Brush, ELF Mineral Blending Eye Brush,  ELF Glitter Eyeshadow Applicator

ELF Studio Complexion Brush, Blush Brush, Small Tapered Brush, C Brush, Contour Brush,
ELF Mineral Blending Eye Brush, ELF Glitter Eyeshadow Applicator

I also have a handful of ELF’s $1 concealer brushes that I use as lip brushes.

And, that’s my brush collection! I think that only ones missing are that hiding ELF contour brush and the retractable Maybelline lip brush I keep in my bag.

Drugstore Makeup Quick Reviews & Swatches, Part II

Milani Lip Flash gloss pencil in Hot Flash

It’s time for Round Two of drugstore makeup mini reviews (you can find round one here)! I seem to buy a lot of inexpensive drugstore makeup items, and never get around to reviewing them.  Rather than let them languish in my unreviewed drawer, I’m posting some brief thoughts and swatches.

When I bought Milani Black Cherry lipstick, all the Milani Lip Flash gloss pencils were also on clearance – though I stopped by the same Walgreen’s today, and everything was back to regular price. Perhaps it was some kind of mistake?  I picked up Hot Flash, an intensely pigmented and shimmery metallic red.  I rarely wear shimmer on my lips, so I’m not sure how often I personally will wear this, but I can definitely see the appeal.

Milani Hot Flash

The texture is nice – smooth, only the slightest bit sticky, and comfortable to wear.  If the color appeals to you, I think this is worth buying.

I’ve reviewed (and love!) several Jordana Easyliners for Lips, so I thought it was worth trying out a couple of the Easyliners for eyes. Like the lip pencils, the eye pencils are fully retractable, soft, pigmented, and creamy.  The colors are bright and pretty.  However, on the eyes, I found that they faded rather quickly.

Jordana Sea Green, Blue Devine, Purple Fusion

Overall, the Jordana Easyliners for eyes are nice choice to experiment with colors you don’t normally wear for a low price, but I’d go for something longer lasting if you plan to use them frequently.

ELF Matte Lip Color in Rich Red

ELF Matte Lip Color in Rich Red is definitely one of ELF’s better products.  It’s a “modern matte” – mostly matte, but with a slight sheen.  In an arm swatch, this pulled a bit pink on me, but freshly applied on the lips, it’s a true red, and a lovely one.

However, I found it faded fairly quickly to a pink-red color (keep in mind that most reds pull pink on me).  If that doesn’t bother you, this is probably a good choice – it’s affordable, comfortable to wear, and long lasting.  But, if the fading bothers you, I’d skip this one – the drugstore is full of affordable and fabulous reds!


This post is from Project Swatch. All rights reserved.

ELF St. Lucia Contouring Blush & Bronzing Cream Review & Swatches

ELF St. Lucia Cream Blush / Bronzer

ELF St. Lucia Cream Blush / Bronzer

I recently placed an ELF order, which consisted of several brushes and one makeup item – the new Contouring Blush & Bronzing Cream, which comes in one color, St. Lucia.  ELF’s original Contouring Blush & Bronzing Powder is also named St. Lucia – so this is probably meant to be a cream version of that, though in the powder version both the blush & bronzer are shimmery, and neither of the cream products have any shimmer.

The blush and bronzer are housed in ELF’s standard black compact; I quite like ELF’s packaging, as it’s sturdy, sleek, and functional. You can see some beads of moisture on both the blush and bronzer, which is completely normal – almost all cream products have this when purchased.

The texture of these creams is nice – they’re quite pigmented, but no so pigmented that they’re hard to work with. They’re very blendable if your skin is moisturized, but tricky to blend on dry skin. They dry down quite slowly – you don’t need to worry about taking your time blending. I powdered over, and ended up with a natural finish – powdering over worked well, no caking or problems. I’m happy with the texture.

St. Lucia Cream blush swatch

St. Lucia Cream blush – one swipe / blended

St. Lucia cream bronzer swatch

St. Lucia cream bronzer – one swipe / blended

The blush is really great shade – it’s a very natural, easy-to-wear dusty pink – I think it would look good on fair to medium skintones.  The bronzer, however, is a difficult shade; it leans sort of yellow/orange, and it’s hard to image it working well on just about anyone as a bronzer (and definitely wouldn’t work on anyone as a contour shade).  Then, I tried layering them, with this result:

ELF St. Lucia Cream Blush swatches

blush, bronzer, both layered

I love the layered shade – it has just the right amount of pink and brown, and is very wearable and neutral.   So, even though I can’t see myself wearing the bronzer alone, I still have two great shades in this duo – the blush alone, and the two shades mixed.

Here’s a full face photo; I’m wearing both shades in this, applied quite lightly – no eye makeup at all because I’m on the way to the eye doctor. The blush is subtle, but it’s definitely there.

Wear time is around four hours, which is typical for me for cream blushes – they just don’t last well on me, especially since I tend to apply so lightly.  I’m sure I could get longer wear with a heavier application.

Overall, I would definitely recommend this duo for anyone with fair to medium skin – it’s a fantastic value, and one of the best products I have tried from ELF.


This post is from Project Swatch. All rights reserved.

ELF Everyday Eyeshadow 100 Piece Eyeshadow Set Review & Swatches

ELF 100 Piece Eyeshadow Set

I have a history of mixed results with ELF products, but I can’t seem to stop buying them! My most recent purchase was the 100 Piece Everyday Eyeshadow set, which I purchased in-store from Target for $10 (it’s available online here).  It’s also on the ELF website here, and marked as limited edition.

If you’re interested in this item or any other Studio items, the ELF website is running a great sale today – if you spend $30, you can get 50% off Studio plus a free brush set. The brush set is this one, and most of the brushes aren’t very good – the Studio brushes are much better – but hey, free! The way it works out, if you spend exactly $30 on Studio items, you end up spending $22 total, including shipping, for $30 worth of items plus the free brush set.

On to the review! First, here are close-up shots of the whole palette; I’ve divided it into four portions.

Upper Left
Lower Left
Upper Right
Lower Right

The color selection is okay, but not great – there’s one red, some oranges, some yellows, lots of greens – but most are similar tones, lots of blues, no good quality purples, and lots of pinks. There are tons of neutrals, silvers, and blacks.  The color selection would be greatly improved by some jewel tones and some good quality purples.

I didn’t want to swatch 100 shades, so I randomly picked shades to swatch; I just picked colors I wanted to try, and tried to get a mix of finishes. As always, these swatches are without any base or primer, using a sponge tip applicator (but not the included sponge tip applicator, which is terrible quality).

As you can see, the quality varies significantly between the eyeshadows; many are quite good – especially the shimmers and satins, and some are quite poor – especially the mattes.

Over several days, I used several shades from the palette to do some looks to see how the shadows actually performed.  First, here is one of the blue/teal shades, over a black base (a black gel eyeliner).  Please forgive the mascara smudges!. This is one of the best-performing shades that I tried.

This particular shade also did really well over a while base (NYX Milk jumbo pencil) – it was eye-searingly bright! I tried it out at night though, and didn’t get any good pictures.
The following look was intended to be quite neutral, and turned out fairly well; I forgot to apply mascara before photographing, but you can see see the eyeshadow just fine, of course.  I don’t see myself using the neutrals in this palette much – I bought it for the colors – but I wanted to test out the neutrals too.  This is over NYX HD primer.

Next up, I attempted a purple look. This was the best I could do; it looks fine with my eye open, but you can see how uneven it is with my eye closed (even though the shot is slightly blurry. This is over NYX HD primer as well.  I also tried this purple over a black base, but it wasn’t pigmented enough to work.

The bad news is that this is by far the best performing purple in the palette, and it’s really not good at all.  I really had to pack it on to get the result above. I photographed the pan after using it for two looks (the one above, and over a black base – which didn’t work at all). I had to use so much eyeshadow that I’ve already made a dip in the pan!  They are small pans, of course – about the size of a penny.

Overall, at $10, this palette is worth it to me; even if there are only 20 useable eyeshadows, that’s 50 cents each.  I’m considering depotting the shades I want, and cleaning out some of the pans for the poor-quality eyeshadows to use when pressing loose eyeshadows.

I would recommend this palette if $10 isn’t a big deal to you; if you are stuck in a rut and want a lot of eyeshadows to play with; if you don’t mind using a black or white base to make the colors pop; and if you don’t mind that only about half the eyeshadows are good quality.

I would recommend skipping this palette if $10 is significant for you; if you want every shadow you buy to be of decent to good quality; or if you want to be able to use shadows without a primer / base.