Sunday, January 24, 2016

Battle of the Bronzes: e.l.f. Smudge Pot in Cruisin' Chic vs. Maybelline Color Tattoo in Bad to the Bronze

Disclosure: Affiliate links.
 e.l.f. Smudge Pot in Cruisin' Chic vs. Maybelline Color Tattoo in Bad to the Bronze

I'm a big fan of Maybelline Color Tattoos (one of my favorite cheap eyeshadows), and perhaps my favorite of those I currently own is Bad to the Bronze. In addition to wearing very well over primer (something not all cream eyeshadows do), I like that I can use it to create a very pretty look very quickly. It applies best with my finger, which takes slightly less time for me than a brush (though, then, I have to clean off my finger). And the shimmer in it is intense enough (without being glittery) that if I blend Bad to the Bronze from my lash line into and slightly above my crease, it creates a complex look that gives the impression that I've used more than one shade. The shimmer reflects on the lower part of my lid, but not in the crease. Almost like a very subtle duochrome effect.

Here is is on my eye. See what I mean about the metallic sheen near my lashes with a warmer, less reflective color in the crease? I think it has more impact in person.

Maybelline Color Tattoo in Bad to the Bronze

Maybelline Color Tattoo in Bad to the Bronze

After reading this reddit post raving about the e.l.f. Smudge Pots, I was really curious as to how they would compare to my Color Tattoos. The redditor claims that they are superior to both Color Tattoos and to MAC Paint Pots, and specifically that they do not crease at all. Exciting! So I picked up the shade Cruisin' Chic, which looked like a taupier version of Bad to the Bronze in the photos I found. I reasoned that either it would be a nice alternative to a current favorite, or if it turned out to be really similar, it would make a good (better?) replacement once Bad to the Bronze was finished or dried up.

Spoiler: I was disappointed by the e.l.f. Smudge Pot for a variety of reasons, most of which probably come down to personal preference. Let's start with comparison swatches (not over primer):

Swatches of e.l.f. Smudge Pot in Cruisin' Chic (left) and Maybelline Color Tattoo in Bad to the Bronze (right)
Swatches of e.l.f. Smudge Pot in Cruisin' Chic (left) and Maybelline Color Tattoo in Bad to the Bronze (right)
In the swatches (and in the pot), I think they look pretty similar. Cruisin' Chic, rather than being more of a taupe like I had expected, turns out to be a bit warmer and redder. The shimmer in Cruisin' Chic is about the same color as its base, while the shimmer in Bad to the Bronze looks a bit more silvery to me (though I'm not sure that comes out in this photo--it somehow looks gold here). In swatches on my arm, the pigmentation is about the same. The e.l.f. Smudge Pot feels a lot softer and slipperier, but then this Maybelline Color Tattoo is over a year old (maybe almost two?) so it's stiffer than it was when it was brand new.

Applied to my eyelids, however, the e.l.f. product is less pigmented, perhaps because it's softer. It sheers out really easily when it's blended, though it is possible to build it up a bit. The shimmer is also more subtle and overall I think this shade looks less striking than Bad to the Bronze when I wear it. Here is is on my eye, applied in the same way as the Color Tattoo (i.e. with my finger, over primer):

e.l.f. Smudge Pot in Cruisin' Chic

e.l.f. Smudge Pot in Cruisin' Chic

It's a nice enough eyeshadow, but there's nothing particularly interesting about it. I probably have about a half dozen extremely similar powder shadows. But if it does indeed wear like iron, it might edge those other shadows out.

Sadly . . .

While I haven't noticed an unusual amount of creasing, it wears off in my crease very quickly. It's almost as if it sticks to itself wherever one part of my lid touches another part and removes itself. Without primer, it will do this in seconds. With primer, as in the photo, it may take several minutes or up to an hour. The photo above was taken about 45 minutes after application (again, over primer) and that light patch in the middle is not a reflection, it's a bald spot. It only gets worse the longer I wear it.

Maybelline Color Tattoos aren't perfect in this respect, either. Over primer, I'll get some creasing after a few hours, though nothing dire. But because I think Bad to the Bronze is so much more interesting, I'm more tolerant. Cruisin' Chic just doesn't have a lot going for it, in my view, either in terms of appearance or performance.

On me, the formula of this e.l.f. Smudge Pot works very similarly to most eyeshadow crayons (like this NYX crayon I reviewed ages ago). They're too slick and they just don't last, even with primer. My oily eyelids eat makeup for breakfast, that's true, but I was hoping that this stuff would be better than average, not worse. If you can get eyeshadow crayons to work for you, however, you might have great luck with the Smudge Pots.

With all other things equal, the e.l.f. product certainly does have an edge when it comes to price. As I've discussed before, the Maybelline Color Tattoos have heavy, solid glass bases that make them seem bigger but don't contain any product. All of the product is just inside the height of the lid (more visible in the photo in this post).

While it's true that the e.l.f. pot is made of very thick plastic that also makes it appear larger than it is (more visible in the first photo in this post), it contains 0.19 oz., while the Maybelline contains slightly less at 0.14 oz. Since the e.l.f. Smudge Pot costs $3, and the Color Tattoo costs around $7 (or $5.60 on Amazon), I don't have to do any calculations to demonstrate which is a better value per ounce. So if the Smudge Pot appeals to you, the price is right. Though I much prefer the glitz of the e.l.f. Long Lasting Lustrous Eyeshadows (reviewed here), if you're looking for a cheap thrill. (And Wayne Goss said in a video that they are nearly identical to Chanel Illusion D'Ombre eyeshadows.)

It's possible that the other colors of Smudge Pots are more exciting, but I'm not really inclined to try them. $3 is still too much for a product that doesn't work for me. I'll stick with my Color Tattoo.


  1. Holy!! Who would have thought the colour tattoos held LESS??

    I hwve never used a colour tattoo, does it dry and set? I find that the cream shadows that set last quite well but those that don't, like the nyx crayons, slip off immediately.

  2. I really like the Color Tattoos; I don't find that they wear perfectly on me, either, but they're about as good as it's going to get for a cream shadow. I'm not convinced that any cream product will work flawlessly for me (hooded eyelids!), so I'm not really willing to pay premium prices for them.

    I am curious about the stick format of the Color Tattoos, though I want to wait and read more reviews before I bite the bullet!

  3. I love the Smudge Pots! I haven't tried any color tattoos in a similar color, but Cruisin' Chic is my favorite cream shadow. I found that using a heavier layer works best, and I have also had success building it up a bit in areas that I want more shine. My eyelids aren't super oily, but they are fairly oily in the summer, and using the wet n wild fergie primer under the shadow gives me hold all day long! It's also pretty under other shadows as well.

  4. I have yet to try the color tattoos. I have some of the elf smudge pots, and it has been hit or miss. Some came very dry, so I had to find ways to apply them evenly (ocean bound and poppin' party). I wore each separately, one day I tried ocean bound, and the next I tried poppin' party. Once applied they looked rather dull, so I added the elf eyeshadow transformer and they looked great! but like I said they felt dry and that made them difficult to apply, so I have to check if just those pots were defective or it is the norm. I also tried Gotta Glow (it came in one beauty bundle). I found it disappointing. Good texture but no color payoff, was not even able to build it up. So far my favorite is brownie points followed by poppin' party (if I can get it in a more smooth consistency). I use them alone without primer. I like cruisin' chick for a speedy makeup application. I use it very light over the entire eye lid, with eyeliner (in whatever color I feel like that day), light bronzer and lip gloss. Now I am curious about cheap color mascara. I have three form Hard Candy, I like their color but they are a little dry. I enjoy reading your reviews, thanks to them I have gotten to try products I didn't know about and which have affordable prices. Thanks.


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