Review: ELF Bamboo Eyeshadow & Smudge Brushes

A few weeks ago, the lovely people from ELF sent me a few products to review - and by god I do love the brand so I was really really excited to try so many things out! :) The first of the batch are the 2 ELF bamboo brushes from the mineral line - the Smudge Brush and the All-Over Eyeshadow Brush.

The Bamboo brushes are a bit more expensive than the other ELF ranges at £5.50, which puts them at about par with other drugstore brushes - still very affordable. However, there is a very high ethical component to them, with their cruelty-free synthetic bristles, sustainable handles (very lightweight though) and recycled ferrules, which explains the difference in price from the normal range which they sell for £1.50, and Studio for £3.50. (If you haven't caught on - I do have a bit of a thing for ethics ;) )

ELF Bamboo Smudge Brush

ELF's website suggests using this to smudge colour along the eye, adding depth to the crease or highlighting the browbone. I found that while the size and shape is perfect for those (except highlighting browbone, I prefer big fluffy brushes for that), it was very difficult to use, as this brush is really stiff and the tip felt a bit harsh against the eyes for any powder products. I did use it for highlighting the inner corner, which was alright because the skin isn't as delicate there I find, and you can use it on its side.

The best way to use this product I thought was for smudging gel eyeliner. It resembles the Maybelline gel eyeliner brush (pictured bottom right corner), but it's a lot stiffer. I also tried this for concealer, and it worked fine for that as well, again, because your skin isn't as delicate on your face than around the eyes.

I'm not 100% sold on this brush - I do think it's a bit too stiff for powder around the eye, I'd stick with a a pencil brush like the MAC 219 - it's good for emollients, but don't find myself reaching for it everyday.

ELF Bamboo All-Over Eyeshadow

This brush, however, is rapidly climbing its way to being my favourite eyeshadow brush. As you can see from the pictures, it's pretty freaking fat, and is a lot more tapered than the MAC 239 and the normal line ELF eyeshadow brush (both pictured). Although I compared it to these 2 brushes for the sake of being eyeshadow brushes, the functionality is completely different.

This brush is AMAZING for less finely milled eyeshadows like MAC Lustre finishes (finally, a solution!). I can't put my finger on why, but I think it's the extra bristles that are exposed because of the tapering, which allow for more 'pick up'. I think the denseness of the brush helps too.

Extremely hard-packed eyeshadows like MAC Frost finishes and mineral eyeshadows that are pigmented but sometimes difficult to pick up colour on flat brushes, also work extremely well. The bristles are a bit stiffer, which allows for more 'scrapage' (is that a word?), but this stiffness doesn't come across as scratchy when used on the eye like the Smudge Brush.

Because it's hyoooooge (huge), it lets you apply colour faster and to a bigger area. I think the best way to describe it would be the MAC 217 in an eyeshadow brush shape - just stiffer.. if that makes sense, lol. Because of the dense-ness and fatness, it is also usable as a blending brush which makes it extremely convenient for travelling - you only need this brush, because it's also big enough to do your brow highlight, and turn it on its side, and it can slide right in your socket.

I genuinely do love this brush, I think it's so well designed - for people who have had issues with MAC Lustre finishes, TRY THIS. I am a bit sad to say that I've been reaching for this more than my MAC 239 - which I paid loads for! I also think it's worth the extra £4 to upgrade from the normal line eyeshadow brush - which I haven't used much since I got my MAC 239.


So.. that was a bit of a bipolar review, haha. I hope you guys found it helpful - needless to say, the ELF Bamboo Brushes are a great way to get around natural-haired brushes and do your bit for the environment, but they do seem to be a bit of a hit-or-miss range so I recommend checking out some other reviews too :)

Have you tried any brushes from the Bamboo range? Which are your favourite, and which do you want to try? :)


I can whole-heartedly promise that this review was completely honest, despite the things being sent to me :)


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