The Budget Babe | Affordable Fashion & Style Blog

Beauty Review: E.l.f. Mineral Makeup

by The Budget Beauty Babe
There's been a lot of excitement surrounding budget cosmetic company E.l.f.’s new line of mineral makeup - and many requests for us here at the Budget Babe to review it and let you all know what we think! So here goes: There is quite a price difference between a new starter kit from E.l.f. and a starter kit from Bare Escentuals—about $40.00 worth of difference, and yet, I find myself quoting an old saying, "You get what you pay for…"

Let me start off by saying that I was really excited about trying out this set from E.l.f.- I’ve found that their products are hit and miss (awesome nail polish, vile bath products) and so I couldn’t wait to see where this mineral makeup would land.

After giving them a good, fair try I’ve decided that they fall more into the miss category, with a pretty firm belief that if you committed to this product you would end up spending much more money in the long run then if you had committed to a higher end product the first time around. Not to mention I don’t think you’ll be happy with what you see.

The set as-is is a total waste of money. For twenty bucks you get three jars, all the same size, (one concealer, one foundation, and one blush) two brushes, and a makeup bag. For the sake of my arguments I’m going to be using the standard of mineral makeups as my comparison (more specifically the Bare Escentuals starter kit).

A general look-over and testing will show the basic flaws of this set right away. The brushes are complete garbage; there is no way you can apply this makeup using the brushes they provide (in fact to even test the makeup itself I had to use the brushes from the Bare Escentuals kit, to see if you order the makeup separately would it be worthwhile). They’re poorly made, way too large, and release hairs onto your face. Another obvious drawback is the fact that all the containers are the same size. I seriously doubt that you’ll need equal amounts of foundation, concealer and blush. It would seem a lot more logical to have a larger foundation, smaller concealer, and even smaller blush (which is what you find in the Bare Escentuals set).

However, the reason for this is quickly apparent when you take a look at the ingredient lists. I’m going to compare foundations. Bare Escentuals contains 4 ingredients. E.l.f. contains 8. Three of the four extra ingredients are not minerals. Which leads me to ask why is this called 100% mineral makeup? Just so you know, the three non-mineral ingredients are Tocopheryl Acetate, which is a form of powdered vitamin E which is absorbed into the skin and used as a moisturizer, Caprylyl Glycol which is a chemical alcohol ester used as an antibacterial agent, and Silk Powder which is made from ground up silk worm cocoons and is used as a moisture seal. Ok, so you’re thinking what’s the big deal? Who cares if they add something else? Isn’t it ok as long as you’re getting the original same 4 important ingredients? Uh… you’re not. The most important of the four ingredients, iron oxides, is what gives the sunscreen minerals (the Titanium Dioxide more specifically) the pigmentation they need to actually cover blemishes and act like makeup. Without the only minerals on the list that are colored, what are you getting? Let me explain.

Certain minerals have extremely strong reflective properties (Mica, and Bismuth Oxychloride), basically acting like little mirrors. When you grind them up very fine, and apply them to lets say, your skin, they will have a shiny, almost glittery effect. In the right amounts this reflectiveness can help minimize the appearance of fine lines, pores, and blemishes - but in the wrong amounts, you’ll just end up looking like a 12-year-old that put body glitter all over her face. Especially if the minerals have not been ground up extremely fine. Which brings me to my next point.

While testing out this product, I noticed something that was really strange, looking at the E.l.f. makeup, I noticed that there were little white flecks in the makeup about the size of sugar crystals. The Bare Escentuals, however, looks like super fine evenly colored powder. The fact that I can actually discern with my naked eye either the Mica or Bismuth Oxychloride is a bad sign. You should not see flecks in good quality mineral makeup. Not only is this dangerous for contact lens wearers, but these minerals can also clog pores at that size, not to mention is just looks bad (refer back to glittery 12 year old). Both minerals are also considered fillers in the mineral makeup world.

After inspecting the ingredient list its more obvious why you would have to have the same size blush as concealer, with all the fillers and lack of real mineral pigments you need to apply a ton of it to get any kind of color on your face at all (compared to the pin-head size amount of Bare Escentuals it takes to add color to your whole face).

So let me break it down. The makeup is pretty bad, it’s not 100% minerals, it’s not ground finely enough for the face, and it takes a lot to get any kind of coverage and even then it still looks awful. The blush is so weak you can’t even see it, probably has more silk worn cocoons then minerals, and the brushes are awful. The makeup also made my skin itchy - not cool. Do not spend the $20.00, save it, skip the Starbucks for two weeks and buy yourself the Bare Escentuals, which will live up to your expectations and in the long run, save you money.

>> Read our review of The Original bareMinerals Starter Kit by Bare Escentuals.
>> Browse more of our informative, money-saving beauty posts.

Great review! I think when it comes to foundation one should really make an investment since it covers the most of the face. A few months ago I went to Sephora to purchase my own mineral face powder by Bare Escentuals, but I couldn't find a good shade for my skin tone, so I settled on Cargo's face powder which works really well and does not clog my pores, though it isn't considered mineral make-up, I'm glad with the job that it does.
#1 Samantha (Homepage) on 2008-01-09 22:54 (Reply)
I have been using mineral makeup for the past year and my skin has never looked this good. For those unwilling to shell out $60+ for the Bare Escentuals, I'd recommend trying the L'Oreal mineral makeup line if you can find a good color match. They tend to get a little orange after a while but the coverage is awesome. Also, at you can get a free (+ shipping) sample kit that includes 3 foundations samples, a concealer, and a blush.

Thanks for the review!
#2 Sushi on 2008-01-10 00:13 (Reply)
I own the E.L.F mineral makeup starter kit and alot of the things said in this article about the makeup it not really true. There are no white specks in my makeup that I got and the sizes of the bottles are just fine. The blush you can see really good it is not light at all. The blush gives your skin very natural looking style. I am not saying that all the facts aren't true, just that it does work good. The only bad thing is that it doesn't stay on a long time. All E.L.F makeup works great and is worth buying.
#3 Christy on 2008-01-17 19:47 (Reply)
I have the elf products which I bought from an internet store dealing with products that are being discontinued. It is AWFUL. Just getting it on my hands makes my hands itchy and dry. The makeup does not stay on and it feels some fine sand on my face. Bare Essentuals is the best but I've found Joelle Cosmetics on ebay and they are also wonderful and all natural. Try them. Lower price than BE but almost as good.
#3.1 Noelle on 2008-08-21 19:30 (Reply)
I'm nodding my head as I read this review, I was excited to discover such affordable mineral makeup, but I'm really glad I didn't run out and waste my money on this! I recently bought an E.L.F. pressed powder and brush kit, and it was the worst $2 I have EVER spent. The brushes are crap and there is white specks in the pressed powder as well. I'm glad to know this about the mineral makeup and not to waste my money on this brand again. And a friendly hint; Maybelline just released their own line of mineral makeup, and it works very well and is easy on the pocketbook.
#4 Heather on 2008-01-20 13:44 (Reply)
I do like mineral powders and I've used a few different brands over the years. I used bare escentuals for awhile and it was ok but not one of the better ones. It does not contain pure minerals either. Bismuth oxychloride, which you repeatedly mention in your review, is not a pure mineral. It is a "natural" ingredient, it is a by-product of lead refinement. It can be irritating for some people's skin.
#5 Rachel on 2008-02-24 00:31 (Reply)
Yeah, we've heard the buzz on the street about Bismuth Oxychloride. Here we especially wanted to point out the danger of allowing such large particles to be in the makeup, so large in fact they're visible with the naked eye. Although some do not, most makeups contain some kind of filler, we just don't like when it tops the ingredient list. Some women react to Bismuth Oxychloride, others do not, finding the makeup that works for you is all about trial and error! :-)
#5.1 Budget Beauty Babe on 2008-02-25 11:45 (Reply)
I ordered ELF minerals and Everyday Minerals at the same time. Like many of you, I've tried many brands of make-up from high-end to lower end products. I was stunned by the difference in quality as ELF did not blend into my skin at all and left a caky look. And Everyday Minerals made my complexion even without even looking like I have make-up on. I bought so much of the ELF minerals thinking it would be ok quality wise and now I don't know what to do with it.
#6 Kay on 2008-03-08 19:53 (Reply)
I have used MOST mineral makeups with those that all of you have mentioned. the one I use the most is Elf and there is no white flecks, the makeup is so fine that it gets extremely messy. Furthermore, it gives me great coverage. All I have to say is that I love it. I turned my friends to elf makeup and most love it and some hate it.
If you just want to try it, do not buy the started kit, buy the foundation and concealer..and hopefully you already have a good brush...if not get the total face brush by elf for a dollar...all together would be 11 dollars...
Give it a may like it or you may not.
#7 Zay on 2008-03-16 16:24 (Reply)
This is a GREAT review. I came across a link to E.L.F. makeup and was amazed at the prices, but I knew it had to be too good to be true. I have been using Bare Minerals for over a year and have been extremely pleased with the system. The price of E.L.F. is intriguing enough for me to possibly try it out- but quality is more important to me than price. And the jars of foundation at E.L.F. are .12 oz for $5, but Bare Minerals is .30 oz for $25. Comparing it like that, I'd rather pay the extra 10 bucks for something that I trust. And the makeup lasts me so long. I've only had to buy new foundation once in the year I've been using BM. I'm covered all day- I bring an extra container of mineral veil with me to even out oilyness but other than that I'm good all day with BM. I won't EVER use another makeup.
#8 JessLehry (Homepage) on 2008-06-19 08:47 (Reply)
Interesting Review... i was on my way to buy elf makeup, so cheap... But my friend pointed I should first read a review. I personally have been using bare minerals, but the color didn't match my skin very well so i had to mix the two different colors they give you and I didn't like having to do that. But overall it is good makeup.

But glad to see this review... THANK YOU :-)
#9 Samar on 2008-07-31 14:38 (Reply)
I've tried e.l.f. Mineral makeup, and so far I've had good experiences with them, I especially like the Mineral Booster, which give you a sheer look and minimizes your pores. Overall elf mineral makeup gives you a natural look, not meant to do major coverage.
#10 Alyssa on 2008-10-13 14:16 (Reply)
If anyone is interested to try any of the e.l.f. mineral line out, they are currently running a 50% Off All Mineral Makeup w/ a $25 purchase - Use coupon code EGMINERALC. Enjoy! :-)
#11 Alyssa (Homepage) on 2008-10-30 15:17 (Reply)
If you feel you MUST try elf - go here It's all stuff being discontinued and it's cheap. Try it from there and you won't have much to lose. I hate it. It's like wearing fine sand on my face and it makes my face and hands itch. Try Joelle on ebay. It's comparable to BE and cheaper and all natural. Bigger containers, smaller price.
#11.1 Noelle on 2008-11-21 16:30 (Reply)
I just order it today. Have a lot of people say it take a long time to get and they don't get all product they order ,will see how it work for me and I will get it all or lost some.
#12 Nim on 2008-11-21 00:57 (Reply)
i just got 30 bucks worth of elf makeup one is the light starter set- i have not bought their mineral makeup but i have used my moms- i dont really care for any of the mineral make up ive used all the major brands down to loreals im not impressed with any of them. i ordered my makeup on the 7th of this month it was here on the 10 with the regular shipping-i dont wear alot of makeup because imo a good tinted moisterizer will aleviate the need for base and powder and foundation- a light bronzer neutral eyeshadow-when i wear them- lipgloss and a Good mascara. when i do where powder i use airspun its light and has a perfumey smell which i like cause i dont have to put on perfume then- dont want to smell like i just got off a shift at the cat house- overall im impressed with ELF- there are somethings i only use certain products like brushes i dont skimp on those , mascara, and moisterizer. i like the eye shadows i got. i think any product is hit and miss for everyone simply because no 2 people have the same skin. but i do agree about the brushes- the are brushes arent that bad but the rest went in my daughter dressup case.
#13 msmith on 2009-01-10 15:12 (Reply)
The smaller the molecular structure (see: nano particle) the higher the tendency the product has to clog the pores or enter the body through the skin. The larger the molecular or particle structure, the lesser the tendency it has to clog the pores (relating to your concern with the large white specs found in elf powders) with all that being said though, for quality of makeup application sake, you shouldn't visibly see the particles. There is also a good chance that those large particles have a purpose of preventing the powders from clumping together and caking in the jar. It's probably safe to say that that same particle is too heavy to actually adhere to the skin at all. That's my guess.
#14 Elorabird on 2009-03-15 12:43 (Reply)
Wow. I'm glad I googled the Starter Kit and read your blogpost before I ordered.

I've never in my life come across such a well written makeup rewiev!

I will NOT buy the kit, but save my coffee money (as you suggested) and stick to Bare Escentuals!
#15 Helena S on 2009-07-24 02:26 (Reply)
Avon has a GREAT brand of mineral make up!it is by far teh best mineral makeup i have ever used!!! its is only 10 bux and works awesome...i tried the covergirl mineral makeup and it is theeee worst mineral make up! and plus its more than the avon one!
#16 becky on 2009-08-12 12:42 (Reply)
This review could use updating. E.L.F. evidently has changed the formula since this review was written. The active ingredients are Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide and the inactive ingredients are Mica, Bismuth Oxychloride, Titanium Dioxide, Tocopheryl Acetate, and Boron Nitride. No white flecks and not anywhere near as shiny as Bare Minerals makeup can be.
#17 mk on 2010-02-26 00:35 (Reply)
I have been using Bare Minerals for 2 years. It is not all its crack up to be I kind of think its over rated. I hate the fact that you have to use 4 different powders in the kit to get the look you want. My sister told me about ELF 3 months ago I ordered there starter kit and low and behold it came with 3 pieces (I don't use the blush or brushes they gave me I used the Bare Escentuals brush). The concenlar is great and the foundation is even better. My color match perfectly which was my biggest concern. I'm medium brown with a red under tone. When you order the mineral makeup the ELF line made it very easy because when you put your arrow on a color it states the color and the undertone so you know exactly what you are buying. I use to always have to mix my colors because I havee a red undertone now I just put on the Concealer and Foundation and I'm done in 5 minutes. I can't be any happiers. If you are an African American women that has extra sensitive skin and its very hard to blend your color this is best Mineral makeupn for you, I will highly recommend it to anyone.
Also i'm very happy with this product. It is hard to fine something that works well for me and I don't have to stop and reapply through out the day. And it don't rub off on my clothes, and my skin don't look oily. Try it you might like it I know I did.
#17.1 ms.mom344 (Homepage) on 2010-06-13 15:21 (Reply)
I have used a few brands. My first was bare escentuals. It's fantastic. I was shopping at a discount store which had the elf starter kits, scooped up two thnking what a find. Awful. Itchy, and face breakout. I have since started using pur minerals prssed all in one. It is the bomb, and worth the $25. They have a starter kit. Don't waste your money on elf.
#18 Luci on 2010-06-09 12:49 (Reply)
I have tried the e.l.f. products, and so far, I love them! I am using the mineral foundation and it gives me great coverage, with a smooth look. I was using revlon's mineral foundation before and I was beginning to be disappointed with the coverage. It didn't cover enough, or evenly. I love e.l.f's shades of eyeshadow, they are so pretty! The only thing I have to agree with is that the make-up does fade throughout the day. The mineral foundation stays put, but the eyeshadows and blush fades. But that is okay, I just do a little re-touch and I am good to go! Can't beat that for a few bucks!
#19 Melissa on 2010-07-18 23:57 (Reply)
I have been using Mineral silk make up for a few years. They use the highest quality of ingredients with no fragrances, fillers, dyes, waxes or other binding agents.

I have sensitive skin as well as Rosacea so I avoid make with Bismuth nano particles or micronized minerals!

My first mineral make up was Bare Escentuals but it irritated my skin. Then I discovered Mineral Silk. Besides having a fairly good selection they give excellent customer service and support.

I highly recommend them.
#19.1 Shelayne on 2011-01-05 11:55 (Reply)
Elf has improved on their mineral makeup since their debut years ago. Although all my makeup and brushes is ELF, the minerals were not my favorite.
This changed two days ago after picking up some foundation at target:It has a new look and feel. no more flakes, no more clumps, wonderful coverage. As for the Kabuki brush, my prefence is the white bristled brush from Elf studio line instead of the mineral line, and it works like a dream.

Although bare minerals does come in a larger container, there are sales on the site with 50 and sometimes 75 percent off, so my foundations, shadows,lipsticks etc. are 1/2 the price of Bare Minerals, with the same amount of product. The only con is they need a larger container to work with. I have tried several different mineral lines, and ELF is now my favorite.
#20 Rachael on 2011-04-08 21:16 (Reply)
I first would like to say that I have used e.l.f. products for years and I have always gotten compliments on it. It is actually very nice makeup at incredible prices. Granted sometimes the brushes depend upon what you order, but the $4 brush versus the $1 dollar brush is obviously going to be a better choice.
I just would like to point out that it is all mineral makeup, just as much as the bare minerals or bare escentials. The Caprylyl Glycol is a plant derivative used to prevent skin reactions and keep skin clean, additionally the Tocopheryl Acetate is not a form of Vitamin E, it is the Vitamine E compound. This actually works with the sun protectants and keeps your skin moisturized without the oily effects. And well, the silk protein is the silk that keeps the silky feel and appearance. From many people that I know that have used mineral makeup did not say that there was much of a difference besides the pricing and amount that e.l.f. provides. End results either way that you look at it, it is a money saver for the same item. But, you did do a wonderful job pitching for your team. If I didn't know better I would have believed what you said. Unfortunately, I can spot an add ten miles away. Good luck to all of the e.l.f. customers you are going to love it!!
#21 Lorranna (Homepage) on 2011-04-19 19:17 (Reply)
This review is proof you should try things out for yourself, especially when the makeup costs between one and five dollars.

I use e.l.f. foundation and have never had the problems the reviewer is talking about. The powder is very fine, makes my face glow, and has actually helped keep my acne down.

In addition, I use e.l.f. eyeliner and blush. I'm happy with both.
#22 Molly on 2011-04-26 00:55 (Reply)
Perhaps e.l.f. read this review and improved their mineral products, because I recently started using them, and have not noticed any white flecks.

Actually, today, I wanted to compare Bare Escentuals and e.l.f. Mineral makeup. I did half my face in BM foundations "medium" and "medium beige" (a combo of both) and BM Mineral Veil. I did the other half in e.l.f. mineral foundation in "warm," mineral concealer in "warm," and mineral booster in "sheer."

I don't have any BE blush, so I cannot compare that.

Both brands looked equally as good and fresh! I practically could not tell the difference. The BM Mineral Veil has a bit more of a glow, but e.l.f. also has a booster in "shimmer," which I have not tried.

I've found both products to last most of the day for me.

I'm very happy with the e.l.f. Mineral Products and will most likely continue to purchase them. Yeah, with e.l.f. you get 0.12 oz for $5 and BM gives you 0.30 oz for $25... but I can get 0.36 oz for e.l.f. for $15; it's just in 3 containers. And I really don't mind getting foundation, concealer, and blush in all the same size containers. The concealer (which surprised me as to how well it covered imperfections) will just last me a long while, which is great.

Yes, BE is more of a pure mineral makeup... but I am happy with the e.l.f. products. I can understand if you're loyal to BE and have been using it for a long time, but I think the e.l.f. is worth a try. As mentioned earlier, their stuff can be hit or miss: thing products are great, some not so much.

I do agree with the crappy brushes. The brushes included in the e.l.f. starter kit are not very good. They do offer much nicer brushes. Why they don't offer the nicer ones with the kit, I have no idea. :-P
#23 jen on 2011-06-05 16:16 (Reply)
Got my first order from ELF couple a weeks ago. Happy with eyeshadows, loose powder and eye liner pencils. Especially eyeshadow - very bright colors, last all day, was ready to worse but was impressed. Before used Pupa for yrs,no difference. Thinking to buy some of their mineral make up so end up reading this review.
Gotta tell u thats the worst review ever, smells like guys in BE r scared of competition with ELF.
1.All that "12 yo girl glittery effect" so pathetic - if u cant use make up materials, u gonna screw with any super luxury product and look like clown.
2.Brushes have no connection with the product, talking ab MAKEUP. Think of a brushes for 1usd as a courtsey from manufacturer.
3.3 extra ingredients which r vitamin E, antibacterial and moist i never thought anybody can actually complain ab these being in one's makeup.
All review was written with implyed negative, mentioning BE every now and then... "Probably this, probably that"..if u dont know exact proportion of ingredients-write to ELF and ask, geeeez. After this review definitely gonna buy from ELF, not BE :DDD
#24 banshee on 2011-09-06 14:12 (Reply)
BE started me off on my switch to mineral makeup, and for that I'm grateful. However, while I like the finish of their products, I never did get over the itching it caused, especially if I was hot - for instance, at a concert where I felt like scratching my face off! I switched to a couple of brands with no bismuth (Everyday Minerals and Barefaced Beauty, in my case) and had no problems from then on.

This week, I received my first ELF products after they had a big sale, and my order included foundation, blush and eyeshadow from the mineral line. Despite the fact that ELF's mineral products do contain bismuth oxychloride, I don't seem to have the same problem with itching. I do find the foundation itself doesn't have as much cover as bareMinerals, Everyday Minerals or Barefaced Beauty's offerings, but I certainly didn't see any of the other problems you've listed. The texture is very finely milled and smooth on application.

I haven't tried the concealer as I still have plenty of my EDM one, but the blushes I've used are so good I've just ordered another one. They're extremely pigmented, blendable and in pretty colours - at least the two I have, which are Rose and Coral. I feel the same way about the mineral eyeshadows, which I'm really enjoying along with the (ever growing!) collections I have from EDM and BFB.

In general, I've been very happy with what I've bought so far, and even without the irritation I found the bareMinerals products caused me, I can't imagine why I'd pay those prices when I can get similar or better products from other companies.
#25 G Joseph on 2011-09-07 12:37 (Reply)
I have used Elf makeup in the past and even now and I find that for the money it works great. I love the concelar and the eyeshadows and I find they work just as well as some others. Of course if you dont know how much to put on it can make it look like a bit of a mess, but I have use it and I actually like them. I like the concelar better than the Mac one. For cheaper Elf products go to, you can find the entire Elf makeup brands for really cheap.
#26 ivette (Homepage) on 2012-03-04 15:20 (Reply)
I personally love E.L.F and for the price I can not go wrong. There is pretty much the exact same ingredients in the bm and elf mineral foundation, there are alot of reviews on youtube about this. I do think the brushes in the kit are not good, but at the same time the BM brushes really suck especially considering how much money one is having to pay on something that is suppose to be great, with that being said, I done one side of my face in BM mineral foundation and the other in Elf, I went out that night to dance so I could see how each one done on my face. I asked my friends if they could tell a difference out of the twelve friends I asked none could tell a difference at all, after I got home from dinner and back in from dancing, I looked in the mirror, and my mineral foundation still looked great on both sides of my face. Yes I did get what I paid for A deal.
#27 Candy on 2012-03-07 13:13 (Reply)
i love E.L.F it is my favorite make-up company ever :-)
#28 Jessica Tomlinson on 2012-05-11 13:33 (Reply)
I agree with your review. Though I found no large particles, the ELF does not seem to cover or give the super look of Bare Minerals. I used Bare Minerals for years but thought I could save money with ELF, as you say you get what you pay for. I am definitely going back to Bare Minerals.
#29 Lee Anne on 2012-05-18 08:45 (Reply)
I love ELF and I think it's the best for the price. I think that have great products and I have experienced any of the problems listed above. I also do not agree with the "glittery 12 year old" comment. I am twelve years old and I can put make up on very well thank you. In fact I can put make up on better than most of my adult relatives. Not all of us think that glitter is the way to go, so stop creating stereotypes.
#30 Sarah on 2012-06-18 23:21 (Reply)
I don't think that was a stereotype as much as just a comment and possible compliment. I have a friend who works in the hair industry, she studies trends to design new styles and products. How she studies trends is to go to malls and watch teens to see what THEY are wearing, then she goes back and designs ideas based on the teens for us older ladies. Teens are the trend setters.
#30.1 Lee Anne on 2012-06-20 15:39 (Reply)
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