Friday, July 19, 2013

Frugal Friday: My Favorite New(-ish) E.L.F. Blush/Bronzer Duos

Left to Right: Turks & Caicos, Cream #24601...I mean, #83606. Oops.

A little while back, ELF had a sale on their Studio line, and I took the opportunity to try out a couple of products that I'd been eyeing since they came out a few months ago. For some reason, a buck-fifty each was perfectly reasonable, but three whole dollars (Seriously? Three whole dollars?) was absolutely ree-darn-diculous.

In any case, I picked up the Studio Contouring Blush & Bronzing Powder in Turks & Caicos, and the Studio Contouring Blush & Bronzing Cream #83606. That's all I got, folks.

Holy Guacamole, Batman! These suckers are fantastic! Talk about pigmentation! Just look below:

Left to Right: Turks & Caicos Blush, Bronzer, #8675309...sorry, #83606 Blush, Bronzer. One swipe each. Crikey!
 But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's start with the packaging. Each duo comes housed in a smooth, black, hard plastic compact, with the ELF logo and product name printed on the lid in white. Inside, you'll find the product, itself, along with a large, fully-functional mirror--not one of those cheapo, fun-house-looking pieces of garbage. All in all, the packaging reminds me (a lot) of NARS, except that the NARS has more heft to it, and the outside is rubberized.

Okay, now for the products. The cream blush is a warm, rosy peach, and the bronzer is a golden medium brown. Neither has any shimmer or sheen, but by nature of the cream, they do impart a nice glow. As we've seen, they're HIGHLY pigmented, so only the teeny-tiniest amount is needed. By that, I mean, don't use your fingers! Obviously, you can, if you want. I won't stand there behind you screaming, or anything like that. That would be creepy, and a little bit illegal, most likely. Grab a stipple brush and barely tap it onto the product. You can always add more, but taking it away's a pain. It's not impossible (said the girl who went to town with concealer and powder after tapping her brush too hard this morning), but it's better to avoid having to.

The shades, themselves, are lovely. The blush is pretty much universal, as far as working with different skintones; the bronzer, less so. This would work on light to medium skintones, but no darker. I also would not recommend this as a contour shade, since it is so warm. It borders on orange-y, and that's just not a good look for a contour. It is wonderful, however, for warming up the skin. Once you've tapped your stipple brush onto (not into, onto) the bronzer, apply the product to the areas of your face where sunlight would naturally hit--just as you would a powder bronzer. The end effect is very natural and sunkissed.

Now, I purchased Turks & Caicos because I'd heard from several places that the blush side was actually more of a highlight shade, and I thought that a travel-friendly highlight/bronzer combo would be awesome to have for out-of-town trips. Apparently, I had gone temporarily insane, and totally forgot that I'm so white, I'm day-glo. My skin lights up on the dark rides at Disney. The only highlighters I can wear are either white, gold, or translucent shimmer. Almost nothing that could be classified as a blush is going to work as a highlighter on me. But I digress...

Anyhoo, the blush is gorgeous, even if it isn't a viable highlighter for me, personally. The shade is a very tawney...I hate to call it pink, because it's just barely pink, but it's not really brown, either. This is a hard shade to describe, but applied lightly, it gives just enough color to wake up the skin, but not enough to compete with, say, a bold lip or a smokey eye. Unfortunately, it's not a universal color, in the slightest. If you're often confused for Casper the Friendly Ghost, then this is gorgeous, and I highly recommend rushing out to pick one up. Medium skintones and up might consider using it as a highlighter, but, sadly, I'd just say skip it.

The bronzer is scary. It looks brown; like chocolate brownie brown. However, if you use a super fluffy brush and an extremely light hand, you can use this as a bronzer (not a contour. Neither of these bronzers are contour shades. I don't know what ELF was thinking calling them "contouring".) even if you're lily-white. This shade could probably work on medium skin, as well, but again, if you're darker, you might want to pass on this. There are tiny flecks of gold shimmer in both the blush and bronzer, but they don't transfer to the skin in an obvious way. You end up with a little glow. Again, the end result is very natural and just downright pretty. I probably don't need to say it, but I will, anyway: these puppies are crazy pigmented! If you use a heavy hand, you're going to look like you've been playing in the dirt. Go easy, and add more as you need to.

The staying power for both duos is top-notch. I've been using them both for a couple of weeks, pretty much exclusively, and haven't had to touch-up at all. I repeat: at all. ELF, as a brand, may be hit or miss, but these are a homerun.

Cream: gorgeous blush, gorgeous bronzer, highly pigmented, beautiful packaging, fantastic price, natural finish blush, natural finish bronzer, universal blush, glow without glitter
Powder: gorgeous blush, workable bronzer, highly pigmented, beautiful packaging, fantastic price, natural finish blush, natural finish bronzer, slight shimmer without glitter

Cream: bronzer not universal
Powder: blush not universal, bronzer not universal

Final Verdict: Cream--9 out of 10, Powder--7.5 out of 10. I'd say that these were amazing for three bucks, but they'd still be amazing for a lot more than that.

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