Is the E.L.F. Studio Contouring Blush and Bronzing Powder a Dupe for the NARS Orgasm-Laguna Duo?

Published in: Drugstore Beauty Finds, Makeup, Product Reviews

elf contouring blush and bronzing powder 1

Two things I never expected…

  1. The Jess/Jason storyline in True Blood (Wait — what!? More on that in a few)
  2. How I’d feel about E.L.F. Studio’s $3 Contouring Blush & Bronzing Powder

E.L.F.’s bargain basement beauty comes up often in conversations about the fabulous $40 NARS Highlighting Bronzing Blush Duo in Orgasm/Laguna, a makeup masterpiece, if you ask me, and one of my favorite pieces of all time, because it’s seen by many as a major money-saving dupe.


What’s so special about the Orgasm/Laguna Duo, you might ask? Well, that depends. If you ask my cheeks, they’d say they love the way it brightens them up. I use the Laguna bronzer to contour my cheeks with a rich golden brown and the Orgasm blush to give the apples of my cheeks a golden, peachy pink flush.

I love the duo so much that I haven’t taken a trip without it in at least three years.

But at $40, it’s far from cheap, which leaves the door wide open for a drugstore dupe.

The question is, does this E.L.F. deliver? From outward appearances, it sure looks like it does…

elf contouring blush and bronzing powder closed

elf contouring blush and bronzing powder open
E.L.F. Contouring Blush & Bronzing Powder

E.L.F. on the left; NARS on the right

elf contouring blush and bronzing powder swatches
E.L.F. Contouring Blush & Bronzing Powder (two swatches on the left); NARS Orgasm/Laguna Duo (two swatches on the right)

elf contouring blush and bronzing powder
E.L.F. Contouring Blush & Bronzing Powder on cheeks

They could be first cousins judging by the way they look in their pans, but on the skin they’re little more than kissing cousins twice removed.

I think the biggest difference has to do with shimmer, in so much as the very fine golden shimmer in the NARS duo’s blush and bronzer make its colors appear complex and lively in the light, which they hunger for when they’re worn on cheeks.

The E.L.F. shades also shimmer, but I don’t think it’s nearly as bright or as much, and because of that I think they appear flatter and less dynamic on my skin.

The blush looks lighter and less pigmented than its NARS counterpart does to me, really more pink than peach, and I really have to apply a lot to coax the color out. The bronzer, on the other hand, looks about three shades darker than NARS Laguna does, making it more of a basic brown than a golden one — muddier, and not nearly as flattering. I also find myself spending much more time blending out the edges with both of the E.L.F. shades (the powders feel a little grainier than the NARS ones do)

I’m always down for a drugstore deal, and while I don’t think it’s a bad product (GREAT price, and it stays put all day), I don’t think it’s that great, either.

AVAILABILITY: Available now at Target stores, other drugstores and also online

ZOMG! True Blood!

A’ight, just STOP READING RIGHT HERE if you’re not caught up on the show, but if you are…

HOLY CRAP! I stayed up way past my bedtime last night watching the new True Blood (and Drop Dead Diva, which was blogtastic, wasn’t it?), and all I have to say is thank you, HBO, for giving the people what they want! — specifically, Vampire Eric and Sookie finally getting on their boom-chicka-wah-wah.

What did you think when it actually happened? Relief? Dread? The writers had been building up to it for so long, but they finally pulled the trigger.


Oh, Alexander Skarsgard, aka Vampire Eric, is slated to be a guest on Regis And Kelly tomorrow morning… I wonder if they’ll ask him to take off his shirt.

I mean, they should. 🙂

Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,



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So far, 32 people have commented on this article. How cool is that?

  1. Mary says:

    Nice comparison! I have the elf one and haven’t used it yet. Since I don’t have the NARS, I think it’s a good option. (A lot of NARS products have bismuth oxychloride. That’s the only reason I haven’t tried it. You see, I’m allergic to that ingredient when it’s in eye or face products.)
    Mary recently posted … Nail Art Tutorial: Cookie Monster Nails

  2. laksh says:

    Eric! oh Eric! he should walk everywhere with his shirt off :D, I actually felt bad for bill watching that episode. Its so different from the books but they are doing a very good job of keeping us on the hook!

    I was planning to pick up the E.L.F blush bronzer duo, now I think I would skip it. The blush wont show up well on my current NC42-44 skin.
    laksh recently posted … Review: E.L.F Daily brush cleaner is cheaptastic!!!

  3. hmmm… judging from the swatches, i’d have to say that i would prefer to shell out the money on the NARS duo. it definitely has more dimension than the E.L.F. duo.
    dani@callitbeauty recently posted … Monthly Favourites – July 2011

  4. CynthiaCCC says:

    Ah, Erik. *sigh* Sweet amnesiac Erik, protective but oddly standoffish Erik, or even Evil Erik. I love them all.

  5. Lacey says:

    Karen, I love this post! While I’d LOVE to pick up the NARS, I do not see myself doing so on my student budget. I guess it could be an investment, right? Who knows— I may treat myself.

    You look great!!!
    Lacey recently posted … Review: Hard Candy’s Naturally Naughty Kit

  6. Chris25 says:

    I did a post on this and got the same results: NARS Laguna is the lighter bronzer and Orgasm is deeper and more complex than its cousin.

    WHAT? Eric and Sookie? Really???

  7. Anna says:

    I love my Orgasm/Laguna duo, so when someone gave me the e.l.f. duo a while ago I “donated” it to my sister. She’s just getting started into makeup so I thought it would be a good gateway product… Anyway, she loves it 🙂

    Though I love the real thing, I’ve been hoping to find a dupe/version of Orgasm without the shimmer – any ideas?

  8. Vijaya says:

    I do hate when I think I’ve found a dupe but I haven’t! xP
    Vijaya recently posted … Little FAQ Assistance

  9. Jamie says:

    I have the ELF one and rarely use it. I wasn’t impressed and I don’t even own the NARS one. lol
    Jamie recently posted … ~FOTD~ Fuchsia and Coral….

  10. Luv the Nars duo. I almost never wear anything else. I just got Nars Love Joy a month ago and really like that blush too. Now I use all three together. I think they are worth the hefty pricetag since I use them every single day. And Eric and Sookie finally! Loved it! Poor Bill but I am team Eric all the way. I am so nervous about him getting his memory back. Will he still be good to Sook?

  11. Emily says:

    Thanks for the review! I have the elf one and was uncertain if I should bother getting the Nars.

    TB – I was happy that Eric and Sookie finally did the deed, but at the same time I am sad. I bet you a Nars Laguna bronzer that Eric will get his memory back and Sookie will be turned off. Dead Gran foreshadowing anyone?

  12. Sonya says:

    Hrm the Nars one has been on my wishlist. I was hoping I could take it off in favor of this cheaper option… but unfortunately for my wallet I prefer the Nars!
    Sonya recently posted … Sephora Ultra Vinyl Lip Pencils – Miami Pink, Gorgeous Peach, Fuchsia Fever, Coral Glow – Review + Swatches

  13. KSlone says:

    Totally team Eric! I just finished the latest Sookie book….pretty good stuff!

    I’ve tried some of the ELF products…not my fave, but you really can’t beat the price. The shadows work decent over MAC cream color bases.

  14. marisol says:

    My thoughts after True Blood ended was squeeeeeee! But knowing Alan Ball, he may screw it all up. He says he wants to keep things fresh for those of us who have read the books.
    marisol recently posted … Weekly weigh in – Week 46

    • Karen says:

      Of course he’s gonna screw it up, LOL! But now, for the time being… I’m gonna enjoy the “in-between.” I wish they could live happily ever after though in gran’s house, though. Le sigh.

      Also: I was surprised that Bill as so, well, cool about it all. I guess deep down, homeboy really loves Sookie.

  15. You look amazing in the photos Karen! I like your hair! SEXY!
    Bun Bun Makeup Tips recently posted … MAC Gold-Go-Lightly Studio Careblend Pressed Powder: As Contouring Powder, Blush, And Eyeshadow

  16. Nina says:

    the last episode of TB was purdddyyyy intersting …. Eric + Sookie = cute butttt Jason + Jessica = cuter. i loved that scene where they were sitting, talking. one of my best, fave-est TB moments evar!

  17. Nora says:

    Aww, I gotta say I wish you’d liked this more. I ADORE my elf duo. Use it ALL the time. I wanted to post so that others see it’s worth trying out! The bronzer isn’t my super fave on my very fair skin, but done lightly, and considering the price of this, I put its rating at 200% like!

  18. Tiffany C. says:

    my dream is for Sookie and Alcide!! mmmmmmmmmmmmm ALCIDE!!

  19. Marian says:

    Thanks so much for this review!

  20. Hboo says:

    I read the true blood books, well they’re called something different. It’s hard watching the tv show where it’s so different. Although the Sookie and Eric is just as epic as in the books!

    I think I may try the ELF duo, just I’m terrible at contouring. But ya did the post on NARS Pago Pago and that turned out to be the lipstick shade I’ve been trying to find for 2 years! Thank you!

  21. Karo says:

    hmmm…Laguna is much better.than e.l.f..sorry! I love Laguna so much! It´s just perfect!
    Have a nice day!
    Karo recently posted … MAC Semi Precious ROSE QUARTZ / Fotos & Swatches

  22. Sarah S. says:

    Aw, no, I was sooo let down! It is NOT hot to get it on in da swamp, yo! And I’m totally team Eric but I swear they are sabotaging their chemistry this season. Indoors nookie, please!

  23. Melissa says:

    I’ve been buying crazy amounts of ELF products in the past couple months because they’ve had some really good sales. Like you, I started my collection by picking up a couple things at Target.. A eyeshadow palette and a 5 set of nailpolish. I really loved the polish (didn’t chip for 4 days) so I went to their website to buy more since Target didn’t have any other colors. I’ve tried most of ELF’s studio line and a good portion of their mineral line. The great products are the SPF45 loose sunscreen powder, all the mineral lip glosses, the mineral eyeshadows, and the Studio line cream eyeliners. Don’t bother with their Studio line eyeshadow palettes (no pigment), the eyebrow highlighter/filler pencils (too greasy), or the pressed powder (too chalky). All in all though, I’m loving ELF 🙂

    As for TB – I’m kinda thinking that the writers just gave us what we wanted to see. I don’t think that the Sookie that we’ve been watching for the past couple years would have let her guard down so quickly and slept with him. But on that note….HOT buns Eric 🙂
    I am digging a possible Jason/Jess combo – sorry Hoyt 🙁

    • Hali says:

      She does in the books, except its like book 6 by the time it actually happens and there’s a ton more stuff that leads up to it, but otherwise…same result

  24. uhh hello? Did anyone see how Sam’s brother banged his gf(?) that’s so effed up….I don’t even know what’s going to happen next.

  25. Alison says:

    I have the elf duo, and Orgasm blush but not laguna so can’t make a serious comparison, but I can say that the elf duo seems to work really well with my cool olive toned skin, and I actually prefer the elf blusher to Orgasm! I found the duo to be really good value for money and use it on a regular basis – almost every day. It’s so cheap I would say give the elf duo a go, and if you don’t like it, you really haven’t wasted much money.

  26. Lorna says:

    I agree with you about the ELF and NARS comparison. I got the ELF for travel and it didn’t live up to the NARS. the bronzer is darker and muddy looking on my skin and the blush didn’t look right.

  27. artemis says:

    omg eric and sookie! i loved it and eric is perfect like this
    jason and jessica are so cool together 😀 hehehe

  28. Perri says:

    While I appreciate E.L.F for their affordable prices… I think you really get what you pay for.
    I have tried a couple E.L.F items. So far the only thing I can actually rely on is the eyeshadow base. It actually works and it is cheeappp.
    But the eyeliner runs.
    The eyeshadow is crappy and crumbly and dry.
    The blush I haven’t tried.
    The foundation is ca-ca. lol
    I will stick to my real Nars laguna and orgasm combo for highlight 😀

  29. Helene says:

    I kinda like the look of the bronzer in the E.L.F duo more – not a fan of everything being shimmery. I would probably use a different blusher as I agree it’s not as pigmented as the Nars one. I don’t think it looks bad on you though!

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