e.l.f. Studio Brush Comparison

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Overall Rating: 4/5 stars ★★★★☆
Price Tag: $3-$10 USD
Where to Buy: In mass retailers like Target or Walgreens; online at e.l.f

There are some misses, but overall the Studio brushes are a great addition to one’s vegan beauty arsenal, budget or otherwise.

Though I’d really like to post reviews for all brushes individually at some point, I also thought it would be good to have side by side comparisons as I have nearly all of the brushes on the e.l.f. Studio line. And can you believe that after photographing all of my brushes, then finding a few more and rephotographing them, I ended up finding yet another brush?

All brushes from the Studio line are cruelty-free and vegan.


All of the Studio brushes feature a satin black handle with a shiny black metal ferrule. Usually the bristles are black, but some have white bristles topped with black, and others have black bristles with some longer white fibers. I think the handle is wood, not bamboo, but I haven’t heard it confirmed either way. They at least feel hard, not soft like bamboo.

The brush type is stamped in white on the brush handle. Unlike other e.l.f. products, the name doesn’t rub off over time.

Originally the original brushes had longer handles than the new brushes. You’ll also notice that some of my brushes have handles that are warped. This may have influenced e.l.f.’s decision to shorten the handles.

Comparison of the older and newer versions of the e.l.f. Studio handle lengths.

The brushes all feature vegan Taklon bristles. Some appear as shiny black with a crimped texture, while others appear more natural with a matte, rougher texture. I haven’t had much issue with fallout, just a few bristles here and there with some brushes.

The main trouble with this product is that ferrule often comes loose. I’ve had this happen to at least a quarter of my brushes. This is more likely to happen with the larger $3 brushes. Most of the time the brushes remain completely useable, it’s just a little annoying to have the brush knock around, but one of my brushes did completely fall off the handle.


e.l.f. carries a huge line of brushes for just about every need and situation. Currently there are around thirty brushes and applicators available in the Studio line.

The brushes are listed as they appear in the above photo, starting with the left side and working across.

Mascara & Shadow Shield

Price Tag: $3 USD

I love the concept of the Mascara & Shadow Shield but I find the application to be awkward. Due to this, I have only used it a few times.

The shield has a uniquely shaped, large silicon pad that helps prevent product from falling onto the face. I still have issues with eyeshadow accumulating around the inner corner of my eye when I use this device.

Retractable Lip Brush

Price Tag: $3 USD

I always intend to pick up a second Retractable Lip Brush for my purse. I sort of forget about this brush because it’s short and I don’t always see it when I reach for a lip brush. Otherwise, this is a good brush for either lining the lips or for applying pot glosses. I always at the very least remove excess product with a tissue before putting the brush away.

Glitter Eyeshadow Applicator [DC]

Price Tag: $3 USD

Again, I like the concept behind this, but I’ve only used it a couple of times. This utensil features a silicon pad for picking up eyeshadow, but it’s not as effective at picking up product as I would like.

I was apparently not the only one who thought so, as it has been discontinued.

Angled Eyeliner Brush

Price Tag: $3 USD

I had this brush lying around unopened for awhile, but now I love the Angled Eyeliner Brush. Despite looking a little awkward it’s perfect for using with gel and cream liners. With practice, you can get a very thin, precise line along the lash line.

Small Smudge Brush

Price Tag: $3 USD

I actually have two of the Small Smudge Brushes, but I don’t use either all that often. Sometimes I use them to fill in my brows or smudge eyeliner, but otherwise they just sit in my brush container unused. I don’t understand why these are so well reviewed.

Contour Brush

Price Tag: $3 USD

I’m going to just come out and say that I don’t like the Contour Brush. The bristles are too short and stiff on this eye brush, and a pain to use. It’s also kind of sharp and pokey. Every once in a while I’ll try it, but then quickly regret it. Again, I’m not sure why this brush has such high ratings on the e.l.f. site.

Small Angled Brush (not pictured)

Price Tag: $3 USD

This was the missing brush I discovered last. The Small Angled Brush works well enough for applying eyeliner, but I don’t like it as much a my Everyday Minerals Eyeliner Brush. The bristles just aren’t as stiff as I prefer. Mostly I use it for defining my brows.

You’ll get a line with about a medium thickness with this liner brush.

Eyeshadow “C” Brush

Price Tag: $3 USD

A lot of people like the Eyeshadow “C” Brush, but it’s not my favorite. I prefer flatter and slightly longer bristles in my eyeshadow brushes, whereas this brush has short, thick and slightly fluffy fibers. That said, I do own two of these and use both often.

Crease Brush

Price Tag: $3 USD

I don’t like the Studio Crease Brush as much as the ecoTOOLS crease brush from the Touch-Up Set (my review here), but it’s still a good option. There is an unfortunate shortage of vegan crease brushes on the market. I’ve tried several vegan versions and this is the second best I’ve come across.

Blending Brush

Price Tag: $3 USD

I was excited for the Blending Brush when it was released, but it’s overly large shape makes it awkward to use, at least for my eyes. I’m still not sure how best to use it or how it’s better than a regular eyeshadow brush for blending.


e.l.f. Studio Brushes: Small Tapered Brush, Angled Contour Brush, Flawless Concealer Brush, and Pointed Foundation Brush

Angled Contour Brush

Price Tag: $3 USD

Supposedly designed for eye products, the Angled Contour Brush works better for other uses, like applying concealer. I will use it occasionally for applying a single eyeshadow to my lids, though I feel it is overly large for my eye area. It’s a brush I’d like to use more often, but don’t for some reason.

Flawless Concealer Brush

Price Tag: $3 USD

I always forget I own this brush. The Flawless Concealer Brush is useful for applying concealer, especially to the under eye area. You can also use it for highlighting, or even for applying an eyeshadow color wash to the lids.

Pointed Foundation Brush

Price Tag: $3 USD

The Pointed Foundation Brush is good for getting product into the hard to reach corners of your eyes and nose, though I feel it’s tapered shape is not the best shape for the rest of the face. I don’t use foundation brushes too often because I need to apply face products a certain way to my temperamental face. Doesn’t stop me from buying them all the time.

Small Tapered Brush

Price Tag: $3 USD

I love, love the Small Tapered Brush. I typically use it for highlighting along my upper cheekbones, but I sometimes use it for light contouring as well. If you have a second brush, you can use it for applying powder to concealer around the under eye and/or nose area.

Unfortunately, not only has the ferrule come loose, it once completely detached from the handle. This is the reason the brush looks bent in the first photo.

Angled Foundation Brush

Price Tag: $3 USD

This is a brush with a very thin profile and low fiber density making it kind of floppy. I don’t think the Angled Foundation Brush is a good foundation brush in general due to its size and bristles, though I don’t really use it because my skin doesn’t like foundation brushes.

Small Stipple Brush

Price Tag: $3 USD

The Small Stipple Brush is a great catch all brush for both powder and liquid face products. I use mine mostly for applying liquid and cream blushes, as evinced by the stained bristles, but you can also use it for lightly applying powder blush, bronzer or concealers.


First take attempting to photograph all of my Studio brushes

Mineral Powder Brush

Price Tag: $3 USD

This brush is much smaller than I expected. The Mineral Powder Brush works well enough for its intended purpose, but I think it would be better used for other uses, like perhaps light contouring on the forehead or liquid foundation.

Blush Brush

Price Tag: $3 USD

The Blush Brush is much smaller than I prefer for blush brushes, with its thin profile and angled cut to the bristles. It’s not not my favorite brush, there are better blush brushes, but I do use it occasionally for bronzer and sometimes blush.

Ultimate Blending Brush

Price Tag: $6 USD

Though not as ultimate as the name suggests, I do like the Ultimate Blending Brush. I use it for applying BB/CC creams, face powders and also the e.l.f. Studio HD Mattifying Balm. I typically use a pouncing motion on my face, instead of using circular motions. It is smaller than the Powder Brush, but has possibly slightly denser bristles.

Contouring Brush

Price Tag: $6 USD

One of my favorite brushes, I use the Contouring Brush almost every time I contour. Sometimes I’m lazy and even use it for applying blush. Though it’s pricier than most e.l.f. Studio brushes I love the narrow, short dense fibers. It’s perfect for contouring and appears to be e.l.f.’s version of an itahake brush.

You can find my full review for this brush here.


e.l.f. Studio Brushes (Contouring Brush, Ultimate Blending Brush, Mineral Powder Brush, Blending Brush)
and Essential Brushes (Fan Brush, Total Face Brush)

Stipple Brush

Price Tag: $3 USD

I don’t use the larger Stipple Brush too often, mostly because I have other brushes I prefer more. The main problem it has is that the fibers aren’t very dense, so it’s a little floppy. That makes it more difficult to apply liquid face products, but it still works fairly well for face powders.

Powder Brush

Price Tag: $3 USD

I didn’t see the appeal of a flat top brush until I met the Powder Brush. This was one of the first brushes I bought from e.l.f. and remains one of my favorites. Early on the ferrule came loose, but I still use, somewhat for nostalgia’s sake. The bristles are short and dense enough to satisfy my liking.

Complexion Brush

Price Tag: $3 USD

I don’t use the Complexion Brush too often, preferring the Kabuki Face, Powder and Ultimate Blending Brushes. The bristles aren’t as densely packed as I would like, mashing it sort of floppy. I think the other three brushes are better made and more useful. Due to its large size, this brush is relegated for applying all over face powders.

Fan Brush

Price Tag: $3 USD

I picked this Fan Brush up for a dollar at T.J.Maxx. I like to use it for dusting off eyeshadow fallout, and occasionally for lightly applying dark shades of bronzer. It’s also useful for applying highlighter and blush.


Brush comparison (from left to right): ecoTOOLS Face & Body Sculpting Brush, ecoTOOLS Sheer Finish Kabuki Brush,
ecoTOOLS Retractable Kabuki brush (vintage version), and the e.l.f. Studio Kabuki Face Brush.

Kabuki Face Brush

Price Tag: $6 USD

e.l.f. used to carry two sizes of these kabuki brushes in both the Mineral and Studio lines. I have the Studio version that features white bristles with black tips (the Mineral version had reddish brown bristles). I purchased what was at the time the smaller Kabuki Face Brush.

This is one of my most used and favorite brushes. Due to its large size, I use it primarily for applying face powders.

Contouring Kabuki Brush/Slanted Kabuki Brush

Price Tag: $6 USD

I received the Contouring Kabuki Brush (mine is called the Slanted Kabuki Brush) with an order last year before it was officially released. I don’t like this large kabuki brush as much as other similar brushes. I prefer densely packed bristles in my kabuki brushes, and this brush has noticeably less dense bristles.

It’s also really big. Brushes this size are commonly used for applying bronzer to the body as it is too large to use on the face.


Final Thoughts

Pros: Budget-friendly, tons of options, Taklon bristles
Cons: Ferrule detaches easily, floppy brushes, low fiber density

The e.l.f. Studio brushes are a great budget-friendly option for cosmetics brushes, especially for those looking for vegan alternatives, with tons of different styles. Even better, several of the brushes are easily obtained from local stores like Target or Walmart.

If you are looking for recommendations, I suggest you add the Crease, Powder, Contouring, Kabuki Face, Small Tapered, and Small Stipple brushes to your collection.

You can find more detailed reviews of the Studio brushes on {makeupfu} here.