Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Rules for buying makeup from e.l.f.

Believe it or not, I have more to say on this subject than: 1. Put money in money slot. 2. Take out makeup. (If only.) I thought I'd write a small post with my advice for how to get your money's worth from e.l.f. since I see that they've extended their 50% off sale for another day.

I know there are people out there who are violently opposed to e.l.f., because "it's all crap" or whatever. That's not true. Some of it is crap. Some of it is mediocre. Some of it is wonderful. That's pretty much the range of quality you'll get from any cosmetics brand, whether it's Chanel, or Cover Girl, or Wet N Wild. You can browse my e.l.f. tag to see some of what is shitty and what isn't.* I was adding things to my wishlist for the last six months or so, and I finally bought it all, so I'll be posting more reviews of e.l.f. ad nauseum for the next while.

What e.l.f. is particularly good for is trying out new things without much risk.  Wondering if you can actually pull off hot pink lipstick? Or if you can figure out how to do winged eyeliner? Or if highlighting is actually a thing that is worth spending time on? Buy some basic shit from e.l.f. Then if you decide it's never going to happen, you're only out $1-2. If you decide that you love it, but you could use some better products, then upgrade. But you might very well find that the e.l.f. makeup you're using works great.

(Note: I realize that some of you are going to be like, "Dude. Pink lipstick, liquid eyeliner, and highlighter are some kindergarten-level shit." Don't be such an asshole, imaginary interlocutor! And don't call me dude. They may be basic for the majority of the people who actually read beauty blogs, but not for the majority of the (feminine) population as a whole. Personally, I've only just mastered red lipstick at the age of thirtCOUGHCOUGHCOUGH.** And by mastered, I mean I've found colors/formulas that I like, and I can apply it with a decent level of competence. I still almost never actually wear it outside of my apartment.)

Anyway, on to the rules:

Rule #1: Always buy e.l.f. online and never for full price.
Don't buy it at Target. Just don't. I know that there's something to be said for looking at the product in person before you buy it. So look at it in Target, and then buy it online. It's always going to be more expensive from other retailers than it is from the eyeslipsface.com website. Sign up for their mailing list, and let their emails go to your spam folder. Check the folder every week or so and see what's going on. e.l.f. has a 40% off/50% off/BOGO sale almost every month. That means that the majority of products are going to be 50 cents to $1.80 each. A very few will cost $3.60.

Rule #2: Never pay for shipping.
Shipping from e.l.f. is free with orders over $35. If you order $15 worth of makeup and spend $7 for shipping, then you might as well just buy it at Target. Or at that liquor store across from the court house where they sell it for twice the usual price. (No, really.)

Getting up to $35 when most everything costs less than $2 can be tricky if you are not a hoarder of my calibre. If you can't find 20 things you want to buy (what is wrong with you?), combine your order with some friends, and get free shipping that way. I once sent out an email in grad school and ordered e.l.f. makeup for three professors and five other students. It was fun to see what my profs wanted.

Rule #3: Find photos and reviews online before buying.
The product shots on e.l.f.'s website are completely fucking useless. Really, don't expect the thing you buy to resemble the color they display online in any way. The shade names sometimes seem to be assigned at random, so they're not particularly helpful. And the product descriptions are just about as useless as the images.

But isn't it wonderful that we live in the future, when it's hard for cosmetics companies to trick us into buying sub-par products? Such as nail polishes that look gorgeous in the bottle but like shit on your nails? Check out at least 2-3 different reviews to get a good sense of what you're actually going to get. I mean, you might decide that this is not worth your time for a $2 product. Fine. Personally, I like browsing beauty blogs anyway, so I'm up for it. It's your call - but don't complain that all e.l.f. makeup is shitty just because you bought something that 30 seconds of googling could have warned you about. (I think people are less likely to do this with expensive products. If they get one dud, they will either think it is an exception, or they will assume that it's their own fault for not being able to use it right.)

Some of the stuff I recently bought was chosen because I couldn't find good reviews of it, and I wanted to see what it was. That probably does not make good fiscal sense. But I will post swatches and reviews of it here, so that other people will know in advance. I buy it so that you don't have to. I'm a martyr, y'all.

* I know that some of my e.l.f. links are broken. Sorry. It's because I quit their affiliate program a couple of months ago, and I haven't had the time/motivation to fix all the links. If I have time for blogging, I usually want to spend it writing something new. You can pretty easily search for those things on the e.l.f. site. I'll get to it eventually.
** Just kidding. I'm 32.


  1. This blog (and post) is EVERYTHING.

  2. Honestly one of these days I'm going to use one of their sales and buy nothing but those magical mascaras you reviewed. I still don't understand how that shit doesn't smudge one bit no matter how much I rub my eyes then go SONOVABITCH I HAVE ON EYE MAKEUP not so m uch as a flake comes off

    1. Ha, I know, I bought another one, even though I already have a half dozen different tubes of unopened mascara sitting in a drawer taunting me. TRY ME. I can't sleep in any of the other ones!

  3. It amazes me how off the colors are on their website. Like wow. This is all good advice though. The only thing I'd add is that their $1 makeup brushes are monster shedders (and made of HAIR for those who want to avoid such things) while their $3 brushes are totally acceptable.

    1. I have some good $1 brushes, though I bought most of them a few years ago, so they may have gone down in quality since. The $3 ones are definitely great, and the price difference in so small.

  4. I just did an elf haul/review post!


    Love the blog! xxx

  5. So yes, this post is 4 years old now and they've changed the pricing and availability of so many of their items in that amount of time but rthr rules still hold, even more so now.

    #1: the cost is so much higher now that the idea of paying full price is absurd. And people abuse products in targetwhere I've unknowingly bought product where the packaging has been opened and swatched in the past.

    Rule 2# is probably the least tricky to work with now because of the price increase where most $1 items have been discontinued and I saw a mask the other day on the site for $24.

    Rule #3 is true of any company but especially for elf. The white background doesn't help matters and their colors are never the same in person. Nothing matches the packaging and even looking at swatches online won't convey any weird oxidation or color shift depending on ones undertone.

    I will always have a soft spot in my heart for this brand, though it shrinks every year. It's a bit of a love hate, leaning more toward hate because as I get older and develop more financial responsibilities in life, I become less willing to pay a shload of money on anything for myself unless necessary (i.e. when my socks are more hole than sock), especially at a drugstore.

    1. I completely agree. I used to recommend e.l.f. as a good source for people who wanted to experiment with new types of products and colors without investing much, but now I think I would suggest something like Wet N Wild or Essence. You used to be able to get 10-20 things to play with for $20, but not so much now.


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