e.l.f. Cosmetics

e.l.f. At-A-Glance

Strengths: Inexpensive; praiseworthy powder blush and eyeshadows; brow gel/clear mascara; oil-blotting papers are a steal; great brushes in the Studio line.

Weaknesses: Mostly average formulas in smaller packaging than what's typical; terrible concealer; limited options for foundation; average to not-worth-it-at-any-price brushes (in e.l.f.'s main line).

From a line of cosmetics whose claim to fame is its rock-bottom prices we weren't expecting much. With almost every individual item selling for just $1, could there be any outstanding finds to rival the best options from drugstores and department stores? Surprisingly, the answer is yes. Yet although that's good news, the entire picture isn't so rosy, and many of the products from e.l.f. (which stands for Eyes, Lips, Face) are as basic as can be, while a few are resounding disappointments we wouldn't even give away.

e.l.f. was founded by Scott Vincent Borba—the same businessman responsible for the Borba "beauty waters" being sold at Sephora boutiques—and Joseph Shamah. The story goes that one day Borba was shopping in an unnamed "dollar store" (where everything sells for a dollar) and noticed women dressed in designer clothing and sporting designer handbags loading up their baskets with inexpensive nail polish, eye pencils, and lip balm. He took note of the products being sold in such stores and quickly decided he could offer products of even higher quality at the same competitive price. His idea paid off, as e.l.f. enjoyed sales last year of $5 million.

As you might expect, not everything in the e.l.f. line is great. When you're offering almost every product for $1, they're not going to be nearly as luxurious or innovative as the company proclaims (the ingredient lists couldn't be more basic and the packaging is sometimes slipshod). Many e.l.f. items have packaging that, while functional, can only be described as cheap. In terms of value, yes, almost everything is inexpensive, but in most cases the container sizes are much smaller than the norm. Still, if you're considering spending a few dollars on fun, occasional-use colors, size becomes much less of an issue.

In addition to being found at some dollar stores, e.l.f. has expanded its distribution to selected Target stores and regional drugstores. However, the best place to experience the collection is online (none of the stores provide testers). The cheaper elements are a given based on the price point e.l.f. has established, but overall you're likely to be impressed with what they developed for so little money, and you may just find some beauty bargains that raise the bar—at least to a height that's taller than your average elf!

For more information about e.l.f., call (800) 231-4732 or visit www.eyeslipsface.com.

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+ Rating Product Brand Category Price Size
Average Brush Kit (Discontinued) e.l.f. Cosmetics Brushes/Applicators/Curlers  $5.00
Average Essential Shimmer Lip Gloss e.l.f. Cosmetics Lip Gloss  $2.00
Poor Essential Duo Eye Shadow Cream e.l.f. Cosmetics Cream/Cream-to-Powder Eyeshadow  $1.00
Average Essential Lengthening & Defining Mascara e.l.f. Cosmetics Mascara  $1.00
Poor Essential Waterproof Eyeliner Pen e.l.f. Cosmetics Waterproof Eyeliner  $1.00
Good Essential Lipstick e.l.f. Cosmetics Lip Color  $1.00
Average Essential Eyelid Primer e.l.f. Cosmetics Eyeshadow Primers  $1.00
Poor Essential Lip Stain e.l.f. Cosmetics Lip Tint/Lip Stain  $2.00
Poor Cover Everything Concealer e.l.f. Cosmetics Cream Concealer  $2.00
Best Mineral Lipstick e.l.f. Cosmetics Mineral Lipstick/Lip Balm  $5.00
Best Mineral Lip Gloss e.l.f. Cosmetics Lip Gloss  $3.00
Good 100% Pure Mineral Eyeshadow Set (Discontinued) e.l.f. Cosmetics Mineral Eyeshadow  $12.00
Average Mineral Eyeshadow Primer e.l.f. Cosmetics Eyeshadow Primers  $3.00
Average Mineral Lip Liner e.l.f. Cosmetics Lipliner  $3.00
Poor Mineral Eye Liner e.l.f. Cosmetics Mineral Eyeliner  $3.00
Good Mineral Eye Brightener e.l.f. Cosmetics Highlighter  $3.00
Average Mineral Starter Kit (Discontinued) e.l.f. Cosmetics Mineral Makeup  $20.00
Average Mineral Lip Tint SPF 8 e.l.f. Cosmetics Cream Lipstick  $3.00
Good Mineral Glow Kit e.l.f. Cosmetics Mineral Powder  $15.00
Average Mineral Face Primer e.l.f. Cosmetics Foundation Primer  $6.00 0.49 fl. oz.
Good Mineral Eyeshadow e.l.f. Cosmetics Mineral Eyeshadow  $3.00
Poor Mineral Blemish Kit e.l.f. Cosmetics Mineral Concealer  $8.00 0.12 fl. oz.
Best Mineral Glow e.l.f. Cosmetics Mineral Powder  $8.00
Good Mineral Foundation SPF 15 e.l.f. Cosmetics Mineral Foundation  $5.00
Good Kabuki Brushes e.l.f. Cosmetics Brushes/Applicators/Curlers  $5.00
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