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ELF is one of the most popular drugstore makeup brands. So much so to where they earned $318 million last year alone. There are many reasons why buyers gravitate toward ELF. Their products are not only affordable but are also high-quality. I’m personally a big ELF fan. I use their Jelly Pop Primer and it’s one of my favorite primers ever. I’ve also used a variety of their products, which I will mention later in the article.
If you love animals, like me, then buying cruelty-free makeup is probably a big concern for you. Is ELF cruelty-free? I will answer all of your questions in this article.
Bottom line up front
ELF is one of those brands that seem too good to be true. They’re not only affordable but are also a clean brand. And they’re vegan and cruelty-free! They offer great makeup and skincare products, but the Jelly Pop Primer is my favorite. It not only locks in my foundation but also gives my skin the healthy dose of moisture that it needs.
What Is ELF Cosmetics?
ELF (eyes, lips, face) Cosmetics is a company that believes in creating high-quality products at affordable prices. Later, I will explain why ELF makes great products at such a low price point. Plus, they don’t use any harmful ingredients in their products (something else I will cover later).
They’re based in the USA and their products are made in China. They’re PETA-certified and make a variety of beauty products that include makeup, skincare, lashes, and brushes.
Does ELF Make Good Products?
I think so! I’ve been using ELF for years. Back when I was a teenager and couldn’t afford Sephora products, I actually used ELF pretty frequently. That was 15-ish years ago. Since then, ELF has grown even more and expanded its line so much!
While I don’t think their color selection is the best, they are an affordable alternative to many of the expensive brands out there. I do think their eyeshadow colors are more extensive than their lip products. But if you’re looking for a simple and minimalist makeup brand that doesn’t cost a fortune, ELF is probably the top makeup brand I recommend.
Other than their color selection, they sell nearly every type of makeup product available — even brushes (I really like their brushes). Some of their products have also become bestsellers and really changed the beauty game.
Is ELF Cruelty-Free?
Now let’s get to it — is ELF cruelty-free? The answer is YES! According to PETA, ELF is 100% cruelty-free. ELF has been a part of PETA’s Beauty Without Bunnies Cruelty-Free Program ever since 2005.
Not only that ELF has been cruelty-free ever since the company’s inception in 2004. Since their formation, they vowed to make quality beauty products that never harm animals. They don’t conduct animal testing, don’t own any animal testing facilities, don’t test the final product nor the ingredients, and have never commissioned a third party to test on animals for them.
Here’s a breakdown of ELF’s cruelty-free facts:
- No final products are tested on animals
- No ingredients are tested on animals
- Don’t conduct third-party animal testing
- Suppliers don’t test on animals
- Not sold anywhere where animal testing is required by law
- Not owned by a parent company that tests on animals
- Certified by PETA as cruelty-free
Is ELF Vegan?
Yes! ELF is 100% vegan. In addition to keeping a cruelty-free stance, ELF has also vowed to never use any animal products in their products ever since the company’s inception. They only use synthetic animal-derived ingredients, such as synthetic beeswax.
Is ELF Ethical?
Ethical practices are a big issue in the cosmetics industry. For example, one big discussion that has been happening in the cosmetics industry is the mining of mica. Mica is a mineral that makes makeup look shimmery. Unfortunately, mica mining typically involves child labor, which is a human rights violation.
ELF claims they only support vendors that comply with applicable labor laws. They have a supply chain transparency statement on their website, which you can read here.
In short, ELF requires their vendors to sign a statement requiring they don’t execute forced labor. However, they mention they don’t audit these vendors. They also mention they don’t supply training on human trafficking identification and prevention. They also don’t address who their vendors are and where they source their mica.
Are ELF Products Safe?
This year, ELF went 100% clean with both its makeup and skincare products. This means their products comply with safety standards set by various governing bodies, most notably the FDA and European Union Cosmetics Regulation (EUCR). With that being said, many ELF products were clean already. However, they still reformulated hundreds of products so no products contain toxic ingredients.
Why Is ELF So Affordable?
There are so many benefits to buying and using ELF products. One of the many benefits is the low price range. But what’s the catch? Why is ELF so affordable?
There are a few reasons why — the main one being low production costs. ELF maintains close relations with manufacturers and suppliers so production costs stay low for them. In addition, they don’t invest in traditional advertising methods, helping them keep expenses down. A lot of other major affordable beauty brands, such as NYX, also use this strategy to keep their prices low.
Where Can You Buy ELF Products?
You can buy ELF products at these retailers:
ELF Products That I Recommend
As I stated previously, I love ELF and am using/have used a variety of their products. Here are some of my favorites.
Jelly Pop Primer
This is probably my favorite primer right now. Even though it is a dewy formula and contains moisturizing ingredients, it has more of a sticky consistency. Yeah, that sounds weird, but it grips your foundation better. Because of this, I still recommend this primer to those with oily/combination skin.
The tacky consistency also makes your foundation easier to apply and blend. All of this helps your foundation last longer. Plus, the watermelon smell is amazing! I have sensitive skin and this primer hasn’t irritated my skin.
Lash It Loud Mascara
ELF has many types of mascara but I like this one because it lengthens and volumizes. I have short eyelashes so I need all of the help I can get. For an affordable mascara, this one also doesn’t clump.
I also like the bristly wand, I think it makes the mascara easier to apply. The downside to this one is the mascara runs, especially if you wear it on your bottom lashes. But if you just want an affordable mascara, this is probably your best bet.
Cookies n’ Dreams Brush Set
I’ve used a variety of ELF brushes and I like their eyeshadow brushes the best. This set contains three brushes and that’s really all you need for the perfect eyeshadow look. They pick up the eyeshadow pigment flawlessly. The black and white marble design is stunning. And at $9 for the set, you can’t go wrong with these brushes.
Glazed for Days Lip Gloss Set
Deep down, I’m including this because you get 30% off at Dunkin Donuts, and who can hate on that? But seriously. I love how ELF lip glosses aren’t sticky.
They feel comfortable on your lips. The set comes in two colors. The red does look more like pink, but the color is subtle. The orange is more like a neutral beige orange, so don’t be intimidated by this gloss. This is a limited edition product that smells like donuts!
I’m very picky about recommending face products from drugstore brands because most break out my skin. But I do like ELF’s concealer. The Flawless Concealer doesn’t have as much coverage as other concealers, but it is very natural-looking. This concealer is very buildable, but I do recommend using a brush over a sponge and using a stippling motion to increase coverage.
I have to admit, I’m not the biggest fan of blush, but the colors here are absolutely gorgeous. I prefer a neutral-colored blush, so I would use Always Rosy. This color looks pink in the pan, but it’s a neutral color with slight pink undertones.
No matter which color you choose, all of ELF’s blushes are very pigmented and ELF offers a color that will go with nearly every skin color. These colors all have a matte finish, so no need to worry about shine or glitter.
At only $7, the blush comes in a large pan and will likely last you a long time. I suggest only applying a little color at a time and blending it out so you don’t overdo it. Also, be careful of the fallout you may experience.
The New Classics Eyeshadow Palette
It was difficult choosing the best ELF eyeshadow palette but I think this is the best one. For $14, you get 18 pans of shadow, which is impressive. There are so many great shades and I especially like how this palette offers both matte and shimmer shadows. The colors pick up easily with a brush and are all very pigmented.
These colors are mainly neutral with some darker colors thrown in, so I recommend this palette if these are the colors you’re looking for. I do have to say, there is a bit of fallout with ELF shadow, but this isn’t a huge complaint from me.
Happy Hydration Cream
ELF has such a great skincare line so I wanted to recommend one of their skincare products. This one jumps out at me the most. This moisturizer is formulated with Cannabis Sativa which offers antioxidants and nourishes the skin. It’s very hydrating, so I recommend this to those with dry skin. This cream isn’t made with essential oils or fragrances.
Camo CC Cream
While I’m hesitant about using foundation from drugstore brands, this is a bestseller so I feel obligated to include it. For a CC cream, this has amazing coverage.
When paired with the right primer, the CC cream lasts all day. It feels lightweight and a little goes a long way. ELF says this has skincare benefits, but I’m not reading anything about this product reducing the look of discoloration issues.
While ELF doesn’t offer a color matching tool, you can filter shades based on your skin tone and undertone. I think this is an easy way to find your shade online.
Acne-Fighting Spot Gel
I have acne-prone skin and am always trying to find a product that reduces my breakouts. While I don’t think this product is as effective as other acne spot gels out there, it’s a good solution if you don’t have a lot of money to spend. It is one of ELF’s bestselling products. It contains acne-fighting ingredients such as tea tree oil, salicylic acid, and witch hazel. Plus, aloe calms down irritated skin.
Cruelty-Free Alternatives to ELF Cosmetics
While ELF makes high-quality products, they are a budget brand for a reason. I love their primers, brushes, and lip products, but also think they lack in some ways. For example, you can find better foundations and concealers from mid and high-tier competitors. I also don’t recommend ELF if you have sensitive skin.
Because of that, I want to recommend some other brands that may be better suited to those who are looking for quality. And yes, all of these brands are also cruelty-free!
The Body Shop
If you want a brand that sells both beauty and skincare products, I definitely recommend The Body Shop. Many of their makeup products are formulated with skin-loving ingredients, such as aloe vera and vitamin E. In addition to makeup, they also have skincare and haircare lines. They also have a whole range of vegan products.
100 Percent Pure
100 Percent Pure is an award-winning brand that sells makeup and skincare products that are not only made with healthy ingredients but also don’t contain dangerous ingredients. They have a massive range of bestsellers, from their mascaras to their eye creams. The brand was only formed in 2004 but has since developed a cult following.
Keep in mind that I’m talking about ULTA’s house brand, not the entire store itself. Ulta Beauty brand sells nearly everything beauty, from various makeup products to nail products and makeup brushes.
Various products, such as their eyeshadow palettes, have received five-star ratings. Some of their bestsellers include the eyeliner, lip oil, brow pencil, and single shadows.
Morphe is a brand I’ve been wanting to try. A lot of their products remind me of Urban Decay. They make highly pigmented makeup products that rival professional brands but are available at affordable prices. They sell a lot of classics, such as bronzer and eyeshadow, but they also sell some more unique products such as lip crayons. A friend of mine also said he swears by their eyeliner.
Rihanna has really grown her Fenty brand to new heights. They expanded to skincare and even fragrance! Fenty is a brand I’ve always been so-so about. I tried their lipstick and didn’t care for it but I love their eyeshadow primer. I also love how inclusive this company is. Of course, they’re also cruelty-free!
I included Tarte last because I always hype them up in these posts. But I can’t lie, Tarte is one of my favorite makeup companies ever. About half of the products I use on a regular basis are from Tarte. Their face products are probably my favorite — I’ve used their foundation, concealer, and powder, and love all of them.
Question: Why is it Important to Buy Cruelty-Free Makeup?
Answer: Have you looked into animal testing? It’s really sad what the animals have to go through. Plus, a bunny isn’t a human. There are more effective ways to test the safety of a cosmetic product.
Question: How Can I Find out if a Product is Cruelty-Free?
Answer: Looking for a PETA or equivalent cruelty-free certification is your best bet. If you can’t find one, see if the brand makes a statement that they’re cruelty-free. If not, reach out to the company and ask.
Question: Is ELF sold in China?
Answer: Chinese buyers can buy ELF products online but not in stores. I’m not seeing any updates about this changing due to new Chinese regulations that no longer require animal testing for imported products sold in the country.