Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

MAC 167SE Face Blender Brush
MAC 167SE Face Blender Brush

MAC 167SE Face Blender Brush ($34.00) is a limited edition brush designed to help blend out products used on the face. It is gently curved along the edges but has a rather flat, only slightly domed, shape overall. It’s fairly dense with bristles with some give, so it is movable but not floppy. The bristles felt soft against the skin. I liked it best for use for all-over face powders or bronzers, as well as blending and fading out blush and the like.

I reviewed it here previously (which I recommend reading for a more in-depth review). My original review stands and is the same for this one. Despite the fact that my original brush has the designation “SH” (for short-handled) and this one is marked as “SE” (for special edition), I didn’t notice any differences in bristle density, shape, cut, or texture.  The biggest difference is how they look, as this has black bristles and a bronze-hued handle.

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Wednesday, April 10th, 2013

MAC Baking Beauties Brushes
MAC Baking Beauties Brushes

MAC Baking Beauties Brushes include two styles: 252SE Large Shader Brush ($31.00) and 129SE Powder/Blush Brush ($35.00). Now, the first thing I noticed was that both brushes are listed as SE and are printed with “SE” on the brushes themselves. This distinction is important or, at least, curious, because in the past, MAC has used “SH” to denote a short-handled brush that is still made in the same fashion as their full-sized brushes, while “SE” has been used to denote special edition brushes that are machine-made (as compared to handmade). The majority of the brush sets MAC puts (think Nordstrom’s anniversary sale and the holiday kits) are SE, and SE brushes can have great inconsistencies in quality–from density to the way the bristles are cut (and shaped) to quality of the bristles themselves.

I really hope that they are, in fact, made the same way the full-sized brushes are, because you’re paying the same price as you would be for the long-handled versions that are available permanently. (You can even purchase a short-handled version of the 129 brush, actually.) Both my full-size 252 and 129 were manufactured in Japan, as indicated by the imprinting on their handles, and I’ve had both for a few years now.  The handles of the SE brushes from Baking Beauties has “China” imprinted. Several of MAC’s more recently launched full-sized brushes have also been stamped with China, so MAC may have moved some of its production to China. There were some minor shape differences I noticed, but the density, fullness, softness (or lack thereof), and so forth were consistent with my full-sized versions.

The densities seemed about the same across these limited edition brushes and my full-sized ones. What I noticed was that my full-sized 129 brush had a more dome-like shape and wasn’t as wide as this 129SE, and then the 252SE had more of dome-like shape than my full-sized 252, which was slightly less curved on the edge.  The SE brushes are both very light, which is somewhat expected, given they have a lot less handle–but they did feel lighter than they looked.  I’m not in love with either brush, period, full-sized or not, because the 129 is one of MAC’s scratchier face brushes, and the 252 is really large. If you have normal or smaller eyes, it’s not the most versatile brush, and it can be a little scratchy at times.  I’d recommend MAC’s 116 instead of the 129 and MAC’s 242 in place of the 252.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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).

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