Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Makeup Brushes Part III (Picture Heavy!)

Ever since my dabble into makeup brushes last May, I have been on a mission to add some brushes to my makeup routine, forcing myself to use brushes from that Sephora Face & Eye Tool Kit to apply my makeup every morning. As I grow some gall with age (ha, no balls or guts here :P) to use more, and more pigmented, colors on my eyes, the fingertip application is no longer convenient and can actually get quite messy. 

But of course I soon grow curious about the other gazillion brushes out there on the market and did some shopping over this past holiday ^.^ I've read plenty of good things about Stila brushes so I thought I'd check out a few from the below 2 sets and 1 individual brush. Though with that said, I've also read that brushes from sets are significantly crappier than those sold individually. And while that makes sense, my philosophy is that I'm still in the experimental phase and haven't figured out the tools I really need, so these will have to do for now ^.^

Stila 4 Piece Brush Set (winter 2010). All pictures taken in natural light without flash.

Stila 5 Piece Brush Set (winter 2011)

This 4 Piece Brush Set was leftover from the 2010 holiday gifts and was on super sale so I thought I'd pick it up to play. My first reaction upon opening these up was that they are very well made. In fact, their nicely lacquered handles and quality bristles made my previous Sephora Face & Eye Travel Tool Kit looks and feel like a POS. The down side was that their handles are also twice as long. How the heck was I going to pack these? The natural answer is I wouldn't. And I didn't.

This brush set includes (from top to bottom) #4 Eye Liner Brush, #2 Small Concealer Brush, #11 Large Concealer Brush, and #24A Blush Brush. I tried to find information online as to whether their hair are natural or synthetic, but the Stila website only provides that information with the individual brushes and not for any of the sets. I want to think these brushes were made with the same materials as the individual brushes, but who knows... ^.^ At the very least, their handles being the same length as the individual brushes made me think this was a set of full size brushes, but again, who knows...

- #4 Eye Liner Brush: the individual brush's bristles are made of pony hair. This brush felt firm enough and would make a nice liner brush for both liquid/gel/cream as well as powder shadow, though it probably won't deliver a precise line like an angled or flat liner brush can. I like lining my eyes with a smudgy blunt line using powder anyway, and since the Sephora Smudge Brush already accomplishes this task rather well, I really had no desire to hassle with the long handle on this brush and left it behind. 

I took these pictures when the brush was still brand new and the crown was starched stiff and pointy. In reality the brush is rounded and somewhat plateaus at top. It is wider in the front and narrow on the side, and so it can deliver a sharper line if needed, just not a super sharp and fine line. 

- #2 Small Concealer Brush: the individual brush's bristles are made of sable. Either way, the Stila page says it's for use with under eye concealer. However, given the long and tapered crown I can't understand why Stila would indicate this for use under eye instead of blemish spots. But of course I may not know what the hell I'm talking about, since I rarely use spot concealer to begin with and have never used under eye concealer. Not that I don't get blemish or dark circles, just that I don't care enough to try and cover them up that well :P For the rare Rudolph-esque zits, I just dab on BB cream and call it a day. If you scrutinize anyone's face long enough, you'll see something unpleasant anyway. I left this brush at home.

Again I took these pictures when the brush was spanking new and so the tip is not pointy like that but is rather rounded. The brush is also rounded at the base, and so there are no side shots. 

- #11 Large Concealer Brush: the individual brush's bristles are made of synthetic Taklon, and this brush does feel synthetic. It is the only brush in this set I made an exception to bring with me, despite the long handle. Now this is more like an under eye concealer brush, being thin and wide. The hair is firm yet is soft at the tip, perfect for blending concealer onto the sensitive area under the eye. That said, since I don't care for under eye concealer, I have other plans for the brush muahaha... It has been designated as my new liquid/gel/cream eye shadow brush, as the Japonesque "foundation" touch up brush I've been using for soft eye shadows is a tad small. I took it on a test run with powder shadow first though, having read some good things on that front as well. Turns out it works a bit too well with powder shadow, sheering the color out a bit too much during application. To me is a sure sign that it will work very well with soft shadows, so now I'm totally looking forward to using it with them.

The brush is wide on the front and thin on the side.

- #24A Blush Brush: I'm guessing this is just one side of the individual brush #24 Double-sided Illuminating Powder Brush, which is listed with fine goat hair. I was surprised by the shape of this brush - it was actually quite flat and I was expecting a more oval base, or at least a thicker girth. It had a very interesting crown that was tapered to a tip, though as you can see it was rather thin from the side.

Due to the length of its handle, I also left this one behind and didn't have the chance to use it yet. That is to say I don't know how the shape of the crown as well as the flatness of the brush itself will help (or not) in blush application. 

Closer to the holiday Stila ran some pretty spectacular promotions and I actually got this 5 Piece Brush Set that was of the 2011 holiday collection as GWP. Of course I've been eyeing it since it came out, and I placed that order faster than lighting LOL! The promotion was the most perfect excuse ever to get the Dream in Full Color Palette.

Dream in Full Color (big) and Daydream (small) Palettes, with the 5 Piece Brush Set in the back.
***Picture from Stila.

I've been wanting to try Stila powder shadows and blushes but have never found any of the collectible beach palettes particularly interesting. I'd considered getting the Daydream Palette instead because it's a lot less bulky, but it only has eye shadows and mostly blues and greens at that. I very rarely wear blues, seldom wear green, and wanted to try Stila blushes as well, so despite all the mass of the Dream in Full Color, I went with it...and then ended up leaving it behind at home... -.-' Silly me, I know. While I wanted it, it's just way too huge to be packed away securely. Looking back, I'm actually really glad I didn't take it with me - my luggage were searched twice by you know who because of all the gifts. Of course, the big boss never has any courtesy with people's luggage and mine arrived in Tokyo a jumbled mess. In short, I'm pretty sure this fragile beauty wouldn't have made it in one piece so it was the best decision to leave it at home after all.

The 5 Piece Brush Set includes (from left to right) #5 All Over Shadow Brush, #33 Complexion Brush, #24 Powder Brush, #9 All Over Blend Brush, and #6 Lip Brush. These had handles that were a little over an inch shorter than the 4 Piece Brush Set above, so they are more packable. I particularly love it that there weren't any repeats of last year's in this set, unlike someone else we know - ahem, Sephora - who pumps out pretty much the same freakin' brush sets over and over again (there will be yet another post on makeup brushes sometime down the road). 

- #5 All Over Shadow Brush: the individual brush has mixed bristles consisting of pony and goat hair. Mine wasn't as soft as the Sephora Eye Shadow Brush, though I didn't mind that as much as I minded that the crown was too wide and not rounded enough. Yep, I left it at home, which I now kind of regret out of sheer curiosity on how it would perform. Oh well, I know it's waiting for me at home so there's no rush.

Front and side shots.

- #33 Complexion Brush: I am guessing this is the smaller end of the #33 Double-ended One Step Complexion Brush listed on Stila's website with synthetic hair. The moment I touched this brush I decided it had to come back to Japan with me no matter what. The bristles are very densely packed in a rounded base and are therefore firm on the side but are velvety soft at the tip. I'm shocked that it's supposedly synthetic hair and am so so so glad I took it with me. Hands down this is my favorite brush in the set, and possibly ever! I use it to apply powder shadows instead of concealer, and it turned my morning eye shadow routine from fumbling to holy-crap-I-did-that?!? 

You've probably seen Youtube tutorials with the gurus blending away so effortlessly at the eye shadow they had applied in the shape of a sideway V onto the outer corner of their upper lids, with the pointy tip outwards. Yeah well, I've tried, and tried, and tried, and somehow, all the eye shadow brushes I've used thus far have only been successful in delivering a smudgy blob, at which I would then spend the next 10-15 minutes blending away until it doesn't look like a blob anymore. Even the Sephora Eye Shadow Brush I stuck with (notice the past tense) up until now would only make a thick triangle at best. A whole lot better than a blob, yes, but still nowhere near a sideway V. Enters this Stila #33 with its perfectly domed and firm crown allowing for precise control and -bam!- a sideway V on my very first try! What?!? You mean I'm not entirely incompetent? O.o You bet I'm now stalking the individual brush as I'm super duper curious how the larger end of the brush would fare with powder! Hell, I'll buy another one of this 5 Piece Brush Set just for this brush! Here Stila, Stila!

- #24 Powder Brush: I can't find this brush anywhere on Stila's website. While having an oval base and thicker on the side than the flat base and thin-sided #24A Blush Brush above, its crown is actually smaller than the former (see comparison below)! So yeah, I'm not sure I'd pick this brush over a dense and fluffy kabuki for powder. It looks as though it would deliver streaks instead, but I might be dead wrong :P Either way, I left mine at home. 

Front and side shots.

#24A Blush Brush (left) versus #24 Powder Brush (right). 

See how #24 (right) is smaller than #24A (left) in all aspect, with exception to the base's side girth?

- #9 All Over Blend Brush: the individual brush has fine goat bristles. This is another brush I was initially excited to try upon opening the set. I thought I might have found another awesome brush to dust my sparkly top washes with, that is, until I pulled out my current love Sephora Crease Brush and realized the Stila counterpart is not only larger but is flatter at top. Nope, that won't do. I need my sparkle duster to be smaller and domed for control (as with the #33 Complexion Brush above), because while I love the sparklies, I don't love them all over the place. I left this #9 at home.

This brush a rounded base, and so there are no side shot.

Stila #9 All Over Blend Brush versus  Sephora Crease Brush. See how much bigger it is and how it plateaus at the top? Mean while, the Sephora Crease Brush is perfectly domed and just the right size.

View from the top.

- #6 Lip Brush: The individual brush is made of sable. I left this brush at home, having never needed a lip brush since I don't care much for precise lip color application. This brush has a firm crown with a somewhat flat top.

Front and side shots.

- #26 Perfecting Concealer Brush: I bought this brush individually and it's not a part of any sets. Like the #33 Complexion Brush above, it's bristles are made of synthetic Taklon and is firm on the side but is velvety soft at the top. Despite its long handle, I also took this brush with me intending for use with soft eye shadows. It is flat and dome shaped from the front, but from the side the crown is tapered to a point, which means it can be used with soft liners on both the upper and the lower lids. Can't wait to try this brush out!

Front and side shots. Look how pointy it is from the side!

See my previous posts:
Makeup Brushes
- Makeup Brushes Part II

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