Sunday, September 8th, 2013

Make Up For Ever #106 Medium Foundation Brush
Make Up For Ever #106 Medium Foundation Brush

Make Up For Ever #106 Medium Foundation Brush ($36.00) isa medium-sized, flat foundation brush with a slightly rounded edge. The brush head is 29mm in length, 26mm in width, and 5mm in thickness. The ferrule is pinched towards the top (near the brush head), and the handle is fairly thick (1.5 centimeters in diameter) towards the center and then narrows as it tapers to a slanted point. The total brush length is 6.75 inches or just over 17 centimeters. The weight is distributed more towards the brush head, so the handle does feel quite light.

It’s a thinner, firmer brush that is flexible as it is pressed and swept across the face, but it is not at all fluffy. The synthetic fibers pick up liquid and cream really well, but I do see noticeable brush strokes on the skin when I use this, so some buffing/blending is required with another brush after the initial lay down of product is done with this. I also noticed that there were four or five fibers that I had to trim back, because they were a half an inch or so extended beyond the brush’s actual shape. The brush is soft, and it didn’t turn greasy after several washes, and I had no real issues with it. There are a lot of flat foundation brushes on the market, and though I don’t have any in this exact shape, they all tend to apply similarly–somewhat streaky but can lay down more coverage (like MAC 190).

#156 Flat Round Blush Brush ($55.00) is a flat, fluffy blush brush with a domed, rounded edge. It’s not too dense, but it has enough fibers to not feel sparse. The brush head is 35mm in length, 35mm in width (at its widest point), and 15mm in thickness (at its thickest point). It has an pinched ferrule and a moderately wide handle (just under 1.5 centimeters in diameter) towards the center that narrows and tapers to a slanted point.  This brush had nice weight distribution.

It’s soft enough not to feel rough or scratchy against my skin, but I noticed it was less soft compared to other Make Up For Ever brushes. It doesn’t grab onto powders particularly well, so it ends up with a very soft, light application of powder blushes and bronzers. If you prefer a lighter application, you may enjoy this brush or want to look for a synthetic blush brush as synthetic brushes tend to pick up less powder than natural fiber brushes. I noticed that this brush lost a lot of its shape after a few washes and seemed more flared with some bristles splayed oddly.  Shu Uemura’s #20 Brush is similar–a touch longer in length with less flare and is slightly denser. Hakuhodo G5545 has a more rounded edge and is just a few millimeters longer. MAC 116 is much thicker, so it’s not much of a flat brush, while Sephora PRO Precision Blush (73) is also thicker and has a more tapered edge.

#176 Medium Concealer Brush ($30.00) is a small-medium, firm, flat brush designed to be used for concealer on larger areas. The brush head is 23mm in length, 17mm in width, and 4mm in thickness. It has a pinched ferrule, and a total handle length of 7 inches or just under 18 centimeters.  The weight distribution was nice–not too heavy at the brush head.

Make Up For Ever recommends using it with liquid and creams (like concealer), which is what I would use it for. If you like firm, flat brushes for applying foundation but find many of them too large, you may prefer the smaller shape of this one. I think it performs similar–it’s nice for laying down product initially, but for spreading and blending, it leaves streaks behind that need to be fixed with another brush. MAC 192 is thicker and longer. OCC’s Concealer (003) Brush is longer and more tapered.

The Glossover

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#106 Medium Foundation Brush

It's a thinner, firmer brush that is flexible as it is pressed and swept across the face, but it is not at all fluffy. The synthetic fibers pick up liquid and cream really well, but I do see noticeable brush strokes on the skin when I use this, so some buffing/blending is required with another brush after the initial lay down of product is done with this.

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#156 Large Flat Blush Brush

It's soft enough not to feel rough or scratchy against my skin, but I noticed it was less soft compared to other Make Up For Ever brushes. It doesn't grab onto powders particularly well, so it ends up with a very soft, light application of powder blushes and bronzers.

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#176 Medium Concealer Brush

If you like firm, flat brushes for applying foundation but find many of them too large, you may prefer the smaller shape of this one. I think it performs similar--it's nice for laying down product initially, but for spreading and blending, it leaves streaks behind that need to be fixed with another brush.

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Friday, September 6th, 2013

Make Up For Ever #110 Medium Foundation Kabuki Brush
Make Up For Ever #110 Medium Foundation Kabuki Brush

Make Up For Ever #110 Medium Foundation Kabuki Brush ($48.00) is a tapered kabuki brush, and the tapered edge definitely separates it from my other kabuki brushes. The brush head measures 40mm in length, 30mm in width, and 30mm in thickness. It has a short handle (as you’d expect for a kabuki) with a total brush length of 3 inches or 7.5 centimeters.

The brush is incredibly dense, soft and silky against the skin, but it’s flexible enough to easily allow the tapered edge to curve around the nose and underneath the eye. Make Up For Ever recommends this for cream and liquid foundations, first and foremost, though it is also recommended for loose and pressed powders. I liked it best with liquid foundation, and it does tend to apply with heavier coverage, so if you tend to prefer a very sheer or light foundation application, it won’t be a go-to for you. I also used it to blend out edges of powder blush/bronzer, and it works, but I’m more inclined to reach for a buffer brush (like the #126 below) for that.

Make Up For Ever has five kabuki brushes in their range; the #102 is a smaller version of the #110, while the #124 has the more traditional dome-shape. There is also the #132, which is a flattened version, and the #414, which is a body brush. If you actually wanted to really buff and blend using the top of the brush, I would steer you away from this, as the tapered tip is tapered and firm enough that it works better for sweeping at an angle, not straight-on like many kabuki brushes are used.

#126 Medium Powder Brush ($55.00) is a large, dense, dome-shaped brush designed to be used for loose and pressed powder application with “moderate-to-high coverage.” It’s incredibly dense, thick, and very lush. The brush fibers are soft, silky, and glide across the skin almost as if they were one. The brush head is 40mm long, 40mm wide, and 40mm thick. The weight is more concentrated towards the brush head, and I would have preferred a better weight distribution to give the handle more heft. The handle is particular thick–about 3/4 of an inch in diameter at its thickest point. The total length of the brush is just over 7 inches or 18 centimeters. The ferrule is particularly long, even for a face brush, and is an open/round ferrule (no pinching).

This brush actually reminded me of a kabuki or buffer brush–in fact, the shape and size of MAC 182 is almost a dead-ringer, except for the handle. If you’ve always loved the shape of a kabuki brush but wanted a longer handle, this brush will definitely give you that. I loved it for blending and buffing out powder blush and bronzer, and it also worked for applying loose powder all-over. It tends to pick up powder a bit more than a fluffier brush, so for setting and finishing powders, I think it ends up yielding a too powdery finish. For powder foundation, though, it works to give light to medium coverage fairly easily.

One downside to both of these was that they take forever to dry (at least a full 24 hours) if you’ve done a full wash of them. On the plus side, I really didn’t feel like I had much in the way of similar brushes in my stash. The tapered shape of the #110 definitely makes it more unique compared to other kabuki brushes, while the fullness and denseness of the #126 make it different from other long-handled powder brushes I have (which tend to be less dense and fluffier), but it is comparable to the more traditional kabuki brush shape and density.

The Glossover

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#110 Medium Foundation Kabuki Brush

The brush is incredibly dense, soft and silky against the skin, but it's flexible enough to easily allow the tapered edge to curve around the nose and underneath the eye. Make Up For Ever recommends this for cream and liquid foundations, first and foremost, though it is also recommended for loose and pressed powders.

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#126 Medium Powder Brush

It's incredibly dense, thick, and very lush. The brush fibers are soft, silky, and glide across the skin almost as if they were one. If you've always loved the shape of a kabuki brush but wanted a longer handle, this brush will definitely give you that.

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Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

Make Up For Ever #222 Sponge Applicator
Make Up For Ever #222 Sponge Applicator

Make Up For Ever #222 Sponge Applicator ($13.00) is a sponge-tipped applicator on a long, wooden (beech) handle. The sponge-tip is 12mm tall, 9mm wide, and 5mm thick. It’s attached to a black knob that has a thin (about 3-4mm wide) plastic piece that has a lot of flexibility, so you can bend the applicator as needed to maneuver around during application. Sponge-tip applicators are good for picking any powder product that is prone to fall out, crumbling, or when you need to really pack on a color; like a white eyeshadow base, sponge-tip applicators can really pack on a product. It is also a useful applicator for smudging eyeliner or eyeshadow underneath or on the lash line.

The sponge really doesn’t feel too different than a mutltitude of sponge-tip applicators that get included in various kits and palettes; yes, the sponge seemed more resilient and durable, as I can try to remove it and it doesn’t instantly rip as cheaper ones do, and it isn’t scratchy. I’ve scratched at it, and it hasn’t shown any signs of wearing, scratching, tearing, or even bits of the sponge flaking off. I’m not sure it would hold up to prolonged or sustained use. Given that Make Up For Ever sells refills (6 for $9) for it, I would expect breakdowns over time. It’s definitely made out of a thicker, more pliable, and sturdier material than the average applicator you’d find in a cheaper palette. If you like handles or have larger hands/longer fingers like me, the long handle could be very helpful. Otherwise, you may find simply buying a 50-pack of disposable sponge applicators for $5-10 is a better option (or merely gathering all the ones you inevitably own–this is what I do; I keep all the random sponge-tip applicators I’ve had in palettes in a plastic cup).

I was most worried about the very itsy bit of glue that connects the actual sponge-tip to the black knob getting broken down over time or while cleaning, you might accidentally tug too much and rip the very bottom of the sponge (where it’s glued) from the knob. For review purposes, I just went ahead and lightly pulled at the bottom, freeing it from the knob, and yes, it will be prone to slipping and pulling off–just patting and lightly blending powder eyeshadow on the lid or smudging eyeliner on the lower lash line didn’t see any slippage, so it will depend on the use.

#272 Eyelash Brush ($12.00) is described as a “spiral brush used to style eyebrows and correct their shape, as well as separate lashes before or after application.” It is a mascara spoolie, so it is good for all things brow and lash. It’s 25mm tall, 7mm wide, and 7mm thick. There is a thin metal wire that extends out of the metal ferrule. Like the #222, you can acquire disposable spoolie wands in bulk and at a low price point (like 50 for $5-10). The difference is that this isn’t designed to be disposable but reusable.

This brush is comparable to MAC #204 ($15.00), which tapers slightly more towards the top so it is narrower overall. This is actually a brush I keep as part of my daily arsenal, as I use it to brush brows and blend out harsh lines when I’ve filled in my brows with powder. I’ve used it for lashes, too, but it’s nowhere near as effective as a metal lash comb for separation. When it comes to lashes, it is best if the mascara is still wet, otherwise it doesn’t do much once mascara has dried on lashes. The same is true for Make Up For Ever’s #272. It works well to comb through brows as well as to diffuse, blend, and even out color from filling in brows. It could also be used to apply mascara, colored mascara, mixing with a product to apply color to the lashes (like a DIY colored mascara), applying brow gel, and so forth.

The #272 can be a total pain to clean, though, which is another reason why I don’t love it with mascara. I highly recommend cleaning it nearly immediately after using with any liquid product like mascara to avoid difficult clean up (everything just hardens and sticks to the interior wire).

Both of these brushes are useful, and I like them, but whether it’s worth investing in one rather than disposable varieties is ultimately something that is going to depend more on how you use it. The #272 is the kind of brush that I do, personally, find necessary, and I can’t vouch for the durability of Make Up For Ever’s (but it’s on my calendar to revisit all my Artisan Brush reviews a year from now to check in), I can vouch for the MAC #204, which seems very similar in length, shape, feel. The biggest difference is that MAC’s ferrule is crimped towards the top, while Make Up For Ever’s #272 is round.

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Monday, September 2nd, 2013

Make Up For Ever #146 Flat Blush Brush
Make Up For Ever #146 Flat Blush Brush

Make Up For Ever #146 Flat Blush Brush ($37.00) is described as a “medium, trapezoid-shaped brush” that is designed to be used with loose and press powders. By its name, one would expect primarily using this with blush, as it is designed for buildable coverage. Make Up For Ever also recommends using it for face painting. The brush head is 26mm tall, 33mm wide (at the top, which is widest point), and 10mm thick with a pinched ferrule. It has a total length of 7.25 inches/18 centimeters.  The brush’s shape is flat, almost a square but slightly flared outwards–like a trapezoid, but it is a squatter one than I envision with just the word “trapezoid.”  It had soft bristles at the tips, and the bristles length-wise were fairly soft but you could “feel” the individual bristles slightly (they didn’t blend together as seamlessly).

I think the shape is somewhat large for a blush applicator, and it’s definitely best for just initially applying color to the cheek and less useful for blending or diffusing blush color. It splays out unevenly, is an odd mix of stiff and springy that never quite blends or applies the way you’d expect. It just seems to make applying blush harder than it is with other blush brushes (with more typical brush heads). I just received another blush brush from the range late last week, so I’m testing that one as well to see if that works better for blush application. I can see the flatter shape working better for face painting, though, and to that end, it was nice for applying liquid primer or moisturizer (I tried with Illamasqua’s Hydra Veil).

There’s something about this brush that felt off, because no matter how many washes (I’ve washed it a dozen times now with four different cleansers), it always feel a somewhat oily or greasy. I can press the brushes together, and it molds that way until I squish the brushes in another way. As of now, this is the only Make Up For Ever brush that I’m having this issue with, so it might be a one-off or more specific to the flatter brush shapes.  I just received a few other face brushes, so I’ll have a better idea of the context of this issue in a couple of weeks.

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Sunday, September 1st, 2013

Reader Vinita requested top five picks of burgundy and red-toned purple eyeshadows–just in time for fall! It can be a difficult color for some to wear, because of the red tones, but try pairing it with warmer golds and coppers, or using it with a bright silver. It can be even used mixed with black in the crease to create a very dramatic smoky eye. You can also look for burgundies that lean brown to minimize the red tones found in them.

  1. MAC Deep Damson — a deep, dark burgundy-brown with a matte finish
  2. Le Metier de Beaute Fig — a purpled burgundy with a frosted finish
  3. Inglot #452 — shimmering burgundy with strong red undertones
  4. Make Up For Ever #311 — shimmery, deep brown-burgundy
  5. MAC Cranberry — medium-dark burgundy with a frost finish

What’s your favorite burgundy eyeshadow? How do you wear it?

Monday, August 26th, 2013

Make Up For Ever Precision Powder Brush
Make Up For Ever #128 Precision Powder Brush

Make Up For Ever #128 Precision Powder Brush ($52.00) is described as a “long and flat brush with a tapered tip” to be used with loose and pressed powder for application “the face, neck, and upper shoulders.” It’s a large, substantial brush, and it’s easily one of the larger powder brushes I have. It flares out slightly from the base and then tapers significantly to a rounded edge with the bristles layered and lengthening as you move to the center of the brush. It measures 50mm at its widest part, 56mm tall, 25mm thick with a total length (including handle and ferrule) of just under 8 inches/20 centimeters. The handle itself is quite thick but tapers down towards the end and finishes with a sharp, angled tip. All Make Up For Ever’s Artisan brushes are made out of synthetic fibers and officially release in September.

The new Artisan Brush range is touted as being “hand-crafted by a total of 30 people from start to finish” and have beech wood handles. The slanted tip of the handle is done specifically to “allow for easier product retrieval and can be used to assist in faux lash application.” The first thing I noticed about this brush was how top-heavy it was–the brush head is much, much heavier than the handle, which is incredibly lightweight. You’ll notice that the brush head is actually two-tone–the bottom third is a dark brown, while the upper two-thirds are nearly black. The top two-thirds actually flop a bit; like if you held the brush in your hands and waved it up and down, you would see just that portion moving up and down while the bottom third stays in place.

This brush is incredibly soft, and it’s one of the softest brushes I’ve come across–tying with Hakuhodo and Tom Ford brushes. At times, this almost feels softer, but I think it’s the result of the layering and airiness of the upper two-thirds of the brush that give it a feathery, soft feel. My husband has been a test subject for numerous “which is softer” tests in the past few months as I’ve been doing an extensive testing of brushes across brands, and Hakuhodo and Tom Ford brushes (which are rumored to be made by Hakuhodo) were all readily distinguished as the softest. He described the difference as the Hakuhodo felt silkier, almost cool and wet, but he felt like softness was the same. I had a similar experience to his, and I felt like the bristles melted together to provide a smooth, seamless applicator across the skin. I could jab, splay, and twirl the brush and never felt a jagged or rough edge.

I liked it for applying loose setting powder, and because the top of the brush “flops,” it actually works to press the loose powder against the skin with a lighter pressure than with a sponge or powder pouf but does a better job of getting an even, full layer of powder against the skin to really set makeup. I can’t make any claims as to the durability of the brush, so as I find brushes that I can work into my regular routine, I’ll be adding them and continuing to trial them to see how they hold up to more prolonged use. I’ve washed this brush five times, and I haven’t had any issues with shedding, dye bleeding, or any resulting smells post-wash. It takes awhile to dry, but if I use it in the morning, wash it, then it is ready for me to use about eight to twelve hours later. I wish the handle had more weight to it, though, because while the dark, red-toned wood handle looks nice, it lacks substance.

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