Is it a Dupe? Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge v. Beauty Blender

I haven’t done one of these in awhile so I thought I’d compare these two products, since I very recently caved and bought a Beauty Blender for the first time.

Beauty Blenders are pretty famous cult foundation and concealer application items and I’m not sure why I held out for so long, but it’s over now and I have one. I thought I’d do one half of my face with each one to see what I thought.

I’ve had one of the Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponges (ugh god that’s a mouthful I’m dropping the Miracle) for awhile now, not that I use it super often, I just find that brushes are so much faster it’s hard to justify fussing around with a sponge. Here are the two products side by side, in their totally dry state:

2015-08-19 13.41.27 HDROrange: RT Complexion Sponge; Pink: Beauty Blender

To use them both you need to soak them, really thoroughly, with cold water. I do this under running water from the tap, squeezing and expanding them til they’re fully soaked then I squeeze all the water out and press between a towel to really make sure there’s no excess water.

When they’re dry, the BB does feel a little bit more firm to me. But when I wet them, I really couldn’t tell a difference. I tried really hard – I held them both up and closed my eyes and squeezed many times like some insane swami. I really couldn’t tell a difference.

Let’s get started. Here’s my no-makeup-just-moisturizer face.

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Hormonal pigmentation at its finest

I used one of my favorite liquid foundations, the YSL Fusion Ink foundation. I despise the applicator on this bottle (it is basically a stick?) so I poured some out onto my palette (ie the inner lid part of a Mason jar).

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First up I did the right side of my face with the RT sponge. I dabbed a little of the product on my face in key areas first. For both these products it’s best to use a patting, dabbing, pressing motion. Daubing? Is that a thing? Idk. This gives the best result in terms of a flawless finish. I used the flat section for the larger parts of my face like my cheeks, and the pointy bit for nearer my eyes and each side of my nose, and the rounder side for my temples and jawline (on the jawline I used a little more of a gentle, short swiping motion to bring the foundation down my neck a little bit).

2015-08-19 14.31.51Pretty good coverage IMO!

I forgot to take a pic of that side with no makeup, sorry. But here’s the left side without makeup:

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Here’s a “during” shot of using the beauty blender on the left side:

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Why do I have a Justin Bieber expression on my face?

So you can see that I’ve dabbed a little foundation on my face first and I’m pressing it against my skin in quick motions to blend it out. If you have a foundation that dries fast you will need to do this in sections.

Here’s the left side done:

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Also pretty amazing coverage – it’s hard to say which is best but if I had to make a call, I’d say the side with the beauty blender. I will say though, that I found the beauty blender a little slower on the blending. It took me a little longer. I’m wondering if that’s because the surface area touching your skin is a little smaller with the BB? I’m not sure, but it’s super negligible and I wouldn’t even consider it a problem it’s just something to note.

So here’s the side by side of just foundation done:

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And here’s the finished face makeup + brows:

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My conclusive thoughts are that these are both really excellent products. There is one major difference though, and that’s the price. In the USA you can get both these from a bunch of places (for example from Sephora) but it retails for $20 so it’s up there in price. I have heard too that with frequent washing (which you should ABSOLUTELY DO by the way – every time you use it, it’s a wet sponge and it can harbour nasties!) it starts to come apart but that might be a result of washing too vigorously. It also fades and the color runs but meh, no biggie. The RT complexion sponge you can get for $6 (from official site). Less even on places like iHerb.com. So the price difference is enormous and I’m not 100% sure that the BB is worth the extra $14.

In Australia you can find the BB at CrushCosmetics for $27, and the RT Complexion Sponge at Priceline for $16.99 if you can’t wait for shipping, or on iHerb.com for $8.20 (in fact you can get the two-pack on iHerb for less than the cost of one at Priceline. iHerb owns). So the price difference is ridiculous. Based on that alone I will probably repurchase the RT sponge and not the BB. It’s not that great!

A note on washing: use something like baby shampoo or I know some swear by Dr Bronners Castille soap bars (I’m going to get some today!) as a dupe for the official beautyblender cleansing bar. You want something thoroughly clarifying, I’m not sure face wash would do the job. Wet, damp environments attract bacteria so make sure you do this every time you use it – wash it under a warm tap, adding a little cleanser when it gets squeezed out until the water goes clear. This goes for both products.

So is it a dupe? I think yes. They’re almost identical. A more sophisticated user may think differently but for me they’re basically the same and the price point makes the RT sponge the clear winner.

I hope you enjoyed this! Let me know if I should do more things like this in the future.

Love++
F&V

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Makeup Brushes: Keep It Clean, People!

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I CAN STOP ANYTIME I WANT

One thing I really forgot to mention when I did my series of posts about brushes was how to clean them, and when. And why. Well, the why’s not hard – you need to clean them because our faces, hands and surfaces do tend to harbour germs and it’s good to give brushes a good clean every so often, more often if you are prone to breakouts / blemishes. If you are this kind of person who is very prone to breakouts, then you might want to at least spot clean (“spray n wipe”) your face brushes after each use. Totally up to you.

But can you wash them too often? IMO, yes. A lot of brushes (particularly natural fibre ones) aren’t designed to be washed every day or every week even. So I thought I’d give you the lowdown on what I do. Disclaimer: this is just my opinion which you might think is gross, I don’t care, do whatever you want ok? Ok. It’s also worth noting that if I am doing makeup on another person, I ALWAYS thoroughly clean my brushes beforehand.

I find cleaning my brushes to be a really therapeutic process. I like doing it. Maybe this is BECAUSE I don’t do it every single week. I don’t know.

What you’ll need:

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1. A couple of hand towels, folded into four. I like my microfibre cloth because it’s super soft but also absorbent!

2. A mild shampoo such as Johnson’s No More Tears or even a face cleanser sample you got but didn’t like (I’m using Purity by Philosophy to clean mine).

3. A shallow bowl of lukewarm water with a bit of the above cleanser in it.

4. A flat surface with a cloth on it – I use a folded up muslin cloth (see picture at top) OR a rail like a towel rail and some rubber bands (stay with me, all will be explained)

5. OPTIONAL – Brush Guards. I frickin LOVE these things, SO MUCH. Again, will explain.

Righto so I normally start with the ones that are the least dirty, like doing the washing up. This is normally eye brushes. I dip each brush up to the ferrule (the bit that holds the bristles) into the water, letting it get fully soaked. I whisk it around in there a bit if I think it’s quite grubby.

I then put a squidge of the cleanser of choice into the middle of my palm and rub the bristles into the cleanser. The voracity with which you do this will really be defined by the kind of brush. If it’s a synthetic bristle go nuts. If it’s natural and you find it to be a bit fragile, go a little softer and either way try not to bend the bristles against the ferrule (don’t push it too hard into your hand). You just want to swirl the brush against your palm in the cleanser, getting all the crud out.

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After that I swish the brush back in the water. if when you lean the bristles against the edge of the bowl, gunk still comes out of it, repeat previous step. Repeat until water is clear. This is particularly going to happen with things like concealer blending or foundation brushes that have held a lot of cream or liquid product.

Once you’ve got it all out, swirl the brush onto your folded dry cloth with whatever firmness you think best, until the bristles are no longer soaked with water. It’s not good to let brushes sit wet, so the more liquid you can get out of at this point, the better!

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At this point if I have a brush that I like to keep in a particular shape, for example my MAC 217s, Wayne Goss Holiday Brush or Real Techniques Buffing brush, I pop a Brush Guard over the top and then let it sit, bristles over the edge of the desk, on the muslin cloth. Brush Guards are fabulous. They’re a stretchy sort of mesh.. sock? open at both ends and they go over the bristle section to keep the shape of the brush while travelling and even while being stored but PARTICULARLY while drying. Now, if this is no concern to you, carry on they’re not an essential. But I personally really hate it when my brushes get all frayed and fluffy. I like them to stay the way I bought them, and Brush Guards are a super inexpensive way to do this. One of my favourite purchases ever, realtalk.

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The other thing you can do (with or without a brush guard) is to hang your brushes on a railing using some hair bands or elastic/rubber bands. I will admit – I don’t do this. The benefit is that the brushes hang upside down, bristles down, meaning that no water at all can get into the ferrule as they dry (important for glue deterioration and mould accumulation issues). This is obviously a good thing and it’s entirely possible that when I move to a cold climate I may start doing this but so far I’ve either had mine drying in a warm, dry spot or in front of the AC flow so they’ve dried fairly quickly. If you’re interested in this method of drying, you can see what I mean here:

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Img credit: http://prettybyjulianne.tumblr.com/

That’s pretty much it! Wait til they’re dry, then you can use them again.

One thing I want to say is to be mindful of your “good” brushes, the natural bristle ones (it is possible to get cruelty free ones – Wayne Goss is a good example, the animals are brushed to get the hairs, same with Hakuhodo) can really not do well with frequent washing. It makes the brushes deteriorate faster. So how often should you wash them? It’s such a good question and one I don’t feel really well equipped to answer. I wash mine probably every fortnight, or when I notice they’re getting very grubby. If I wore makeup every single day without fail I might wash them every weekend.

If you want to give them a spot clean in between washes, you can use something like a brush cleaner – Artiste is quite a good one that I’ve used with success, you can get it from Priceline for about $15 for 100mL. The best thing about this is that it’s in a spray format so you just spritz on, give a wipe and you’re doneski. For a higher end one, MAC is known for making a fabulous one though I’ve not tried it myself. It’s actually pretty good value to be honest, though it doesn’t have the convenient spray packaging that the Artiste one. It’s $20 for 235mL and you can get it from MAC Online, NOWHERE ELSE ONLINE OK? Don’t get tripped up by the fakeries. This method (spray and wipe) is how I always wash my Wayne Goss Holiday Brush, apart from every couple of months when I will give it a more thorough clean in the usual way.

I have heard people saying that they use Isocol (isopropyl alcohol). I would really not recommend this, it’s extremely drying on your brushes and bad for them but if you have a REALLY grubby brush, for example a lip brush that’s coated in very difficult to shift lipstick, then go nuts but give it a rinse afterwards for goodness sake. For long-wearing makeup you might be better off using an oil-based makeup remover anyway. Isocol is a great antibacterial though, so keep that in mind if you wish.

I hope this has been helpful, I hope I didn’t miss anything. Feel free to let me know in the comments if you have further questions, queries or suggestions!

Love+++

Makeup Brushes: What? Also why? Also featuring: where, and how much? (Part 3: Eyes)

Eye brushes are definitely the thing I feel most confident about in terms of use. That’s not to say that I don’t have anything to learn – I’m constantly learning new things but as I’ve always been an eyeshadow lover, I have had the most practice with these babies.

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Just a few there. I CAN STOP ANYTIME I WANT

So first up, the liner brushes. I have three of these, well, two and a ring-in. Eyeliner is one of those things that is so strongly personal choice based. Some people like to use a liquid liner in a pen, some people prefer to use a gel liner and within that group there are those who like to use an angled brush, and those who prefer a fine, pointed liner brush. I haven’t figured out which one I am yet, and both definitely have benefits, so I am really on the fence.

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Going from the top, you can see that teeny little one is the Napoleon Perdis 2h fine liner brush. It really is quite teeny. The bristles are very stiff which is what you want with these brushes, IMO. If they are too soft and flexible, they don’t give you the precision that you really want with this application technique. You want to be able to use it almost like a sharpie. One advantage of a tweeny little brush like this is that I find it easier to do very small, fine details such as the outside corner of a graphic wing (a graphic wing is where the wing is kind of triangular and filled in, as opposed to a more flicky wing that’s just a line). Some would say that this is a better eyeliner brush for those who are more advanced in technique and I’d probably agree with that. Nevertheless brushes like this are available in all brush ranges, this particular one is $25 from Napoleon Perdis.

The Real Techniques detailer brush is kind of a mystery to me, not gonna lie. It’s again from that garbage pack that I hate (apart from my beloved buffing brush). The only thing I’ve used it for so far is doing the very inner corner of my eye if I want a tiny smudge of colour there but honestly, you could use the edge of any brush for that. I’ve also used it as a lip brush but it’s not great for that, you really need it to be more dense for that purpose. I’m in the market for a good lip brush and would love to hear opinions, by the way! Anyway if you like the look of this one you can get it here.

This one is the ring-in. It’s the Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Brush and it is MAGICAL. I love this brush for filling in my brows, obviously, but it’s also a fantastic brush for a fine eyeliner effect. Use it for graphics or a flick, it’s great for both. The advantage of the angled shape is that you can use the whole edge of the brush to “stamp” your line, creating a framework to work from, instead of drawing a line with shaky hands. The other end of this brush has THE BEST brow brush you can imagine, it’s a nice wide but dense spoolie type brush and it’s honestly the best one I’ve found. Can’t recommend this one strongly enough and really what with its dual purpose, I consider it something of a “must have”. That’s if you’re a brow person, I suppose! You can get it online at Hairhouse Warehouse for $35 or in-store.

The last is the Real Techniques angled eyeliner brush and it’s fabulous. See all comments above except it’s just a bit more dense, therefore not as great for filling in brows and has no spoolie (tbf, that’s NOT what it’s designed for so it gets an obvious pass). The extra thickness along the bottom means that you will get a thicker line on your eyeliner so if you’re more likely to tend towards a dramatic line then this one is for you. It’s part of that amazing and wonderful pack from Real Techniques that I strongly recommend you buy (more on that in this very post, my friends).

Next up is .. well, I don’t really know what to call these but they are not blending brushes or fine liner brushes. Other.. brushes….. yeah.

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~The Others~

The Napoleon Perdis 7r Smudging & Sculpting Brush isn’t really what I wanted when I ordered it. I was looking for something more soft. However, it has really come in handy for when I need something very stiff and dense to smudge out a smoky liner, or get into a closed area such as the crease and apply colour a bit more densely than I would with a blending brush. It’s not strictly for applying colour but it won’t blend out to the extent that a fluffier brush would. Kind of hard to explain but it’s a good one for smudging out the lower lashline when you don’t want to lose too much colour density. Hopefully that makes sense. It’s extremely dense and very stiff, almost like a little sponge? Anyway you can get it here for $40.

Hakuhodo is a new entry for me, I’ve only got two of these brushes so far but they are quite good. Unfortunately, the site is utterly enormous and impossible to navigate unless you are pretty experienced and know exactly what you’re looking for. I found it immensely overwhelming. However, if you have a fair idea of what kind of brush you want, and you find it in a brand that you consider to be too expensive, you could do a search to see if anyone knows a Hakuhodo dupe and you’d be VERY likely to find one of great quality. They are well priced brushes for the most part. Hakuhodo is the brush maker behind a lot of luxury brands including Tom Ford, an incredibly luxe brand. So if you are willing to put in a bit of research they’re well worth the saving!

Anyway, the Hakuhodo B533 is a pencil brush which has a soft but dense pointed tip. It’s great for softly smudging out a smoky liner. Sometimes I find it a bit too soft, I find I have to use it very promptly after applying anything that dries fast that’s for sure. But it’s lovely and soft and can also be used as an inner corner application brush, that is what I use it the most for. Is it a must-have? No. However if you think it’s for you, grab it here for $19 (horse hair, other hairs are also available). Important note: Hakuhodo brushes are natural bristle but cruelty-free, meaning that the animals are brushed to obtain the hair that naturally comes out of their coats.

The Napoleon Perdis 9b Tapered Shader brush is fantastic. I have had this brush for a very long time and it is still going strong. It’s quite dense-bristled and very smooth. It is best for picking up product and applying it to the eyelid fairly precisely. It’s not for blending but absolutely nothing that I have tried beats it for just plain ol’ putting shadow onto the lid / eye area. Enough said. It’s a superstar. However, it is $30 (get it here) and I reckon you can probably do better for value. Not that I’m saying that $30 is an awful lot to pay for a brush, it’s really not, but it’s such a commonly made brush shape that I bet if you went to priceline and had a look at the EcoTools section you could find something very similar. I have no complaints about this particular brush though, and expect my love affair with it to last for many years to come. Great brush! A brush of this TYPE is a must-have, in my opinion.

Blending brushes have been a relatively recent love for me, but it is a true love. A strong love. A love that will last forever.

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:)~

These all have a very similar use, so I’m not going to talk about them each in turn. They’re for blending and smoking out eyeshadow. Using two colours and want to blend them together so they appear seamless? Blending brush. Just want a wash of colour over the lid rather than a dense, opaque shadow look? Blending brush. Want to blend the edges of your eyeshadow so that there’s no stark line against your skin? Blending brush. They are bloody fabulous. You need one.

As for which one, well, this is one of the only times when I will suggest a more expensive brush. It is my dream brush, the only brush I have two of, the MAC 217. I. LOVE. THIS. BRUSH. It’s absolutely wonderful. It’s the exact right density and softness. The end of it is angled and tapered, so that you can use it two-sided. There are lots and lots of videos, reviews and such on this brush so if you are on the fence after these I really suggest checking them out. You can use it to apply colour if you just want a light wash but usually I’m more likely to apply with either my finger (cream shadows) or the flat NP brush (loose / pressed powder) and blend that colour out using this brush. You can use it in a windscreen wiper motion to blend colours or in the crease to create definition, or in small, feathery circles to blend and smoke out the edges of your eyeshadow. It is magical.

HOWEVER! If you’re thinking about buying my beloved Nic’s Picks pack from Real Techniques, just hold your horses on the ol’ MAC online ($37, or instore) purchase. The base shadow brush is just about as good. I really like it and use it all the time. I would say that it doesn’t have the tapered tip that the 217 has, so it’s not quite as versatile, but the duofibre bristles make it nice and soft and great for blending out any harsh lines.

The RT angled shadow brush, however, I am more likely to use for blending out undereye concealer. This isn’t because it is bad at blending shadow, it’s not, but it’s VERY good for concealer under the eyes! The shape makes it just perfect for getting up into the inner corner with the concealer but it’s large and fluffy enough to not make it a chore. So that’s just a quick side-note about that one. It’s great for eyeshadow as well, but I have enough blending brushes that I don’t need to use it for that. It’s from that same amazing brush pack as above.

The one I use the least is the Hakuhodo J142. It’s great, don’t get me wrong. It’s just that I do not think it’s a dupe for the 217, as I had read. It’s possible I bought the wrong brush because I do find that site so overwhelming. It has a rounded top rather than a tapered top but it works very well for blending. It’s a smidge more dense than the 217 I think, which means it doesn’t blend out as much which can be a good thing when you don’t want to lose any colour density. You can get it here for $19 (goat hair).

So after all that, let’s summarise. Which of these brushes do you truly NEED? Well, none of them. If what you’re doing is working for you, and that is using your hands or a sponge, go nuts. Sometimes I use those things too. But if you’re in the market for brushes or you want to up your game and think they could help, I have some ideas for you.

A great place to start is the Nic’s Picks pack from Real Techniques. The only things it doesn’t have in it that I’d really recommend is a buffing-style brush and a flat eyeshadow brush. For a buffing brush (foundation application), you can pick up the Expert Face Brush (as mentioned in part 1) or you can investigate any flat topped kabuki style brush like the Sigma F88 which is extremely popular and well-priced. When I get to the USA, I will probably be picking up a few Sigma brushes as they are incredibly good value and highly regarded. For flat eyeliner brushes, Sigma has those too or check out EcoTools, a brand created by Alicia Silverstone of fully recycled brushes that are extremely well-priced. Perhaps this set? I haven’t tried it but for the price, you can’t go wrong!

To treat yourself, grab the MAC 217. When I first got this, Ray had picked it up for me in Guam on his way to Australia and I may have squealed out loud and said “oh my god” when I first used it. It’s seriously wonderful and I guarantee you’ll love it.

If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments. I’m sure there’s stuff I’ve left out!

I will post about brush care and cleaning very soon.

Things are going to get crazy for me over the next 6 weeks. My visa medical went great, I passed (pending xray and blood tests) and I also received my visa interview date which is the 17th of March. As long as I pass that, about which I am confident because the love I have for my husband is self-evident (and we have tonnes of evidence anyway) and I’m healthy and crime free, I will be heading off at the end of March. Wowsers. But bear with me! I promise to keep posting whenever I have the time – it’ll keep me sane.

Love+++

Makeup Brushes: What? Also Why? Also featuring: where, and how much? (Part 2 – Cheeks)

Right, on with it.

The first thing I should admit is that I’m garbage at contouring. I just can’t seem to make it work. I try to build up slowly and it’s like nothing … nothing … still nothing…. OH GOD I ROLLED AROUND IN A PAN OF BROWNIES APPARENTLY. Terrible. I look at photos of my makeup professionally done and I’m like HOW. DIVULGE YOUR SECRETS, VILE TEMPTRESS! DAMN YOU.

Anyway, what I’m trying to say is, take my advice with a rather large grain of salt.

Cheek brushes in my possession:

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Another couple of Real Techniques brushes here, plus a debut from Napoleon Perdis, a brand I’ve mostly gone away from in the last couple of years. He’s changed, man. And more importantly, the product has changed. Anyway.

First on the left is the Real Techniques contour brush.

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Close up of RT Contour Brush

I got this in that bad collection and I still don’t really see the point of this. I feel like it’s too round to do any good, it needs to be longer/flatter and less thick so that you can kind of “stripe” on the contour for lack of a better word, stamp perhaps, then blend that line. But like I said, I’m not a major contouring expert it’s still very much something I’m still trying to master so take my advice how you will. Perhaps you guys can teach me how to use this one?! I’ve heard that this is a great brush for buffing in under-eye concealer so I might try that.

Next is the Real Techniques cheek brush which is from that wonderful collection, Nic’s Pics (for those just joining us, this pack is more expensive than the Core Collection but the difference is it OWNS and I use all the brushes all the time). If you are a blush fan, and like your blush to be fairly well in the spotlight, then this baby is for you.

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Close up of RT Cheek Brush

The dense but soft bristles means that this one deposits quite a bit of product but also blends really well. So this is one for someone who likes their blush to stand out, because as we all know it’s easier to add more product than it is to take product away.

Next is the Napoleon Perdis 15b which is one of those very chisel-shaped angled cheek brushes designed to get in under the cheekbone to carve out a contour. The problem? It’s huge.

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Close up of NP 15b

And … spiky.. I don’t like it. It’s bristly and unpleasant. I only keep it because it was expensive, and also out of some form of self-flagellation in order to punish myself for being bad at contouring. It’s too big! It’s impossible to do anything precise or subtle. The product gets everywhere and suddenly you have a huge stripe of bronzer or whatever on your cheek and it’s impossible to blend out without making it bigger. And for $35? Don’t bother. DO NOT LIKE. NEXT.

Ah yes. Hello, my love. One of only two brushes I have purchased twice. The Napoleon Perdis Chisel Blush Brush, 22b.

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Close up of side view, NP 22b

I love this brush. I really do. It is soft but quite fluffy and the bristles aren’t awfully dense so it picks up minimal amounts of product and just blends it so perfectly. This is an absolutely idiotproof blush brush. I strongly recommend this brush to any beginner or anyone who is a little bit wary of looking like a clown. It helps you achieve a beautiful subtle blush look but enables you to build colour up as well.

Out of these, this brush or one like it is the only thing I would say is a “must have”. Of course, if you love cream blush then you could just stick with your Expert Face Brush or Buffing Brush. But for powder brushes, something shaped like this with nice long fluffy bristles is the way to go. You can get it from Napoleon Perdis online for $35, or from your local stockist.

Tomorrow I will conquer the big one. Eyes. Hooooooo boy. You’ll need a coffee for that one. Or a wine, depending on the time of day. I will probably have both.

Love+++

Makeup Brushes: What? Also why? Also featuring: where, and how much? (Part 1 – Face)

This could end up being a seriously long post so I don’t want to go on too much in an intro. Lots of people have been asking me to make this post so I hope I can answer some questions for you guys.

Before we get started, I will say that although I’m a brush lover, there’s a lot I don’t know. I’m learning all the time, just like anyone else. I will do my best to pass on the info I have learned in the last little while.

So, here’s my brush collection.

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Yep.

I will break those up for you in a sec. But first let’s have a chat about price points. I have a pretty good range of prices here. I think it’s totally possible to get good brushes on a budget. To an extent. ELF, for example, does good cheap brushes. Are they great? No. But they’re cheap! And that’s really important for those of us who might not have a heap of spare cash to spend on brushes, or might be a little unsure as to how serious they want to get about their makeup collection.

A really good budget range of brushes is Real Techniques. It’s the creation of the Chapman sisters from Pixiwoo, one of my ultimate guru youtube makeup channels. You can get this range at Priceline, but I recommend buying from iHerb for price reasons. These will be discussed at length throughout this post, and all links will link to iHerb but if you can’t wait, definitely give Priceline a go.

Okay, onto the brushes.

Foundation Brushes

I’m a fan of putting foundation on with a brush, let’s just get that little factoid out there. It’s hygienic (as long as your brushes are) and it gives a better finish to your makeup. That’s just my opinion. If using your hands does it for you – go crazynuts. Do not let me stop you. I just prefer brushes.

It used to be that back in the day you’d use a paddle-shaped brush, a flat brush, to paint on foundation. Let it be known that these days are over.

It’s bad. It is for stage makeup. Nowadays, the best way to get a beautiful, flawless but natural finish is to use a densely packed, round top brush. Let’s talk about the two that I use the most, both by Real Techniques:

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Top: Expert Face Brush, bottom: Buffing Brush

The Expert Face Brush (iHerb, $12) is a domed, round top brush. The synthetic bristles are short and very densely packed. This means that it creates a more flawless, smooth finish on the face than something with more loose bristles, like…

The Buffing Brush (iHerb, $23 in Core Collection pack) which is probably my most used brush. At least it’s definitely my most used face brush. It’s bloody magical. It still gives a lovely coverage but it also does a great job of keeping things natural and sheer, because the bristles are longer and a little less densely packed. I think this brush is so versatile and just wonderful. The major drawback? It’s only available in the stupid Core Collection pack which I think contains mostly total garbage apart from this brush. It’s not good value. You could just about toss the other brushes. So annoying! But if you can get the pack cheap, this brush will not let you down.

So to use both these brushes, I squidge (technical term) a pump of foundation / BB cream etc onto the back of my hand then I dip the tip of the brush lightly into the product. I then start applying the product to my face, using small, even circles. A buffing motion, if you will. You can sheer out the product to your liking, then just repeat with more product. I have turned quite a few of my friends onto these particular brushes. They are magical.

Powder Brushes

Look, we’ve talked about this so I won’t go on but I’m oily. My t-zone, and also other zones, are pretty bloody oily most of the time so I really need to powder. If you don’t, by all means skip this step.

I used to always use a kabuki for this, which is a shortish-bristle dense brush but the problem I was running into was that the brush was moving around the foundation / concealing work I had done because it’s kinda stiff. You want more fluffy brushes for applying powder, IMO. You can even use those terrible powder puffs if you want, there’s a way to do it, but I don’t recommend them generally.

These are the face brushes I have, that I use for powders / bronzers:

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You will notice that two of these brushes are duo-fibre. That means that they have some short, thicker, black bristles and then longer, wispy, soft white bristles. What isn’t widely known is that the black bristles are only there to hold the white bristles vertically. Don’t mash these brushes into your face then complain when you get black bristles everywhere – that’s not their job! They’re just stability! The benefit of duofibre brushes is that they both pick up and deposit less product, and apply it more evenly on the face. Remember in the last section we talked about bristle density, and how it differentiates the coverage? Same thing here. The more dense the bristles, the more product it will apply to the face.

In saying that, I find the MAC 187 (bottom, from MAC online $85) a little bit meh. I mostly use it for applying primer, to be honest, rather than powder. I know a lot of people absolutely swear by this brush so I think it’s probably more that I don’t “get it”, than any actual failing of the brush.

The middle brush, the Real Techniques Duo-fibre Face Brush (iHerb, part of Nic’s Pics Pack* for $38), is a WONDERFUL powder brush. It’s so soft and gentle. It has enough bristles to get a good amount of product but not so much that it dumps a tonne of product on your face that you then have to frantically blend out. It’s great stuff.

*One thing I want to mention at this point is that, yes, that pack is pricey compared to the other one. But it’s EXCELLENT value. I use ALL those brushes, all the time. I use 3 out of 5 of those brushes almost every day of the damn week. It’s fabulous. A+ would literally buy again.

The one on top is the holy grail for me. I bought this as a treat to myself in the Boxing Day free shipping Beautylish sale. It’s the famous Wayne Goss Holiday Brush (Beautylish, US$85). First of all, I LOVE the shape of this brush. It’s fluffy but tapered so that you can use just the tip of it for highlighting if you just want a small shape. By the way, I keep the taper and shape of these brushes and others by using the Brush Guards – you can get them from Crush Cosmetics. They are a mesh cover that goes over the bristles so they dry naturally and freely but keep their shape. Wonderful inventions! Anyway, this brush is soft as a kitten’s paw. The bristles are natural goat hair but cruelty free – the goats are brushed and the hairs that come out naturally are used for the brushes. The density of this brush means that it picks up more product than the duofibre but it is so soft that it still deposits the product evenly and blends it out wonderfully. Is it a “must have”? Nope. But it’s bloody lovely.

EDIT: On that subject, what do I really think *IS* a must-have? My amazing fraunt (friend/aunt) and a good mate, Jess, made comments on my instagram that made me think of what the average makeup wearing woman actually NEEDS. Again, if what you have right now is working for you then you should keep doing that. I think that a brush similar to the buffing brush or the EFB is a definite must have, in this context. I also think a fluffy, soft, loose-fibred powder brush is a must-have for applying powder. The traditional kabukis are too stiff and move the foundation around (plus any careful concealing), and unless you are very careful, precise and slow, powder puffs and sponges will have a similar problem.

I’m going to leave it here for tonight guys because I realised when I started typing this that trying to do all my brushes at once was just a hilarious impossible joke. Sorry if you wanted to hear about all of them right now, but I promise not to dilly-dally. I will have the rest up by the time I go to Brisbane on Wednesday night. Thursday is my visa medical! This is exciting. We got our case complete last week so now it’s all systems go, and lots of hoping for a March interview.

Thanks for reading. All feedback welcomed, as usual!