Cruelty-Free Beauty on a Budget ft. e.l.f. Cosmetics

There is a common misconception that quality cruelty-free beauty products can only be found at high-end prices. That may have been true many years ago, but there are many budget-friendly cruelty-free brands available today. When I think of high-quality cruelty-free beauty brands that are also affordable, e.l.f. Cosmetics is always the first one that comes to my mind.

e.l.f. Cosmetics assorted products

e.l.f. Cosmetics history

E.l.f. Cosmetics was founded in 2004 with the goal to produce high-quality cosmetics at affordable prices. There were many “drugstore” brands available before e.l.f. Cosmetics’ debut, but none of them could boast the very low prices that e.l.f. was offering. At that time, all e.l.f. products could be purchased for less than $5.00 each! 

While e.l.f.’s prices have increased through the years, they are still lower than all of the more well-known competitors’ prices. E.l.f.’s overall quality and variety have also improved greatly, which explains the need for price increases. 

E.l.f. is an innovative company that is always growing. The company has expanded rapidly over the past sixteen years and e.l.f. products are now available in eighteen countries!

Cruelty-free beauty products that won’t break the bank

How does e.l.f. continue to keep their prices reasonable while making such high-quality products? They were kind enough to provide a little insight on their website:

  • E.l.f. states they “take a small, indie approach to working, learning, and testing. fast.”
  • They also have relationships with some of the best manufacturers in the world, to meet demand and support their ever growing collection of products. 
  • E.l.f. listens to customer feedback to improve formulas that need some help and to bring us new products that we want!

E.l.f. also keeps prices low by using more basic/inexpensive packaging than other brands. I enjoy nice packaging, but it isn’t necessary for me. I don’t see e.l.f.’s lower-end packaging as a bad thing because it is still perfectly functional and helps me spend less money on products I enjoy.

What kind of a name is “e.l.f.” for a cosmetics company? 

I went many years seeing e.l.f. products at every drugstore and grocery store without knowing the origin of the company’s name. You might be in the same boat, so I have to mention that “e.l.f.” stands for “eyes lips face.” I think it’s brilliant and memorable! 

E.l.f.’s name alludes to the idea that they make products for all of your face’s needs. They definitely deliver on that expectation!

e.l.f. Cosmetics’ wide range of makeup and skincare

E.l.f. Is a great company to check out, particularly for young people just starting a collection of products, or anyone shopping on a budget. At, you can find everything you need to build a whole makeup collection or skincare regimen, all at affordable prices.

E.l.f. has all of its makeup products categorized on the company’s website by “eyes, lips, and face” to be consistent with their name. It is very easy to find any type of product you might be looking for. As e.l.f.’s formulas have evolved, their makeup is now most well-known for primers, concealers, and blushes. Don’t let that keep you from trying other products, however. There are all kinds of unexpected and amazing finds within e.l.f.’s makeup collection.

e.l.f. brushesDon’t forget tools! E.l.f. is also known for their high-quality brushes. They offer a wide range of face and eye brushes to blend all of your liquid, cream, and powder products. I currently have six brushes from e.l.f. and they are all very well-made (see photo to the right). In addition to brushes, e.l.f. offers other tools like sponges, tweezers, bags, brush holders, and more!

E.l.f. originally only offered makeup and tools, but in recent years they have launched many interesting skincare products. I was skeptical at first, since I always knew e.l.f. as a makeup brand, but I have heard many promising reviews for their skincare. 

E.l.f. includes a lot of ingredients that can be found in much more expensive brands’ skincare products. All of their skincare is free of parabens, sulfates, and phthalates. They even have a wide-range of fragrance-free products that are great for anyone that has sensitive skin. I have not tried any of e.l.f.’s skincare products yet, but I definitely plan to! I will be sure to provide reviews of any e.l.f. skincare products that I test.

e.l.f. Beauty Squad

E.l.f. has a loyalty program called “e.l.f. Beauty Squad” that offers some great perks and opportunities to save even more money on their already affordable products! There are several ways to earn Beauty Squad points:

  • Create an account (that’s right, you get points just for signing up!)
  • Complete your beauty profile
    • This is to your benefit because e.l.f. will be able to provide a more personalized shopping experience if they know more about you
  • Subscribe to e.l.f.’s email list
  • Subscribe to receive text messages from e.l.f.
  • Purchase e.l.f. products (2 points earned per dollar spent)
    • You’ll get bonus points for ordering from four times per year
  • Refer friends to
    • You get a lot more points if they make a purchase!
  • Add products to your wish list
  • Connect on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter
  • Write a product review

A unique thing about e.l.f. Beauty Squad is that you can earn points from in-store purchases in addition to purchases made on There is a “receipt upload” feature that allows you to take pictures of your receipts. I’ve never seen this option from any other beauty brand, so I think this is very cool!

What can you use all those points for? Points can be redeemed for rewards that are worth increments of $2.00 off. Rewards range from $2.00 off (100 points) to $10.00 off (300 points). $10.00 off doesn’t sound like much, but when you consider how inexpensive e.l.f. products are, $10.00 really is a good discount.

There are three tiers in the Beauty Squad program, called “extra,” “epic,” and “icon.” These levels are based on the number of points you’ve accumulated. There are special perks for each of these tiers:

  • Birthday gift (all tiers)
  • $5 off $20+ purchase (bonus offer for epic tier)
  • Double point events (epic and icon tiers)
  • Early access to sales (epic and icon tiers)
  • 25% off purchase (bonus offer for icon tier)
  • Early access to new products (icon tier)

I signed up for the e.l.f. Beauty Squad today and look forward to enjoying the benefits!

e.l.f. Discovery

E.l.f. has a very cool page on its website called “e.l.f. Discovery.” This page includes the following resources that are great for those discovering e.l.f. products for the first time or anyone that is new to the beauty world:

  • Tutorials for a variety of makeup looks
  • Lookbooks provide an overview of product collections and some individual products
  • Quick tips are recommendations for the best ways to use e.l.f. Products
  • Skincare finder will help you select the right skincare products for your unique skin type and concerns
  • Primer finder suggests primers based on your skin type and preferences

e.l.f. Cares

e.l.f. toolsE.l.f. Is dedicated to supporting diversity, communities in need, and animals! They are doing a lot of great things and I’d like to share a couple of statements directly from their website.

“Celebrating the beauty of every eye, lip and face is fundamental to our DNA. It’s in our name and inspires us as a company. 

We are committed to creating a culture internally – and in the world around us – where all individuals are encouraged to express their truest selves, are empowered to succeed and where we do the right thing for people, the planet and animals.”

These are some of the steps e.l.f. has taken to make the world a better place:

  • Partnered with the “It Gets Better Project” to empower and bring together LGBTQ+ youth around the world
  • Donated to several civil rights organizations working to support black communities
  • Donated to food banks across the United States
  • Donated $15,000 in profits from Jkissa’s “To the Rescue” eyeshadow palette to Angel City Pits which is an advocacy group for pit bulls
  • All e.l.f. products are, and always will be, vegan and cruelty-free!

E.l.f. Cosmetics is close to my heart for many reasons, but the biggest reason is their business model. E.l.f. continues to make high quality, innovative products, while keeping their prices affordable. I appreciate that they keep their prices low to make their products accessible to all…every eye, lip, and face

I recognize that many people do not have room in their budgets for makeup or skincare items. While many see these items as “frivolous,” I see them as self-care items that shouldn’t be out of reach to anyone. E.l.f. makes that possible, without compromising on quality.

I’ve used many e.l.f. products through the years, and I look forward to trying more! I’d love to hear what you’ve been enjoying from this amazing cruelty-free brand. Please comment below to share your thoughts!


Share Post on Social Media

6 thoughts on “Cruelty-Free Beauty on a Budget ft. e.l.f. Cosmetics

  1. I love e.l.f. and all of the products I have purchased have exceeded my expectations. I am a person who will spend $$ for high-end products, and yet, who doesn’t love to pick up two or three (or more!) very inexpensive, and very fun things to add to their collection. After hearing rave reviews for a putty primer from another company, which is VERY high-end, I heard that e.l.f. had their take on this very product. I picked it up some months ago at my local Target…it might have been $8…a HUGE difference in price from the other prestige brand. I have combo skin and tend to get quite oily in my T-zone during the summer months. The e.l.f. Poreless Putty Primer is simply fabulous. It’s a product that will always be in my makeup/skincare collection. Thanks for your review of this great brand!

    • Oh yes, the famous e.l.f. putty primer… 🙂 I can’t remember how many months I spent looking for that every time I went shopping, before I finally found it! Everyone was talking about that primer for a long time, and for good reason. It seems to work extremely well for a lot of people and like you said, it’s much more affordable than the more expensive alternative! I’m glad to hear that it has worked so well for you! I have mixed feelings about it because some days I like it and others I don’t. I think I might not be using enough. Thank you for inspiring me to test this product further!


  2. Lauren, I found with the e.l.f. Putty Primer, it works best if I apply it using a Real Techniques sponge I found at Ulta. It’s pink, and smaller than their orange sponge, and it says it’s for applying powder. I use the flat end of the sponge and swipe it across the putty primer and then using a sweeping motion, start at the bridge of my nose and sweep in an outwards motion under my eyes and across my cheek. I do this same motion over my entire face. The sponge (used dry) seems to get the right amount of the primer on my face and it’s easy to keep an even application. I swear this primer is one of the best I’ve used, and I’ve tried a lot of primers! Hope this helps! xoxo

    • Thank you for the tip, Nancy! I will try that method with my regular Real Techniques sponge (I don’t have the pink one) the next time I use the e.l.f. Putty Primer. 🙂


  3. I have the e.l.f. Poreless Face Primer and the Illuminating Face Primer, both work well under my makeup for a fraction of the cost of many high end Primers, I haven’t tried the Putty one and I’m not sure if our drugstore sells it, I’ll have to look next time I’m there. Another Great Review, I wonder if they’ll have their skincare range in store, I’d be interested in trying it if they did as I don’t like purchasing online if I can help it.
    Your review on this brand was very interesting Lauren.
    Well Done 👍

    • Hi Janelle! Thanks for another great comment and I’m glad you liked learning more about e.l.f.! 🙂 I haven’t tried those two e.l.f. primers you have but I would like to! They have so many primers now it’s hard to choose. I bet you’ll probably be able to find their putty primer now since it has been available for some time now. It was very difficult to find at first and sold out every time it was restocked. A small selection of their skincare is available in stores here in the US, but I don’t know if it would be the same in other countries.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.