Monday, June 9, 2014

Dupe Test: e.l.f. Shimmering Facial Whip in Lilac Petal ($1) vs. Benefit High Beam ($26)

Disclosure: This post contains some Amazon affiliate links.
e.l.f. Shimmering Facial Whip in Lilac Petal is frequently mentioned as a cheap dupe for the much beloved but very expensive High Beam highlighter from Benefit. I'll be the first to admit that I am pretty liberal with applying the term "dupe". I'm no stickler. If it's basically the same and performs the same function, I'm fine with it. Nevertheless, after comparing these products (and two other pinkish highlighters I own), I have some mild reservations about calling them dupes. They can be used for the same purposes, successfully, but there are some significant differences. Rather than a dupe, I'd say that the e.l.f. highlighter is a good product, and a reasonable alternative to the Benefit version. A near dupe, maybe. Since I'm convinced that there are cheap options that are comparable to almost all higher-end beauty products, and since I'm on a weird quest to determine which e.l.f. products are decent and which ones are shit, this kind of comparison is my idea of fun. Wheeeeee.

e.l.f. Shimmering Facial Whip in Lilac Petal, Benefit High Beam, Stila All Over Shimmer Liquid Luminizer in Pink Shimmer, Pixi Brightening Primer in Pearl Essence
Left to right: e.l.f. Shimmering Facial Whip in Lilac Petal, Benefit High Beam, Stila All Over Shimmer Liquid Luminizer in Pink Shimmer, Pixi Brightening Primer in Pearl Essence
I threw two other similar highlighters into the mix, just for the sake of completion, and in case anyone else has them and would like to see how they fare. None of these are dupes. You can see just from the photo above that the e.l.f. highlighter is quite a bit pinker than the Benefit or Stila, and it is pinker than the Pixi option too, though the bottle for that one is opaque. On to the swatches!

Swatches of e.l.f. Shimmering Facial Whip in Lilac Petal, Benefit High Beam, Stila All Over Shimmer Liquid Luminizer in Pink Shimmer, Pixi Brightening Primer in Pearl Essence
Top left to bottom right: Swatches of e.l.f. Shimmering Facial Whip in Lilac Petal, Benefit High Beam, Stila All Over Shimmer Liquid Luminizer in Pink Shimmer, Pixi Brightening Primer in Pearl Essence
Let me break them down one by one - I'll end with e.l.f.

Benefit High Beam ($26): This is the coolest-toned of the four. It's a pearly, silvery pink that is very reflective, but that blends really easily and looks very natural when used to highlight specific areas of your face.

Stila All Over Shimmer Liquid Luminizer in Pink Shimmer ($20): This one is by far the sheerest. It's more of a translucent base with some iridescent pinkish sparkle in it. I don't find that this works very well as a highlighter, and to be fair, it's not really marketed as one. I also don't like it applied all over my face, though, because I think that highlights pores and lines, rather than distracting from them. It's okay mixed with foundation to sheer it out and make it more luminous, if that's a thing that you like to do.

Pixi Brightening Primer in Pearl Essence (discontinued - was $33-37): Though this is labeled a primer, it's much better as a highlighter, in my opinion. Like the Stila stuff, I feel like it highlights bad things if I just smear it all over my face. It also doesn't make makeup that's applied over top of it look any better or last any longer. But it does make a nice, subtle highlight. It's thinner and not as reflective as either the Benefit or the e.l.f. products, and it's sheerer, so it's hard to go overboard.

e.l.f. Shimmering Facial Whip in Lilac Petal ($1): And now for the star of the show, the supposed High Beam dupe. Not really, but it is a good highlighter. It is the shiniest, pinkest, and most opaque/pigmented of all these products. That's okay so long as you can manage to only dispense a tiny bit, because it will go farther. You just have to be careful not to go too far. The consistency is thicker than any of the other options. You also have to blend it really well. Though it looks very quite pink in swatches, I've found that on my very pale face, you really don't notice the color - just the silvery/pearly sheen. There's no glitter or sparkle, just a smooth, natural shine like the High Beam. The color and the extra shininess are the main things that make me hesitate to label it a dupe. If you are used to High Beam, using this will take a little adjustment. It's also the only one of the bunch that has fragrance. It's a pleasant, mild lemonade scent that I don't notice once I put it on my face.

I'd recommend using a really light touch and blending it thoroughly, otherwise you'll end up with a really shiny-looking face. It's nice, though. It does the job and looks natural if you use it right. I like to use highlighters like this especially when I'm wearing foundation, to bring a little dimension back to my face. I'm not really into contouring with darker products, but highlighting is my jam. Especially on my nose and cheekbones.

You can compare some other highlighting products that I've used in this post - of them, the Boots luminizer is closest to High Beam, but it's sheerer and less reflective. Sort of halfway between the Pixi primer and High Beam. I gave that one to my mother (or sister?), because I had too many of these things. Speaking of which - why the fuck do I have so many of these things? I think the clinical term for someone who owns four or more pinkish liquid highlighters is "ridic." I'm going to have to weed at least one of these out. Probably the Stila one. To be fair, I got this bottle of High Beam using my Ipsy points and the Stila and Pixi ones for cheap from HauteLook (invite link). And the e.l.f. shit was on sale for 50 cents. Still. Hoarding much?

Overall, the e.l.f. Shimmering Facial Whip makes an excellent alternative to Benefit High Beam. It's not identical, and you'll have to use a slightly different technique, but it definitely works well. I haven't noticed any difference between the two in terms of how long they last or anything like that. I admit that I slightly prefer High Beam, because it's a little easier to work with, but it's certainly not 26 times better than the e.l.f. stuff (or whatever the ratio is when you take into account that the Benefit is 0.5 oz. and the e.l.f. is 0.34 oz.). Not even twice as good. If you decide to go for High Beam, and you only plan to use it for highlighting (not for mixing with foundation, etc.), I recommend getting a mini for $10 instead of the full size one. It tends to thicken up and get goopy after a while, and I ended up throwing away my mini bottle last time before I'd finished it up. I don't know how I will manage to make it through this bigger bottle.


  1. I'm not ashamed to admit that I'm a little bit in love with your blog. The fact that you're not afraid to say what you really think is so refreshing. Thank you for being honest with us and not kissing the ass of brands.

    1. Thank you! It's easy to stay honest when no brands are kissing my ass either. Ha.


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