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Make Up For Ever #128 Precision Powder Brush

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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Tom Ford Deeper (01) Eye Defining Pencil Pen

Tom Ford Deeper (01) Eye Defining Pencil Pen
Tom Ford Deeper (01) Eye Defining Pencil Pen

Tom Ford Deeper (01) Eye Defining Pencil Pen ($55.00) is a double-ended liquid eyeliner with a calligraphy brush on one end and a squatter, thicker felt-tip on the other. It’s a very deep black (and frustratingly, I still can’t get my black liquid eyeliners to really photograph as black as they are–they always turn brown-ish), but I can assure it is an incredibly rich, deep dark black.

The calligraphy brush is amazing; it makes applying liquid eyeliner a breeze, and you can achieve such thin, precise lines with hardly any pressure. The brush is nicely saturated, so it doesn’t skip or drag while applying, so you can get crisp, opaque line. The calligraphy brush is capable of thicker lines, but it excels at the thin lines in particular.  The formula is very wet, and it takes a few seconds to dry down and set.

The felt-tip side can create thicker lines while still applying with continuous flow across the skin–no dragging or skipping. In the swatch, you can see the eyeliner bled outside the original line, compared with the calligraphy brush as an applicator, which delivered an equally thick line but no bleeding. Sometimes, this can occur when swatched, but the actual performance on the eyelid is better, which was the case here (same thing happened with Hourglass Jett).  The actual liquid eyeliner, regardless of which applicator is used, lasted ten hours on me without flaking or smudging. It removed easily with my shu uemura cleansing oil.

I haven’t tried it myself, but I have heard good things about Jesse’s Girl Liquid Eyeliner, which has an applicator that looks incredibly similar to the calligraphy brush end to this, so I’m definitely going to keep an eye out for that in stores and see how it compares, because I know that this price point is difficult to swallow. (And there are many stellar black liquid eyeliners on the market.)

Tom Ford Beauty Eye Defining Pencil Pen Deeper (01)
Deeper (01)
Deeper (01)
10
Product
10
Pigmentation
9.5
Texture
10
Longevity
5
Application
99%
Total

NYX Milk Jumbo Eye Pencil

NYX Milk Jumbo Eye Pencil
NYX Milk Jumbo Eye Pencil

NYX Milk Jumbo Eye Pencil ($4.49 for 0.18 oz.) is a stark, cool-toned white with a matte finish. Maybelline Too Cool is shimmery. Buxom Sheep Dog is shimmery, less cool-toned. Make Up For Ever #32E is shimmery, warm-toned. Make Up For Ever #4 is shimmery. See comparison swatches.

Milk is fairly creamy, slightly thick, and applies with mostly opaque color in a single pass. It layers and builds up well, so you can get a crisp, opaque white all-over the lid, which is why it boosts the color of any product with weak pigmentation. The pencils come in a whole slew of shades, too, but the white hue works well to amplify color without muting or really altering the color of any product you layer over it.  It doesn’t set immediately, so it’s a good idea to lightly blend the color across the lid, which helps to even out the application and ensure it’s not too thick and settles into creases while setting.

If NYX’s Jumbo Eye Pencils wear well on you, Milk can be a life-saver, as it instantly boosts the performance of even terrible products. If you’ve tried them and they have a tendency to crease on you, then it won’t be as useful as a product for you. I know that readers have long reported both excellent and dismal wear. I’m in the camp where these wear quite well on me without fading or creasing for eight hours (but show faint signs of creasing after nine hours), and if layered with powder, perform even better.  NYX also gives you quite a bit of product–0.18 oz. as compared to the more typical 0.10 oz. (Urban Decay, Clinique) or. 0.14 oz. (MUFE, NARS) found in these jumbo-sized pencils. Now, the only downside is that it requires sharpening, and because of how creamy it is, there is waste–which is common across this type of product, not just with NYX.

NYX Jumbo Eye Pencil Milk
Milk
Milk
9.5
Product
9.5
Pigmentation
9.5
Texture
9
Longevity
4.5
Application
93%
Total

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Real Techniques Expert Face, Buffing, Contour, Pointed Foundation, Detailer Brush

Real Techniques Expert Face Brush
Real Techniques Expert Face Brush

Real Techniques Expert Face Brush ($8.99) is designed for applying and blending cream or liquid foundation. The brush head is 25mm in length, 30mm in width, and 20mm in thickness. The brush had a total length of 6 inches/15.5 centimeters. The brush is soft, dense, firm (with some give but not fluffy or springy). The edge is slightly rounded, but the most noticeable characteristic about the brush is just how dense it is. It is even denser than the Buffing Brush. I bought this brush after a few readers asked how it compared to Tom Ford’s Cream Foundation Brush, and I don’t think they’re similar in terms of shape, density, and so forth, but the end results achieved with both brushes are more comparable. I do get better and more effortless results with Tom Ford’s, as it doesn’t streak at all for me, but this brush does so occasionally. The rounded, slightly tapered edge makes it easy to buff and blend out any streaks, though, and the synthetic bristles of this brush means it works better with cream and liquid products and is easier to clean. In a blind softness test, I ran both brushes across my husband’s forearm (and I had him do the same for me) three times for each (and at random), Tom Ford always came out on top as softer, but Real Techniques is still very, very soft. I would not complain; I would not even notice, if I didn’t have Tom Ford to compare it to–the way I used this often reminded me of how I used to use MAC’s 109, and this is softer than that brush.

Real Techniques Core Collection ($17.99 for set of four brushes) includes a Buffing Brush, Contour Brush, Pointed Foundation Brush, and Detailer Brush, plus a case to carry them in. For the price, you’re getting a nice amount of brushes, but as with kits, they’re not all as equally useful and ultimately whether you love and use all four regularly will depend entirely on your personal routine and brush preferences. The Buffing and Contour Brushes are both shapes that I think many would use and appreciate, while the Pointed Foundation and Detailer Brushes will be less applicable for all. I really wish you could purchase these brushes individually as well, because I could easily see getting a second Buffing Brush, or if you loved the Detailer Brush, having two or three might be nice for anyone who needs the precision.

Buffing Brush is a medium-sized, wide circular brush that widens at the end and has an ever-so-slightly domed edge. The brush head is 30mm in length, 35mm in width (at its widest point), and 30mm in thickness. In total, the brush has a length of 6 inches/15.5 centimeters. It’s a really nice, multi-tasking brush that can be used to apply foundation (though it says powder, I’ve used it with both powder, cream, and liquid, and it worked fine across all three), blend out blushes and bronzers, or to apply setting powder. It’s densely-packed with soft bristles that feel nice against the skin.

Contour Brush is a small, domed-shaped brush that’s soft, lightly fluffy, and not too dense. The brush head is 30mm in length, 18mm in width, and 18mm in thickness. The brush has a total length of 6.25 inches/15.7 centimeters. It has a good amount of spring so it blends, but it isn’t floppy, so it still retains its shape. It fits nicely into the hollow of the cheeks, so it definitely works exceptionally well for contouring (especially with cream products), but I also quite liked it for applying highlighters on the cheek bones and down the nose as well as for applying cream blushes for a more feathery application. Of the brushes in the set, this was my favorite.

Pointed Foundation Brush was surprisingly small for a flat foundation brush. The brush head is 27mm in length, 15mm in width, and 5mm in thickness. The total length of the brush is 6 inches/15.5 centimeters. It would work better for applying a liquid or cream product to the face, but then using another brush to actually blend and work it into the skin. I often use a concealer brush to dab my liquid foundation in spots on my face before blending the foundation all-over with something larger and denser, so that seemed to be a better use for this than applying foundation all-over. It was very prone to creating lines when I used it for all-over foundation application, so I still needed to go back with something else to buff out all the visible lines. I also tried using it to dab cream highlighters on the cheeks and it was decent, but it doesn’t blend or diffuse the product well enough, so again, a second brush becomes necessary–and I could have just used the second brush for both initial application and subsequent blending.

Detailer Brush is a teeny, tiny firm, flat brush with a tapered edge. The brush head is 9mm in length, 6mm in width, and 3mm in thickness. The whole brush is just under 5.5 inches/14 centimeters. If you have small eyes or deeper crevices around your nose, it might be more useful than your traditional concealer or lip brush as it is much shorter and thinner. This brush was scratchy/rough; when I would pat it underneath the eye for concealer, I could feel a few bristles “stabbing” the skin.

Every brush seemed well-balanced; they weren’t top-heavy or bottom-heavy, so I had good control and they felt good in my hands and as I used them during application. I’ve been using these brushes for several weeks (with the exception of the Expert Face Brush, which I’ve only been using for almost two weeks).  I had few splayed bristles on the Buffing Brush when it arrived and haven’t quite been able to get them to re-shape perfectly, so I might trim those stray ones out.  I’ve only had a few bristles shed during the first few uses with the Buffing and Expert Face Brushes (which is normal!).  I haven’t had any issues cleaning or re-shaping them, and they haven’t bled dye during washes or smelled funny after drying.

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NARS Interstellar, Mozambique, Black Valley Eye Paints

NARS Mozambique Eye Paint
NARS Interstellar Eye Paint

NARS Interstellar Eye Paint ($25.00 for 0.08 oz.) is described as a “silver.” It’s a bright, metallic silver. It had fairly good color payoff, but it was more prone to sheering out than some of the other shades. This is one of the less unique shades in the range, and you can find many silver eyeliners/cream eyeshadows on the market. Maybelline Cool Crush is slightly cooler-toned. Bobbi Brown Chrome is similar. Urban Decay Cuff is darker. Maybelline Silver Strike is similar. MAC Tundra is darker. Buxom Chihuahua is similar. See comparison swatches.

Mozambique is described as “olive.” It’s a mossy, yellow-toned, medium-dark green with a mostly matte finish. It was very, very creamy and pigmented. I felt like this one was prone to sheering out, though, on the lid because of how much slip it had.  I couldn’t think of any eyeliner or cream eyeshadow dupes for this shade–everything was either much darker or much less yellow.

Black Valley is described as “black.” It’s a rich, deep dark black with a matte finish. It is, obviously, a shade that you can find in many brands’ gel eyeliner ranges, so it’s not unique. It just comes down to whether the formula is better for you than others, so while it’s not particularly exciting, it makes sense for every brand to do their version of it since it is a basic. Here are many black eyeliners/black cream eyeshadows from other brands.

Please refer to my original review here for a more in-depth look at the formula as a whole. To recap, Eye Paints are designed to be a long-wearing, highly-pigmented gel formula that can be used as an eyeshadow or as an eyeliner. I applied each shade using NARS’ #38 brush to mimic applying it as an eyeliner (narrow swatch) and then applied the same color with the horizontal edge of the #38 to mimic applying it as an all-over lid color (wide swatch). The formua’s strength is its creaminess and intense color payoff, but it dries and sets very quickly so it can be difficult to blend the shades together or soften the edges if you do not work quickly.

I’m waiting on Tatar in the mail, so I’ll have a review of that shade later next week, but these are the least three shades I tested and found they were in line with the rest of the range. I layered powder eyeshadow over Iskandar and Mozambique (an Inglot gold eyeshadow and MAC Velvet Moss, which I believe is discontinued–I was just aiming to get as close to the base color). Layering powder over the Eye Paints seemed to be the best way to use them all over the eye, as it maximized the wear time–ten to twelve hours with very minimal fading and no creasing–while creating a perfectly even surface once the powder eyeshadows were layered on top. Alone, I had noticeable fading with Mozambique after six and a half hours (Iskandar holds up better–the shimmery shades have been slightly more fade-resistant for longer compared to the more matte shades) but no creasing. It was significantly faded after ten hours. Black Valley and Interstellar wear best as eyeliners, getting to eight hours of wear with no fading or migrating. On the lid, Black Valley manages well for seven hours but starts to fade from there, and it did crease just slightly after eight hours, while Interstellar lasts with just slight fading at eight hours but no creasing.

NARS Eye Paint Mozambique
Mozambique
NARS Eye Paint Interstellar
Interstellar
NARS Eye Paint Black Valley
Black Valley

Make Up For Ever #402 Artistic Fan Brush Review & Photos

Make Up For Ever #402 Artistic Fan Brush
Make Up For Ever #402 Artistic Fan Brush

Make Up For Ever #402 Artistic Fan Brush ($20.00) is described as a “pre-cut, fan brush with 8 sections used to create multi-line effects.” It’s part of the 400 series, which is the artistry/professional range. It is, quite possibly, the most unique brush I’ve come across. This is definitely not a brush that most people will be rushing out to grab, because it is specific and more of an artistry tool than anything else. Make Up For Ever says it can be used to create artistic patterns on the face and smaller areas of the bodies, and it is appropriate to use with creams and liquids. It’s 23mm wide, 15mm tall, and less than a 1mm thick. The ferrule clasps the bristles in the middle of the base, and then the brush fans out with eight distinct tips. The brush head is heavier than the handle, which is very long and skinny (total brush length is 6.5 inches/17 centimeters, and comes to a slanted point at the end. The bristles were soft when dragged across the skin and had a good amount of give and spring.

Dubbed “the rake” by my husband, you can dip it into a cream or liquid product and than drag it across the skin’s surface. I think it would work better with a liquid or very thin cream/gel, because it needs to be fairly saturated and have a product with a lot of slip, so it can create even, opaque lines. I tried with NARS new Eye Paint in Solomon Islands, and though I felt like I loaded up the brush, the color ran out quickly. I’m thinking body paint would be a far better product to be used with this (which I do not have). I hope the brand will put out a few videos of artists in action, particularly one where they’re using this brush! The brush was easy to clean, and I didn’t experience any dye washing out, shedding, or unusual smells post-wash.

I have a few other brushes from the new Make Up For Ever brush range that I’ll be putting through the paces, but I thought I’d share this early look at an unusual brush (as I will not be testing this one extensively).

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