NEW YORK — Breaking into the mass-market color cosmetics business is not for the faint of heart. Even powerful players have tried to introduce new color brands and failed — Procter & Gamble Co.’s Olay brand, and Revlon’s Vital Radiance and Jane Cosmetics, which at one point was owned by the Estée Lauder Cos. Inc.

Against the odds, the up-and-coming brand E.l.f. Cosmetics (Eyes. Lips. Face.) is gaining traction by taking the road less traveled. The brand launched online first and is building its retail business.

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