I've been up front from the very beginning that at the start of this brush adventure I didn't know much at all about brushes. I still don't, barely scratching the knowledge surface in comparison to the brush collectors out there. But hey, this blog is not about catching up to anyone. I post about the things I like and that's that.
Anyway, I was moving around too much and didn't have the time or energy to invest in nicer brushes. Moving had its toll, and I'm still lagging behind on items I bought a couple of years ago because they were packed away and were subsequently forgotten. Oops. So all the brushes featured thus far have been "making do" brushes until I can settle down a bit and start looking into nicer ones. But make-do brushes don't always mean shitty brushes. In fact, I like some of my make-do brushes very much, and even though I now have nicer ones I still reach for them quite frequently, and not just because I'm sentimental. These are some very decent brushes that get the job done.
- Lancome #3 Highlighting Brush: Unfortunately, this one is truly a make-do brush, as in crappy and only kinda sorta gets the job done. I bought it back in 2011 and had been using it until earlier this year when I finally started building my set of Hakuhodo and Koyudo. Thankfully I didn't pay a lot for it, only some $28, which for 3 years of use was worth the price I guess.
This is a duo-fiber highlighting brush, although Lancome never made clear what kind of natural hair this is. Either way, it's a few orders of magnitude inferior to the Hakuhodo J4001 I use now (getting to that post soon). As you can see in the closeup of its crown, the natural and synthetic fibers are so poorly weaved together the brush looks as if it's balding. And for the amount of hair it sheds with each application, it might as well be balding. I use it solely to sweep on highlighter as a finishing touch, and the bald patches are so big whenever I dip it into The Body Shop Lily Cole Puff On Radiance, it actually picks up several whole pearls! I guess you get what you pay for. This is not to mention it's not very soft at all and is rather scratchy.
- Lancome #18 Dual-End Liner & Shadow Brush: unlike the #3 Highlighting Brush above, this #18 is actually a very decent brush! Lancome says it's also duo-fiber, but mine feels totally synthetic (it's an older version with the silver handle). Either way, it's soft to the touch but has some resistance when pressed, which I like. I prefer duo-fiber or synthetic brushes because I use a lot of cream and liquid products.
The eye shadow end is excellent with cream/liquid shadows because it's thick and firm despite being flat, and it's a great size for my eye lids. It's great with eye bases/primers too, but for this purpose it's actually not wide enough. So for super sonic drying bases like Etude House Proof 10 Eye Primer (will review soon), I prefer Stila #11 Large Concealer Brush to cover more area in shorter time. Stila #11 is thinner than this brush but is wider and just as firm.
See how it's oval and thick despite being a "flat" brush?
The liner end is also excellent for lining with powder, pencil, or cream, because it's also quite thick, too thick for thinner formulas like gel and liquid actually. So if you want fine lines, this is not the brush for you. But I like thicker and smudgier lines so this works really well. It's good for eyebrows too, but funny enough it's too wide for my thin and sparse brows.
Surprisingly thick for a liner brush!
Next up are the 2 Raw Color brushes I received as part of the Dermstore Fall 2012 Super Luxe Grab Bag #3. Both are synthetic.
- Raw Color Maximum Coverage Foundation Brush: sadly this brush has been discontinued, although you can probably find it online still. It's so soft and dense it feels like velvet on my skin. I don't use it for foundation but instead cream blushes, which it does a really good job blending, sometimes too good of a job, that or I didn't apply enough product, or the cream blush is too sheer and got blended into oblivion LOL! And no worries, that crease on the brush surface was from the original plastic packaging and went away after the first wash.
- Raw Color Concealer Brush: these pictures were taken before washing, and the brush was still starched and so it looks way pointier than it actually is. I didn't use concealer then, not because I didn't need any but that I was lazy. Now I actually take the time to conceal, but instead of concealer which I think is too thick and caky, I use bb creams for a more natural coverage (will review soon). But this brush is still too narrow for my concealing purpose so I use it to line, smudge, and sometimes to shade my brows. It's soft but is quite firm and draws nice smudgy lines.
- Stila #7 Precision Crease Brush Short Handle: this is a crease brush but precise it is not. It's small, so it can get into my crease fine, but it's not tapered enough on the sides to be called a "precision" brush. Still, it does a decent job of picking up L'Oreal Paris Infallible 24HR Eyeshadows' hybrid powder-cream formula, and I would totally use it for lay-down if it were wider. So its size restricts it to crease and accent shades. And I do wish it was softer as well because it's kind of scratchy.
- Stila #16 Double-sided Shadow-Flat Liner Brush: I received this brush by surprise - it came with the Stila 8-pan compact ^.^
This shadow end is softer than the #7 Precision Crease Brush above, but it's still too small for lay-down purposes. So this is the brush I use for lid colors, because it covers perfectly the area just below my crease ^.^
I took these pictures before washing so the liner end of this brush looks way pointier than it is. It's has nice and firm, and feels synthetic, bristles, which is great for the kind of thicker and smudgy lines I like with powders and pencils. I haven't tried to fine-line with it though, so I can't comment on this.
- Stila #30 Dual Ended Shadow Brush: this is a natural hair brush although Stila doesn't say what kind of hair it is. This brush along with #11 Large Concealer Brush, #33 Complexion Brush, and #34 Jewel Eye Shadow Brush are my top 4 from Stila. I absolutely love them and I use them to death, well, not quite, I take pretty good care of them. Still, I have a backup of this brush in case it falls apart (left picture, still in original packaging, right picture is the one currently in use), that's how much I like it.
This eye shadow end is slightly bigger than #16 Double-sided Shadow-Flat Liner above, but still not big enough for lay-down. However, it's a much better brush for both lid colors as well as crease, so this one brush does the job of #16 and #7 Precision Crease Brush combined. How? Well, to start it's much softer, and while it's slightly wider on the front (left) it tapers to a nice point on the side (right).
I love this blending end also, although I use it for one purpose only - to sweep on the sparkling top wash as a finishing touch. Sephora makes a pretty decent version of this brush which they call the Crease Brush (see comparison with Stila #9 All Over Blend Brush), but the problem with Sephora is that they don't have much quality control and the brush shapes are completely inconsistent, varying widely from one brush to the next. I was lucky to have gotten the nicely shaped Crease Brush from that one travel set, but this Stila one is even better, softer and works well.
- Stila #34 Jewel Eye Shadow Brush: I already reviewed this brush, so I just want to add that it's very dense and soft, which means it packs a good dose of color. And it's rather wide, which makes laying down and packing on base/highlight colors a breeze. It struggles a little bit with L'Oreal Paris Infallible 24HR Eyeshadows, but I blame the hybrid powder-cream formula for that, because it's excellent with any other powder shadow. I also use it to highlight the inner corners of the eye, it's that soft, and with short bristles it offers good control too.
- Makeup Brushes
- Makeup Brushes Part II
- Makeup Brushes Part III
- Makeup Brushes Part VI