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Image of Elf's Liquid Eyeliner in Coffee
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Price: £1.50 / $1.00
Origin: Made in China
Weight: 0.17 fl.oz / 5ml

ELF Liquid Eyeliner in Coffee Review

Our Rating
Good: It's crazy cheap, has easy application, and comes off without too much problem
Bad: Not very long-lasting, and colour isn't vivid.
User Score
(2 votes)
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Rating: 4.0/10 (2 votes cast)

  • This is a brown coloured liquid eye liner from cheap cosmetics brand: ELF. Designed for easy application, definition and smudge-proof colour.
  • Water(Aqua), Styrene/Acrylates/Ammonium Methacrylate Copolymer, Butylene Glycol, Xanthan Gum, Sodium Laureth-12 Sulfate, Methylparaben, Propylparaben May Contain: Iron Oxides (CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499), Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891), Manganese Violet (CI 77742), Ultramarines (CI 77007), Chromium Hydroxide Green (CI 77289), Yellow No. 5 Lake (CI 19140), Ferric Ferrocyanide (CI 77510), Blue No.1 Lake (CI 42090).
  • Apply in small strokes along the upper lash line for a more natural look. Or a thicker, solid line for when you want to create some real drama!
  • ELF products are only available online in the UK through their official website. In the US products can be purchased through the ELF website, or in selected stores.

Image of ELF Liquid Eyeliner in Coffee

I have a confession to make: I can not apply liquid eye liner to save my life, and I’m not too sure that ELF Liquid Eyeliner in Coffee is going to be any different. I just don’t get on very well with liquid liners for whatever reason. Maybe it’s because my hand-eye coordination is just none-existent (which is true), or maybe I am destined to never get along with my liquefied nemesis (possibly true). I’ve tried a few products from slightly more expensive brands such as Urban Decay and Rimmel, but most of them have just been a complete nightmare.

Deciding to try out yet another liquid eyeliner might seem quite foolhardy (and if you’re thinking that, then you’re probably right), but when you’re only spending a £1.50 / $1 you really can’t go wrong and I thought that using a cheap alternative to “practice” might help me to steady my hand and “hone” those non-existent skills – well, I can try at least. And in the mean time, it was only £1.50 which is brilliant, if I do say so!

What I was expecting from Elf liquid eyeliner in Coffee:

To be perfectly frank, my expectations couldn’t be lower, and that was because of two major reasons:

1. As I’ve already said, I don’t have a good reputation with liquid eyeliners. I can’t apply them, I make a mess and I think that there should be some kind of law prohibiting me from buying them! I certainly had no reason to expect this one to be any different for the more expensive brands that I’ve tried in the past.

2. I’m not going to deny that I was a bit of a snob. I’ve bought a huge collection of cheap ELF nail polishes, which I absolutely LOVE, but I’m a bit weary of the overall quality of the makeup. I’ve never been a big fan of products with high price tags, but sometimes it’s easy to think that something can be a bit “too cheap”.

Therefore, I was expecting the brush to be virtually useless, and application to be a nightmare. Was I right, was I wrong? Well, you’ll have to keep reading to find out 😉

Close-up of ELF Liquid Eyeliner Bottle

What You Get:

As you’d expect, the packaging is really simple. There’s nothing particularly “special” or “wow” about it. It is basically what it is, and it doesn’t need to be anything else, I guess. It’s kind of boring, and it certainly has a look of cheap about it, but does it really matter? I don’t think so, because it’s the product that needs to pass the test. This is like the “no frills” brand of make up products. It’s nothing fancy, it just does what it says on the metaphorical tin.

The thing that I do love about the bottle is that it has a really tall lid, which the applicator is attached to, so it of course acts as the applicators handle. I much prefer this part to be long, because I don’t know about anyone else, but I always find that liners are a little bit easier to control if they have a longer handle. Plus, I find it helpful if the handle is relatively narrow. Fortunately, most liquid eyeliners that I’ve tried do have handles that are exactly like this. Although I did pick one up recently from Boots’ 17 Range that had quite a chunky handle which worked fine, but I’d have preferred it to be a little bit longer.

The Colour:

Image of Elf Liquid Eyeliner in Coffee

I opted for a brown liquid eyeliner, purely because since I’m hopeless at applying liquid I thought that choosing a colour other than black might mean that I made less of an “obvious” mess. Plus, I think that brown eyeliner looks great for a natural look. Well, it does on other people anyway…!

I’m quite intrigued by the choice of the name “Coffee” for this brown shade because when I think of Coffee, I think of rich and deep brown tones. In terms of the colour of this ELF Liquid Eyeliner, initially I really wouldn’t have described it as “coffee” purely because it didn’t seem dark enough when I first swatched it on my hand. However, when I tried a heavier line it really did look the colour of coffee, which was kind of weird. As you can see in the image below, the product does appear to have differing colours dependent on how you apply it:

Image of liquid eyeliner swatches

I quite like the fact that there are different shades achievable with this liner, because when I want a natural look that’s when I’m going to be lighter with my attempt at application, so I’d want a lighter shade. On the other hand, I’m more likely to want a darker tone for a heavier and more dramatic look. I tend to find that with black eyeliners the shade you get is the same no matter what type of look you are going for, so that was a huge plus-point for me.

When I applied the liner to my eyes, I did notice, however that the colour didn’t really get as “vivid” or dark, as it had on my hand which was quite disappointed. Perhaps in my efforts I just wasn’t applying enough product to create a darker shade of the liner, I’m not sure. But it seemed to come out as a lighter tone.

One thing that I’ve just noticed looking back at the swatch images, is how much the colour seems to have “bled” into my head, which I’m not really very impressed about. I like liner to stay where I put it, so the idea of the colour “bleeding” is a little off-putting.


As you can imagine, this was the ultimate crunch time between me and this liquid liner. But, I decided to try a couple of methods, because if I’m going to suck, I might as well really prove how much I suck at applying this stuff. The methods I used were:

1. Just slap it on basically! Starting at the inner corner just draw a line to the outer corner of the upper eye lid. Simple (sort of).

2. A bit more attention-orientated: I read somewhere recently (forgive me that I can’t remember, but I’m pretty certain that I read it somewhere on Facebook!), that the easiest way to apply eyeliner, was to apply in short lines working across the eyelid from inside outwards.

For reference (in case it isn’t obvious), the slap-dash one is on the right, and the attention-orientated one is of course on the left!

Image of Elf Eyeliner on eyes

As I expected neither is perfect. The Slap-Dash one on the right looks a bit messy, as it’s completely uneven. But, even though it’s not entirely perfect, I thought the other one was much better and looks a little neater. I even felt a bit adventurous and went into a slight cat wing at the corner there!

My biggest problem with application, especially with liquid liners, is that I find it difficult to get the liner right up to the lash line. I typically end up with an area of skin between the colour and my eyelashes that I then have to fill in. This did happen with the right-hand eye, which is why I imagine it got patchy. I did have to do this filling in a little with the left eye, but nowhere as much which was quite refreshing.

Image of brown eyeliner on eyes

As you can see from the side, I don’t think that this eye turned out too bad at all. In fact, I’m actually (wait for it) really impressed. Okay, so it’s not the neatest application ever, but trust me when I say that this is probably the best application I’ve ever managed!! Is this as a result of using this particular liquid eyeliner, or is it down to the method that I used? Well, I’m inclined to state that it’s probably down to the method that I used, and the reason I say that is because the application on the other eye is just so bad. Nevertheless, application was still relatively easy even to my ridiculous standards. This surprised me because the applicator wasn’t really that great, in my opinion:

Image of ELF Liquid Liner bottle and wand

The applicator is quite chunky and from experience using other liquid liners, I do tend to find that I prefer liners to have fine applicators. I also noticed that whilst most liner applicators tend to be made up of bristles, this one was more a sponge which seemed very stiff and I felt that this was quite counter-productive because it sort of restricts the applicator from moulding to the natural shape of the eye. By being stiff, I think I kind of expected it to be like the felt-tip liners that I’ve tried in the past, from brands such as Eyeko et al. Personally, I’m not a fan of felt tip application. I always thought that this would be the perfect type for me, but I think that I’m maybe too light-handed with the felt tipped ones, which is weird because I have a bit of a reputation for being heavy handed, so I’m not really sure on that one.

Despite that, however, I have noticed that since I started using this product, the tip of the applicator has “loosened up” and isn’t quite as rigid which appears to work better with application.


When it comes to liquid eyeliner I have high expectations regarding longevity. As they don’t blend or smudge in the same manner as pencil or gel liners, and are very often promoted heavily on them being “smudge-proof” I honestly expect liquid liners to stay put for much longer. So, did it? To be honest, not really. I wish I’d taken photos of it, but I did notice after a couple of hours that both eyes had begun to flake quite a lot which was disappointing.

I’m definitely of the impression that this liner probably wouldn’t last through a hot and sweaty night in a club or to a gig.


This product surprised me because even though it was uber cheap, it still packed a load of punch when I figured out the whole “applying it properly”. It applies nicely as long as you know vaguely what you’re doing (which most of the time I obviously don’t), but I don’t think that it can beat other liquid liners in the longevity and vivid colour stakes.

Recommended to:

Anyone who is looking for a cheap liquid eyeliner alternative. It isn’t going to work miracles, it’s not going to last all day, but it’s “fine” for basic daytime looks.

Suitable for:

All eye colours

Recommended for:

Natural, daytime looks, perhaps not so much for night time ones purely due to the longevity issues.

 Have you tried any ELF products? What do you think?

Excellent value for money, or do you think that you have to spend money to gain real quality?

Kat Musselwhite

Kat Musselwhite

Kat is a freelance writer, who believes that everyone is beautiful, and make up just helps to enhance that natural beauty. She loves playing with make up, watching films, travelling and writing.

Kat Musselwhite

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ELF Liquid Eyeliner in Coffee Review, 4.0 out of 10 based on 2 ratings


  1. Patricia Ramos
    Patricia Ramos
    July 17, 2012, 2:58 pm

    I have this in black. It does flake, and I guess for the price it’s as expected.

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    • Chriselle Sy
      Chriselle Sy
      July 18, 2012, 4:54 pm

      I had this in black too. Ended up tossing it out eventually, as the colors would separate. 🙁

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