March 31, 2010

Beauty on a Budget: E.L.F. Studio Brush Collection Review

The Muse happens to be a firm believer that splurging on certain makeup items is a good thing that includes makeup brushes.

Brushes are such an important start to makeup application so dropping a little cash on some good ones is always in order as far as I’m concerned.

Not everyone has a lot of cash hanging around to splurge on a $30-$45 dollar blush brush though which is completely understandable particularly in this economy.


The E.L.F. Studio Brush Collection will set you back $3 for a brush and they are pretty nice!


This is my first test out with E.L.F. Brushes, even after many recs from everyone I never really bothered to try ‘em out as I’m quite happy with my costly MAC Brushes. But hey, I’m always up for the next best thing in the beauty world so I gave them a test out this week and so far what I see, I like.

The brushes will set you back a mere $3 each or you can get a complete 10 piece set for $30. Obviously part of the appeal is the price tag however the question remains whether or not the quality is as cheap as that price tag.

The good….

The brushes are nice pieces. They have a strong handle and are well made and crafted. The bristles are soft yet dense where need be and have absolutely no shedding. They take to a good washing well and bounce right back to their original shape. They apply product just as well as any of my more expensive brushes. So far, so good.

The bad…

Out of the package they stink. This isn’t too big a deal as I normally wash any new brushes prior to using them but they do have a very funky odor prior to a good washing. The complexion brushes I tried aren’t as soft as my MAC brushes. Now, this isn’t to say they are scratchy but they don’t feel as comfortable on my face as some of my other brushes.

I tried a few different brushes from the line which were the following.

  • E.L.F. Studio Complexion Brush

This is good for finishing your face by brushing on loose or pressed powder. The brush features longer bristles that are a tad more flaccid and less dense which allows you to comfortably sweep powder across your face in an even strokes.

  • E.L.F. Studio Powder Brush

I liked this brush the least. Could be because it arrived squashed but the brush didn’t hold its shape well for some reason. It good for contouring and creating a sculpted look but neither technique is something I personally embrace. However, you can easily use it to buff on color when all else fails.

  • E.L.F. Studio Concealer Brush

A great brush! Honestly, I hate spending a lot of money on concealer brushes because I don’t utilize them nearly as much as my fingers. But for $3? Hells yes. This is a nice dense brush for working above and below the eye so if you have a MAC Paint Pot that you use as a base or a concealer for your lid, this will work well at applying it smoothly and evenly.

  • E.L.F. Blush Brush

A very handy brush indeed this one is. I like this one a lot. It’s smaller than many of my other blush brushes but that’s one reason to love it. It sits easily in my hand and applies blush with a tiny stroke or a dapping motion. Color comes out smooth sans clown cheeks since the brush is so tiny you can’t over do your look!

  • E.L.F. Eyeshadow “C” Brush

A dome shaped brush that eases the way for a perfect smoky eye look. Quite dense and packs color on the lid or can be used to create a smoky eye by using the tip on the outward corner of the eye by pressing color in a C shape from lash line up and flipping the C on the right eye so it creates an outward curve.

Overall, the E.L.F. Studio Collection contains some nice selections for those on a beauty budget. At $3 per brush, you probably won’t fine nicer or cheaper brushes at this cost. I felt like the eye brushes were better than some of the complexion brushes I tried but for the most part all of them brought something good to the table. These won’t replace my MAC brushes by any means but they have found their own special spot in my makeup brush collection and as I said for the price, can’t really beat it.

If you’re looking to extend your own makeup brush collection, seeking inexpensive brushes, or looking to experiment with makeup brushes as your own collection is a bit small, the E.L.F. Studio Brush Collection may appeal.

Available now from

Do you use E.L.F. brushes?

Share your mini review!

Disclosure: The following item was provided to Musings of a Muse by a PR firm for review purposes. For further information please see my FTC Guidelines or my Disclosure/Disclaimer posts.

About the Muse

Isabella MuseIsabella is just an average everyday geeky girl who doesn’t blend her eyeshadow correctly, wears too much blush, and hopes she never finds her holy grail products because she likes the thrill of the chase so much. Her mission is to bring you super honest reviews on makeup, skincare, fragrance and all things beauty. She’s in no way an expert on the topic and she sure as hell isn’t a super model. But she’s passionate about makeup and is seeking like-minded individuals that like pina coladas, getting caught in the rain, and ones that enjoy spending hundreds of dollars at Sephora without feeling buyer’s remorse. If you’re that person feel free to reach out and leave a comment or follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Bloglovin‘.

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  • electronicfly

    heeee I have ALL the ELF Studio brushes (except for the body kabuki) =D

    I can’t afford MAC or BB or those high end stuff (not even Crown brushes T.T) so ELF is the next best thing. Still cheap even after having it shipped all the way to Malaysia =D

    I love the brushes, but the one thing I hate is that the brushes with longer bristles don’t bounce back to shape when I am using it, so I have to keep on reshaping them as I’m using the brush. =/ Not fun when you’re in a rush.

    Btw, the $30 set now comes with all 11 brushes + brush case. The older set didn’t have the blush brush hence only 10 brushes back then.

    Muse, have you seen their Makeup Artist Tool Belt? I just received the 2 that I ordered and <3 <3 It's so worth the $15. I don't have the MAC one but Youtubers all say they are practically the same. =D

    • the Muse

      heyyyyyyyyyy eletronicfly how are you dear? 😀 w00t awesome, good to hear it. So far so good with the shape bouncing back however the contour brush didn’t fair well in this! Awesome didn’t know about the brush case and 11 brushes, sweetness! 😀

      No?! I haven’t! Must check that out, cheers!

      • electronicfly

        I’m fine =) Do get some rest from your busy busy schedule soon!

        The flat top and their kabuki are the two worst ones, especially the kabuki. If I don’t reshape that at all it’ll go “bald” in the middle when all the bristles get mushed out to the side.

        • the Muse

          aw thanks hun I could use it 😀 need a vacay me thinks! I thought it was me, just wouldn’t stick to the shape 🙁 haven’t tried their kabuki one!

          • electronicfly

            Muse! If you wanna get more ELF stuff,

            50% off STUDIO, expires 04/10/10 – EGSTUDZ
            75% off Sugar Kiss, expires 05/01/20 – EGSK75


    • Naddy

      Hey electronicfly, i was wondering how did you ship the ELF studio brushes to malaysia?

      thx ^^

  • Holly

    I LOVE my Elf Foundation brush! It’s very soft and does not shed. Also, if you are ordering brushes, also get the conditioning lip balm. It has major staying power, without being sticky.

  • Tsahi baxter

    all i have so far is the e.l.f. blending brush, it’s not in the studio collection, but all the same… i LOVE it! i paid $15.00 for it and that is CHEAP where i come from lol 🙂

  • savannah

    works better than some of my more expensive brushes. no joke. especially blush and shadow brushes.

  • Angelyn

    I heard Etude House makes pretty good brushes for a good price too!

  • Su

    I have powder brush…
    I like it a lot to apply powder foundation and bronzer
    I also do not like the smell.. at first..omg..I am goin to but after a few good wash there is no smell now and at first when I wash it bled a little bit
    one thing I am iffy about is that the brush I received is not cut properly.. some bristle are so much longer ( lucky they are at the edge ) thought of returning but was lazy to deal with postage trouble
    It is more expensive in UK as each brush cost £3.50. I wanted to try other brushes also but sigh I have a lot of brushes now ( my darling hakuhodo brushes ) but it is quite nice to have cheaper brushes

    • the Muse

      same here su, smelled bad yuk but one washing took care of it 😀 interesting, didn’t have a problem with the cut thankfully. 3.50 is still cheap, not as cheap as here but not bad 😀

  • kristen

    shame the studio brush didnt work for you, i love mine and its stayed in perfect shape. Also none of mine smelt of anything when i took them out of their packets…hmmm dodgy batch you may have got?

    • the Muse

      hey kristen! Glad this one is working for you 😀 Yup was an odd smell, after a good washing it went away 😀

  • Hana

    I have that flat top one and actually really like it. 😀 I use it for putting on powder foundation when I’m in a hurry. I also have the $1 eyeshadow brush and it’s really nice! I’ve washed them both a bunch of times and haven’t had ANY problem with shedding.

    I got the e.l.f. studio blush in Candid Coral when I was at Target the other day and it’s quite nice. 😀 I want a pinker one next time though.

    • the Muse

      me either hana no shedding at all 😀 I got some studio blushes too recently and must say, pretty impressed!!!!!!!!

  • gio

    I have the complexion and powder brushes and I love them. The powder brush is one of my fave brushes ever actually. I use it to apply liquid foundation with the stippling method and it provides great coverage and a flawless finish. I also use it for mineral or powder foundation and it works just as well. Mine also shapes well after washing too. I’m sorry it didn’t work too well for you.

    • the Muse

      hey gio! sadly not 🙁 but that’s ok I LOVE the blush brush!

  • plue

    i think i have the brushes you own too? but i reach for my mac far more often! though i bring ELF’s when i go travelling, at least if it goes missing, i won’t cringe. MAC brushes are expensive! So i really don’t want to lose them.

    I quite like the powder brush, but if comparing it with Etude House dual fiber or MAC 187, it comes in 3rd place. LOL. But it’s super cheap so i don’t complain. But me likey the blush and omplexion brush! soft and nice! their eye brushes are lovely too, tho a little too big for me? My crease are sorta small 🙁 Dumb asian eyes.

  • Nicolle

    I have the Elf Studio kabuki body brush, which I use to buff my face after applying my powder with a puff, and I love it. It did smell off when I got it but after a good wash the odor went away. I haven’t had any shedding or shaping problems but I also store it upright on my bathroom counter so it doesn’t get smooshed (and I reshaped it to dry after washing).

  • Nicolle

    Oh yeah, I also own a bunch of the other Elf brushes. The only ones I’ve been disappointed with are the smudge eye brush and the studio powder brush. The smudge brush is a long handled sponge tip and mine kept falling out and it had too much grip to blend well. The studio powder brush can leave harsh lines because the bristles aren’t blended and it isn’t as soft as my kabuki brush either.

    • the Muse

      hey nicolle another happy fan of elf 😀 I’ll stay away from the smudge brush thanks for the tip off!

  • del

    Hey Musey- wondering how these compare to ecotools brushes? Saw yer posts on those so now I’m wondering how/if they compare…brushes oh brushes, how do we love thee…

    • the Muse

      hey del 😀

      these are softer compared to the eco ones which are denser. If you like a dense brush go with the eco, if you want a little more fluff go with the elf 😀

      • del

        forgot to throw in sonia kashuk brushes…they’re all budget friendly & imma looking to score some good brushes…so how does sonia kashuk fair against eco & elf? i know she’s a lil’ more moolah, but still decent priced and what’s even better is they’re all available at Target! yipee! =D

        • the Muse

          I like sonia better del 😀 she tops elf and eco. good time to haul as she has the cute summer sets!

          • del

            k thanks Muse – I’ll be sure to hit up target sometime this week during my lunch =)

  • Jessica Allison

    I have several ELF brushes. It’s tough to complain about any brush that cost $1 (I got mine during a 60% off sale, so even the Studio line was around that price).

    I’m professional makeup artist, so I’ve had my hands on lots of different lines over the years. I use my ELF flat top powder every single day to apply my foundation- over my MAC 187 and 190, over my Sonia Kashuk flat top bronzer, over any other that I own. I have several Studio powder brushes, and all came misshapen like yours.

    I use them primarily to apply foundation with a stipple and buff technique, so the brushes actually relax out to their natural shape easily. I found that washing them and wrapping a piece of paper towel around the bristles as they dried kept the shape well. Also, I’m pretty sure the smell some people are describing is actually the smell of the plastic sleeve the brushes come in, leaving mine out for a bit dissipated any odor.)

    Other ELF brushes are worth having, though some aren’t great for the intended purpose (the angled liner, for instance, is too thick to get a nice sharp line, but works as a lip or brow brush.)

    Unfortunately, ELF won’t be winning any awards for quality. I’ve received several with loose ferrules that needed to be super glued, and even got one with a chunk of bristles glued together. To their credit, ELF sent me another one free of charge, but the shape is so different, it could have been a different brush. So maybe not terribly consistent. But, like I said, it’s tough to complain about a $1 brush, I can’t say they weren’t worth the money (and maybe a little more!)

    • the Muse

      hi jessica price wise you def can’t beat it, thanks for sharing your review!

    • the Muse

      nope it’s the concealer brush sara 😉 the eyeshadow c brush also happens to be featured in this review.

      • Sara

        I know! But the bristles for the concealer brush are longer and if you look at the photo, you can tell that there are a few bent bristles at the side that are in both the photos for the concealer brush and eyeshadow c brush!

        Now I feel rude, not my intention at all 🙁

  • DivaEC

    I just ordered a bunch of the elf studio brushes. I have some Lancome and Estee Lauder brush sets but wanted to give these a try. I bought some for me and some as a gift. I hope they are decent at least. elf products are so hit and mainly miss but every once in a while I find a great product for so CHEAP that I can not resist trying more elf items.

    • the Muse

      diva there studio brushes are surprisingly good! I think you’ll like them 😀

  • DivaEC

    I received all the elf brushes I bought. I absolutely LOVE the Studio brushes!! YAY!! What a great buy 🙂

  • Kamagrian

    I have a few of these brushes, and am a big fan of the complexion and powder brushes. I use the latter for applying mineral foundation, and the former for finishing powder. Oddly enough, the two worst brushes I have are an Estee Lauder blush brush and an AWFUL Elizabeth Arden kabuki…

  • Ela_Rose

    The MAC 109 it’s softer then ELF studio blush brush?I have ELF studio blush brush and I want to buy on line an 109 MAC BRUSH but many reviews said that 109 is not soft,etc.-I have very sensitive skin.
    Luv U!

  • kelly

    hi .may i know how you buy that ELF brushes ? its not available in Malaysia right ? im just wondering how and where you’ll buy .hopefully you can answer me