This Cheap Makeup Brand Is TikTok-Famous, so I Did a Hype Test

Courtney Higgs
·15 min read

These days, the mark of a truly iconic beauty brand is some level of TikTok fame. From prestige picks to affordable drugstore ones, the makeup community on the popular app wastes no time identifying its favorite products, sharing the good news, and promptly causing said products to sell out—everywhere. We saw this happen recently with a new launch, the KVD Vegan Beauty Good Apple Foundation ($38) (which is still tough to find ever since the app's top creators deemed it life-changing), but even products that have been on the market for a while can potentially get a resurgence in popularity based on positive recommendations from the internet's makeup mavens.

This has been the case recently for E.l.f. Cosmetics, a certified vegan and cruelty-free makeup-and-skincare brand that's been around for quite some time but still manages to shake the industry with its game-changing formulas. TikTokers and celebrities couldn't get enough of the brand's #eyeslipsface challenge last year, but aside from that, its range of products—from complexion-perfecting foundations and concealers to ultra-pigmented liquid and powder eye shadows to cult-favorite face and eye primers—continually blows up online and appears on the best-seller lists of our favorite online beauty haunts like Amazon, Target, and Ulta.

So what do we do when the internet hypes up a product or brand so much that you can't scroll for two minutes before seeing it called out? We test it out for ourselves to get to the bottom of the madness, of course! Here, I tried 21 of the very best E.l.f. Cosmetics makeup and skincare picks to see if the brand really lives up to its internet fame. Keep scrolling for my honest reviews and some epic before-and-afters to help you decide which products to buy and skip. And be sure to read all the way to the end for the final verdict on whether or not the brand passed the hype test.

E.l.f. Cosmetics Poreless Putty Primer ($8)

Rating: 4/5 stars

Of all the E.l.f. options that have been made harder to get due to the their TikTok fame, this one tops the list. All the brand's Putty Primers for both face and eyes are mega popular, actually. I was so excited to give this one a whirl for myself, even though I'm really not committed to primers or even convinced they're necessary for casual, everyday makeup looks. The consistency is nice and glides onto the skin smoothly before disappearing into a translucent, hydrating veil. I layered it underneath a full-coverage complexion product, and while my pores definitely weren't made completely invisible (skin has pores in it, people!), it really did keep my face makeup intact. No greasiness, no product settling into fine lines.

E.l.f. Cosmetics Camo CC Cream ($14)

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

I'm a notoriously harsh critic of BB and CC creams because truth be told, most of them are awful. In my experience, they tend to be overly greasy, ashy, or gray-tinged, and don't even get me started on the widespread lack of shade diversity. For some reason, brands decided early on that three or four generic shades would suffice, and that lack has historically excluded folks with complexions any deeper than olive. All this to say, I was ready to write off this option before trying it but was proven oh so wrong—I actually love it! The coverage is amazing. I layered it on top of spot concealer since I'm currently dealing with some post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, but in my tests since then, I've learned that spot-concealing is completely unnecessary. It applies just as smoothly when using your fingers as it does when using a brush, and the best part is that it looks and feels like nothing on the skin as soon as it dries down to its pretty, natural finish. Knocking just a half-point off because skipping moisturizer underneath resulted in some tightness in my driest areas (this is supposed to be able to replace moisturizer in addition to foundation and SPF), but still, I'll be using this all summer.

E.l.f. Cosmetics Instant Lift Eyebrow Pencil ($2)

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

In a world where basic brow pencils can cost upward of $20, it's refreshing to see a $2 option that holds its own against its pricey counterparts. I love this retractable pencil for filling in sparse areas and defining my arch. The tip is midsize, so it's not great for creating hairlike strokes that make for the feathery brows that are so popular right now, but if you've already got plenty of brow hairs in place and need to fill in certain areas to make them more substantial, this pencil will work.

E.l.f. Cosmetics Putty Eye Primer in Cream ($5)

Rating: 4/5 stars

Here's another one of E.l.f.'s famed Putty Primers, this time, an eye shadow primer that can be worn on its own or layered underneath powders and glitters to make them appear more vibrant and stay put longer. To me, this product is too tacky and dries down too fast to be able to blend it evenly enough to wear alone, which the brand advertises as a possibility, but it really does make a huge difference underneath eye shadow. I also found this shade particularly useful for another off-label use: carving out my brows. Try it!

E.l.f. Cosmetics Bite Size Eyeshadow Palette in Berry Bad ($3)

Rating: 5/5 stars

I love, love, love these little eye shadow palettes. They're small, which I like because most of the time palettes have too many dang colors in them for anyone who isn't a professional. There, I said it! This selection of rosy shades looks so pretty, and I love that it includes both matte and shimmery finishes so you can get a whole look with just one set of colors.

E.l.f. Cosmetics Putty Eye Primer in White ($5)

Rating: 3/5 stars

Maybe user error is to blame, but I found this white eye shadow primer—that the internet is completely obsessed with, might I add—difficult to use. As with the cream color (same formula, after all), this stuff is super tacky and gets stuck in place really fast, so if you don't get it in the right position really quickly, it's hard to correct. That said, it makes brightly hued shadows look so much more vibrant, especially if you have tan or brown skin. Take a look below to peep the difference. You can see how much more the swatches layered on top of the primer (on the right) pop as compared to the swatches without primer (on the left). I'll keep practicing my primer placement to see if I can't improve on this rating.

E.l.f. Cosmetics 16hr Camo Concealer in Deep Olive ($5)

Rating: 5/5 stars

Yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes again! Promise me you will buy this concealer. It's so good I'm having a hard time reconciling the fact that I've gone 31 years without it in my life! This concealer has been a mega hit among the internet-beauty community for a while now and consistently in Amazon's weekly top-selling makeup products, so my expectations were high. It didn't disappoint! It's great both as a spot concealer and an under-eye brightener (I snagged two different shades for the respective tasks) and dries down to a satin, near-matte finish that doesn't even need to be set with powder. The packing claims it stays put for 16 hours, and while I didn't test that theory, I have no doubt it would actually hold up that long.

E.l.f. Cosmetics Complexion Sponge Trio ($12)

Rating: 5/5 stars

I'm no snob, but I've favored a certain brand that makes $20 makeup sponges for as long as I can remember. It's now my true belief that these are superior. Not only do you get three sponges in varying sizes for all your blending needs, but they don't absorb tons of product or pull your complexion products off your face as you bounce them around to blend out harsh lines. Also, the idea of having three different sizes is just genius. The next time I need to re-up blending sponges, I'll be reordering these.

E.l.f. Cosmetics Contour Palette Pressed Powder ($9)

Rating: 4/5 stars

I'm not a master contouring queen, so I often feel a little out of my depths when it comes time to carve out the cheeks and nose. This palette is easy enough to use, but I would imagine the more experience you have the better your results will be. I actually found the deepest shade to be a perfect crease color, too, so bonus points for functionality!

E.l.f. Cosmetics Monochromatic Multi Stick in Luminous Berry ($4)

Rating: 2/5 stars

This stick isn't pigmented enough, and the shimmery finish is kind of confusing. I packed on so much product only for it to barely show up on my cheeks, and it looked too glittery on my lips. I had high hopes for this one, but ultimately, I'd skip it.

E.l.f. Cosmetics Clear Brow & Lash Mascara Crystal ($3)

Rating: 2/5 stars

There are much better eyebrow gels out there. I know it seems silly to split hairs over a $3 product, but the hold is just plain weak. It worked much better when layered on top of a clear brow pomade from another brand meant to give the brows that laminated look, but on its own, it just didn't wow me. I'll admit this product is kind of cool in that it's dual-ended, with one spoolie meant for the brows and the other meant for the lashes, but aside from the novelty, it's nothing special. I'd recommend skipping this one and reallocating that $3 to try one of the brand's more impressive offerings.

E.l.f. Cosmetics Waterproof Lengthening & Volumizing Mascara ($4)

Rating: 4/5 stars

Get into these lashes! This is a beautiful everyday mascara that defines, lengthens, and plumps up the lashes in a major way. Just take a gander above to see the difference it makes. (In case you can't tell, I'm wearing mascara on the left, and my lashes are bare on the right.) The shape of the brush is great, too. It's a tad shorter and more bulbous than most other wands and makes it super easy to coat every single lash without accidentally dotting mascara on the waterline or upper eyelids. It may not be the most volumizing option out there, but for $4, it's a great option.

Aside from makeup, E.l.f. also has some popular skincare options that regularly end up on best-of lists. I decided to try out its Holy Hydration! line, which consists of Holy Hydration! Daily Cleanser, Holy Hydration! Makeup Melting Cleansing Balm, Hydrating Booster Drops, Holy Hydration! Face Cream, and Holy Hydration! Eye Cream.

E.l.f. Cosmetics Hydrated Ever After Skincare Mini Kit ($20)

Rating: 5/5 stars

I would 100% keep a fresh stock of this set on hand for travel. Each of the offerings is packed with hydrating, skin-loving ingredients like hyaluronic acid and ceramides, which leave the skin quenched and smoothed without any excess oil or shine. It's ideal skincare to wear under makeup, and the cleansing balm and foaming cleanser really do remove every stitch of makeup without leaving the skin feel tight or dry. I imagine these offerings wouldn't do too much for ultra-dry or acne-prone skin types, but if you don't have any active flare-ups or other major concerns, this is a perfectly adequate routine to keep you stable until you have access to your full skincare arsenal again.

E.l.f. Cosmetics Luminous Putty Primer ($8)

Rating: 4/5 stars

Another day, another Putty Primer. This luminous version is so pretty. It makes for a translucent, blurring effect over the skin with a super-fine shimmer that allows the skin to glow even before you go in with any foundation. I layered it underneath a lightweight foundation and I did notice makeup settling into the lines around my mouth before I was done with the rest of my face, but I can't be too mad at that because skin moves, and sometimes makeup is just going to move with it. I'm totally satisfied with the glow, though!

E.l.f. Cosmetics Flawless Finish Foundation in Cinammon ($6)

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

As someone who doesn't think twice about dropping $40 or $50 on foundation, I never thought I'd be so in love with a $6 one. This pretty, medium-coverage liquid is the ultimate "your skin but better" product. It dries down to a plush, soft, satin finish that's breathable and feels like nothing. It doesn't cover everything (I definitely had to spot-conceal some dark spots), but it's buildable. I like it!

E.l.f. Cosmetics Liquid Glitter Eyeshadow in Copper Pop ($5)

Rating: 4/5 stars

I'm obsessed with this. I learned early on that using the doe-foot applicator is best, as pressing it in with the fingers sheers it down to nothing but glitter, so if you've struggled to get enough pigment with this stuff, be sure to take your fingers out of the equation.

E.l.f. Cosmetics No Budge Retractable Eyeliner in Black ($4)

Rating: 5/5 stars

Again, a glowing five stars go to this eyeliner. I love it! It's a gel that glides on smoothly and can be smudged to a smoky blur or drawn precisely and to a point for a pretty cat-eye look. I'm adding it to the regular rotation.

E.l.f. Cosmetics Hydrating Camo Concealer in Deep Olive ($6)

Rating: 4/5 stars

If you're on the hunt for a dupe for Tarte's famous Shape Tape formula, reviewers say over and over again that this is it. It's insanely good. It dries down a bit softer than the original 16-hour version and can do well with a light set with powder. Another characteristic to note is that the shades appear to be deeper than the 16-hour version. The same exact shades in this formula will be warmer and a bit deeper than they are in the other range, so I'd recommend buying a shade lighter than you might think.

E.l.f. Cosmetics Bite-Size Face Duo Cosmetic Highlighter in Pomegranate ($3)

Rating: 5/5 stars

Gorgeous, flawless, beautiful! What else can I say about this perfect blush-highlighter duo? The blush (I snagged shade Pomegranate) is the prettiest dusty mauve with just the right amount of shimmer, and the highlighter literally looks like a high beam hit your cheekbones. I anticipate hitting pan on these pretty quickly, and thankfully, a refill will only cost a few bucks.

E.l.f. Cosmetics Lip Laquer in Rose ($4)

Rating: 10/5 stars

I'm big into lipgloss and can be a harsh critic, but this stuff right here is magical. I am utterly and completely obsessed with it! Everything about it, from the color to the opacity and even the texture is right on target. It's not too sticky but still feels nice and plush on the lips so you can apply it to a completely dry pout without it clinging to dead skin. I lined my lips with my favorite soft-brown lip liner in the photos here just to give my lips an extra-polished look, but this gloss is perfect on its own too. I even wore it under a face mask for about 15 minutes, and it didn't transfer. I highly recommend it!

E.l.f. Cosmetics Makeup Mist & Set ($7)

Rating: 5/5 stars

Dupe alert! I'm convinced this is MAC Fix+ by another name. It's a refreshing mist that melts all your creams, liquids, powders, and glitters together to make your face look effortlessly flawless. I love that it doesn't wreak of alcohol, even though that probably means it's not the best for locking makeup into place. I also love that the mist is clear so you don't have to worry about white droplet marks emerging in your hair or on your clothes once it dries.

The Final Verdict

E.l.f. passes the hype test with flying colors. The formulations are cutting edge, the pigments are vibrant and suitable for deep skin tones, and best of all, it's all SO affordable! Definitely spring for the Camo Concealer, the Poreless Putty Primer, the Camo CC cream, and the Lip Laquer first. In all honestly, you could build an entire makeup routine with this brand exclusively without missing a beat. Your face and wallet will thank you for falling in love with E.l.f.!

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This article originally appeared on Who What Wear

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