Thursday, 7 April 2011

What may surprise you about E.L.F. brushes

Buying products you see only on pictures always carries the risk that the goods don't match their descriptions or the photos are inaccurate. That's why, to avoid unpleasant surprises, I always watch YouTube films presenting the products, read the reviews and look for swatches. However, no matter how hard I try to prepare myself before I make my decisions it often happens that when I open the package I hardly recognize the products I ordered.

That's why I thought I would write about E.L.F. brushes, about which all has been said before, but try a slightly different angle. So, what may surprise you about E.L.F. brushes?

Contour brushes from the £1.50 line

1. First of all no two brushes from the regular line are exactly the same.

I don't mind actually, the brushes being so cheap, but they simply may not serve their purpose. If you look at the picture above you will see that the bristles of every brush are different length and shape. This is the contour brush and only the one on top has rather long, dome-shaped bristles. The other two, each being about 1mm shorter than the other are not rounded at all, the bristle shape is rather rectangular, the tip is cut flat.  I've bought 5 of these and only the top one has the right shape.

Blending brushes from the £1.50 line
The same comment applies to the blending brushes, as you can see their size differs, but I must admit that this time it does not affect their performance. Also in spite of the fact that they quite look cheap and tacky, are too light (some things need to be quite heavy to work properly eg. fountain pens or cameras), the handles are too short, they generally lack any design  I must say I like them very much. For me these are the perfect contour brushes, with the right shape, length, stiffness. As blending brushes they are not soft enough.

2. The brushes may serve other purposes than stated on the website.

Of course everybody has different preferences, face shapes, complexions, eye shapes etc. so sometimes it turns out that some brushes may be useless for the purpose you ordered them for, but may do excellent job elsewhere. So, as I have already said I use Professional Blending brushes as contour brushes, stipple brushes for cream blush instead of liquid foundation (you may check my review of the stipple brush for reference). Both Professional and Studio eyeshadow brushes turned out to be too dense and too big for my eyelids so I actually can't use them to apply shadow, but they are perfect for applying highlight to my brow bone.

3. The size

This is a longer story, the size of the brushes never fails to surprise me. I'm gonna list the most spectacular examples.

Studio Complexion brushes: regular (top), Christmas glitter edition (bottom)
the brushes lying horizontally

Studio Complexion brushes: regular (left), Christmas glitter edition (right)

Studio Complexion brushes: regular (left), Christmas glitter edition (right)
the brushes lying vertically 
After Christmas I bought a set of Studio line brushes, the glitter edition. These were supposed to be the same brushes as the regular line with sparkly, glittery handles. I particularly loved a huge, fluffy complexion brush, so I deciced to order one more for a different loose powder. Imagine my surprise at what I got. The regular brush is a third of the size of the glitter one. It's not full and fluffy at all, it's rather flat and resembles the blush brush much more than an all-over face brush. So I actually use it as a blush brush, might also be good for contouring. I think you can see the difference between these two quite clearly in the pictures. What is more some bristles of the regular one were glued together, they had to be trimmed so as not to scratch my face and now the brush has a rather uneven shape.

left to right: Studio Contour Brush, Studio C-brush, Studio Small Precision Brush, Studio Smudge Brush, Professional Defining Eye Brush, Professional Eyeshadow Brush, Bamboo Smudge Brush (from the 4-piece set)

The picture above illustrates a number of issues commected with the size of the brushes. Some of them will not be discussed, I placed them together with other brushes for reference.
For reason unknown brushes of the same line are of different length, it's hard to store them in the same container. 
Although I had read the info about the 4-piece set of bamboo brushes I sort of didn't realise how tiny they are. As you can see they are half the size of any Studio line brush. If it had said on the website that this was a travel set I would have taken such small size for granted.
Now for the bristles:

the same brushes, vertical view
Eyeshadow C- brush: it's extremely thick, I've put the contour brush next to it for reference. The flat side of the C-brush is almost as thick as the contour brush. The hairs are so dense they loose any elasticity. The brush is too big for my eyelids.

Precision brush and smudge brush are tiny. Just a few milimetres wide and less than a milimetre thick. The precision brush is a little bit thicker. I use one of them for my E.L.F. eyebrow kit and still haven't found any use for the other one. Might be useful for lining the lower lid, which I don't do.

Defining eye brush: the angled shape is nice but this time the hairs are too thin and flimsy. This kind of brush is usually used to cover the whole eyelid with shadow or to highlight the brow bone and this one is simply too small for the purpose. So even though it's soft and nice in touch I hardly ever use it.

4. Density

kabuki brushes: E.L.F. bamboo mini, The Body Shop, E.L.F. Studio

My first kabuki brush was the Body Shop's kabuki, so this was my point of reference. It is an excellent brush for applying mineral foundation, both pressed and loose. Its hairs are densely packed, standing upright, carefully cut to form a dome shape. When I received my E.L.F. brushes I was surprised at how soft they were. Being used to The Body Shop kabuki I think they are too soft for foundation, I guess they simply apply too little. I use them for setting powders like the HD powder or Mineral Booster and they are excellent. Their softnes is pleasure to the senses, also they pick the right amount of powder never letting you overdo. The Bamboo kabuki is really small but this is the best match for small mineral powder containers eg. Mineral Booster in shimmer, the diametres of the container and the brush are almost the same.

Disclaimer: I bought the products myself for my personal use and I am not affiliated with any company. I am not paid to do this review and everything I said here is my genuine opinion.


  1. Great review! I use the body shop kabuki myself, and love it to death, no other kabuki brush seems to do the same job.
    This artical is exsacly why i wont buy my brushes online, you are never sure of what your really getting!
    Followed and thanked =]

  2. Thanks a lot :)
    I guess buying brushes online is not as risky as buying eyeshadow or lipstick, which I've never dared do myself!

  3. E.L.F's stuff seems really good at the moment! Im doing reviews on my latest stuff i got from them, maby it can convince you otherwise =]