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Best Brushes | Holiday 2016 Gift Guide

Best Brushes | Holiday 2016 Gift Guide

It’s that time of the year again:  holiday gift guides aplenty!  This year, I’ve broken out my gift guides into best of selections for blush, eyeshadow, highlighter, lipstick, lipgloss, palettes, and brushes.  These guides feature permanent formulas so that they can be useful anytime during the holiday season or even into next year.  For limited edition holiday products, you can check out our list of the top 50 highest-rated holiday products, which updates as I post more reviews for holiday products. Here’s a look at a few of my must-have brushes (there are so, so, so many more I wanted to include!):

Chikuhodo GSN-09 Eyeshadow Brush

Chikuhodo GSN-09 Eyeshadow Brush<

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Chikuhodo GSN-09 Eyeshadow Brush ($25.00) is a small-medium, dome-shaped eyeshadow brush made out of gray squirrel hair. The narrower width allows it to apply color more precisely, which is helpful if you’re using more than two or three colors on the lid. It packs on, sweeps, and diffuses eyeshadow beautifully. The edge also fits into the crease area well and can apply color there, too. It’s incredibly soft and silky against the skin, but it still picks up plenty of product, so you don’t sacrifice color payoff in your application. This is a brush that I have multiples of!

Availability

Beautylish

Chikuhodo Z-4 Cheek/Highlight Brush

Chikuhodo Z-4 Cheek/Highlight Brush

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Chikuhodo Z-4 Cheek/Highlight Brush ($73.00) medium-sized, blush brush with a domed edge and tapered bristles (so the lengths get shorter as you move outward from the center). It’s not a rounded brush, more flattened, but it is not really thin or flat. The brush is made out of gray squirrel. It’s excellent for applying soft, even color along the cheeks with minimal blending required.

Availability

Beautylish

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IT Cosmetics Now at Sephora!

IT Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC+ Cream Illumination
IT Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC+ Cream Illumination

IT Cosmetics has launched a select number of products, including several that are new (and exclusive), at Sephora.

Availability

Now online (some items coming soon)

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The Details

Products Available

  • Anti-Aging Armor Super Smart Skin-Perfecting Fluid SPF 50+ ($38.00) (Exclusive)
  • Brow Power Brow Pencil ($24.00)
  • Bye Bye Lines Serum ($58.00) (Exclusive)
  • Bye Bye Makeup Cleansing Balm ($38.00)
  • Bye Bye Pores Primer Serum ($38.00) (Exclusive)
  • Bye Bye Pores Pressed Finishing Powder ($29.00)
  • Bye Bye Pores Poreless Finish Airbrush Powder ($24.00)
  • Bye Bye Redness Neutralizing Cream ($32.00)
  • Bye Bye Under Eye Eye Cream ($48.00) (Exclusive)
  • Bye Bye Under Eye Illuminating Concealer ($24.00)
  • Bye Bye Under Eye Concealer ($24.00)
  • Confidence in a Cream ($48.00)
  • Bye Bye Pores Powder Brush 701 ($58.00)
  • Skin Perfecting Brush 702 ($48.00)
  • Je Ne Sais Quoi Hydrating Lip Treatment ($24.00) (Exclusive)
  • Superhero Mascara ($24.00)
  • Tightline 3-in-1 ($24.00)
  • Your Skin But Better CC+ Powder ($35.00)
  • Your Skin But Better CC+ Cream Illumination ($38.00)
  • Your Skin But Better CC+ Cream ($38.00)

IT Cosmetics Velvet Luxe Brushes (304, 307, 314, 320, 322) Reviews & Photos

IT Cosmetics No. 304 Velvet Luxe Plush Foundation Brush
IT Cosmetics No. 304 Velvet Luxe Plush Foundation Brush

No. 304 Velvet Luxe Plush Foundation Brush

IT Cosmetics No. 304 Velvet Luxe Plush Foundation Brush ($38.00) is designed as a “flat but wide” brush for cream and liquid foundation application. It’s a medium-sized, dense, dome-shaped foundation brush made out of synthetic fibers. The brush head measured 33.5mm in width, 32.0mm in length, and 17.4mm in thickness with a handle length of 7.2 inches / 18.3 centimeters. IT’s Velvet Luxe range uses incredibly soft synthetic hairs that are as soft as high-end goat hair used by brands like Chikuhodo, Hakuhodo, etc. I liked this best with liquid, medium coverage or greater foundations with satin to luminous finishes, and it will fit in best with someone who tends to apply their foundation in patting and smooth downward (or upward) strokes rather than in circular, buffing motions.
The curved edge fits in well when maneuvering around the nose, underneath the eye, and around the mouth. Personally, I still preferred the No. 302 for liquid foundation.

The brush felt soft in all directions, and it felt like it was moving across the skin as a single entity, so I did not feel the individual bristles when I was using it. It is fairly dense, though the last fourth of the brush, toward the edge, is more tapered and is less dense compared to the base of the brush head, which allows for better diffusing and spreading of liquid/cream products across the skin. It left a streak-free finish behind, so long as it was cleaned every other application; otherwise, the bristles would stick together and start to leave visible streaks behind (true with most brushes, though, when used with heavier liquids and creams!). I had no issues cleaning the brush, and it dried in a reasonable length of time (within half a day). The brush can also work for applying liquid and cream blush/bronzer if you have a larger surface area, but I’d recommend using a bit less than you think you’ll need, as the greater density means it can apply heavier coverage more quickly.

No. 307 Velvet Luxe LBD Powder Brush

IT Cosmetics No. 307 Velvet Luxe LBD Powder Brush ($48.00) is supposed to be used for all-over powder application. It’s a synthetic, large powder brush that flares out moderately from the base and has a rounded edge that flattens out to a more buffing brush-like edge. It’s like a powder and buffer brush married together, as it is very dense–denser than most of the powder brushes I have. The brush head measured 47.6mm in width, 40.0mm in length, and 47.6mm in thickness with a handle length of 7.7 inches / 19.5 centimeters. For applying something like setting powder all-over, it had a tendency to over-apply, as it was so dense. It also worked well for applying pressed powder foundations if medium or greater coverage was desired.

This is one of my favorite IT brushes I’ve tried, but I tend to use it primarily for buffing powder into the skin, so I might use it when I’m doing a heavier layer of setting powder (often when I’ve used a dewier base), to apply finishing powder all-over, or to lightly buff everything together at the end (with no product on it). As much as I love the feel of buffer brushes, I love when I find long-handled brushes that work similarly as I prefer the longer handle. It is almost impossibly soft; it is as soft as blue squirrel hair brushes (which are the softest that I’ve felt). When the brush skims across the face, it feels like fluid movement; none of the individual bristles are felt against the skin, and I could use it in any direction or motion. The brush isn’t as balanced as others in the line, as there is a bit more weight sitting in the ferrule and brush head, but the curvature of the handle (designed to be ergonomic, and there’s a natural tendency to hold the line like a writing instrument) seems to combat some of the downward pull from the extra weight on one end.

Due to the density and general size, it can be harder to clean and take longer than average to dry. If I just use it with powders and wash it at least once a week, it’s the same effort and energy to clean as other powder brushes, but if I let it sit too long or it gets liquid/cream product on it, I find it takes longer to rinse all of the product and soap out. It’s usually dry the next day for me, but it definitely takes a few hours longer than most.

No. 314 Velvet Luxe Smooth Concealer Brush

IT Cosmetics No. 314 Velvet Luxe Smooth Concealer Brush ($28.00) is for liquid and cream concealer application that is “soft” and “subtle” using “sweeping motions.” It’s a synthetic, medium-to-large-sized flat concealer brush with a slightly domed edge. The brush head measured 10.5mm in width, 15.8mm in length, and 4.8mm in thickness with a handle length of 6.9 inches / 17.2 centimeters. It’s thin without being razor sharp, but it the edge doesn’t taper enough to give really diffused, blended results. I usually had some visible brush strokes, and the size made it best for under eye concealer and larger surface areas (not so great for redness around the nose, spot correcting, etc.). It’s disappointing for blending out concealer; it was best at just patting and spreading a liquid or cream concealer around an area, but I needed to go back in with a fingertip or another tool to diffuse and blend out the edges and hide brush strokes.

While the bristles felt soft, the edges of the brush felt “stabby” against the skin at times, though not consistently. It was the first time I’ve ever felt individual bristles from one of the Velvet Luxe brushes! It is a denser brush, and it is thicker than the average flat, concealer brush, which made it harder to cleanse liquid/cream concealer out of, as they tended to be fuller coverage products. I highly recommend cleaning after each use, as it just gunked up unforgivably if left sitting for a day. It did not seem to take much longer to dry than most synthetic eye brushes (half a day or less). Alternatively, I tried using it with cream eyeshadow, and it did work for that, though there are other brushes I preferedr for cream eyeshadow.

No. 320 Velvet Luxe Effortless Crease Brush

IT Cosmetics No. 320 Velvet Luxe Effortless Crease Brush ($26.00) is designed for blending eyeshadow in the crease “using windshield wiper motions.” It’s like an elongated stubby crease brush that came to a rather flat edge–there’s a very, very slight curve but was hard to see in person. It is made out of synthetic fibers. The brush head measured 7.8mm in width, 12.1mm in length, and 7.8mm in thickness with a handle length of 6.8 inches / 17.2 centimeters. I found it most useful for applying rich color into the deepest part of the crease without over-blending or instantly diffusing the color, and secondarily, it was able to blend out color, but it wasn’t as good at blending as it was for depositing and laying down color into the crease (and blending is what it is supposed to be for!). The brush was silky and smooth regardless of direction or application method.

The shape reminded me of a blunter smudging or pencil brush, and it a longer length as well, which gave it some ability to blend out color, as it moved back and forth. As the shape is similar to a pencil brush, it also worked well for applying color underneath the lash line or to blow out the lower lash line with a powder eyeshadow. The synthetic fibers made this workable with cream products into the crease, and that’s a tough job for a lot of brushes; the density and shape of the brush really shined for depositing richer coverage with a cream eyeshadow into the crease. It had just enough give to diffuse the edge of a cream eyeshadow past the crease. When it came to powder products, it carved out the crease well with obvious laydown of color, but I often wanted to go in with a more feathery, fluffier brush for diffusing and blending the crease color upward. I’ve had no issues cleaning the brush, and it dried within a normal length of time.

No. 322 Velvet Luxe Plush All-Over Shadow Brush

IT Cosmetics No. 322 Velvet Luxe Plush All-Over Shadow Brush ($26.00) is touted as an eye brush for sweeping eyeshadow all over the lid. It’s a large, synthetic eyeshadow brush that’s fairly flat and has a fluffier, tapered, dome-shaped edge. The brush head measured 11.0mm in width, 15.8mm in length, and 6.6mm in thickness with a handle length of 7.0 inches / 17.7 centimeters. It worked well for applying eyeshadow all over the lid–exactly as described–and is best for someone who wants an all-over wash of color on the lid. I also liked it for diffusing the edges of cream eyeshadow as well as for blending out under eye concealer (better than the No. 314!).

The brush was soft to the touch, and I never encountered a direction or technique where I could feel individual bristles or any roughness. It’s moderately dense, so it can pack on a decent amount of product by patting it onto the lid. The domed, tapered edge worked well for diffusing eyeshadow into the crease, and it could also be used to blend out the crease area or apply product to the brow bone. If you’re looking for something to pack on two or more colors onto the lid, I would look for something smaller, but for a wash of color or packing on medium to full coverage eyeshadow onto the lid, this worked well. It cleaned easily and dried in a normal length of time.

IT Cosmetics   No. 304 Velvet Luxe Plush Foundation Brush
14
Product
14
Fitness
5
Durability
5
Construction
95%
Total
IT Cosmetics   No. 307 Velvet Luxe LBD Powder Brush
13
Product
11
Fitness
5
Durability
4.5
Construction
84%
Total
IT Cosmetics   No. 314 Velvet Luxe Smooth Concealer Brush
11
Product
9
Fitness
5
Durability
4
Construction
73%
Total
IT Cosmetics   No. 320 Velvet Luxe Effortless Crease Brush
11
Product
11
Fitness
5
Durability
5
Construction
80%
Total
IT Cosmetics   No. 322 Velvet Luxe Plush All-Over Shadow Brush
15
Product
15
Fitness
5
Durability
5
Construction
100%
Total

See more photos & swatches!

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Top 10: Luminous Blushes (Cool-Toned Edition)

For those who prefer their cheek colors on the cooler side, today’s edition features cool-toned options for blushes with a more luminous sheen (see yesterday’s warm-toned picks).

  1. Laura Geller Plumberry — A Cool Berry with a Luminous finish.
  2. Becca Gypsy — A Warm Pink with a Luminous finish.
  3. Colour Pop Monster — A Cool Lavender with a Pearl finish.
  4. Urban Decay Bittersweet — A Warm Purple with a Satin finish.
  5. Clinique Pansy Pop — A Cool Lavender with a Satin finish.
  6. MAC I'm a Lover — A Cool Pink with a Satin finish.
  7. Makeup Geek Head Over Heels — A Cool Pink with a Luminous finish.
  8. IT Cosmetics Magical in Mauve — A Cool Plum with a Luminous finish.
  9. Clinique Berry Pop (03) — A Cool Fuchsia with a Satin finish.
  10. MAC Peony Petal — A Cool Pink with a Satin finish.

See side-by-side swatches!

Top 5: Plum Blushes for Fall 2015

Plum is one of my favorite cheek colors to wear (right after coral!), because they can run cool or warm in tone, so they work with a lot of looks. It’s also a great shade to pair with the deeper lip colors that we often see in fall and winter. What are your favorites?

  1. Urban Decay Rapture — a purply-plum with subtle pearl
  2. theBalm Cabana Boy — a cooler-toned plum with sheen
  3. IT Cosmetics Radiant in Rose — a rosy plum with a luminous finish
  4. Sleek Pomegranate — a brightened, berry-plum with a frosted sheen
  5. NARS Oasis — a warm plum with gold pearl

>> See side-by-side swatches! <<

Sneak Peek: IT Cosmetics The Romantics Naturally Pretty Vol. 2 Eyeshadow Palette Photos & Swatches

IT Cosmetics The Romantics Naturally Pretty Vol. 2 Eyeshadow Palette
IT Cosmetics The Romantics Naturally Pretty Vol. 2 Eyeshadow Palette

IT Cosmetics The Romantics Naturally Pretty Vol. 2 Eyeshadow Palette ($43.50 for 0.46 oz.) includes fourteen matte eyeshadows, plus a shimmery eyeshadow designed to layer with the matte eyeshadows to give you the ability of matte to pearl finishes on the fly. Full review to come, but here’s a quick preview of what’s to come! I have the original palette, too, but I need to re-swatch it before I can post (I didn’t realize it was a wet/dry formula when I initially photographed and swatched it a year ago).

See more photos & swatches!

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