Thursday, September 19th, 2013

Tom Ford Eyeshadow (11) Brush
Tom Ford Eyeshadow (11) Brush

This post wraps up all of the Tom Ford Brushes I’ve tested for the past several months. Generally, they’re well-made, high quality tools that likely won’t disappoint you–except if you already have high-end, well-loved tools. The handles are exceptionally well balanced and nice to hold, while the brushes are soft, durable, and easy to wash. I worried that the white bristles would really stain over time, but they’ve held up quite nicely since I’ve been using them. I can’t weigh on the Eyeshadow Contour, Shadow/Concealer, Foundation, Smokey Eye, Shade & Illuminate, or Lip Brush, as I don’t have those. My favorites have been Tom Ford’s Cheek, Cream Foundation, and Eyeshadow Blend Brushes.

Tom Ford Eyeshadow (11) Brush ($55.00) is large, lightly fluffed-up, eyeshadow brush with a flatter, wider shape that is dome-shaped at the top. The brush head is 15mm in length, 14mm in width, and 6mm in thickness. It has a pinched, gold metal ferrule, and a total brush length of 6.75 inches or 17 centimeters. The handle is etched with the brand’s logo and the brush’s number in gold foil at the end of the handle, and the very tip of the handle is flat.

The brush head is soft, not too densely packed, and just fluffy enough to allow for blending and diffusing of color in addition to being able to pack it on. I expect that this is a brush that is less universally applicable, because it is a larger brush, so if you have more eyelid space or you tend to wear one or two eyeshadows at a time, you may find it handy. If you have smaller eyes or you tend to work more precisely, it is not a must-have. It is similar to the MAC 252 ($32), which less fluffy, not as soft, and not as dome-shaped, but the overall size and shape are definitely similar–it is made out of synthetic fibers. shu uemura #10 ($68) is smaller, narrower, flatter. OCC Large Shader Brush ($22) is quite similar and made out of synthetic bristles. For this type of size and shape, I like to apply cream eyeshadows, pat powder over under eye concealer, or pat a powder eyeshadow all over the lid.

Tom Ford Eyeshadow Blend (13) Brush ($55.00) is a long, narrowed brush with a rounded, domed edge that fits well into the crease. It’s not so long that it becomes floppy, and it’s wide enough to blend as well as deposit color. It also has good resistance, so it doesn’t splay easily. The brush head is 17mm in height, 9mm in width, and 9mm in thickness. It has a rounded, open gold metal ferrule, and a total brush length of just over 6.75 inches or 17 centimeters. The handle is round, not too thick or too thin, and flattens at the bottom.

This was definitely one of my very favorite brushes from Tom Ford, because it’s well-made, works well for its purpose, and is a shape and size that I would often reach for. It’s soft and never scratchy, and it lays down color well into the crease as well as blends and diffuses it above and below the crease as you want. Hakuhodo J142 ($18) is very similar, just slightly narrower–but at a third of the price, I would get three of these instead; unless, of course, you’re sold on the Tom Ford aesthetic! MAC 222 ($28, discontinued) has a more flared shape, so it doesn’t come to a point. MAC 226 ($24.50, limited edition) is smaller and shorter; there is also some variance in how these were made, so some are rather pointed and others are more dome-shaped. OCC Tapered Blending Brush ($22) is smaller but similar in shape. Sephora PRO Crease (10) ($20) is fluffier and wider. NARS Large Dome Brush (13) ($33) is more rounded at the edge with more flare. Make Up For Ever #242 Large Blender is less tapered, longer. Urban Decay Crease Brush is less tapered.

Tom Ford Eyeliner & Definer (15) Brush ($50.00) is a tiny, squat brush with a rounded edge. The brush head is 4mm in length, 6mm in width, and 2mm in thickness. It has a pinched, gold metal ferrule, and a total brush length of 6.25 inches or just under 16 centimeters. The handle is well-balanced, rounded, and the handle end is flat.

It can be used for apply eyeshadow very, very precisely, but it worked best (for me) for smudging eyeliner, applying cream/gel eyeliner, applying eyeshadow along the lash line, and cleaning up any mascara smudges. The bristles are soft, but it’s a thin, firm, brush, so if you use too much pressure, you’ll feel the edge somewhat. Hakuhodo G5513 ($16) is longer and has a straighter edge. MAC 228 is also longer and fluffier. Make Up For Ever #208 Small Precision Shader Brush ($22) is slightly longer, but it is very similar–except it is not as firm or stiff, so it’s not as precise or as easy to control for applying cream or gel eyeliner.

The Glossover

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Eyeshadow (11) Brush

I expect that this is a brush that is less universally applicable, because it is a larger brush, so if you have more eyelid space or you tend to wear one or two eyeshadows at a time, you may find it handy. If you have smaller eyes or you tend to work more precisely, it is not a must-have.

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Eyeshadow Blend (13) Brush

This was definitely one of my very favorite brushes from Tom Ford, because it's well-made, works well for its purpose, and is a shape and size that I would often reach for. It's soft and never scratchy, and it lays down color well into the crease as well as blends and diffuses it above and below the crease as you want.

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Eyeliner & Definer (15) Brush

It can be used for apply eyeshadow very, very precisely, but it worked best (for me) for smudging eyeliner, applying cream/gel eyeliner, applying eyeshadow along the lash line, and cleaning up any mascara smudges. The bristles are soft, but it's a thin, firm, brush, so if you use too much pressure, you'll feel the edge somewhat.

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Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

Hakuhodo 210 Blush Brush Round
Hakuhodo 210 Blush Brush Round

Hakuhodo 210 Blush Brush Round ($36.00) is a medium-sized brush with a slightly flared brush head that rounds only slightly across the top. The brush head is 28mm in length, 25mm in width, and 25mm in thickness. It has a round ferrule with no pinching at the top, and a total brush length of 6.5 inches or just over 16.5 centimeters. The weight is well-balanced between the handle and the brush head, with slightly more weight towards the top than the bottom but the handle isn’t too light.

This type of brush head shape works in a variety of ways.  It can apply blush, bronzer, highlight, and contour products, and blend any of those products as well.  It can even apply foundation, which is actually the way I’d probably most likely use this brush personally.  It works well with both powder and cream textures, and it is easy to wash out product (but is does bleed dye for several washes, see below) and doesn’t take forever to dry.  It grabs and deposits color very well and has more coverage than not, so you’ll need less product or to use a lighter hand than potentially what you do with other brushes (it just depends what you were using before).

It is also available in the J-series ($44, white goat hair). If you are really concerned about softness, then opt for the J210 instead. I compared the brush against all the other J-series brushes I had, but paid particular attention to the J511 and J5521, as both are similar in size and length, and both are softer. I would not use the words “not soft” let alone scratchy to describe the 210, but if you sweep both across the skin, there is a noticeable difference. If you plan to use this brush with the top pressed against the skin (almost like a buffer brush), you will feel the difference in softness more than if you used the brush horizontally. For example, if I make stippling motions with it with moderate pressure, I can feel some of the fibers, but if I sweep blush on, then I don’t. With the 214, I didn’t feel this except when literally jamming it against my skin with a lot of pressure (can’t say I’ve ever used even half as much in reality), but a genuinely honest-to-softness kind of brush never feels rough, no matter the pressure or direction.

This brush is very comparable to the MAC 109 ($32), and mine is several years old now, so it also appeared more flared out (which may just be the result of years of washing and use), but it does have a flatter top than the 210. The 210 is slightly softer, but it wasn’t significantly softer. Make Up For Ever #152 ($37) is also similar, softer actually, as well as slightly more rounded, and the biggest difference is that has more give and is less firm at the top–which I think works particularly in its favor if you’re applying in small circular motions, but the bristles tend to stick together with liquid so it can leave streaks behind. OCC #011 ($24) is similar in size, but it flares out more and has a more tapered/rounded top, so it is less flat. Real Techniques Buffing Brush ($17.99, part of a set) is larger and wider than any of the others mentioned here, but if you are applying product all-over or on larger areas, not just blush and the like, then it functions similarly.

214 Highlight Brush Round ($27.00) is a small, lightly rounded rectangle-ish brush. It looks a bit like a rectangle but with rounded edges and a softly rounded top edge. The brush head is 17mm in length, 15mm in width, and 15mm in thickness. It has a round, open ferrule (no pinching), and the total brush length is 5.75 inches or 15 centimeters. The handle is well balanced and not too heavy on either end. It’s also available in the J-series ($35, white goat hair), as well as a white goat hair and synthetic blend ($27).

The small brush head enables maximum precision when applying any product. It was designed for apply highlighters (or, apparently, your eyeshadow base), and that was the primary way I tried use it. I didn’t love it. I actually felt like it was too firm and dense to really apply a highlighter for an ethereal, natural-looking glow. It tended to pack on too much product with results always veering towards emphasizing pores, even if that product didn’t normally do so. It’s moderately soft, but it’s not the kind of brush that will make you swoon. I think one of the elements that tends to impress people about Hakuhodo is how much softer the brushes can feel compared to many other high-end brands. Softness isn’t, of course, always a good thing (to a degree) and may not be appropriate in all brush types–here a softer brush with even thinner bristles would deposit less product, and for a highlighter, I think that’s a good thing. Unlike the 210, though, it had the same softness when I swirled, buffed, stippled, or swept–only when I was practically jamming the brush against my face did I feel any of the individual bristles (and I don’t think anyone’s using that much pressure during their application!). Because of the small, rounded brush head, it could be used to place a more defined contour (but I would blend out the contour with another tool), possibly around the nose but it felt too large for my nose for that purpose.

I didn’t have any brush that was comparable to this in my stash. I tried looking across a few of the more popular brush ranges, but it did not prove too fruitful. I think Sephora’s PRO Airbrush Concealer Brush ($24) might be similar in size but seems like it flares out more (looks more like a mini 210). Illamasqua Highlighter Brush ($37.50) seems much longer/taller, but without having it to compare, it’s hard to say by how much.

Some Thoughts on 200-Series vs. J-Series

Both of these brushes are from the 200-series. A lot of the brushes I bought from Hakuhodo were either from the J or G-series with primarily white goat hair, but I know that the dyed goat hair brushes are all slightly less expensive (about 30% less), so I thought I would choose a few in that series to get a better idea of the brand’s ranges. I also know that some are concerned about keeping white brushes white and may opt for dyed hair instead. Both brushes are also available in the J-series with white goat hair (and again, those are more expensive).

When I washed these, the water was noticeably tinged gray for the first dozen washes or so. Eventually, the dye seemed to hold and stopped bleeding, which seems to be considered normal, as one of the distinguishing features of the J-series is, “The natural hair used in this range has not been dyed so keeps its original color” (from Hakuhodo’s website), which seems to imply that dyed goat hair will, in fact, lose color over time. I had noticeable shedding with the 210 over the first week and a half of use, but it has since gone down to about one hair every few uses. On the upside, though, they deposit more color more readily, particularly for products that are not intensely pigmented but are buildable. Oddly enough, the lettering on the handle of the 200-series brushes, though, holds up and doesn’t scratch away like the J-series brushes’ letterings do. There are no numbers on them, though.

I was not really impressed by either brush. The difference in softness between the MAC 109 and the 210 was negligible, and I didn’t have issues with the dye bleeding with MAC’s brush. I also didn’t have any shedding issues with the one I initially purchased, but the second one I purchased sometime later did have some shedding in the first dozen or so uses but no longer sheds (except for a stray hair periodically). I might purchase the J210 and J214 (possibly the J214R–I like the idea of a blend of natural and synthetic for this brush) in the future, but I don’t usually reach for the brush head shape/style of the 210 all that often any more so I’m not sure yet. I worry the J210 will be too soft for the type of multi-use that I normally see out of the shape, while I think the softness of the J214/J214R would be right up my alley in terms of application style and preferences for highlighters.

The Glossover

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210 Blush Brush Round

If you plan to use this brush with the top pressed against the skin (almost like a buffer brush), you will feel the difference in softness more than if you used the brush horizontally. For example, if I make stippling motions with it with moderate pressure, I can feel some of the fibers, but if I sweep blush on, then I don't.

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214 Highlight Brush Round

The small brush head enables maximum precision when applying any product. It was designed for apply highlighters (or, apparently, your eyeshadow base), and that was the primary way I tried use it. I didn't love it. I actually felt like it was too firm and dense to really apply a highlighter for an ethereal, natural-looking glow. It tended to pack on too much product with results always veering towards emphasizing pores, even if that product didn't normally do so. It's moderately soft, but it's not the kind of brush that will make you swoon.

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Monday, September 9th, 2013

Hakuhodo J5543 Blush Brush Round & Flat
Hakuhodo J5543 Blush Brush Round & Flat

Hakuhodo J5543 Blush Brush Round & Flat ($60.00) is a medium-sized blush brush with tapered bristles and a rounded edge that is just slightly curved but mostly flat across. It is fairly thick, dense, and delightfully soft and silky on the skin. The brush head is 31mm in length, 33mm in width, and 18mm in thickness (note: Hakuhodo lists it as 11.5mm thick, but after several uses and washes, mine is definitely thicker). It has a pinched ferrule with a total brush length of 6.5 inches or 16.5 centimeters.  The weight is well-balanced with slightly more weight on the brush head end, but the handle is still balanced and nice to hold.

I loved it most with powder blush, powder bronzer, and for extra blending or diffusing of cheek color after products were initially applied. It really glides across the skin with a feather-light touch, and it can apply color with light to medium coverage easily. If you want richer color, I would just load the brush with more product, but it doesn’t take much. The thin, tapered bristles work well for blending and softening the edges of blush and bronzer without much work. I like to lightly pat the brush across the area I want to apply blush, and then I sweep it slowly upward and then lightly use short, quick passes along the edges to soften.

It is quite similar to Tom Ford Cheek Brush ($78) with the biggest difference being that Tom Ford’s is noticeably denser, so it picks up more pigment/product off the bat, while the J5543 will allow for a slightly softer/lighter application. Blush is absolutely buildable with the J5543, so the same results can be achieved, and it ultimately depends on how heavy-handed you are, how pigmented the blush you’re using is, and how much product you get on the brush. The J5543 is equally soft and sometimes almost feels softer because it is less dense. Both are fantastic brushes. MAC 116 ($35) is less dense, not as soft, and is narrower at the base and more flared towards the top.

J116 Highlighter Brush Round & Flat ($34.00) is a small, tapered brush that comes to a small flattened point with rounded, tapered edges and is made out of white goat hair. It’s fairly flat but still dense and lush, where the bristles move more as one and sweep softly across the face. This style is also available in the S-series and B-series, both made out of blue squirrel hair, at $78 and $57 respectively. The brush head is 28mm in length, 23mm in width, and 10mm in thickness with a pinched ferrule and total brush length of 6.5 inches or 16.25 centimeters.  The weight is well-distributed across the brush without making the handle feel too heavy or too light.

It’s a versatile brush shape that lends itself for applying blush, highlighter, or contour. It even works to apply setting powder underneath the eye to lock concealer in place. The tapered, rounded edge and smaller size makes it ideal for smaller areas, which is why it’s most recommended for highlighting. Because of its denseness and shape, it can also fit in the hollows of the cheek. For someone with smaller features, it could work as a smaller blush brush. I did like it best for highlighting, as it does a good job of picking up and laying down highlighting powders without over-applying. The brush easily diffuses and blends out even frostier highlighters to give them a more diffused glow. It also does a nice job applying lightweight cream blushes (like Chanel’s new ones) and diffusing them with even, streak-free color.

Sephora PRO Precision Blush (73) Brush ($32) is larger and thicker with more flex/spring, and it comes to a stronger point at the top, but they are somewhat similar; it is not as soft. MAC 159 ($35) has a flatter, more straight-across edge and is a duo-fiber brush, though it has a similar density. Real Techniques Duo-Fiber Contour Brush ($19.99, part of a 3-piece set) is rounded but not as tapered with more spring, but they are similar in overall size and (to a lesser degree) shape; this brush is particularly scratchy, though, so I would not recommend it in its place.

As a note, the lettering on the J-series brushes rubs/scratches off very easily, and the brush handles do not include numbers, which are the two things I disliked most about these Hakuhodo brushes.

The Glossover

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J5543 Blush Brush Round & Flat

I loved it most with powder blush, powder bronzer, and for extra blending or diffusing of cheek color after products were initially applied. It really glides across the skin with a feather-light touch, and it can apply color with light to medium coverage easily. If you want richer color, I would just load the brush with more product, but it doesn't take much.

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J116 Highlighter Brush Round & Flat

It's a versatile brush shape that lends itself for applying blush, highlighter, or contour. It even works to apply setting powder underneath the eye to lock concealer in place. The tapered, rounded edge and smaller size makes it ideal for smaller areas, which is why it's most recommended for highlighting.

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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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Saturday, September 7th, 2013

Tom Ford Cheek (06) Brush
Tom Ford Cheek (06) Brush

Tom Ford Cheek (06) Brush ($78.00) is a blush brush with a rounded square-shape, slightly domed along the top edge, with very densely-packed bristles that feel lush and thick to the touch. It is very similar in shape to Tom Ford Cream Foundation Brush, it’s just larger. The brush head is 33mm in length, 35mm in width, and 20mm in thickness. It has a metal ferrule that is pitched towards the top, and the handle is well-balanced with some heft (but it’s not heavy or awkward) with a total brush length of just over 6 inches or just under 16 centimeters. The brush handle is somewhat thick at 15mm in diameter, and it has a flat bottom, so it can stand upright (if desired). The brand’s logo and brush number are engraved and have gold lettering (neither have worn off at all so far).

Tom Ford’s brushes, from my experience, are very consistent. There is no question that they’re soft, silky, and feel great against the skin, and the Cheek Brush is no different. The brush is dense and thick, so it’s somewhat firm (but not stiff) with spring and give that’s just right for sweeping, patting, and diffusing powder products. I haven’t had any issues with this brush over the year and a half I’ve been using it–no shedding, no funny smells, and despite it being white, surprisingly easy to keep close to the way it came. The natural bristles pick up color well, and then the shape and texture of the bristles also blends out the powder well. Because it retains its shape during application, it can also work well for contouring or applying bronzer, as the edge fits well into the hollows of the cheek.

Hakuhodo J5543 ($60) is very similar and is only 2mm shorter in length and thickness (though Hakuhodo lists it as 11.5mm in thickness, mine is 18mm after washing and use)–it is not quite as dense, which results in a lighter application, though I felt realistically you can layer and apply as much/as little with either brush, it’s a matter of technique, pressure, and amount of product you initially pick-up. I also think that many will prefer a softer blush application to start than one that provides for a more pigmented application right off the bat. Generally, denser/thicker brushes will yield more color payoff and coverage, and then fluffier, sparser brushes will give you a softer, sheerer color payoff and coverage. I don’t have it to compare, but the J501 ($96) is longer (44mm) and less thick (16.8mm); J505 ($69) is also longer (38mm) and less thick (15mm). MAC 116 ($35) is much less dense, not as soft, and is narrower/more flared.

Bronzer (05) Brush ($115.00) is a massive, dense, thick brush that’s wide, flares out towards the top and has a slightly domed edge. I have to reiterate that this brush is huge, and it’s one of the larger brushes I have. The brush is 45mm in length, 50mm in width, and 30mm in thickness. The handle is quite thick at 21mm across in diameter, flat-bottomed, and the brush has a total length of 6.7 inches or 17 centimeters. It has a metal ferrule that is pinched towards the top. The overall shape is similar to both the Cheek (06) and Cream Foundation (02) brushes, which this being the largest, the Cheek falling in the middle, and the Cream Foundation being the baby of the family. The bristles are layered, so the outermost bristles are shorter than the ones in the middle. They move, feel, and act like one in many ways; you do not feel bristles or fibers against the skin, just a seamless sweep across the face.

While it’s designed for bronzer, and it certainly applies bronzing powder well and blends it out nicely, the brush is quite large and so it will depend in your application and face shape/size whether it’s really a feasible/worthwhile tool. It picks up powder products quite well, which may make products seem too pigmented if you tend to be heavy-handed. Less is more, and you’ll spend less time diffusing and blending out whatever product you may apply. I must admit that I personally like using this for applying finishing, setting, and loose/pressed powders/foundations over bronzer, as I regularly wear those and wear bronzer less, so I can get more use out of it that way. I had two to three hairs shed during the first two or three uses, but after that, I did not have any issues with it shedding. It washes easily, though be prepared for a slightly longer drying time compared to smaller brushes–it’s just so large. It dries in less than a day, though, and some of the synthetic brushes that are closer to this size, take a full day.

If you are even the slightest bit seduced by brush softness and don’t want to splurge on this product, I highly recommend never, ever touching it. Ever. It is like a combination of silk and cream against the skin. One thing I’ve learned is that brushes can be had at all price points, and like anything that’s a splurge, you have to not just love it but use it. If it just sits there, it’s never going to be worth it. If you use it every day, you get joy out of using it, then it might be just the right reward for yourself.

I gathered similar brushes to compare to this one, but its greatest difference is how dense, full, and lush it is. It is just packed with feathery, silky-smooth bristles. MAC 134 ($53) is the brush closest to this that I have, though it feels noticeably rough and scratchy in comparison, is more flared out, and is 30-40% less thick/dense (just my estimate!). OCC Powder Brush ($28) is narrower at the base with a stronger flare, and it is a thinner, less densely-packed brush. I don’t have any Hakuhodo brushes that I purchased that compare to this, but I did try to make an educated guess comparing the measurements, and the closest I could find was the J5541 ($111), which is half as thick (13mm vs. 30mm), and the J501 ($96), which is 6mm shorter in length and half as thick (16.8mm vs. 30mm). Make Up For Ever #128 ($52) is a brush that also has a very large brush head and a fairly thick/dense quality to it, but the shape is really quite different. I do prefer the #128 for loose/setting powder application (I feel like you can press better) but Tom Ford’s is better for dusting, sweeping, and feathering those products across the skin.

The Glossover

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Cheek (06) Brush

The brush is dense and thick, so it's somewhat firm (but not stiff) with spring and give that's just right for sweeping, patting, and diffusing powder products. I haven't had any issues with this brush over the year and a half I've been using it--no shedding, no funny smells, and despite it being white, surprisingly easy to keep close to the way it came.

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Bronzer (05) Brush

While it's designed for bronzer, and it certainly applies bronzing powder well and blends it out nicely, the brush is quite large and so it will depend in your application and face shape/size whether it's really a feasible/worthwhile tool. It picks up powder products quite well, which may make products seem too pigmented if you tend to be heavy-handed. Less is more, and you'll spend less time diffusing and blending out whatever product you may apply.

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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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