marc jacobs instamarc

Marc Jacobs ($38) vs. e.l.f. ($6) – Contouring Brush Comparison

Contouring has been in the spotlight for the last 6 months, which is roughly the time I jumped on the bandwagon with the purchase of the Marc Jacobs #Instamarc Light Filtering Contour Powder in Mirage Filter 40, after receiving a makeover with it at my local Sephora. This was one of my biggest splurges at the time, but when I got home, I couldn’t replicate what the makeup artist had done without a contour brush. I struggled for a couple days before I finally caved and ordered the Marc Jacobs “The Shape Contour and Blush Brush” No. 15 from Sephora’s website (that the makeup artist had used), and then I was good to go!

It has been a few months since then, and the rest of the high and low-end beauty retailers seem to have caught on; offering contouring-related products left and right. For example, LORAC just came out with a new contour palette being sold exclusively at Ulta that I’ve been eyeing simply because I love the presentation and color choices. What this all means is more options to explore, whether you want to contour on a daily basis, or just for special occasions. One brand that I’m constantly trying the products of is e.l.f., which sells through their website, at their stores in NYC, and stocks a limited selection at stores such as Target and many other discount retailers. The price is super affordable, usually under $5 per item, and I’ve always been a firm believer that you can find gems in every budget brand.

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Let’s talk about the No. 15 for a minute: No denying it, this brush feels like luxury. The weight of it makes you feel like you’re holding some magical wand (lol), and the synthetic bristles are densely packed and unsurprisingly, soft. I’ve used this occasionally for 4 months and no bristle has ever come loose. Just as importantly, it holds product very well and provides even distribution. Basically, it’s perfect, minus the fact that it retails for $38 and you could easily purchase a high-end daily-use foundation or powder brush for that amount.

The e.l.f. Studio Contouring Brush on the other hand, packs quite a defining punch as well. The bristles are shorter than the ones on the No. 15, but they are still synthetic, soft, and quite densely packed (maybe just a tad less so than No. 15). I will say that right when I began using this brush, a couple bristles seemed to get out of whack and I had to pluck them out. No big deal though. Because it’s narrower than the No. 15, it can create a much more defined contour line, allowing you to blend out from there. After some later experimentation, I’ve decided that this brush works especially well for contouring the nose and other narrow areas. I was honestly surprised at how usable this brush was, and for a retail price of only $6! Please note: At the time of this post, this brush was out of stock. However, e.l.f. is consistently updating their inventory and I’m sure it will be available again very soon.

Final verdict — Buy the No. 15 if you’re brand conscious and appreciate the weight of expensive brushes. Otherwise, the e.l.f. one does the job, makes an excellent back-up for your travel bag, and goes easy on your wallet!


12 thoughts on “Marc Jacobs ($38) vs. e.l.f. ($6) – Contouring Brush Comparison

  1. Ooh do you have a demo of how to countour? Or one you would recommend? I bought a contouring brush awhile back and some darkish bronzer someone told me to get, but I feel like I can’t tell if I’m doing too little or too much in the mirror. Help!



    • Hi Jen! Unfortunately I haven’t gotten to making a video on contouring yet — the bulk of what I learned was by going to a makeup store like Sephora and having a makeup artist explain as she did the makeover. One thing I will say is make sure the bronzer you have is grey-toned and not orange-ish, because essentially, you want it to act as a “shadow”. I found this video that might be helpful for you:

      I’ve seen a ton of contouring videos on Youtube of people using cream contour products, but not as many for powders. This person uses a powder, albeit a different brush, but the part at 1:10 where she creates the contour line is mainly what I want to convey to you. Also, when I use the 2 brushes that I discussed, I only pull it as far as the outer edge of my eye (in this video she seems to pull it down to the upper corner of her lip). I hope this helps! Please let me know if you do decide to give this a try and how it turns out 🙂


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