Friday, December 23, 2011

First Review: ELF Studio 11 Piece Brush Collection


PROS: Soft, Durable, Easy to Hold, Well-Designed, Anti-Bacterial, Vegan-Friendly

CONS:  Set does not include several of ELF's best brushes

I recently found myself in dire need of a new set of makeup brushes.  It was about time for my poor old set to retire--my Mary Kay brushes that I got at the age of 13, when I first started wearing makeup, had started to fray, shed, and become essentially unusable.  Being on the budget of a college student, I was worried about finding a set of quality brushes at an affordable price.  I scoured the internet looking for answers, and I kept coming across the ELF Studio brushes among the recommendations.  I decided to take a look, and to my absolute delight, I found that a complete set of 11 brushes only cost $30!  I decided that I had to jump on the deal, and purchased the set.

Overall, these brushes are a fantastic quality for the price.  The first thing I noticed is that they come in their own little convenient carrying case.  I prefer to keep them in the case they came with for the sake of convenience, but they could all easily fit into my everyday makeup case, too.  They are extremely soft, and the handles are made of durable wood.  So far, I have had absolutely no problems with shedding or fraying, which are the things that were driving me insane with my old Mary Kay brushes.  They pick up and hold makeup well, and smoothly transfer it to the face.  I have found them to be extremely easy to handle, as they are not too long, and fit very well in my hand.

I have been using the brushes for a few months now, and the only negative I ever noticed about the set as a whole was that the brushes had a little bit of a funky smell when they first arrived.  This went away within the first few weeks, and wasn't really that much of a problem anyway.

Now, let's take a look at the individual brushes included in the set.

Eyeshadow "C" Brush
This is the brush that I find myself reaching for the most often in the collection.  The brush is designed wonderfully, and is perfect for applying eyeshadow all over the lid and brow bone.  I have had very little problems with fallout--this brush transfers the pigments nicely and is easy to use.  Definitely my favorite of the set.

Contour Brush
This is another brush that is an incredible steal.  The bristles extend down into the barrel attached to the ferrule, allowing for extremely easy movement.  I prefer to use this brush to apply eyeshadow to my crease and corners of my eyes.

Small Smudge Brush
I don't use this brush as much as some of the other brushes in the set, but it still is a quality brush and does what it's intended to do.  This brush is great for smudging eyeliner for a smoky look, or blending eyeliner and eyeshadow together.

Small Precision Brush
I use this brush significantly more than the Small Smudge Brush.  I think that the shape is more versatile and easier to work with, and therefore can do the job of the smudge brush as well as work wonderfully in other areas.  I like to use this brush for applying liner right under my lower lash line for a highly defined look.  This brush can also be used for precisely applying lip color.

Small Angled Brush
This one is pretty easy.  Bristles are packed tight and don't fray, which makes it perfect for eyeliner application.  A definite no-brainer.

Powder Brush
I use this brush every day without fail.  The flat end of the brush makes it perfect for applying blush or finishing powder, or even for contouring.  The bristles pick up and lock powder in place until application, and any product used with this brush goes on smoothly.  The bristles are so soft, and it actually feels good to use this brush.

Blush Brush
This brush is good for blush application, especially if you are going for a dramatic look around the temple area.  However, for application on the apples of the cheeks, there are definitely better brushes out there.  This one is a little on the small side, and tapered on one side as well.  I wish ELF had made this brush a bit larger and fluffier, although it's still a good brush.

Concealer Brush
This brush is great for spot-treatment of blemishes.  I also use it to conceal under-eye circles.  The size of this brush makes it extremely versatile and easy to use.

Complexion Brush
A big, fluffy brush that is perfect for all-over powder application.  This brush is super-soft and is great for all types of loose and pressed powders.  It can also be used for blush application, if you want a less precise look than the included brush gives.  I personally like to use it for bronzer.

Angled Foundation Brush
This brush is wonderful!  It's flat on the sides like a foundation brush should be, and the angle at the top lets you get closer to the angles and curves of your face for fuller coverage.  This can be used for liquid, cream, or even powder foundation, and gives a flawless finish.

Fan Brush
Honestly, I had no idea how to use a fan brush in relation to makeup until I got this set of brushes.  The fan brush can be used to dust away fallout from eyeshadow, to blend, or to create soft touches of color on the face.  I don't use this very often because I don't get much fallout with the combination of my makeup and these brushes, but when I do use it, it gets the job done.

Overall, these brushes are a no-brainer for someone looking for brushes on a budget.  Of course they wont be quite as nice as higher end brushes such as those found at Sephora or the coveted MAC brushes, but they will certainly do their job and do it well.  My only complaint is that the set does not include two of ELF's better brushes, the Stipple Brush and the Kabuki Brush.  However, when all of the brushes are only $3 apiece, the other brushes can be bought separately without added guilt.

THE BOTTOM LINE:  If you are looking for a set of brushes for a beginner/intermediate user, this is the perfect set at a fantastic price.

All of the brushes mentioned in this post can be found at, and all of the images used in this post come from their site as well.  Please feel free to share your experience with the ELF Studio brushes in the comments, and be sure to ask any questions you may have! 


  1. I was worried about quality because of the thrifty price, but I am definitely picking up a set now! Thanks for this!

  2. @Fine, thanks. No problem! Enjoy the brushes, they're great!