Friday, August 6, 2010

e.l.f. - A Love Affair

I know, I haven't gabbed about a product or gushed over some new accessory in ages. It's funny how much my blog has changed focus over the last three years, but so goes my life! I write about what's going on, and there's really not much of any shopping going on here... so yeah. I usually send my J. Crew catalogs straight to the recycle bin. BUT one thing you can't deny me is my makeup. I still gotta look good, right?!

I found out about e.l.f. several years ago when they first came on the scene. The whole "everything is $1" intrigued me... could this be for real? Uh yeah, it was. Of course now they've totally expanded their line and have different collections with higher price points. But even the highest ones are ridiculously cheap when you compare them to drugstore makeup brand prices, much less swanky high-end cosmetic lines. At only $1 an item, I grabbed a ton of products on my first order years ago - I mean, what's to lose? If it sucks, you only wasted a dollar, right? Well, fast forward to now... and nearly every single item in my makeup drawer is stamped with "e.l.f."

I've always been big into makeup - it's just fun. And I've tried all kinds of brands and labels when it comes to cosmetics. I was a pretty tried and true Estee Lauder fan in high school and beyond, with a little Bobbi Brown mixed in... and maybe a dash of MAC, Sephora, and other trendy brands here and there. With the exception of my liquid base and/or concealer (which has always been Almay), I was an exclusive department store brand makeup girl. I was a sucker for the free-gift-with-purchase. Even though I'd maybe use like *one* item out of that bag - ha! But like I said, when I caught word of this online cosmetic company where everything was $1 - I had to give it a try.

Little by little, my department store cosmetic items were being replaced by e.l.f. products. The last to go? My automatic eye pencil from Estee Lauder. It was quite the revelation, if you remember. Now the only items I use daily that are not e.l.f. are my Almay wand concealer and whatever mascara I'm using. Mascara is the only product they haven't quite mastered yet. I'll be happy to switch when they do, but for now I stick with Maybelline - either the old faithful pink and green bottle or the new Stiletto one.

If you're not familiar with e.l.f., there's a few things you should know. First, there is always ALWAYS a promotion going on. Never ever check out without entering some kind of coupon code. By always, I mean there is at least one promotion/coupon code available every single day. And often more than one, so you have to choose which one is the best deal for you. The best way to stay in the know is to become an email subscriber. The promotions are advertised via email, twitter, etc and most often are NOT made known on the website. I usually order from e.l.f about once every 3 months, spending about $30 (including shipping). And that's for A LOT of stuff. I wait for the bigger promotions to come out and then I jump on and order everything I need and more. As I'm about to show you, most of the products I use come from their all natural mineral line. Unless I'm just desparate and out of product, I will only purchase new items when they're at least 50% off. They will usually run promos by specific collections... like one week all Studio items are 50% off, then a couple of weeks later all Mineral items are BOGO 50% off, etc. But like I said, I try to hold out for the bigger ones... like 60% off the entire site (that's the last one I took advantage of) or 75% off all Minerals. Point is - there is always a promotion, so never ever pay full price.

Second, the company now has four main "collections" of products...

  • The main e.l.f. line, which is your basic everything-is-$1 stuff. I still snag some of these items whenever I'm purchasing. And you can actually find some of these at Target. I've seen a small selection at Kroger also. But whatever you've seen in stores is a teeny, teeny sampling of what's online. These products are great stocking stuffers and I've seen brides use them a lot to fill goody bags for bridesmaids. Great fun! And an excellent way to experiment with fun new colors on the cheap.
  • The Studio collection, which they dub as their "professional" line. I've used a couple of these products, namely the eyeliner and shadow stick which led me to dump my faithful Estee Lauder liner after 16+ years. Price point on this line is generally $3 (but again, wait till they go on sale).
  • The Minerals collection, my personal favorite! I've tried just about every product in this collection and have fallen in love with most all of it. I'll reveal my top personal picks below. The collection is all natural and 100% mineral based. Price point for most items is $3-5. (Don't make me mention the sales again.)
  • The Bath & Body collection, which is basically your bath gels, lotions, etc. Items are generally $4 each. No real steal of a deal here except for the body butter. Compare it to The Body Shop's Body Butter for $14 and up.... yeah, I'll go with the $4 tub from e.l.f., thanks. As for the hand soap? I'll pass. I refuse to pay more than $1 for a bottle of hand soap.
Third, shipping costs are a flat $6.95 (for U.S), no matter your order. There are often free or reduced shipping coupon codes too, so keep an eye out. And because it's an online-only retailer, there are no sales tax charges (except for NY, probably - where the distribution center is located). They also often throw out freebies with your purchase, like a complimentary magazine subscription. And it's a true freebie - not a thing where you will be billed after 3 weeks if you don't cancel. I was just reading my freebie US Weekly this morning, actually! Do be aware that they do not accept returns or exchanges unless items arrived damaged. I've never had anything arrive damaged, nor have I ever wanted to return anything. Folks, stuff is like $1. Again, if you don't like something, do a shoulder shrug and move on. It's a friggin' dollar. As for my personal favorites, here are the top 5 items I'm currently crushing on...

1. Mineral Eyeshadow, $3 each. OMG, so fun. Such a great rainbow of colors to choose from, and they go on beautifully. I love the texture and they're easy to apply as lightly or as heavily as you want. Most colors have a subtle shimmer to them, but a few (labeled matte) do not. These are the only thing I use for eyeshadow anymore. Love, love, love them.

2. Mineral Lip Gloss, $3 each. It took me a while, but I found my perfect lip gloss. I've tried every other lip gloss e.l.f. has to offer - this one is the best by far. My favorite shades are Trendsetter, Pageant Princess, and Sorority Girl.

3. Mineral Concealer, $5 each. Yes, it's called "concealer" but I actually use it as my foundation. I've tried the Mineral Foundation as well, but none of the shades seemed to work just right for me and my skin tone. But the "light" shade of the concealer does... and I can't tell the difference between the concealer or foundation really. So I use my Almay wand concealer to help cover up any blemishes or discoloration on my face, and then I apply the Mineral concealer lightly on top (which is basically a very fine loose powder). I don't use liquid foundation anymore after having discovered this stuff. If you've been wanting to try a mineral foundation, e.l.f. is a great way to do it without breaking the bank.

4. Mineral Eye Liner, $3 each. Yep, as soon as this product debuted I gave it a try and immediately fell in love. It tops the Studio collection liner that I mentioned, but I still use both since they offer different shades in each. LOVE this product a million times over. I have every color but most often wear Ash or Midnight.

5. Mineral Blemish Kit, $8 each. I know, quite the *splurge* on this site! But you won't go through this product nearly as quickly as a foundation or regular concealer. (And hello, again, these are list prices - not what I actually pay.) I don't use this everyday. It's basically a very, very fine powder that helps cover up blemishes or red spots. It only comes in one shade, and may not work if you have very dark skin - I don't know. But for me, it's awesome. Sometimes my wand concealer won't completely conceal a particularly stubborn zit or blemish. Mineral Blemish Kit to the rescue! It also comes with a special brush for application.

So those are my faves. What are some of yours? If you don't have any, you need to get some. Hop on their site and find some goodies. The great thing is, they have tons of reviews on their products. So it's easy to get a feel for what people like and don't like. Enjoy!


Jill said...

Wow - never heard of this! Thanks - great tip!!

Charbelle said...

OH wow!! I'm definitely wanting to try some of these products!!!

Gracie Beth said...

I just got a bunch of lip glosses as well as the bright eye color eyeshadow collection and I have been VERY happy with the eye shadow. It reminds me a lot of an urban decay palate I paid a lot more for.

Preppy Pink Crocodile said...

You got me hooked on elf years ago and like you, nearly everything is elf now. With one exception...concealor. I've tried them all and they are all like water, colors are off for me and the orange smell makes me gag. So that is still Loreal for me. I use the mineral concealor as foundation too.

Buford Betty said...

TOTALLY agree PPC... I tried their wand concealers and they sucked. And yeah, it smelled totally weird. I use Almay's Clear Complexion concealer and love, love, love it.

Miss Wendy said...

I have tried a few things of ELF, mostly the lip glosses. Not crazy about them. But I love that Target carries a bunch of their line. As I need to replace eye shadows I will try ELF. I like that they have the minerals too.
(thanks for commenting yesterday, it was helpful)

Ashley said...

Have you ever used any of the nail polishes/products?

Renee said...

Thanks for the tip! I am going to check it out!

Buford Betty said...

Ashley - Yes, I have some of the nail polish on right now! Can't beat it for $1. I usually take a bottle with me whenever I get a pedi somewhere so I have it later for touch-ups.