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Which Elf cosmetics are best?

With a full range of low-cost alternatives that give more expensive premium brands a run for their money, choosing the best Elf cosmetics can be a challenge. From longwear lipsticks to a wide range of eyeshadows, to everything you need to prep your skin, Elf Cosmetics has it all.

If you’re looking for the most popular Elf product no makeup bag should be without, Elf Cosmetics Poreless Putty Primer is the top choice. 

What to know before you buy Elf cosmetics

Your makeup habits

Do you like to dab on a bit of color and go? Or do you prefer to put on a “full face,” complete with primer and setting spray? Do you put on makeup every day, or only for special occasions? Do you like having the go-tos you know look good on your skin, or do you need variety so you can be ready for any mood? Knowing your makeup habits will help you focus on the items that will help you achieve your preferred look with ease.

The occasion

Are you buying Elf cosmetics for everyday wear or for a special date with a promising someone? Is it formal or casual? Whether you want an everyday staple or an eye-catching lipstick that will put all eyes on you, knowing where you intend to wear your new cosmetics will help you focus on the right ones. 

Length of wear

If you’re planning your look for a special event such as a prom or a wedding, you’ll want to pay special care to whether the cosmetic you’re looking at has extended-wear properties. This is particularly important in lipsticks. Because we talk, eat and inadvertently touch our fingers to our lips, lipstick is the cosmetic that wears off fastest. So be sure to look for a longwear option for those days and nights when you need the look to last. 

What to look for in a quality Elf cosmetic


If you’re packing light for a quick weekend trip, you’ll want cosmetics that will do double duty, like a sheer lipstick that can also be used to add a dab of color to cheeks or browbone, or a pore putty that will take the place of foundation and eye primer. 

Sheer or highly pigmented

If you like a lighter wash of color on your face, Elf offers a great range of sheer colors in eyeshadows, lipsticks and blushes to liven up your look without being too heavy. If you like a more dramatic smoky eye or a bold lip for evening, they’ve got you covered as well. 

Matte or shimmer 

Daytime looks lend themselves well to softer mattes that emphasize your features. Opt for shimmery shades for an evening glow or a fun summery vibe. 

How much you can expect to spend on Elf cosmetics

One of the key draws of Elf cosmetics is that they provide a full range of options for far less than you’d pay for prestige department-store brands, and even some drugstore brands. Their offerings range between $5-$20. 

Elf cosmetics FAQ

Are Elf cosmetics safe?

A. Although Elf is known for its low-cost offerings, that doesn’t mean it skimps on quality. The company says it makes its cosmetics with nontoxic ingredients. What’s more, its formulas are cruelty-free, vegan and include some of the cleanest ingredients in cosmetics today. 

Are Elf cosmetics fragrance-free?

A. If you’re sensitive to fragrances and other irritants, Elf has offerings for you. While not all of its cosmetics are fragrance-free, its Pure Skin line is. All Elf cosmetics are also free of sulfates, parabens and phthalates, common irritants found in many other brands.

What does E.L.F. stand for?

A. While you might think the company’s name is a whimsical nod to magical creatures, its initials stand for Eyes, Lips and Face. Despite this, it did once dabble in nail polishes, but those have been discontinued.

What are the best Elf cosmetics to buy?

Top Elf cosmetic

E.l.f. Cosmetics Poreless Putty Primer

Elf Cosmetics Poreless Putty Primer

What you need to know: One of the most versatile items in Elf’s collection, this primer leaves your skin a smooth canvas for whatever you want to put on it next.

What you’ll love: In a pinch, this primer gives your skin a smooth glow that may let you forgo foundation for a casual day out. It feels smooth and light on skin and blurs many imperfections.

What you should consider: While it melts in to match many skin tones, it can look ashy on darker skin.

Where to buy: Sold by Ulta Beauty

Top Elf cosmetic for the money

E.l.f. Tinted Lip Oil

Elf Tinted Lip Oil

What you need to know: This versatile, sheer lip color can double as cheek color in a pinch.

What you’ll love: The fresh color is non-oily, despite its name, and feels lightweight and moisturizing on the lips.

What you should consider: It comes in two colors, but both are unmistakably pastel, so if you’re looking for a more dramatic lip look, this won’t do the trick. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

E.l.f. Cosmetics Bite-Size Eyeshadow Palette, Cream & Sugar

Elf Cosmetics Bite-Size Eyeshadow Palette, Cream & Sugar

What you need to know: Tiny and easy to pack, this will become your go-to when you need an eyeshadow palette that can travel anywhere.

What you’ll love: The array of shades gives you a crease color that can double as an eyeliner, plus a brow highlighter and some shimmer for your lid. It has everything you need for a complete eye look. 

What you should consider: This is highly pigmented, so a little goes a long way. 

Where to buy: Sold by Ulta Beauty


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Maria Andreu writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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