I agree with this.
The appearance would need to be an obviously nonhuman characteristic, to count as a nonhuman appearance.
By the way, I have seen reallife people who had somewhat pointy ears. It happens.
For me, the concepts of elf and dwarf are supposed to look human. Because they actually arent humans but are taking on a human form. They still retain subtle hints of their true form, being some feature of nature.
For example, the alfar are sunlight, and sometimes the human form glows an aura of sunlight. That would count as a nonhuman appearance.
So how does a homebrew elven race affect the conversation? I have no problem talking about how I've given halflings more depth in my campaign, but your alfar are a departure from standard lore. That's not necessarily a bad thing. If that's what it takes to make halflings unique to you then add something.