Attention, big-box store shoppers: Don’t be fooled by major beauty advertisers—there is indeed more than meets the eye, lip, and face when it comes to the less expensive brands you see in the makeup section of your favorite stop-and-shop (we know, it’s Target).

With its recognizable black banners (and its comparatively low price tags), e.l.f. Cosmetics has won plenty of fans over the last decade. Still, there are misconceptions regarding the relationship between cost, quality, and safety with the beauty company.

For one, it’s hard for skeptics to wrap their heads around how an inexpensive line of beauty products could possibly be safe, both in production and in use. Though e.l.f. Cosmetics items are manufactured in China, they can't actually be sold there due to the company's refusal to test products on animals—a seemingly backwards requirement for all cosmetics sold in the country. All ingredients used in e.l.f. Cosmetics are vegan-friendly and meet FDA requirements.

Still, the question of quality lingers for many. As someone who's tried countless offerings from the e.l.f. Cosmetics line, I'm a certified fan; several e.l.f. items are now fixtures in my daily makeup routine. Based on grueling, intensive journalistic research, here's my definitive list of the best of the basics.

 

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The Primer of Your Life

e.l.f. truly has something for everyone with its range of primers that hydrate skin, create a dewy glow, and hide shady pores. Fans have found the poreless face primer lives up to—and is often more effective than—more expensive counterparts from other brands that make similar claims.

 

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Lip Service

These sugar-based lip exfoliators are a wonderful addition to any nighttime or morning facial routine. After cleansing and moisturizing your face, apply a little mint maniac or pink grapefruit on your pout to build a smooth surface, ready for any lip color.

Speaking of lips, e.l.f. also has a matte lip formula that, on exfoliated and moisturized lips, doesn’t clump or cake once applied. The best part? The color lasts through your morning coffee and beyond.

 

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The Eyes Have It

For a classic, nude eyeshadow look, try the rose gold eyeshadow palette, which features long-lasting, neutral shades from a dusting of glittery white to shimmering cocoa.

 

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Get Your Glow On

These little $4 compacts of baked highlighter pack a big punch of shine for your everyday look. In both blush and nude shades, a brush of this formula is the perfect finishing touch to any aesthetic.

 

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Something Extra

Can’t walk out the door without a little somethin' somethin'? We know how that is, and we reach for this lip lacquer in clear, the most moisturizing gloss we've ever experimented with, and the least sticky to boot. The gloss leaves your lips with just a hint of shine, whether worn alone or layered over another color.

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