Reviewed: Top 8 Best Elf Skincare Products



E.l.f. Cosmetics (which stands for Eyes, Lips, Face) is known for its affordable line of makeup products, but many don’t know that the brand also has a pretty extensive collection of skin care products. Elf skincare products can address concerns like dryness, blemishes, uneven skin tone, aging, and more.

Nearly all of the Elf skincare products cost less than $20, so you may be wondering if these products really work. In order to answer this question, we’re going to review the top 8 Elf skincare products with a scientific lens. That means we’ve evaluated the research that supports (or doesn’t support) the ingredients that you’ll find in these products. We’ll also share some Elf skincare reviews so you can get a better idea of what customers really think about these products.

What are the Best Skin Care Products of 2023?

Is Elf Skincare Worth The Money?

A common question about this brand is if the products are worth the cost.

In our opinion, Elf skincare products deliver value for money, but take a look at other brands that don’t require you to sacrifice your precious money.

We recommend brands that are committed to developing clean yet effective products.

One brand is Carrot & Stick, a clean skincare brand that perfectly balances the gentle nurturing of plants with the powerful results of innovative science.

Carrot & Stick intro bundles deliver great value for money because you can bundle 3 full-size products worth up to $240 for $88.

What’s Inside Elf Skincare?

After reviewing the best Elf skincare products, we noticed that the brand likes to use a few of the same key ingredients throughout their collection of products. These ingredients include vitamin C, peptides, sodium hyaluronate, panthenol (provitamin B5), and niacinamide. Let’s take a closer look at the science that supports the use of these ingredients in skin care. 

Vitamin C
We’ve been hearing for years that Vitamin C is the best anti-aging ingredient. It’s a potent antioxidant that protects the skin from free radicals, the unstable molecules that contribute to the formation of premature wrinkles and fine lines on the skin.

Vitamin C also helps fade dark spots, evens out skin tone, and increases radiance. As if that wasn’t enough, research suggests that when vitamin C is applied to the skin, it significantly reverses aging-related structural changes by influencing collagen and elastin synthesis.

It’s in the Elf Vitamin C Serum. 

But our favorite Vitamin C serum is Carrot & Stick The Defence Serum. It contains 3 distinct types of Vitamin C that work together to help fight free radical damage. We recommend using it every morning.

As you age, your body’s production of collagen and elastin slows down. These two proteins are responsible for your skin’s structural support. As a result, the skin loses its natural plumpness and smoothness. 

While collagen is necessary for maintaining youthful-looking skin, the collagen protein is too large to absorb into the skin topically. That’s why applying skin care products that contain collagen won’t provide the anti-aging benefits you’re looking for.

This is where peptides come into action. Peptides are the building blocks of protein, and they are easily absorbed into the deeper layers of skin due to their smaller size. 

Elf Holy Hydration Face Cream and Happy Hydration Cream contain Matrixyl 3000.  In case you aren’t familiar with this ingredient, it’s the trademarked peptide that’s made up of two matrikines (palmitoyl tripeptide-1 and palmitoyl tetrapeptide-7).

Matrikines are peptides that regulate cell activities through cell signaling. The two matrikines in Matrixyl 3000 work synergistically to restore and maintain the skin’s youthful appearance by signaling to cells to produce more collagen.

If you’re looking for a peptide serum, we recommend Carrot & Stick The Repair Serum. It contains 7 plant-based peptides to promote plumper and smoother-looking skin.

Sodium Hyaluronate
Elf Holy Hydration Face Cream, Holy Hydration Eye Cream, Happy Hydration Cream, and Hydrating Water Essence all contain sodium hyaluronate, an ingredient that’s similar to moisture-magnet hyaluronic acid. 

Sodium hyaluronate and hyaluronic acid are basically the same and the two names are used interchangeably in the skin care industry. The main differences are that sodium hyaluronate is more stable, easier to formulate, and cheaper. 

Sodium hyaluronate is a beneficial skin care ingredient because its structure allows it to attract and hold a lot of water. Therefore, this ingredient can help to improve skin hydration while also giving the skin a plump, youthful look. 

Provitamin B5
Panthenol, also known as provitamin B5, is a key ingredient throughout the Elf skincare collection. Similar to sodium hyaluronate, panthenol is a very hydrating ingredient. Similar to hyaluronic acid, the structure of panthenol allows it to “grab” water and hold it on the skin. 

Similar to vitamin C, niacinamide is known for it’s skin-brightening and anti-aging benefits. It also helps to repair the skin barrier and improve skin moisture, as well as reduce inflammation, blotchiness, hyperpigmentation, acne, and wrinkling.

You’ll find niacinamide in Elf Hydrating Water Essence, Holy Hydration Face Cream, and Happy Hydration Cream.

What Are The Top 10 Best Elf Skincare Products?

Elf Holy Hydration Face Cream

  • A lightweight face cream that absorbs quickly without feeling greasy
  • Key ingredients include hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, squalane, peptides, and provitamin B5
  • Claimed to help brighten and even out skin tone, lock in moisture and promote a plumped up, bouncy complexion
  • Voted Best Face Moisturizer of 2020 by


Elf Holy Hydration Eye Cream

  • A rich eye cream that absorbs quickly without feeling greasy
  • Key ingredients include hyaluronic acid and peptides
  • Claimed to moisturize the eye area while minimizing dark circles


Elf Acne Fighting Spot Gel

  • Contains a very high concentration of denatured alcohol (it’s the highest concentration ingredient after water)
  • Denatured alcohol will dry out a blemish, but it can also cause excessive dryness, irritation, and even disruption of the skin barrier
  • Also contains a high concentration of witch hazel, an astringent with the potential to cause sensitization due to high tannin content


Elf Happy Hydration Cream

  • A moisturizing face cream with hemp-derived cannabis sativa seed oil as the key ingredient
  • Additional key ingredients include niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, and peptides
  • Claimed to lock in moisture and hydrate the skin, soothe skin, and help skin look more revived


Elf Gentle Peeling Exfoliant

  • A physical exfoliant that uses microcrystalline cellulose to slough off dead skin cells
  • Claimed to reveal a glowing, younger-looking complexion
  • Contains a synthetic fragrance blend


Elf Bounce Back Jelly Cleanser

  • A coconut-infused cleansing jelly that conditions the skin and removes makeup for skin that’s clean without feeling stripped
  • Key ingredients include coconut fruit juice, sugar maple extract, aloe vera, cucumber fruit extract, and provitamin B5


Elf Hydrating Water Essence

  • A lightweight, slightly milky toner that absorbs into the skin quickly
  • Claimed to hydrate skin, leaving it feeling refreshed and smooth
  • Key ingredients include niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, coconut water, algae, and coffee extract


Elf Charcoal Hydrogel Under Eye Masks

  • Charcoal infused hydrogel under eye masks
  • Key ingredients include charcoal powder, soybean seed extract, green tea extract, and lavender extract
  • Claimed to nourish and brighten the skin

Where are Elf Skincare Products Sold?

Elf Skincare products are sold on the brand’s website, as well as many third party online retailers, such as Target, Walmart, Amazon, and more.

What is The Elf Return Policy?

The Elf return policy states, “We apologize, but due to the low cost nature of our products, we are unable to offer any returns (except as noted below) or exchanges.” Therefore, if you aren’t satisfied with Elf Happy Hydration Cream or any other Elf skin care products, you will not be able to return it.

Is Elf Cruelty Free?

Yes, Elf is cruelty free. The brand does not test their ingredients or finished products on animals, and neither do their suppliers. In addition, Elf skincare products are not sold in places where animal testing is required by law.

Elf Skincare Reviews

Elf skincare reviews on the brand’s website are overall very positive, with the products receiving mostly four and five star ratings. The product with the most reviews is the Elf Holy Hydration Face Cream, which has earned an average rating of 4.6 out of 5 stars after more than 700 customer reviews.

Positive reviews for the Holy Hydration Face Cream mention that it moisturizes well, leaving the skin feeling soft and smooth without feeling greasy.

For example, one review says, “My first impression is that I’m very, highly impressed. A little, and I mean a tiny bit, goes a long way. I went in with a very small swipe, as I would with most facial creams, and had to rub it down my neck as well. Even with using too much, this product absorbed into the skin very nicely and is 100% non-greasy. My skin feels so soft but doesn’t feel, to the touch, like I put a moisturizer on. Everything absorbs so nicely. There is zero greasiness, it’s not tacky in the slightest. It just feels amazing. For the price, it’s 100% worth it.”

While there aren’t many negative reviews for the Holy Hydration Face Cream, we did read some from customers who actually experienced dryness after using this Elf Moisturizer. For example, one review says, “I bought this product a month ago and for me it made my skin so dry and definitely did not moisturise it but in fact made it feel stripped. I don’t recommend this at all!”

Our Verdict

Overall, we think that Elf skincare products are a good option if you’re on a budget and want to get the most bang for your buck. Most of the products are formulated with evidence-based ingredients, although keep in mind that some products contain synthetic fragrance blends and denatured alcohol.


  • Evidence-based ingredients
  • Low cost (majority of products are under $20)


  • Some products contain synthetic fragrance blend and denatured alcohol

What Are Some Alternatives to Elf Skincare?

There’s no need to compromise when it comes to finding skincare that’s effective and safe.

If you’re looking for effective skincare products that skip harmful toxins, one brand we recommend is Carrot & Stick.

Carrot & Stick is committed to creating plant-derived formulas that deliver extraordinary results without relying on toxic chemicals or standard preservatives.

Carrot & Stick takes a tough love approach to skincare, perfectly balancing the gentle nurturing of plants with innovative science.


J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2010 Feb; 3(2): 22–41



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Elf Happy Hydration Cream Review

Elf Cosmetics is known for its affordable line of makeup products, but many don’t know that the brand has a pretty extensive collection of skin care products. Elf skincare products can address concerns like dryness, blemishes, uneven skin tone, aging, and more. One of the popular products in the collection...

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