Sunday, February 24th, 2013

Hourglass Ambient Powder Brush
Hourglass Ambient Powder Brush

Hourglass Ambient Powder Brush ($35.00) is described as a “densely-packed, baby-soft powder brush.” It is, like its name would suggest, designed to be used with the brand’s Ambient Lighting Powders, which are finishing powders. The bristles are made using high-grade Taklon bristles.

The brush is short and wide; it has a stubby kind of appearance. It’s like a horizontal brush, as it is thin when you look down on it, but it is rather wide. It fits the width of Hourglass’ Ambient Lighting Powder perfectly. For those who prefer shorter-handled brushes, you’re in luck, as this one has a short, wide handle. It has incredibly soft bristles; not a single poorly cut bristle in the bunch–very soft and smooth and felt like silk caressing the skin. As described, it is also very, very densely-packed with bristles.

When I washed this brush, the bristles were easy to clean, though it did have a tendency to want to slip between my fingers due to the very short handle. It took longer to dry than the majority of the other face brushes I had washed that night (MAC’s 116, 129, 134, OCC’s Powder Brush, Bobbi Brown’s Blush Brush), though it was on par with Hourglass’ #2 Brush. It holds its shape well, and I’ve washed it five times now. I didn’t have any problems with the bristles shedding when used or while washing it. The only thing I didn’t love about the brush is that the handle appears to be made out of plastic, whereas my other Hourglass brush is definitely made out of metal.

See more photos! Continue reading →

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

MAC Archie's Girls' Brush Set
MAC Archie’s Girls’ Brush Set

MAC Archie’s Girls’ Brush Set ($49.50) includes special edition sizes of the 266 (Small Angle), 226 (Small Tapered Blending), 242 (Shader), 168 (Large Angled Contour) and 167 (Face Blender) brushes housed inside a white tin with the Archie’s Girls’ logo embossed on the cover of the tin.

The brushes are so-so, and they’re on par with most recent brush set releases by MAC (like the holiday kits). The price point on good brushes has come down, as more budget-friendly brands have come to the market with high-quality brushes at a fraction of even this set. The best brush of the set is the 266, which is firm and stiff but not scratchy. The 168 and 167 were both a little scratchy, but they were fairly densely-packed with bristles. The 226 seemed rather bulbous; not as long or as tapered as the full-sized version (and even the full-sized version has some variance between releases). The 242 was decent but I would use primarily for patting and applying products, and avoid blending, because it was scratchy.

I, obviously, haven’t used these extensively, other than to apply some of this collection, so I can’t attest to how well they will last and the like. I didn’t notice any funny smells, too much shedding, or leaking dye.

Honestly, the tin is one of the more durable accessories out of the ones released with this collection. There’s plenty of room in it for more than just these brushes, and it’s large enough to be useful as a storage container for numerous other things.

See more photos! Continue reading →

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

MAC Making Pretty Brush Set
MAC Making Pretty Brush Set

Do You Remember the MAC 136?

MAC Making Pretty Brush Set ($100.00) contains one face brush and one eyeshadow brush.  Both brush handles are covered in faux shagreen with rose gold-tinted metal.

136 is a face brush that can be used for “sculpting, blending, and highlighting.” The 136 has been discontinued for some time now, but the last price I remember it being was $62. It was the most expensive brush at the time (I think it may still be, other than any couture-handled brush). I also remember it being one of the softest brushes I had ever laid across my skin. It still is one incredibly soft brush. It’s domed but flat; it’s like the 150 was flattened (and conditioned about 500 times). The 134 is the most comparable brush in MAC’s existing range, though it is fluffier and larger overall. I like the 136 for light powder application, blending, and dusting finishing powders on.

282 is an “all over eye shader brush for building and blending intense color.” I know that the SE version of this is included in past brush kits MAC has released, but I don’t know if it was ever released as a full-sized, standalone brush. It’s a wide, squat dome-shaped eye brush. It seemed well-cut and soft when I played around with it on my eyes and face. It’s bigger than the 214, smaller than the 227 and 235. Since I couldn’t find this as a full-sized, standalone brush, I’m only able to estimate the value, which I’d put at $30. The brush head is on the larger side, so it would work better on those with a lot of lid space, or anyone who tends to apply a single wash of color. I have the 214, 227, and 235 but rarely use them. You might consider using the 282 for detailed work on the face, like contouring the nose.

All in all, that means that the brushes together are worth $92 (though if the 136 was available now, it would be pricier than $62, given the rate of MAC’s price increases), plus there’s a case to carry both brushes in. I think the case is a little flimsy, and it didn’t stay open well, yet the magnet on the bow (that keeps it closed) was very weak, so for the most part, the case was half-closed.Who knew that the brush set would be the most normally-priced of the collection?

See more photos! Continue reading →

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

Karl Lagerfeld for shu uemura Mini Brush Set
Karl Lagerfeld for shu uemura Mini Brush Set

A Travel Set of Exquisitely Soft Brushes

Karl Lagerfeld for shu uemura Mini Brush Set ($69.00) includes a silver brush case that includes four short-handled brushes. The largest is the cheek brush, which is made out of pony/squirrel hair. Then, there are two eyeshadow brushes, one is made out of nylon and the other out of sable. The last brush is a lip or eyeliner brush, which is made out of sable. The four brushes were made in Japan.

I’ve been using these brushes for a couple of days, and for a travel set, they’re really quite nice. The blush brush is dense and soft against the skin; it doesn’t feel scratchy at all. It does a nice job of both applying and blending out cheek color. The nylon eyeshadow brush works well for cream eyeshadows, while the sable eyeshadow brush is better for applying powder products. I thought the latter brush was a little large and would have preferred a squatter brush. I used the smallest brush for both applying lip color as well as applying shu’s Painting Liner, and it worked nicely for both applications. I liked it a bit more for lining around the eye, just because it felt a smidgen too small against my lips (but would be nice for someone with thinner lips).

All four brushes have been washed twice now, and I haven’t had any problem with dye bleeding, funny smells, or the like.  The blush brush hasn’t had any shedding problems either.  As far as the bag goes, it will get the job done; I think it’s a little thin overall.  I liked the way each brush had its own pocket, and there’s enough room in it to stick a couple more brushes in there if you want (or a few other products).

See more photos! Continue reading →

Monday, September 24th, 2012

MAC 215 Medium Shader Brush
MAC 215 Medium Shader Brush

Congratulations 214 and 227! It’s a Boy 215!

MAC 215 Medium Shader Brush ($25.00) is a new, limited edition (I believe, at least) brush designed to be used for shaping and defining the eye with both powder and cream eyeshadows. It has natural bristles. This brush is like a bigger 214, or a stumpy version of the 227. The 215 is wide, dome-shaped brush that’s packed with bristles. For me, it felt a little rough on the eye. It was less rough when I used powder eyeshadows than when I used cream eyeshadows, which seemed to emphasize the pointy, blunt edges of the bristles.

This brush is a larger eye brush, so if you have a smaller eye area or smaller lids, you may find it too large to use often. It’s a bit large against my eye lids, but I like it for applying one-and-done eyeshadows–which are more or less a wash of color on the lid.  It picks up pigment easily and deposits it well without it getting lost within the bristles.  For more multi-colored looks, it’s too big for me.  It’s softer than the 214 but not as soft as the 227.  The 227 also blends more readily, but this is easier to blend with than the 214.

See more photos! Continue reading →

Monday, September 24th, 2012

MAC 163 Flat Top Contour Brush
MAC 163 Flat Top Contour Brush

Defined Contouring Made Easy with the 163

MAC 163 Flat Top Contour Brush ($35.00) is a new and limited edition brush designed to be used with MAC’s Pro Sculpting Creams, but they are noted as a multi-purpose brush, so they can be used however you find it works.  The brush is not MAC’s softest face brush, but I wouldn’t describe it as scratchy.  I think the blunt edge gives it a harsher feel against the skin, but when I run it back and forth against my face or arm, it feels fine.  It’s tightly packed with bristles, making it a very dense brush.

It was good for placing the Pro Sculpting Creams on the face, but it wasn’t so good at blending them out. I needed to use my fingertips or another brush to do that.  I think this brush is fairly purpose-specific, and as a result, it’s not a must-have brush for everyone.  It may work well in professional kits or for anyone who does more intense, dramatic contouring.  I did not like this for foundation, blush, or powder products in general.  It worked best with liquids and creams, mostly for initial application.  It had a tendency to drag products in noticeable streaks when used to blend.

Again, this is a brush that seemed to be more of a one trick pony than a great workhorse of a brush.  It’s great if what you’re looking for is a way to apply cream/liquid products in defined lines. There’s also a Sonia Kashuk brush that’s supposed to be a dupe, but I only just bought mine so I can’t weigh in quite yet!

See more photos! Continue reading →