Sunday, January 26th, 2014

Hakuhodo G5515 Pointed Eyeshadow Brush
Hakuhodo G5515 Pointed Eyeshadow Brush

Hakuhodo G5515 Pointed Eyeshadow Brush ($15.00) is a tiny, pointed pencil brush made out of horse hair. It’s a mere 5.5mm in length, 3mm in width, and 3mm in thickness. The total length of the brush is just over 6.5 inches or 14.5 centimeters with a rounded ferrule. I thought it might work really well for applying eyeshadow to the lower lash line in a thin line, but I find that I feel the pointed edge, which feels somewhat sharp, even when I’m holding (or at least, trying to) the brush horizontally to use the edge. I could use it for more detailed work on the face, and it didn’t feel sharp, but on the lash line and along the eyelid, it just wasn’t that comfortable to use. I don’t think I have any other pointed brushes this tiny!

Hakuhodo G5520 Pointed Eyeshadow Brush ($21.00) is a small, pointed pencil brush made out of blue squirrel and horse hairs. The brush head is 9mm in length, 4mm in width, and 4mm in thickness. It had a total length of 5.75 inches or just over 14.5 centimeters. This brush was more comfortable to use, as it is denser, larger, and the edge is softer. It’s comparable to MAC 219 ($25), which isn’t quite as pointed.

Hakuhodo G5522 Tapered Eyeshadow Brush ($28.00) is a large, tapered crease brush made out of blue squirrel and goat hairs. The brush head is 21mm in length, 9mm in width, and 9mm in thickness. It has a total length of inches a little over 6 inches or just over 15.5 centimeters. This brush was fantastic for diffusing color in the crease, blending, or laying down a transition color. It is a larger brush, so it’s something I tend to use with a softer look, or to really diffuse a deeper shade. It’s soft but springy, dense but not firm. It is more tapered than MAC’s 224 ($32) and Make Up For Ever #17S (discontinued).

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G5515 Pointed Eyeshadow Brush

If you do very fine and detailed work, you may want a brush of this size. I don't think it is a must-have for most people, as it is quite small and not as versatile as a small (but not tiny) brush of a similar style, like the G5520.

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G5520 Pointed Eyeshadow Brush

The G5520 works well to smudge eyeshadow, apply concentrated color inside the crease, and to fade out edges with more precision than a more feathery brush.

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G5522 Tapered Eyeshadow Brush

This is a brush I would get multiples of, personally, as it is incredibly soft and feathery to use on the eye and works incredibly well to apply, diffuse, and blend out color into the crease.

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Friday, January 3rd, 2014

Guerlain Meteorites Powder Brush
Guerlain Meteorites Powder Brush

Guerlain Meteorites Powder Brush ($42.00) is described as having “long, soft bristles designed to take in only the exact quantity of Meteorites Pearls needed for each application and distribute them evenly.” It is a short-handled, large, long powder brush. The brush head is just shy of 2 inches (or 5 centimeters) in length, 1.5 inches (4 centimeters) in width. The brush has a total length of 4.5 inches or just over 11 centimeters with an open ferrule. Despite having a longer length, it doesn’t feel floppy. It is a dense brush–not as dense as a buffer or kabuki brush but denser than a some blush brushes. shu uemura’s 18R is similar but slightly narrower in width.

The brush fits well into the opening of the Meteorites Pearls, and it would easily reach the bottom of the container, should one ever get low on their Meteorites Pearls. I don’t have the previous version of the brush (which may be a surprise to some!), so I can’t remark on whether this is improved or not. According to Guerlain, the new brush is “longer and softer.” I tried using this brush to apply the Meteorites Pearls, but I just don’t like the texture of the bristles–they’re noticeably scratchy unless you use the lightest, most feathery touch, but it’s not nearly as soft as many other powder/blush brushes I own (Bobbi Brown, Hakuhodo, Make Up For Ever, Real Techniques, shu uemura, and so on). It applied the right amount of product, though I did not have any trouble using my preferred brush (Hakuhodo J104) and applying the right quantity either. There were a few bristles that shed the first time I used it (after washing it once), but I didn’t notice any additional shedding after that. I can’t comment on durability/longevity, as I haven’t had this brush for long.

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Meteorites Powder Brush

I tried using this brush to apply the Meteorites Pearls, but I just don't like the texture of the bristles--they're noticeably scratchy unless you use the lightest, most feathery touch, but it's not nearly as soft as many other powder/blush brushes I own (Bobbi Brown, Hakuhodo, Make Up For Ever, Real Techniques, shu uemura, and so on).
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Saturday, November 30th, 2013

MAC Masterclass Brushes
MAC Masterclass Brushes

MAC Masterclass Brush Collection includes three new (and permanent) brushes that are exclusive to maccosmetics.com and MAC stores. I’ve been waiting to post this, as the brushes have been out of stock for almost two weeks now, but they’re back in stock for those who had them on their wish lists. They’re interesting brushes, and I think for some, they’ll be great, and others will find more traditional brushes more compelling. All three brushes felt sturdy and well-made; and the bristles felt very, very soft and silky. The Oval brushes are incredibly dense. They are comfortable to hold, and if you have larger hands or wear glasses, holding the brushes this way and having the brush heads facing this way greatly improve visibility.  I didn’t find that these were as multi-purpose as they’re touted, as the shapes didn’t work for as some of the recommended applications. Again, they’re intriguing and worth checking out, but they may or may not be a good fit in your routine.  I also highly recommend checking out Dustin Hunter’s video on these, as he’s a glasses-wearer as well as a professional makeup artist.

Linear 1 Brush ($25.00) was designed a liner brush; MAC’s website says “to line lashes and lips… also defines and fills brows.” It is 17mm in width, 8mm in length, and 3mm in thickness.  It has a total brush length of 5.75 inches or 14.5 centimeters. I think it’s too long, both in terms of the horizontal length but as well as the vertical length of the brushes (as they extend away from the brush itself)–it feels too large against my eye. It may be too wide, depending on how you like your eyeliner. The brush head is rather large relative to most openings of cream/gel eyeliners, too. The light curved edge on the left and right of the brush doesn’t seem intuitive as it doesn’t contour to the shape of the eye (or lip) well and instead lifts away from it. I liked using this best to fill in brows, where the longer shape worked better, and I didn’t need as much precision.

Oval 3 Brush ($32.00) was designed to be used (primarily!) for “[blending] powder or cream eyeshadows, powde, and liquid, or cream concealer.”   It is 15mm in width, 10mm in length, and 8mm in thickness.  It has a total length of inches 5.75 inches or 14.5 centimeters. This brush, again, was very large against my eye. The only practical way to use it is for applying an all-over color, whether a wash of eyeshadow or setting down an eyeshadow base. For blending, I felt it was too dense–better for application, particularly of creams–to get really soft, feathery strokes. I liked it best for blending concealer, as the slightly rounded edge fit into the hollows underneath my eye and along the contours of my nose. Against the eye, it felt too round, and I would have preferred something either less dense (so it would be more flexible and wisp-like) or flatter across the edge.

Oval 6 Brush ($42.00) was designed to be “ideal for blush, foundation, or powder, the rounded, medium-sized brush applies, blends and contours all over the face and cheeks.” It is 30mm in width, 14mm in length, and 20mm in thickness. Of the three, this was my personal favorite, as I felt like the size was right, and it’s very, very soft. I worked with this brush with blush, foundation, bronzer, contour powder, moisturizers, and primers. It worked best for applying product all over (like a primer or moisturizer) or contouring, as the rounded edge does work with contouring (but it can be a bit wide, depending on your face shape), but for applying blush and the like, only the middle portion of the brush really hits the skin, as it is curved opposite of the face. The dome shape just doesn’t deposit blush that well, and it’s so dense that blending is easier and more naturally achieved with a fluffier brush. It applies foundation beautifully, and it definitely gives a natural, even, and smooth finish.  This brush took a few washes to clean of foundation, and I imagine the density is part of why this is a harder brush to clean.

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Linear 1 Brush

I think it's too long, both in terms of the horizontal length but as well as the vertical length of the brushes (as they extend away from the brush itself)--it feels too large against my eye. It may be too wide, depending on how you like your eyeliner.

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Oval 3 Brush

For blending, I felt it was too dense--better for application, particularly of creams--to get really soft, feathery strokes. I liked it best for blending concealer, as the slightly rounded edge fit into the hollows underneath my eye and along the contours of my nose.

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Oval 6 Brush

It worked best for applying product all over (like a primer or moisturizer) or contouring, as the rounded edge does work with contouring (but it can be a bit wide, depending on your face shape), but for applying blush and the like, only the middle portion of the brush really hits the skin, as it is curved opposite of the face. It applies foundation beautifully, and it definitely gives a natural, even, and smooth finish.

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After trying the brushes for a few days, I then spoke to Louise Zizzo, a MAC Senior Artist, who I’ve known for five or six years now! I definitely had a few questions about these new brushes. Since our chat, I spent the next two weeks really putting the brushes through their paces.

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Monday, November 4th, 2013

Hakuhodo G5545 Blush Brush
Hakuhodo G5545 Blush Brush

Hakuhodo G5545 Blush Brush ($48.00) is a rounded, flat blush brush made out of blue squirrel and goat hair. It’s 38mm in length, 30mm in width, and 18mm in thickness. It has a total length of just under 7 inches or just over 17.5 centimeters with a pinched ferrule. Prior to my aggressive try-all-the-brushes campaign, I don’t think I had a brush like this–it is a lot flatter than I’m used to. It’s somewhat dense, flat, and just a little rounded around the upper half of the brush head. If you tend to pat your blush on, it’s a good option. It feels incredibly soft against the skin, doesn’t apply too much or too little product in a go, and can softly blend color together. I liked it best with powders. Sephora Pro Precision Blush Brush ($32) is shorter and has a more angled/tapered edge, but it is similar in flatness and overall application; the G5545 is much, much softer (feels like water, almost, against the skin). MAC 116 ($35) is thicker and fluffier overall–and feels much rougher in comparison. Shu Uemura #20 Natural Brush ($50) is the most comparable, though it has a flatter edge, so it is not as rounded, but it has a similar flatness and overall size; it is almost as soft as Hakuhodo’s but not quite (I don’t think you’d notice unless you had both).

Hakuhodo G5556 Powder & Liquid Brush ($69.00) is a blend of goat hair and synthetic fibers. This particular shape of brush is available in a few sizes (and you’ll also find a few in the S series with the red-orange handle if you prefer that aesthetic), there is the G5552-4mm ($45), G5553-2mm ($45), G5554-4mm ($54), G5555-2mm ($54), G5557-2mm ($69). Since I have a history of choosing a brush that’s just slightly smaller than I actually want, I went for what I hoped would be one of the larger versions! From what I’ve seen from readers, this shape/style is supposed to be similar to Shiseido’s Perfect Foundation Brush (which, apparently, is $30, and I had in my mind that it was going to be a $50+ brush, go figure! This also means I’ll probably cave and buy it!). I don’t have Shiseido’s to compare at this time, so I can’t weigh in on that debate.

The G5556 is 28mm in length (from the tallest edge), 28mm in width, and 28mm in thickness. It’s just under 6 inches or 15.5 centimeters in total lenght. It has a round, open ferrule. The brush handle is also very, very thick and round–about 3/4 in diameter and a wide as 1 inch at its widest point. It’s a round, dense brush with a slanted, angled edge that goes flat across (but at an angle). That angle makes it easier to pull the brush into crevices and curves, like around the nose, around the eyes, and along the jaw line. The mix of synthetic and natural bristles makes it work well for liquid as well as powder, so for cream and liquid foundations, this is a nice option. I really liked it for foundation application, but I don’t reach for it over some of my other favorites! It does take a little longer to dry due to its density. This is one of the only angled foundation brushes I own, I think!

Hakuhodo J511 Angled Highlighter Brush ($33.00) is a small-to-medium angled brush made out of goat hair (it is also available with a combination of blue squirrel and goat hair, with black bristles, for $42 as the G511). It’s 28 mm in length, 28mm in width, and 18mm in thickness. It has a total length of 6.25 inches or 16 centimeters. It has a pinched ferrule. The size makes it workable for highlighting, as you can delicately feather a shimmery product on without applying too much or getting it everywhere. For contouring, it works for those with smaller faces or who want a more precise contour. I also thought it was better for applying cream or liquid contours, as I find more precision in placement is more crucial with those textures than with powders. I noticed that this brush also fluffed up quite a bit after an initial wash, so it is more feathery and not as dense as it appears when it first arrives (not really a bad thing!). It is smaller than MAC 168 ($35) and Sephora’s Pro Angled Blush Brush ($32).

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G5545 Blush Brush

If you tend to pat your blush on, it's a good option. It feels incredibly soft against the skin, doesn't apply too much or too little product in a go, and can softly blend color together. I liked it best with powders.
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G5556 Powder & Liquid Brush

The mix of synthetic and natural bristles makes it work well for liquid as well as powder, so for cream and liquid foundations, this is a nice option. I really liked it for foundation application, but I don't reach for it over some of my other favorites! It does take a little longer to dry due to its density.
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J511 Angled Highlighter Brush

The size makes it workable for highlighting, as you can delicately feather a shimmery product on without applying too much or getting it everywhere. For contouring, it works for those with smaller faces or who want a more precise contour. I also thought it was better for applying cream or liquid contours, as I find more precision in placement is more crucial with those textures than with powders.
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Monday, September 30th, 2013

Make Up For Ever Artisan Brushes
Make Up For Ever Artisan Brushes

Now that I’ve concluded my reviews for Make Up For Ever’s new Artisan Brush range, it’s time for a round-up (in case you missed any) and a few overall impressions/thoughts. I like the variety in brushes, as there are numerous shapes and sizes to choose from, though I was very disappointed in the crease brushes I tried as they weren’t practical for applying–very sharp, floppy, and narrow. Often, a brush can still be of high quality, even if it’s not a shape that makes sense for me (or someone else), but these were incredibly odd to use and just didn’t work. I also experienced a weird greasiness/oiliness that lingered in 4 of the 12 brushes I tested that would not rinse out with soap, despite washing all at least a dozen times. This is something I experienced with the face brushes, too, and it is the number one factor for why all the excitement about this range was deflated very quickly. I liked the #250 and #260 eyeliner brushes best, as they worked well and didn’t have any issues.  The #300 Lip Brush was also nice and did all that it was supposed to, but it’s not a style of brush I use every day personally–and it doesn’t feel any better (or worse) than a lot of other lip brushes on the market.

Monday, September 30th, 2013

Make Up For Ever #228 Medium Precision Shader Brush
Make Up For Ever #228 Medium Precision Shader Brush

Make Up For Ever #228 Medium Precision Shader Brush ($25.00) is a flat, fairly firm, brush with a rounded edge. The brush head is 11mm in length, 10mm in width, and 4mm in thickness. It had a pinched, metal ferrule, and a total brush length of just under 6.5 inches or 16.5 centimeters. This shape is good for applying cream products all over the lid, as it is not too big or too large, and it will apply a cream product with good opacity. This brush was incredibly greasy and oily, despite over a dozen washes. It is not as thick or as narrow as the MAC 242 ($25).

#250 Extra Fine Eyeliner Brush ($18.00) is a very thin, pointed eyeliner brush. The brush head is 7mm in length, 2mm in width, and 2mm in thickness (1mm in width/thickness at its narrowest point). It had a round, open metal ferrule, and a total brush length of 6.25 inches or 16.5 centimers. This one holds its shape well, so it can be useful for achieving really thin, precise lines. It also deposits product well and evenly, as it doesn’t trap the product in-between the fibers. MAC 209 ($20) is not quite as thin, and MAC 211 ($20) is a wider brush that is also shorter.

#260 Bent Eyeliner Brush ($24.00) is a narrow, triangle-shaped brush that comes to a point that has a bent ferrule, so eyeliner can be applied at an angle. The brush head is 5mm in length, 2mm in width, and 1mm in thickness. It has a bent metal ferrule that opens at the top, and it has a total brush length of just under 6.25 inches or 16.5 centimeters. It’s great for applying gel and cream eyeliner along the lash line with precision and control.  I can’t recall having a brush like this, though I know that there are several others available, and the most popular one that I can recall would be Sonia Kashuk Bent Eyeliner Brush ($5.99).

#300 Lip Brush ($21.00) is a small, flat, rectangle-shaped brush designed to fill in with lip color blend out lip products. The brush head is 7mm in length, 5mm in width, and 2mm in thickness. It had a pinched, metal ferrule, and it had a total brush length of just under 6.5 inches or 16.25 centimers. It worked well for applying lipstick more precisely, though I found it a good size for my lips, it seemed like it might be too large for those with thinner lips. MAC 316 ($20) is slightly rounded and a bit smaller overall.

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#228 Medium Precision Shader Brush

This shape is good for applying cream products all over the lid, as it is not too big or too large, and it will apply a cream product with good opacity. This brush was incredibly greasy and oily, despite over a dozen washes.

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#250 Extra Fine Eyeliner Brush

This one holds its shape well, so it can be useful for achieving really thin, precise lines. It also deposits product well and evenly, as it doesn't trap the product in-between the fibers.

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#260 Bent Eyeliner Brush

It's great for applying gel and cream eyeliner along the lash line with precision and control.

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