New Year’s Resolution check-in! Cruelty-free cosmetics (e.l.f. review)

We all know how it is. When we’re amped about our New Year’s resolutions at the beginning of the year, we broadcast them to the world, but it’s less common to mention them again after that. We’re all about our resolutions for four weeks or so, and then we never speak of them again. Given this, and to share some of the results of my efforts, I wanted to check in with a mid-year 2015 resolutions update.

(Side-note: It was actually my intention to do this post last month, but I’ve been procrastinating. There are more interesting things to read and write about than the make-up I’m using, but I wanted to hold myself accountable for my resolutions, so here we are. Bear with me, guys, please!)

For 2015, I mainly resolved to switch to cruelty-free products – products that are not tested on animals – so I’m going to share some of the make-up items I’ve been using. I’m just talking about cosmetics in this post (I’ve also switched to cruelty-free hair-care and body products), and mainly one brand.

Cruelty-free drugstore cosmetics include brands such as Milani, e.l.f., Flower, Physician’s Formula, Pacifica, and Burt’s Bees, among others. I’ve tried a smattering of things from different brands, but I decided early on to focus on e.l.f., because it’s the cheapest of the cheap. When I made this resolution, I wanted to go cruelty-free, not broke. Spending as little as possible on make-up means that I can justify spending more on good cruelty-free skin-care.

I’ll always prioritize skin-care over make-up. I use a $3.00 mascara so I can feel less guilty spending $30.00 on sunscreen. It does even out!

Anyway, in the last seven months, I’ve experimented with a lot of e.l.f. make-up. It turns out that the quality of their cosmetics is exceptional and impressive, so the experimentation wasn’t as tedious as I’d thought it would be. I placed an initial order with e.l.f. online in January, and a second order in April. For some reason, with that second order, e.l.f. sent a bag filled with extra, full-size items for free, so I had the opportunity to try out some things I wouldn’t have thought to try otherwise. In addition to those two orders, I’ve also picked up a few e.l.f. items at Target here and there, and I’ve already re-purchased several things, as well.

Without further ado, here’s the break-down on how it’s shaken out so far, prices included. The priciest item out of everything I tried was $10.00, but the items I use daily range from $2.00-$6.00.

Current daily products:

 

Everyday e.l.f. (cruelty-free)

Everyday e.l.f. (cruelty-free)

 

1). e.l.f. Studio High-Definition Powder in Shimmer ($6.00)

2). e.l.f. Studio Flawless Finish Foundation in Sand ($6.00)

3). e.l.f. Studio Contouring Blush & Bronzing Powder in St. Lucia (I just use the bronzing side) ($3.00)

4). e.l.f. Studio Baked Highlighter in Moonlight Pearls ($3.00)

5). e.l.f. Studio Baked Blush in Passion Pink ($3.00)

6). e.l.f. Studio Fan Brush ($3.00)

7). e.l.f. Essential Flawless Face Powder in Ivory ($2.00)

8). e.l.f. Studio Eyebrow Kit in Dark (I just use the powder side) ($3.00)

9). e.l.f. Essential Smudge Pot in Ain’t that Sweet ($3.00)

10). e.l.f. Essential Smudge Pot in Cruisin’ Chic ($3.00)

11). e.l.f. Studio Radiance Enhancer in Spotlight ($3.00)

12). e.l.f. Essential Waterproof Eyeliner in Black (I just use it on the upper lid) ($2.00)

13). e.l.f. Studio Eye Enhancing Mascara in Black Sapphire ($3.00)

14). e.l.f. Studio Makeup Remover Cleansing Cloths ($3.00)

Thoughts: The e.l.f. smudge pots are comparable to Maybelline’s Eye Studio Color Tattoo 24hr Cream Gel shadows. The Cruisin’ Chic color is my cruelty-free replacement for my old favorite, Bad to the Bronze, and in fact, I even prefer it. At $3.00 a pop, the e.l.f. smudge pots are less than half the price of the Maybelline ones, which are $7.00 each.

To show how the products look and wear, I have pictures from yesterday morning, mid-day, and late afternoon:

 

7:40AM. Freshly applied.

7:30AM.
Freshly applied, photo taken by daylight.

 

1:30PM, over five hours later. Mid-day, low light in my office at work.

1:30PM, six hours later.
Mid-day, low light in my office at work.

 

5:10PM, over nine hours  later. Photo taken in the car on the way to the gym, hazy natural light (sorry for the bad lighting)

5:10PM, over nine hours later.
Photo taken in the car on the way to the gym, hazy natural light (sorry for the bad lighting)

 

It’s hard to see the quality of the face make-up in this bad lighting, but note the $3.00 mascara still going strong after nine hours! I don’t curl my eyelashes, either. That’s all product. Seriously, why would I pay $8.00 for an average drugstore mascara or $30.00 for an average high-end mascara?

 

5:14PM, four minutes after the last. This shows the >9 hour result in better light.

5:14PM, four minutes after the last.
This shows the >9 hour result in better light.

 

(I changed into my gym clothes in the car, as usual, haha!)

Conclusion: I’m happy with the way the e.l.f. cosmetics wear over extended periods of time. I don’t bother using face primers or setting sprays or anything like that, either… I’m not a high-maintenance make-up user. My whole mission every morning is to slap everything on as quickly as possible. It takes me 15 minutes to do my make-up.

Now that I’ve listed my current preferred everyday items, here’s what I thought about the other e.l.f. products I tried:

Liked: Essential Volumizing & Defining Mascara in Jet Black ($2.00), Essential Jumbo Eyeshadow Stick in Rock Out ($2.00), Essential Smudge Pot in Hit the Town ($3.00), Studio Prism Eyeshadow in Naked ($10.00), Essential Brightening Eye Color in Butternut ($1.00), Studio Baked Eyeshadow Trio in Lavender Love ($4.00), Studio High-Definition Undereye Setting Powder in Sheer ($3.00), Studio BB Cream SPF 20 in Buff ($6.00), Studio Moisturizing Foundation Stick in Nude ($6.00), Studio Lip Balm SPF 15 in Rose ($3.00), Studio Glossy Gloss in Wild Watermelon ($3.00), Studio Eye Refresh ($3.00)

Eh: Studio Mineral Infused Face Primer in Radiant Glow ($6.00), Studio Poreless Face Primer in Clear ($6.00), Studio Mineral Pearls in Natural ($8.00), Studio Tinted Moisturizer SPF 20 in Nude ($3.00), Studio Make-Up Remover Pen ($3.00), Studio Kabuki Brush ($6.00)

Thoughts: The two face primers I tried are probably very good, but in keeping with my general experience with foundation primers, they don’t do anything for me at all, so I don’t use them. Lots of people swear by them, but for me, using a primer just adds an extra time-consuming step that makes no difference whatsoever in how my skin and make-up looks and wears throughout the day.

Ditto for the Kabuki brush, which, again, is probably excellent. I just prefer other kinds of brushes, like, looser-bristled ones, I guess. I should clean this brush (that I only used once) and give it to someone who wants it.

The mineral pearls product baffles me. Is it a powder? A bronzer? A contour product? All of the above? I’m not so into make-up that I enjoy dabbling; swirling a brush around on the pearls seemed complicated, and then I wasn’t particularly impressed with the look of the product once it was on. So, eh.

The tinted moisturizer was okay, but it was my least-favorite of the four e.l.f. foundation products I tried. Still, I’d wear it in a pinch. Its major plus, for me, is its SPF 20. You can’t have too much SPF!

I really wanted to love the make-up remover pen, and I did, up until the tip became darkened with the eyeliner it was meant to clean up. Then it was like, “okay, now what?”

This bring me to the final category:

Not for me: Essential Lengthening & Defining Mascara in Black ($1.00), Studio Waterproof Lengthening & Volumizing Mascara in Black ($3.00), Studio Undereye Concealer and Highlighter in Light/Glow ($3.00), Mineral Eye Brightener in Buff ($1.99), Studio High-Definition Powder in Sheer ($6.00), Studio Glossy Gloss in Muted Mauve ($3.00), Studio Matte Lip Colors in Natural and Tea Rose ($3.00 each), Essential Long Wear Lip Liner in Natural Blush ($1.00)

Thoughts: The Studio Waterproof Lengthening & Volumizing Mascara looks good once it’s on, but I can’t get past the packaging! Its shape and dimensions make the wand awkward in my hand, and I’ve never stabbed myself in the eye with a mascara as much as I did with this one. PASS.

I think the lip products ended up on this list because my lips just look wrong in those colors, and the Matte Lip Color formula dries out my lips. Not a good formula for me!

The products that were free were the Essential Jumbo Eyeshadow Stick in Rock Out, the Studio Radiance Enhancer in Spotlight, the Studio Eye Enhancing Mascara in Black Sapphire, and the Studio Glossy Gloss in Wild Watermelon… and I love it all!

The free products I haven’t tried yet: e.l.f. Studio Lip Stain in Lucky Lady ($3.00), e.l.f. Essential Nail Polish in Mango Madness ($2.00), e.l.f. Studio Lash & Brow Comb ($3.00), e.l.f. Essential Cuticle Pushers ($1.00)

My everyday cruelty-free cosmetics that are NOT e.l.f.: Urban Decay Naked Skin Weightless Complete Coverage Concealer in Light Neutral*, Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil in Zero* (that I use under the eyes), Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion Original (NOTE: e.l.f. does make eye shadow primers, and I’ll try them once I run out of the UD)**, Physician’s Formula Youthful Wear Cosmeceutical Youth-Boosting Dark Circle Corrector + Concealer (the yellow side only, which I wear underneath the Urban Decay concealer), and Burt’s Bees Lip Crayon in Redwood Forest.

*These are the few higher-end, cruelty-free cosmetic items that work better for me than those I could find at the drugstore.

**I haven’t tried an e.l.f. eyeshadow primer yet because believe it or not, I’m still trying to use up the first Urban Decay one I’d purchased almost a year and a half ago, and I have a second one to use after that! I have enough UD eyeshadow primer to last at least two more years, so it’ll be a while before I need to experiment with other brands.

I’d say that my seven months’ worth of experimentation with e.l.f. cosmetics has been instructional and eye-opening. I loved or liked a lot of the stuff I tried, didn’t care for some of it, and just felt so-so about the rest of it. Over time, I’ll continue experimenting to keep up with what’s new, too… I just visited e.l.f.’s website again and noticed a lot of new things, including a brand-new line of products called “Beautifully Bare.”

The important thing, to me, is that everything I wear on my face now is cruelty-free.

As for the stuff I used to use? I gathered up all of my pre-resolution gently-used cosmetics, hair  products, and toiletries, and I donated them to A New Leaf, a shelter for battered women here in the Valley. There were five paper grocery bags filled with products! I hope they brightened someone’s day a little.

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