Beauty on a Budget: A Look at e.l.f. Cosmetics


Is beauty on a budget laughable Atlanta? It appears that we have a dress code here – designer clothes, shoes, and accessories are a must. As a Midwesterner, raised on the values of hard work, and frugality, this city intrigued me. I was excited to learn what it meant to be acclimated into Atlanta society. It took me all of two seconds to be immersed in it since I chose Buckhead for my first home.

I quickly learned going out to dinner was how friends say “Hello, how are you?” In Atlanta, money was of no object, or so it seemed. I believed there was a perfectly logical reason for why that Marc Jacobs bag needed to be introduced to American Express; however, at some point in this fairy tale, reality set in. I found myself enjoying many Ramen Noodle nights, while still trying to keep up a fabulous appearance.

Let’s get real now, ladies. That life can’t last long. Welcome frugal Midwesterner, once forgotten, now found – still willing to make it in this very expensive city, but on my terms, in my way. As an Atlanta stylist and makeup artist, I have had the pleasure of working with an array of high-end makeup lines over the past six years. Working at one of the top salons in the city, I hear the same question over and over: “How much will all of this cost?”

At first, I took offense to the question. How much will it cost? How valuable is YOUR beauty to you? I guess American Express was karma’s way of kicking me in the booty. I did not enter this industry for money, but I forgot that briefly in the whirlwind of a new city. I chose my profession because I want people to feel beautiful. I want to bring out the beauty that’s inside and help people see how amazing they look.

I have makeup kits full of MAC, Laura Mercier, Nars, Urban Decay, Aveda, Chanel, Bobbi Brown and more, but I went on a search for inexpensive beauty products that produce the same or similar results as high-end brands because everyone deserves to look and feel beautiful no matter how much money they can afford to spend.

Thus enters Eyes Lips Face (e.l.f.), a company that gives to charities and does not test on animals. I ran across this line while searching for the perfect berry colored lipstick to complement my new, darker hair color. The lip gloss costs only $1. Wait, is that right? I researched the brand and discovered nearly every product costs only $1.

e.l.f. offers three makeup lines: Essentials ($1 products with fabulous pearlescent white handled brushes; Studio ($3 to $6 products with a few $8 items); Minerals ($3 to $8 products). Determined to try everything, I purchased a variety of products from each line.

Over two months, I used the products without fail, every day. I immediately fell in love with the Therapeutic Conditioning Balm in Blackberry Crème. I detest reapplying lipstick or gloss throughout the day, so I was beyond impressed with how smoothly the product went on, how little it took, and how long it lasted. I compared several brushes to the high-end brushes I normally use. The bristles are a bit stiffer, but they did the job well.

I became absolutely obsessed with the Smudge Eye Sponge from the Essentials line. It perfectly smudges my eyeliner into a smoky eye, and softens the harsh lines of their Waterproof Eyeliner Pen. The eyeliner pen looks just like a felt tip marker, and applies effortlessly. I prefer Mineral Eye Shadows over Essentials Duo Eye Shadow because the Mineral line adds the slightest shimmer and lasted for a long time – as long as it was applied over an eye shadow primer. I adore the Essentials Natural Radiance Blusher in Glow. It gave the slightest glow on top of my every day bronzer.

I found that for the price, e.l.f. is great. It offers high-end products some competition. There are some minor flaws though. The pressed products lift away too easily and I found myself getting way more product than was needed – a huge waste. The pressed products don’t travel well because they break easily. Also, some of the packaging was faulty. The foundations and concealers require a primer, which can be purchased directly from the company. With a primer, the Essentials All Over Cover Stick concealer works wonderfully. It goes on smooth and doesn’t settle into fine lines. The Essentials Eyelid Primer works efficiently enough, but it must dry completely. The lip glosses are all amazing – they last for hours, and there are many color choices. My favorite products over all were the Minerals.

e.l.f. is worth it. You can fill your makeup bag with tons of products for a very low price, especially after the amazing discounts and deals they offer.

Now is your time to try it out! Prove we can wear budget-friendly makeup and still fulfill Atlanta’s fabulous dress code on our terms, in our own way. Take that extra money and direct it elsewhere. Sorry Marc Jacobs hand bag, but it’s time to break up with American Express. I’m not big on strings and attachments, so it’s time to purchase you with cash.