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Beauty Review: A $6 Eyeshadow from e.l.f

Recently, I emptied the contents of my makeup bag and made some hard decisions.  Which products did I love?  Which could I live without?  Which should I be spending less on?  While the first two questions were tough to answer, the third was easy.

snip20170126_129Not all eyeshadows are created equal, but most are damn close.  While I love the Naked Eyeshadow palettes as much as the next blogger, $54 for eyeshadow is just unseemly.  If you’re looking to save money on makeup, eyeshadow is a great place to start.
To test a cheaper shadow for quality, apply a bit to the back of your hand.  How much do you have to apply to get the color you’re looking for?  Good shadows are richly hued enough that it doesn’t take much.  Then, run your finger over the color, does it feather or flake easily?  Good shadows don’t fall off easily.  So who do I think makes the best affordable shadows?

The e.l.f. Countering Clay Eyeshadows ($6) are a great buy.  The colors are rich and vibrant.  With the right primer, they last all day.  And they blend beautifully.

My favorite color combination is Smoked to Perfection.  It’s the perfect mix of grey, purple and mauve.  Apply it lightly for day or layer it on for evening.  I wear it with my Bobbi Brown gel liner in violet ink, and the best mascara ever, Armani Eyes to Kill.

Do you have a favorite inexpensive shadow, or one to stay away from?  Leave your thoughts in the comments.



  1. Ellyn says:

    Hi Belle,

    I just started my Capitol Hill internship on Tuesday. I also work on Fridays and my supervisor claims that since Congress is not in session on this day, that jeans and casual dress are appropriate.

    Of course I believe him, but I just want extra confirmation that this is true. I don’t want to show up looking out of place!

    I was thinking of wearing nice jeans with some cute booties and an Ann Taylor blouse. Would this be acceptable?

    Thanks so much!

    January 26, 2017/Reply
    • Belle says:

      It depends on each office, but yes, there are offices where jeans are fine. To be safe, I would wear a nice top, sweater, or blazer. My Pinterest board has a business casual section that should help.

      January 26, 2017/Reply
    • Meg says:

      I buy foundation from Lancome whenever they have one of the “Spent $35, get a free gift” sort of sale. I get my normal foundation and they always throw in small palettes of eyeshadow and samples of other products (primer, creams, etc.). I’ve been doing this for six years, I wear eye shadow every day, and I’ve never run out!

      January 27, 2017/Reply
  2. Emily R. says:

    For affordable (frugal) eyeshadow I really like Wet n Wild ans well as the Cover Girl truNaked collections.

    January 26, 2017/Reply
  3. Alison says:

    I recently bought a 5-shadow palette from Ulta in Soul (https://www.ulta.com/complete-eye-palette?productId=xlsImpprod4980071) and I am loving it. Sometimes I only use two or three colors at a time, so I can get a lot of looks out of one palette. The orchid color is actually more pink once you put it on your lids, so it isn’t quite as bright as the pictures would have you believe!

    January 26, 2017/Reply
  4. Rachel says:

    For drugstore eyeshadow, I like the Milani Everyday Eyes palettes, especially the Plum Basics. The shimmer shades on these palettes tend to be more crumbly but are still very workable. The mattes are nicely pigmented the color combinations take the guess work out of day makeup. The packaging is also more substantial than other inexpensive brands.

    January 26, 2017/Reply
  5. Addie says:

    Every drug store eye shadow I’ve ever tried wears off by 11 a.m., even with NARS primer. I finally bought my first Naked palette in December when Sephora sends VIBs a $20 off of $50 coupon and that was a game changer. I once fell asleep on the couch with all my make up on and my eye make up still looked decent the next morning. I use L’Oreal mascara and I don’t use eyeliner or foundation. But lipstick, eyeshow and tinted SPF I’ll continue to spend more money on

    January 26, 2017/Reply
  6. Mrs. Jones says:

    Wet N Wild works for me.

    January 26, 2017/Reply
  7. Chelsea says:

    I love NYX shadows – and Urban Decay primer is a lifechanger!

    January 26, 2017/Reply
  8. Donna says:

    I use e.l.f. and am very happy with the colors and the staying power. The plus for me is that it is cruelty free, which is the first thing I look for in a make-up product.

    January 26, 2017/Reply
    • Niki says:

      I use both ELF and NYX shadows and they end up staying put as long as my MAC ones if I use primer, then setting powder underneath.

      January 26, 2017/Reply
  9. Katie says:

    I second the e.l.f and Ulta shadows. I’ve got seriously sensitive eyes and have to be very careful about what eye make-up I wear and I’ve had less issues with those brands than I’ve had with department store brands (NARS I’m looking at you).

    January 26, 2017/Reply
  10. TheLoop says:

    Most eyeshadows make my eyes and head hurt – has anyone used any brands that are free of irritants that trigger headaches? I think it’s the titanium dioxide in most makeup that does this but I am not sure.

    January 26, 2017/Reply
    • Belle says:

      The Tarte brand is big on the all natural beauty thing. That might be a place to start.

      January 26, 2017/Reply
      • TheLoop says:


        January 26, 2017/Reply
  11. Rachel says:

    I recommend against Maybelline’s naked pallete knockoff, “The Blushed Nudes.” I ordered it without trying it and most of the shades are flaky and not very pigmented. The colors are great in theory and a couple of the shades (mostly the mattes) perform better than others, but I would not buy again and would recommend steering clear.

    January 26, 2017/Reply
  12. Jill says:

    NYX is awesome. Many colors, great price and they don’t test on animals!

    January 27, 2017/Reply
  13. Mary says:

    I’m using Neutrogena eye shadow with built in primer and have been happy with it. Without an additional primer, it stays pretty well. I sometimes use a dedicated primer with it for special occasions, but for daily wear, it goes on easy without flaking.

    January 27, 2017/Reply
  14. Anonymous says:

    I don’t use ELF because it is made in China. Besides the fact that China allows animal testing I’ve heard, I don’t trust what are in those products that I am putting on my skin and possibly ingesting. Its a shame because they seem to have some decent stuff but I have no desire to rub lead or some other possible toxin on my face.

    I stick with Clinque.

    January 28, 2017/Reply
  15. SunnyIA says:

    Maybelline Color Tattoo. In the little pot or the crayon. Goes on great. Stays on for about 10 hours without primer (on my greasy eyelids) and 15+ hours with primer (smashbox or urban decay – whichever one I have a free sample of). When I’m traveling or at a conference all day and I have to head straight to dinner from a non-stop day, this stuff lasts longer than any of my other makeup.I have a few of the neutral/nude colors for every day (with or without winged eyeliner). Most of it has a bit of shimmer, but it’s not excessive and there’s no glitter.

    January 28, 2017/Reply
  16. ajb says:

    I have tried what seems like hundreds of mascaras–I don’t even mine the pricey ones if they do a great job. Somehow I keep coming back to Maybelline Great Lash. The key is to get the right brush (the triangle pointy one for me) AND, more importantly, to change it often. At least every month. Most mascaras are great when they are super fresh, this is no exception.

    February 25, 2017/Reply