New e.l.f. Contour & Eyeshadow Palettes Are Perfect For Summer Beauty On A Budget

Although I'm definitely a fan of many high-end beauty brands, sometimes there's nothing like getting a lot of bang for your buck when it comes to makeup. Launched this summer, e.l.f.'s newest contour and shadow palettes provide just that. When I first got interested in beauty, I shopped solely at the drugstore. Now I've branched out (oh hello Sephora, you paycheck seductress) especially when shopping for skincare, but I still love a good budget beauty find. E.l.f. Cosmetics has long been a favorite of mine. You wouldn't expect their products to be as reliable as they are considering the prices; I often buy makeup and brushes for under $5 from e.l.f. and many of those items have lasted me for years (the kabuki brushes especially).

That's why I was so thrilled to see them stepping up their game this year by introducing exciting new products at their usual affordable price. First e.l.f. rolled out a quality skin care line, and now they've released some really intriguing makeup palettes. I got my hands on the four new eye shadow palettes and the new contour palette. The contour palette especially caught my eye because of how popular contouring is right now. It contains four shades for highlighting and contouring: a matte light shade, a lighter shimmery shade, a medium brown shade and a dark brown shade. The eye shadow palettes are Mad For Matte, Need It Nude, Everyday Smoky, and Party Ready. I was curious to see how these palettes hold up compared to more expensive options.

My first impression was that the eye shadow palettes were smaller than I'm used to, but this makes sense considering the price. It also makes them compact and portable.

I personally like the minimal aesthetic of the packaging, and it felt sturdy. I dropped one eye shadow palette and it didn't shatter.

All of the palettes include a mirror. Normally I'd want a brush included as well, but in this case I was happy to use high quality brushes that I already own to get more mileage out of the products.

Contour Palette

None of the palette shades have names, FYI. Below is a swatch of each of the shades in the Contour Palette from light to dark:

Only the lightest shade is slightly shimmery; the rest are matte. Here's a before and after to show how you can use this palette to quickly improve your overall beauty look.

Before using the Contour Palette:

After using the Contour Palette:

I used the shimmery, lightest shade on my cheekbones, cupids bow, and brow bone and the matte light shade on my forehead, bridge of my nose, and chin. Then I used the darkest shade under my cheeks and along my temples and jawline. I also used a bit of the second darkest shade along the sides of my nose but honestly I think I would rather have had a blush than another contouring shade. That's just my preference.

Overall I really liked this palette, especially for the summer because the powder helped with my shiny T-zone. The powder didn't look caked-on or obvious at all, and you can pile on a lot for a highly contoured look or keep it subtle. It's very portable too, which I love.

$6, eyeslipsface.com

Mad For Matte Palette

This palette is a great every day eye shadow palette. Below is a swatch of the 10 shade from darkest to lightest. I applied them wet on the top row and dry on the bottom row:

I'm going to refer to the eye shadow shades as numbers since they don't have names. The lightest shade (far left) in each palette is 1 and the darkest (far right) is 10. I used shades 4, 5, 8, and 10 to create this matte look:

I used 4 in the inner corners, 5 and 8 on the lid, and 10 on the crease and outer edges. I think this is really versatile for a day or evening look, and the matte finish keeps things looking grown-up.

$10, eyeslipsface.com

Need It Nude Palette

Here's a swatch of the Need It Nude palette, with the wet shadows on top and dry shadows on bottom:

And here's the sunset-inspired look I created using shades 2, 3, 5, 6, and 7:

I used shades 2 and 3 in the inner corners, 5 and 6 on the lids, and 7 in the crease and outer corners. I love all the gold and rose colors in this palette; it's so feminine and pretty, although you can darken things up a bit with the darkest four shades.

$10, eyeslipsface.com

Everyday Smoky Palette

Here's a swatch of this palette, with the wet shadows on top and the dry on bottom:

And for this smoky look I used shades 3, 6, 9, and 10:

I used 3 and 6 in the inner corners, 9 on the middle part of the lid and 10 in the outer corners and crease. If you do a lot of smoky eye looks then you'll love this palette.

$10, eyeslipsface.com

Party Ready Palette

This was obviously the most colorful of the four palettes. Here's a swatch; this time, dry shadows are on top and the wet shadows are below:

I had fun making this vibrant look. I used shades 1, 3, 5, and 7:

Shades 1 and then 3 went in the inner corners, 5 went on the middle part of the lid, and 7 went in the outer corners and crease. I don't know where I would wear this rainbow look but I loved it. And of course, you can choose just one or two vibrant colors from this palette and pair them with the neutral shades for a more toned-down look.

$10, eyeslipsface.com

In the end I was really impressed with these palettes. The price, packaging, shade range, and shadow quality were all really good. I will say (as you've probably noticed from the swatches) that the eye shadows apply much better wet; you get a more vibrant color that way. It's also worth noting I didn't even use primer for these photos. If you do use a eyelid primer (and decent brushes) you'll get an even better result. Bottom line: Give these palettes a shot if you're on a budget — or even if you're not!

Images: Kelly Dougher