Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

Real Techniques Bold Metals Brushes
Real Techniques Bold Metals Brushes

Real Techniques Bold Metals Brushes ($15.99 to $25.99) are intended to be a premium range above the standard range of brushes that made the brand so popular. I don’t know that they’re really softer or more usable than their original brushes, which are more affordable. I think that they tried to create some more unique/interesting shapes, and as a result, I find that whether the good brushes are worth picking up depends on your needs and preferences even more so than usual. The only brush that I anticipate using going forward (now that I’m done testing them) is the #202 Angled Liner brush, but if I did more contouring, I would also consider the #301 Flat Contour Brush.

Real Techniques #100 Arched Powder Brush ($25.99) is a large, dense, paddle-shaped powder brush that has a very rounded, curved edge. The brush carries a lot of its weight in the ferrule area, and I noticed with this one in particular (as it is one of the largest brushes in the collection), it wasn’t as comfortable to hold if you tend to hold it towards the tapered end, but if you tend to hold your brushes closer to the ferrule, you should be just fine. When swept across the face, the bristles feel very soft and silky, and when patted on the skin, they’re still soft but not quite as smooth. It’s a denser brush that has a longer drying time than average. The shape is flatter, less round and full compared to a traditional powder brush, which makes it ideal for those who tend to press or pat their powder into place, rather than swirl or buff it into place. I found it to work best for loose and pressed setting and finishing powders. The brush head is 50mm in length, 40mm in width, and 24mm in thickness. The brush is made out of synthetic fibers, and it has a total length of 8 inches / 21 centimeters.

Real Techniques #200 Oval Shadow Brush ($15.99) is a large, paddle-shaped eye brush with a domed edge. It is quite large, which makes it a more all-over kind of brush, whether you’re applying a layer of cream eyeshadow or a wash of powder eyeshadow. When using it flat against the lid, it works decently and feels soft enough, but the edge is poorly cut with uneven bristles noticeably felt against the skin. It does a poor job of really blending or diffusing edges, as it is quite a firm, dense brush without a lot of give. It doesn’t pick up a lot of color unless you use the edge, where it is more uneven, so it is only going to give lighter coverage. The brush head is 17mm in length, 15mm in width, and 6mm in thickness. The brush is made out of synthetic fibers, and it has a total length of just over 7 inches / 17.5 centimeters.

Real Techniques #201 Pointed Crease Brush ($15.99) is a pointed, large pencil brush. It’s very similar in concept to your traditional pencil-style eye brush, but it is three or so times larger. I would highly recommend washing the brush a few times, because initially, the point is very pronounced and sharp, but after a few washes, it shapes to a more gradual point that’s still pointed, but it is usable and much more comfortable on the skin. On that note, it is a more difficult brush to wash as there is a lot of open space between the bristles and the ferrule due to it being open. Occasionally (not every time I used it), it felt a little scratchy–like one or two bristles were out of place and therefore poked into the eye space). It’s nice for laying down color on the outer corner and slightly going into the outer V, though I prefer a more rounded crease brush for blending and diffusing that color, but this would work well for those who like a brush to apply stronger color initially and then tend to reach for a blending brush to polish the look. The brush head is 13mm in length, 9.5mm in width, and 9.5mm in thickness.The brush is made out of synthetic fibers, and it has a total length of just over 6.75 inches / 17 centimeters.

Real Techniques #202 Angled Liner Brush ($15.99) is a small, thin, angled brush. It’s very soft, smooth, and holds together nicely as it is pressed and dragged across the skin in a line, which gives you more opaque, more even eyeliner application. Despite its thinness, it doesn’t feel sharp against the skin, even along the lower lash line. The brush head is 6mm in length, 5mm in width, and 2mm in thickness. The brush is made out of synthetic fibers, and it has a total length of just over 6.5 inches / 16.5 centimeters.

Real Techniques #300 Tapered Blush Brush ($23.99) is a small, tapered, paddle-shaped blush brush. The smaller shape makes it a better brush for getting placement, but it’s not quite as effective for diffusing of bolder or more pigmented blushes. I actually felt like it was better for applying cream and liquid highlighters along the cheek bones, down the nose, or wherever you wanted to highlight. I could feel a lot of the fibers in the brush when used, and it felt like I was getting poked every other sweep or stroke across the face, which made it an uncomfortable brush to you use. The cut just didn’t feel as well-done here, and it seemed to give the bristles a rougher feel against the skin. The brush head was 30mm in length, 28mm in width, and 14mm in thickness. The brush is made out of synthetic fibers, and it has a total length of just over 7.75 inches / 19.5 centimeters.

Real Techniques #301 Flat Contour Brush ($25.99) is a medium-sized, extremely dense, stubby brush that’s mostly rectangular in shape with flat edge. From the name as well as the shape, it is ideal for placing contouring products into the hollows of the cheeks. The bristles are soft enough to allow for patting and tapping the product into place, as well as skimming, sweeping, and blending motions. It does a decent to good job blending out a contour powder, but it is better for initial placement or getting a more precise contour in place, but I liked it for blending out of cream-based products. If you prefer a very subtle contour, though, this may over-apply product for your liking as it is quite dense and flat, which makes it excellent at picking up product, but it may be more coverage than desired. The brush head was 21mm in length, 30mm in width, and 17mm in thickness. The brush is made out of synthetic fibers, and it has a total length of just over 7 inches / 18 centimeters.

The Glossover

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#100 Arched Powder Brush

The shape is flatter, less round and full compared to a traditional powder brush, which makes it ideal for those who tend to press or pat their powder into place, rather than swirl or buff it into place. I found it to work best for loose and pressed setting and finishing powders.
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#200 Oval Shadow Brush

When using it flat against the lid, it works decently and feels soft enough, but the edge is poorly cut with uneven bristles noticeably felt against the skin. It does a poor job of really blending or diffusing edges, as it is quite a firm, dense brush without a lot of give.
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#201 Pointed Crease Brush

Occasionally (not every time I used it), it felt a little scratchy--like one or two bristles were out of place and therefore poked into the eye space). It's nice for laying down color on the outer corner and slightly going into the outer V, though I prefer a more rounded crease brush for blending and diffusing that color, but this would work well for those who like a brush to apply stronger color initially and then tend to reach for a blending brush to polish the look.
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Monday, May 4th, 2015

Chikuhodo GSN Brushes
Chikuhodo GSN Brushes

Chikuhodo GSN-04 Highlighting Brush ($64.00) is a medium-sized, domed brush that narrows as the base and flares upwards towards the upper third of the brush before tapering and rounding at the edge. It is made out of a mix of gray squirrel and goat hairs. The brush head is 37.5mm in length, 27mm in width and thickness at its widest point. It had a total length of 7.25 inches / 18.5 centimeters with a lightly pinched, metal ferrule. I think for most people, this is going to work better as a blush brush than a highlighting one, as it is larger than the average highlighting brush. I think it is too rounded and dense to be the best highlighting brush as well, but it does work for diffusing and blending out a highlight or for applying more of a highlighting blush where the area of coverage is larger. It is a moderately dense brush with light spring so it can be swirled and swept across the skin in all directions. The hair felt fairly soft, though at this price point, it could have been a bit softer, I think. For blush, it worked well for applying color, diffusing and blending out the applied color, and it made short work of the process.

Chikuhodo GSN-08 Eyeshadow Brush ($32.00) is a large, paddle-shaped eye brush that comes to moderately pointed tip. It’s a dense brush that tapers upwards and ends at a rounded tip, so depending on the size of your eyelid, it can actually fit almost perfectly held horizontally on the inner half of the eyelid. It’s made out of weasel hair. The brush head is 18mm in length, 12.5mm in width, and 6mm in thickness. It had a total length of just under 7.5 inches / 19 centimeters with a lightly pinched, metal ferrule. For me, this brush is fairly large for my eye area, so I don’t reach for it often, but I liked it best for applying a cream eyeshadow all-over the lid or for a wash of a powder eyeshadow, since it can cover a larger area easily. It also could be used to apply or set concealer underneath the eye, as it is dense, firm, but still soft and feels very smooth against the skin.

Chikuhodo GSN-11 Shadow/Liner Brush ($19.00) is a tiny, dome-shaped, flat, firm precision-focused brush that can be used for eyeshadow or eyeliner. It is made out of weasel hair. The brush head is 6mm in length, 5mm in width, and 3mm in thickness. It had a total length of 6.75 inches / 17.5 centimeters with a pinched, metal ferrule. I personally prefer an angled brush for eyeliner, but I liked this for applying eyeshadow on top of eyeliner, especially the lower lash line. The flat, firm shape enables you to really pat on the eyeshadow without diffusing it too much, and the small size gives you a lot more control.

Chikuhodo GSN-16 Lip Brush ($25.00) is a medium-sized, rectangular lip brush made out of weasel hairs. The brush head is 10mm in length, 5.75mm in width, and 1.5mm in thickness. It comes in a concealed, metal tube, where the tube is like a “cap” of sorts, and when removed, you can connect it to the bottom to elongate the brush handle, or you can hold the as-is lip brush if you prefer shorter handles. This is an easy brush to toss into a makeup bag or purse to keep with you for touch-ups during the day, if you need to. The total length if 6 inches / 15.5 centimeters. The bristles are soft enough not to poke or irritate more sensitive lips, but it’s a firm, flat brush that provides enough density to lay down lip color well while still having enough spring to maneuver around the edges of the lips easily.

I had no issues with shedding, dye, smell, or re-shaping with any of these, and I’ve been using the Chikuhodo GSN brushes for about a year now. Of these four, the GSN-11 is the one I’ll keep with my favorites, as it worked well for what I’d like to use it for. The other brushes were good, but they’re in shapes/sizes that don’t fit as well with my personal routine. I think you can get a higher quality blush brush, though. You can read reviews for the GSN-01 Powder, GSN-03 Cheek, GSN-07 Eyeshadow, GSN-09 Eyeshadow, and The Glossover

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GSN-04 Highlighting Brush

I think it is too rounded and dense to be the best highlighting brush as well, but it does work for diffusing and blending out a highlight or for applying more of a highlighting blush where the area of coverage is larger.
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GSN-08 Eyeshadow Brush

It's a dense brush that tapers upwards and ends at a rounded tip, so depending on the size of your eyelid, it can actually fit almost perfectly held horizontally on the inner half of the eyelid.
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GSN-11 Shadow/Liner Brush

The flat, firm shape enables you to really pat on the eyeshadow without diffusing it too much, and the small size gives you a lot more control.
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Sunday, May 3rd, 2015

MAC 126SE Split Fibre Large Face Brush
MAC 126SE Split Fibre Large Face Brush

MAC 126SE Split Fibre Large Face Brush ($46.00) is a large, paddle-shaped face brush. It’s split in half, such that one half is made out of natural fibers and the other half is made out of synthetic fibers. The brush is flatter with a very rounded edge that flares upwards from the base. The brush head is 47mm in length, 39mm in width, and 20mm in thickness. It has a total length of 7.5 inches / 19 centimeters with a pinched, multi-colored ferrule. The brush is light-medium in density with a little flop towards the end, as the fibers are cut shorter on the exterior and left longer in the center. The synthetic side was soft and silky against the skin, while the natural side was moderately soft but I could feel some of the individual bristles.

I tried using this for setting powder, finishing powder, and highlighting, and it seemed to work best with finishing powders and highlighting (to a degree). I found it too sparse for setting powder, while dusting a finishing powder all-over with this brush ensured a sheer, diffused application; better for a finishing powder that is soft and more “powdery” in a sense than one that is firmer or already really quite sheer. For a more metallic highlighter, this brush’s shape and density worked well to tamp down some of the frost and make it less emphasizing. I personally didn’t find it really excelled for those products based on my preferences, so it’s not a brush that will find its way into my routine (it is also a little too scratchy compared to other brushes I have). I was surprised at the price point on this, as it doesn’t seem that large or dense to merit being more expensive than the 125SE.

The Glossover

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126SE Split Fibre Large Face Brush

I found it too sparse for setting powder, while dusting a finishing powder all-over with this brush ensured a sheer, diffused application; better for a finishing powder that is soft and more "powdery" in a sense than one that is firmer or already really quite sheer. For a more metallic highlighter, this brush's shape and density worked well to tamp down some of the frost and make it less emphasizing.
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Sunday, May 3rd, 2015

MAC 125SE Split Fibre Dense Face Brush
MAC 125SE Split Fibre Dense Face Brush

MAC 125SE Split Fibre Dense Face Brush ($38.50) is a widened, dense face brush with two distinct sides–one with natural fibers and the other with synthetic fibers. The idea behind these split brushes is that the natural bristles give a “soft, diffused look” while the synthetic bristles “fuse colour onto skin.” The brush head is 25mm in length, 39mm in width, and 19mm in thickness. It has a total length of 6.5 inches / 16.5 centimeters with a pinched, multi-colored ferrule. The weighting is nice and it doesn’t feel too top-heavy nor lightweight.

I wouldn’t describe the edge as blunt, but it is only lightly rounded and more of a narrow, flattened surface, which makes it useful for contouring and getting into the hollows of the cheeks. Both sides of the brush are incredibly soft and smooth, which was a bit of a surprise, as I haven’t found a lot of the recent brush releases to be as soft as brushes from years ago. The synthetic side is good with cream contours or highlighters, while the natural side is really good for blending and buffing out contours and highlighters. The only caveat to that is that it is wide enough that it may not work well for those looking for more precise contour lines or who have smaller hollows where the brush would simply be too large to work with. It would still work well for blending out of contour powders and creams, though. I’ve also used it to apply foundation, which it does a nice job of, but I find I prefer the synthetic side more and would rather an all-synthetic brush (as I work primarily with liquid foundations). I’ve washed it five times, and I haven’t had any issues with dye, smell, shaping, or shedding.

The Glossover

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125SE Split Fibre Dense Face Brush

Both sides of the brush are incredibly soft and smooth, which was a bit of a surprise, as I haven't found a lot of the recent brush releases to be as soft as brushes from years ago. The synthetic side is good with cream contours or highlighters, while the natural side is really good for blending and buffing out contours and highlighters.
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Sunday, May 3rd, 2015

MAC Wash & Dry Makeup Bag
MAC Wash & Dry Makeup Bag

MAC Wash & Dry Makeup Bag ($35.00) is a new, limited edition zippered, rectangular makeup bag that will be available at select MAC stores and online at maccosmetics.com beginning May 14th (stores on May 21st). It’s tapered so the bottom widens and flattens out, so the bag retains most of its shape even with nothing in it, which helps it stand up as well. The bag is 8 inches / 20 centimeters in length, 4.5 inches / 11.5 centimeters in height, and 2 inches / 5 centimeters in depth. The exterior is 100% PU (a poly synthetic leather), and the interior lining is 100% polyester, which is black in color.

I would have loved to have seen a metallic gold zipper instead of a black plastic one, or at least the zipper pull in a coordinating shade/style to the rest of the bag. It feels comparable to past limited edition MAC makeup bags, which I’ve never had an issue traveling with, but I don’t travel extensively. I think the zipper felt a little cheaper in the type or weight of the plastic use, and it is a bag that will not allow a lot of over-stuffing, as it tapers towards the top and will not zip if you attempt to put much near the top. It’s priced similarly to other MAC makeup bags with similar size dimensions.

The Glossover

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Wash & Dry Makeup Bag

It feels comparable to past limited edition MAC makeup bags, which I've never had an issue traveling with, but I don't travel extensively. I think the zipper felt a little cheaper in the type or weight of the plastic use, and it is a bag that will not allow a lot of over-stuffing, as it tapers towards the top and will not zip if you attempt to put much near the top.
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Saturday, March 28th, 2015

MAC x Mia Moretti Makeup Bags
MAC x Mia Moretti Makeup Bags

Long-time readers know that one thing I still collect are limited edition MAC bags, so I bought the accessories in the MAC x Mia Moretti collaboration when they went online this past week! There’s not much to say about these, as they’re in-line with MAC’s past limited edition makeup bag releases. I don’t think the tote is worth the money, as it has such a narrow width (about two inches) that it just isn’t wide enough to be a useful tote bag to me. I don’t even think it would hold more than a laptop and a book for school. All of the accessories will be easy to wipe down if you spill anything on them, at least.

MAC x Mia Moretti Makeup Bags ($46.00) is a set of three translucent makeup bags with red zippers and a honey-hued plastic exterior with a basketweave pattern. The bags nest within themselves, so you get makeup bags in small (7 x 3.5 inches), medium (8.5 x 5 inches), and large (11 x 7 inches). The shapes and sizes are useful and will store a variety of makeup items, and since they nest, they don’t take up as much space when you’re not using them.

MAC x Mia Moretti Tote Bag ($50.00) shares the same coloring, pattern, and design as the makeup bags. It’s about 17 inches tall, 15 inches in width, and 2 inches in depth. I just don’t think there’s enough depth to make this particularly useful. It seems a lot less practical/versatile as a result, since its carrying capacity is very much restricted by the width of the bottom panel.

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