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In these credit crunched times, sometimes even hardcore makeup addicts like myself have to reign in their budget and cut the spending on what many might consider unnecessary items. Now, in my opinion, makeup is not unnecessary, it is one of life’s necessities and there is no way you will find me doing without my everyday makeup! E.L.F. is the perfect solution for this credit crunched madam!
E.L.F. stands for Eyes Lips Face and is a makeup brand that was launched in the US in 2004 by Scott-Vincent Borba (professional makeup artists and the brains behind premium makeup brand Hard Candy) and proved so popular that they have made a well timed move to expand into the UK market in 2007. Their belief is that “every woman should have the opportunity to participate in innovation, without sacrificing her budget” and their range prices most items at just £1.50. Yes, £1.50! And prepare to feel jealous of our American cousins who pay only $1! Although some of their items, such as their mineral makeup, are priced slightly higher than this, the range as a whole represents incredible value for money.
The Site Design and Ordering Process
The site itself has a cute, ultra girly baby pink colour scheme and is nicely laid out and easy to navigate. The navigation bar splits products by type (lips, eyes, face, brushes, nails, tools etc.) and the list of products in that category then pops up via a drop down bar. Shopping is easy – you simply add any items you want to your shopping bag and then proceed to the checkout when you are satisfied you’ve picked up everything you want. Payment is accepted via visa, delta, electron, mastercard, eurocard, switch, solo, UK Maestro, or Paypal and online ordering uses a secure SSL encryption to protect your payment details. Once you have placed your order, you’ll receive a confirmation email and then another email to let you know when your order has been dispatched. Delivery costs £2.95 per order for standard delivery, and £6.95 for next day delivery, or spend over £30 and get your order delivered for free. Despite having heard some negative things about the speed of e.l.f.’s delivery, I was pleasantly surprised that my order arrived just 2 days after I had placed it – all well packaged and as I expected.
I have to admit that despite the good things I had heard about e.l.f., I was dubious as to how they would manage to really deliver good quality products for such bargain basement prices. But I was very impressed with the products that I tried. This scepticism is obviously something that e.l.f. come across a lot, as they answer this very question in their FAQ on their website! Their answer to their sceptics is that e.l.f. has low overhead costs, little advertising and minimalist packaging which means that the consumer is only paying for the makeup itself, rather than fancy packaging and slick advertising. “We never skimp on formulations but we do on packaging” says e.l.f. co-founder Joseph Shamah. “for example, we’d love to put mirrors in our compacts or have the same great containers as Nars or Stila, but we’re about something different: namely giving women the chance to try anything they want without the commitment to a major spend”
The lack of advertising budget has meant that the success of this brand has been very much due to word of mouth and the quality of its products – something I’m far more happy to go by as a recommendation than an advert.
Another big plus is that e.l.f. do not test any of their products on animals and lists all ingredients on the packaging of products, meaning you can be confident you know exactly what you’re putting on your face. If you have an allergy or are after more information about ingredients before you buy, you are able to contact e.l.f. via the website and request the specific detail.
My order contained a set of dramatic fake eyelashes, a large powder brush, an eyeshadow brush and a hypershine lip gloss. I find that the quality of the products themselves tends to be a bit hit and miss, but for £1.50 a go, it’s never too much of a disappointment. The fake eyelashes are fairly good quality and not too far off being comparable to Ruby & Millie or MAC (£8.30 a pair!) Obviously it takes a bit of practice to get the application right, but once you’ve got that down, the difference in quality is not really noticeable. However, the glue that was provided with them was shockingly bad and I actually went out and bought a separate eyelash glue. But for £1.50, I’m happy to spend the money that I would have spent on fake lashes on a glue that will last me forever!
The range of makeup brushes is pretty impressive – they don’t look too cheap, with nice plastic handles that are easy to grab hold of, and silver edging around the bristles. The foundation, concealer and eyeliner brushes use synthetic bristles which is probably what you would expect at the price, but all of their other brushes use natural horse hair (I had this confirmed when I contacted them via the website to enquire). For this price, to have natural hair really is fantastic! I was also informed when I enquired that they will be bringing out a whole range of synthetic brushes later this year, which is great for those who are allergic to natural hair. The price the brushes individually at £1.50 or they are available in sets for £9 for a 5 piece or £15 for a 9 piece, both of which come in a bag to store them in. For £1.50, I was really sceptical of the quality of these – I own both Ruby & Millie and MAC brushes which can cost up to £40 for a large powder brush, so £1.50 really is scraping the bottom of the barrel price wise! However, the eyeshadow brush is very impressive. It’s nicely contoured to fit the shape of your eye, picks up powder well and distributes it evenly and feels nice and soft on the skin (not as soft as a MAC brush, but you can’t expect miracles!), and ensures a professional finish to your application. The total face brush though was a disappointment – I think it’s probably unrealistic to expect much from a powder brush that costs £1.50, but I found this was just too hard for my face and I think in this case it is worth paying the extra money for a better quality product.
The hypershine lip gloss uses the cult and often imitated Stila pen design, twisting up the amount you need onto the bristles of the pen style applicator. It’s a nice imitation of the Stila design, but as someone who is a big fan of the Stila glazes, the quality of the pigment isn’t really very impressive. It has a lovely sweet smell though, kind of like sweeties, and the texture is not too sticky or gloopy. I bought this in a shade called Joy, which is a nice pinky colour and gives a natural sheen to the lips.
Having also tried e.l.f.’s mineral makeup I am pleased to say that it is pretty impressive! Although it doesn’t compare to the 'original' mineral makeup, produced by Bare Escentuals, it is far superior to Maybelline’s mineral effort – the finish is far more even and the look much closer to the look Bare Escentuals manages to achieve. The mineral makeup range comes in at £3.50 for a mineral foundation which, while is slightly more pricey than the rest of their range, is well worth it as mineral makeup is not at all cheap to produce and the increase in price means that you can be confident that they are not skimping on the quality. All of e.l.f.’s mineral range is 100% mineral based and contain no parabens, no preservatives and no mineral dyes, so are extremely suitable for anyone with sensitive skin. I find mineral makeup especially good for oily skin, as it is oil free and gives a lovely matte finish.
Get the Look
e.l.f. have a regularly updated section showcasing a particular makeup ‘look’ and show you the products used and steps to achieve that look yourself. Although I find this a bit of a heavy handed marketing ploy (the Purchase This Look button at the bottom of the article will add all the items involved to your shopping bag!), it’s often a nice way to get inspiration for your look and discover products that you wouldn’t have considered. Press
e.l.f. is beginning to get recognition and exposure from the UK press and the company has cleverly capitalised on this with their Press page, The Buzz. There you can view articles from numerous magazines, showing where they have used e.l.f. products. At the moment there are examples from Heat, Hello, Elle, Bliss, Red, Closer, Look, and I can predict that this page will grow and grow!
Beauty Secret of the Week
Each week e.l.f. answer a common beauty problem, such as thinning brows, or puffy under eye circles. I love that they’ve not tried to make this into a marketing gimmick – their tips rarely involve their products, just cheap solutions, usually using items you would have lying around at home anyway. Well in keeping with their general philosophy!
All in all, e.l.f. are a welcome addition to the UK’s cosmetics range and give the well established brands like L’oreal, and the premium brands like Stila a run for their money. Although some of the product range is a bit hit and miss, at £1.50, you don’t feel too let down, and you’ll soon come across another product that is a big hit! I can tell you from bitter experience, I had the same hit and miss experience with Stila products and it hurts a lot more when you’ve shelled out £20 of your hard earned cash on something only to find out its rubbish! I like the fact that you’re not obligated to pay for fancy packaging or advertising and the focus is entirely on the quality of the actual product. As someone who uses a vast quantity of cosmetics, both premium brands and regular brands, I am pleased to say that this range stands up to its mid priced competitors and in many cases, outstrips them. My only criticism of the brand is the fact that they seem to give their US customers a better deal at $1 per item, but even at £1.50 you can hardly claim you’re being ripped off! My only real problem is that my credit crunched resolution to tighten my budget has not quite worked – I’ve just ended up with more for my money!
So what's with the £9 for 5 brushes? 5x£1.50 is £7.50...
kimbahop 08.08.2009 00:10
Oh dear...I can see £1.50 adding up to over that £30 free shipping limit very very easily...
charlsayslol 21.04.2009 13:19
Fantastic review. I've wanted to try ELF cosmetics for a while now but I haven't been sure, but after your review I now know that they're worth checking out. Well written and well deserving of the product of the month prize.