I've used most of the E.L.F brushes at least once, from the Essential, Studio and Mineral lines and I definitely have many that I reach for over more expensive brands. I've found their smaller brushes, those designed for eyeshadow, liner and lips to be my favourite from between the 3 lines. If I had to pick my absolute favourites, they would be:
1) Studio: "Small Precision Brush": I love doing detailed eye looks, and this is great for getting cream colours exactly where I need them. I also love using it as an eye or lip liner brush or for filling my brows. For me, this is a multi-purpose brush. Soft bristles, but firm and small enough to get product where I want it.
2) Studio: "Small Smudge Brush": My gel/cream liners love this brush. The short, firm bristles get the liner exactly where I want it. I can use the tip to get a bolder line, or the edge to get a thinner liner look. As the name suggests, it's also great for smudging out liner for a more smokey look. I've used this as a lip brush as well.
3) Essential: "Eyeshadow Brush": For me, this is a great brush for packing on pigments. The brushes are sparse enough to be able to load up the product, but short enough to get it where you want to. It's also soft enough to be used as a blender brush, and I've often used mine to blend out the crease.
I've purchased each of these multiple times (because I'm lazy about washing my brushes and like to have backups, not because they needed replacing) and each one lasts quite a few years. I've yet to throw one out because it broke. They all wash well, and, though I get a stray hair from the shadow brush once in a while, it's hardly a dealbreaker, especially for the price.
I've used ELF face brushes in the past, but have found them to be a little more scratchy than I'd like, and have found better, softer ones that are only slightly more expensive, but much more available here in Canada. But for everyday makeup, if you know how to apply it properly, some of the brushes are great and, for the price, it can't hurt to try them.
Hurts like hell like everyone of elf brushes (havent tried mineral brushes yet though). And most of them shed like crazy. Just wouldn't repurchase
I have mixed feelings toward the E.L.F. line, it is a nicely packaged, inexpensive line of products, but they can be hit or miss. The brushes are wonderful because you can easily replace them. Even the Studio line is so cheap you treat them as disposables if you get lazy about washing them. The worst in the Studio line for me is the Stipple brush. It is just awful. I haven't tried the small stipple brush yet, but the reviews on it are much better than the large.
I know I'm a beginner with brushes, I've not used expensive brands, but since I own almost all of the ELF brushes I've not seen the need. You can find just about whatever brush you want between the regular and Studio lines, and they range between 1-6 dollars apiece. Don't be afraid to try a different use than prescribed for each brush- for instance I use the $1 eyeliner brush as a lip brush because it works that way for me. you can find a use for just about every brush, and a brush for just about every use, with some experimentation. You may want to upgrade later, but for starters, here's a great way to get away from silly foam applicators that come with products and get a more professional result with your makeup application without having to break the bank. Plus, you can throw in some cheap makeup with your order and not feel like you're splurging too much! Check reviews first before buying each product, as they are hit-or-miss for cosmetics, especially the dollar line.