ELF illuminating Palette Review

When it comes to drugstore makeup, elf cosmetics is one of the best brands! They have a wide collection of affordable products that perform very well. I got the elf illuminating palette from my local walmart as I was looking for a highlighting palette. I was using it a lot since I got it and now I’m ready to write my review.

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The elf illuminating palette has a sleek black packaging. This is the standard elf packaging they use for their other bronzer and blush palettes. It has a giant good quality mirror which makes this palette perfect for travel.

There are four shades and each pan can be removed and replaced by any other pan of the elf similar palettes. I like to replace the shade that I don’t use with a blush color from their blush palette. This makes it the perfect face palette to travel with.

The shades in this palette have a very smooth and silky texture that feels creamy to the touch.

They  don’t contain any chunky glitters. They are shimmery and more suitable for fair to medium skintones. The colors are also buildable so you can go from a natural look to a more intense highlight.

You can find the swatches down below! I want to mention that the colors don’t look on the skin as they appear on the swatches. They look way more sheer. I built up the colors when taking the swatches so that they can show up on camera.

Shade 1 on the top left corner is a white with yellow undertones. It’s the most bright shade of the palette. it doesn’t have any particles of glitter and it gives the skin a natural glow. This shade suits light to medium skintones. I like to apply it with the elf small tapered brush on the highest points of the cheeks.

Shade 2 on the top right corner is a light pink. It has a shimmery finish and it’s more pigmented than the other shades. It has a powdery formula and it might not suit as many skintones as the other colors. If you like highlighters with pink undertones, you might enjoy using this one. keep in mind that this shade is a little bit chalky. Applying it with a light hand works the best!

Shade 3 on the bottom left corner is a light champagne with beige undertones. It has a soft formula and it’s not as chalky as the other pink shade. It can be like many skintones so it might not show as a bright highlight. It’s definitely a very beautiful and subtle highlight.

Shade 4 on the right bottom corner is a warm bronze. It’s dark so it might not work as a highlight for many skintones. It gives a beautiful bronzy glow to the skin and I like to use it as a bronzer during the summer. The formula of this shade is soft and it blends beautifully into the skin. it works as a nice eyeshadow shade too! it can be used as a beautiful eyelid shade. I like to put it on top of a matte bronzer to give my face a little bit of a glowy bronzy sheen.


Applying the powders in a light way and with good brushes make them appear fabulous on the skin. i like to use the elf tapered brush, the real techniques setting brush or the elf highlighting blush.

Tip: to reduce the powdery effect, I like to apply these shades with a lightly damp sponge. I wet and squeeze the makeup sponge very well, dip it in one of the powders and apply it to the cheekbones. This gives the skin a beautiful shiny effect that looks so natural! Be careful not to wet the powder too much as it can damage it!

You can also mix and match the shades for a luminous glow. I like to apply the shade 1 &3 together on the highest points of the cheekbones. This gives me a beautiful and shiny glow. The colors can also be used as brow bone highlighter’s or on the cupid’s bow. I also like to apply the shade 1 as an inner eye corner highlight!

Is the elf illuminating palette a dupe for the hourglass ambient lighting palette?

Many people consider this palette as a dupe for the hourglass ambient lighting palette. The colors are similar but the formulas are a little bit different. The elf powders doesn’t have the same amazing quality as hourglass. They are more powdery and they leave some kick up.

The shade 2 is considered as a dupe for the hourglass Incandescent Light. they both have pink undertones but the hourglass one is softer and it has a better formula. The colors are similar but the elf one is more pigmented and chalky.

The shade 3 is supposed to be a dupe for Hourglass Dim Light which has a light peach undertone. The shades are similar but not exactly the same. I find that the elf shade has a nice formula that performs very well on the skin. it’s not very chalky and it blends easily. It leaves a beautiful and sheer glow on the face.

The shade 4 is supposed to be a dupe for the Hourglass radiant light. The hourglass one is a golden beige and it’s lighter than the elf one. these two colors are not exact dupes and the elf shade can be used on darker skintones.

As for the ingredients, the hourglass palette doesn’t contain talc. The elf one has talc and I know some people might not like this ingredient. They both have mica and silica. They both have dimethicone which is a silicone used as a smoothing agent.

The elf illuminating palette is not an exact dupe for the hourglass ambient lighting palette. The two palettes have a lot of similarities but they don’t have the same quality. The elf powders are not as silky and smooth as the hourglass ones.

The hourglass powders can be applied all over the face to give a skin a nice finish. the difference is that I can’t apply the elf powders all over my face. They might give the skin a powdery look.

The hourglass powder is very expensive. So many people don’t like spending that much money on a makeup palette. That’s why the elf palette is worth checking out. I also think that there are few lighter palettes at the drugstore. This is what makes the elf palette unique. The elf illuminating palette is a great deal.

The formula of the powders might not have a high end quality but they work beautifully. I think that for the price, this palette is absolutely worth it. Elf cosmetics is also cruelty free and vegan which is amazing! People who like sheer highlighter might enjoy using this palette. it doesn’t give the skin a blinding glow and it doesn’t have glitter or sparkles.

The powders work well for an everyday natural makeup look. They are great for a work day or for those busy days! As a mom, I like to keep this palette with me for an on-the-go easy look! I just apply mascara, eyeliner in the water line, a light bb cream and I go over the cheekbones with a mix of shade 1 and 3! Just an quick look that I like to finish with a tinted lip balm and that’s it!

you want to discover more from elf? Check this list of affordable eyebrow products!

Claire is a beauty enthusiast and lover of all things makeup. Her blog is a resource for makeup tips and tricks, product reviews and beauty tutorials.

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