Sunday, September 29th, 2013

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

I’ve wrapped up all of the face brushes I had to review and test from Make Up For Ever’s new Artisan Brush range, so I thought a round-up was in order! :) The biggest takeaways is that there is something going on with the manufacturing of the brushes that can sometimes leave behind an oily, greasy film all over the bristles, and I have yet to discover a way to get this to go away. I’ve tried harsher soaps to no avail. This residue was my biggest issue and really the major fault that I encountered–it was present in 2 of 9 face brushes.  I don’t know if this is an issue specific to particular brushes or if it occurs randomly (so any brush may be affected or just because the one I tried was, yours might not be), so I have a lot of hesitation about this brush range.

Of the brushes I tried, the one I liked the most was the #128 Precision Powder Brush, which I’ve been using even after I finished writing up the review and has a permanent home in the brushes I use regularly.  I haven’t personally incorporated any of the others into my regular brush rotation, which was more often just a result of me not using that particular shape or style often. Aside from the two that were greasy, the brushes were nice overall.  They felt well-made, didn’t shed, felt very soft against the skin, and densities were good (always in line with how they were advertised).  A few of the larger face brushes felt like the handles weren’t quite balanced with a lot of weight concentrated in the brush head and not enough in the handle itself.  I also really appreciated the breadth of the range, as there are many shapes and sizes to choose from.

Have you tried the new Make Up For Ever Artisan Brushes yet?  I would love to hear your experiences!

Sunday, September 29th, 2013

Make Up For Ever #150 Precision Blush Brush
Make Up For Ever #150 Precision Blush Brush

Make Up For Ever #150 Precision Blush Brush ($40.00) is supposed to be used for applying powder blush and sculpting products. The brush head is 26mm in length, 30mm in width, and 16mm in thickness. It has a pinched, metal ferrule, and a total brush length of 7 inches or 18 centimeters. The brush head is slightly angled and rounded, so it would work well for contouring and sculpting the cheeks or around the jaw and hair line. It is too large to work in smaller areas like around the nose. The bristles were soft, moved together nicely without splaying, and I didn’t experience any weird greasiness/oiliness with this brush. MAC 168 ($35) is fluffier, larger (narrower but longer). Sephora Pro Angled ($32) is longer and not quite as dense. Hakuhodo J511 ($33) is smaller and fluffier.

#152 Medium Highlighter Brush ($37.00) is a medium, rounded brush with a rounded, domed edge that’s circular all around. The brush head is 30mm in length, 25mm in width, and 25mm in thickness. It has a round, open metal ferrule and a total brush length of just over 7.75 inches or 17.5 centimeters. The handle is rather thick and rounded from right under the brush head to about halfway down the handle. It’s supposed to be a denser brush that can be used to highlight the face and body. It’s actually rather large for highlighting–I would probably want something about two-thirds the size of this for highlighting. This could work well for blending out highlighters, blushes, and so forth, and based on its shape, could also be used to apply liquid foundation as it can be buffed into the skin.

Unfortunately, no matter what positives this brush had, it was a greasy, oily brush, and no amount of washing seemed to extract the oiliness from it. I thought it would work best for applying foundation, but because the bristles were already sticking together, liquid foundation just made them stick together even more, so the finish was very, very streaky and I felt like a lot of product was wasted and trapped within the bristles. Hakuhodo 210 ($36) is similar but not as dense. MAC 109 ($32) is also similar but has a tendency to flare out a bit more.

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#150 Precision Blush Brush

The brush head is slightly angled and rounded, so it would work well for contouring and sculpting the cheeks or around the jaw and hair line. It is too large to work in smaller areas like around the nose. The bristles were soft, moved together nicely without splaying, and I didn't experience any weird greasiness/oiliness with this brush.

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#152 Medium Highlighter Brush

Unfortunately, no matter what positives this brush had, it was a greasy, oily brush, and no amount of washing seemed to extract the oiliness from it. I thought it would work best for applying foundation, but because the bristles were already sticking together, liquid foundation just made them stick together even more, so the finish was very, very streaky and I felt like a lot of product was wasted and trapped within the bristles.

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Wednesday, September 25th, 2013

Sephora Pro Angled Blush Brush (#49)
Sephora Pro Angled Blush Brush (#49)

Sephora Pro Angled Blush Brush (#49) ($32.00) is medium-large, rounded, angled brush. Sephora calls it a blush brush, but it could just easily apply bronzer, contouring colors, and so on. The brush head is 34mm in length, 35mm in width (at its widest point), and 20mm in thickness. It has a lightly pinched, metal ferrule and a total brush length of 8.25 inches or 21 centimeters. It works well for applying blush, bronzer, and contouring powders, which were the most frequent ways I used it. If you tend to apply your blush a bit lower and less on the apples, it’s quite nice to fit just along the cheek bone and then feathering the blush upwards over the bone (towards the apples). It also fits nicely into the hollows of the cheek, along the jaw line, and around the edges of the face for contouring. If you have a smaller face, it may be too thick, though.

It’s much denser and less fluffy than MAC 168 ($35). I picked up Hakuhodo J511 ($33) as an angled brush, but it’s significantly smaller–it is also fluffier (like the MAC 168); Hakuhodo has the J531/S106 ($87/$120), both of which are longer (45mm) but thinner (12.5mm)–note, I do not have either of those, but they were both slightly angled. There was also the B512 ($60), which has the same length but is only 10.5mm in thickness. Make Up For Ever #150 is significantly smaller, but it has a similar density–though it is thinner.

Sephora Pro Fan Brush (#65) ($27.00) is a large, fluffy fan brush. The brush head is 38mm in length, 70mm in width, and 7mm in thickness. It has a metal ferrule that’s pinched and overlays part of the base of the bristles. It has a total brush length of almost 8 inches or 20 centimeters. It’s a very fluffy, somewhat splayed brush. I wish it kept its shape just a bit more along the edges, but given the way I tend to apply using this, it doesn’t really impact the application. I typically use fan brushes for very light application of highlighters and blushes; if you’re working with an intensely pigmented blush that you only want a subtle look from, a fan brush (or stippling brush) works well. Fan brushes do the same for an overly frosted or too pigmented highlighter so you can get a glowing look without emphasizing pores. It can, of course, be used however you so desire and with a variety of powder products. It could be used with cream products, but I think it’s a little large so it doesn’t offer as much precision as I’d like when working with creams.

It is much wider and a bit thicker compared to MAC 184 ($24). Hakuhodo J4004 ($26) is more like MAC 184, so it is also narrower, and it is also a thinner, more feathery brush overall.  These two brushes are slightly softer, though, but I wouldn’t describe the Sephora brush as scratchy–just not as soft.

Also, one thing I noticed with Sephora’s Pro brushes is that they’re easily some of the longest-handled brushes relative to a variety of brands, from MAC to Make Up For Ever to NARS to Tom Ford.

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Pro Angled Blush Brush (#49)

If you tend to apply your blush a bit lower and less on the apples, it's quite nice to fit just along the cheek bone and then feathering the blush upwards over the bone (towards the apples). It also fits nicely into the hollows of the cheek, along the jaw line, and around the edges of the face for contouring. If you have a smaller face, it may be too thick, though.

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Pro Fan Brush (#65)

I typically use fan brushes for very light application of highlighters and blushes; if you're working with an intensely pigmented blush that you only want a subtle look from, a fan brush (or stippling brush) works well. Fan brushes do the same for an overly frosted or too pigmented highlighter so you can get a glowing look without emphasizing pores. It can, of course, be used however you so desire and with a variety of powder products. It could be used with cream products, but I think it's a little large so it doesn't offer as much precision as I'd like when working with creams.

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Monday, September 23rd, 2013

Make Up For Ever #242 Large Blender Brush Brush
Make Up For Ever #218 Medium Blender Crease Brush

Make Up For Ever #218 Medium Blender Brush ($25.00) is described as a “medium, rounded brush.” It’s a rounded, stubby brush with a softly rounded edge; it reminded me of a larger pencil brush. The brush head is 11mm in length, 6mm in width, and 6mm in thickness. It had a round, open metal ferrule and a total brush length of just over 6.5 inches or 16.5 centimeters.

It works well for depositing both cream and powder products into the crease, and it can lightly blend and diffuse the color without blending it too far outside of wherever you applied it, so it was able to blend with more precision than a fluffier crease brush. It felt soft, had just a little give but was quite densely packed with fibers. Inglot 18SS ($21) is a bit larger and squatter. Make Up For Ever #14S is smaller overall, slightly more tapered/rounded along the edge.

Make Up For Ever #242 Large Blender Brush ($30.00) is a “long, rounded blending brush for light eyeshadow application.” It’s a moderately long, rounded brush that flares out at the edge and is fluffy, soft, and flexible and has synthetic fibers. The brush head is 20mm in length, 9mm in width (at its widest point), and 9mm in thickness (at its thickest point). It works best for dusting color all-over a large area or for blending and diffusing color. The fibers are very soft against the skin, but I suspect that this brush may flare out too much at the end for those with small to medium-sized eye areas. I did like using it to apply a brow bone highlighter or a transition shade to blend out the crease to the brow bone highlighter.

Sephora Pro Crease Brush (10) ($20) is similar–slightly fluffier and not as wide. NARS Large Dome Eye Brush ($33) is also also similar but not as flared out. MAC 224 ($32) is similar. Though I was hoping it was going to be similar to the now-discontinued Make Up For Ever #17S, it is quite flared, whereas the #17S tapers.

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#218 Medium Blender Brush

It works well for depositing both cream and powder products into the crease, and it can lightly blend and diffuse the color without blending it too far outside of wherever you applied it, so it was able to blend with more precision than a fluffer crease brush.

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#242 Large Blender Brush

It works best for dusting color all-over a large area or for blending and diffusing color. The fibers are very soft against the skin, but I suspect that this brush may flare out too much at the end for those with small to medium-sized eye areas. I did like using it to apply a brow bone highlighter or a transition shade to blend out the crease to the brow bone highlighter.

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Sunday, September 22nd, 2013

Make Up For Ever #214 Small Precision Crease Brush
Make Up For Ever #214 Small Precision Crease Brush

Make Up For Ever #214 Small Precision Crease Brush ($25.00) is described as a “firm, but flexible brush … [for] the crease of the eye.” It’s a long, narrow, and pointed crease brush made out of synthetic fibers. The brush head is 15mm in length, 4mm in width, and 4mm in thickness. It had a round, open metal ferrule and a total brush length of just under 6.75 inches or almost 17 centimeters.

I really didn’t like this brush, as it was incredibly point and didn’t do a good job of placing product in the crease or blending it out. This was also a brush that suffered from continued oiliness/greasiness in the way the bristles felt and acted, so you could squeeze or shape the brush and it would stay that way before very slowly releasing and returning to its original shape (somewhat). It’s a really weird feeling, and it’s not something I remember ever experiencing with other brushes except some of the ones in the Artisan range (I believe this is the third one with this issue). Unfortunately, this doesn’t help the brush in any way, because it makes the brush even less pliable/flexible. Again, I tried washing this two dozen times with an assortment of soaps from dishwashing liquid soap to alcohol-based brush cleansers. The only other brush I have that’s similar in shape is Hakuhodo J5529 ($16), which is a small, narrow crease brush (that actually works).

Make Up For Ever #232 Medium Precision Crease Brush ($28.00) is a long, narrow crease brush with a tapered, point tip. The brush head is 25mm in length, 5mm in width, and 5mm in thickness. It had a round, open metal ferrule and a total brush length of 7 inches or 18 centimeters. The edge felt too tapered and pointed, because using it in the crease made it feel like using a sharp, rough edge, even though if you just brushed the bristles across your hand, they would feel soft. It can deposit color moderately well for both cream and powder products, but it doesn’t blend them out at all, and so many crease brushes are capable of both, so I’m not keen on something as uni-tasking as this shape (plus, it’s not comfortable to use).

I didn’t have any oiliness/greasiness with this particular brush, which was good, but I really didn’t like it. The most comparable brush I have is the MAC 223 (discontinued), which is a longer, narrower crease brush that’s still dome-shaped and rounded at the end, so it is a more ideal shape for crease-work. Make Up For Ever #17S (now discontinued) is not quite as long, wider, and more rounded (as well as fluffier).

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#214 Small Precision Crease Brush

I really didn't like this brush, as it was incredibly point and didn't do a good job of placing product in the crease or blending it out. This was also a brush that suffered from continued oiliness/greasiness in the way the bristles felt and acted, so you could squeeze or shape the brush and it would stay that way before very slowly releasing and returning to its original shape (somewhat)

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#232 Medium Precision Crease Brush

The edge felt too tapered and pointed, because using it in the crease made it feel like using a sharp, rough edge, even though if you just brushed the bristles across your hand, they would feel soft. It can deposit color moderately well for both cream and powder products, but it doesn't blend them out at all.

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Saturday, September 21st, 2013

Make Up For Ever #208 Small Precision Shader Brush
Make Up For Ever #208 Small Precision Shader Brush

Make Up For Ever #208 Small Precision Shader Brush ($22.00) is described as a “small paddle brush ideal for shading.” It’s a small, dome-shaped flat brush. I noticed the edge was visibly uneven at a glance, not just in some crazy magnified macro photo. It’s thin, flat, and very springy. There’s a lot of give and flex to the bristles. It was so-so for applying powder eyeshadow, but I felt like it wasn’t picking up enough product, though it worked well for applying cream eyeshadow to the inner third of the lid as it fit well into that area. The brush head is 5mm in length, 7mm in width, and 2mm in thickness. It has a pinched, metal ferrule and a total brush length of just over 6.25 inches or 16 centimeters.

MAC 228 ($20) is a bit fluffier, and to that end, I think a better all-around brush in comparison as it can apply powder and cream equally well and still get into the nooks and crannies. Hakuhodo G5513 ($16) has a straighter edge across the top (not as dome-shaped) but is similar in shape and use. Tom Ford Eyeliner & Definer ($50) is firmer.

Make Up For Ever #220 Small Shader Brush ($22.00) is described as a “small paddle brush.” It’s a small, flat, thin, dome-shaped brush–and yes, it is like a bigger version of the #208 mentioned above. It’s both wider and taller, though the #220 is actually even thinner. The bristles felt much finer and compacted together, which gave it a firmer, flatter shape overall. It had some flexibility but not too much. The firmness made it good for laying down creams, but for powders, it seemed a bit too stiff/flat and didn’t deposit color (from a powder eyeshadow) well. The brush head 7mm in length, 9mm in width, and 1.5mm in thickness. It had a pinched, metal ferrule and a total brush length of just over 6.25 inches or 16 centimeters.

I couldn’t think of anything similar that I’ve tried, as the size is larger than the ones I have that are at least similarly shaped (but they’re all smaller and mentioned in comparison to the #208). What I did notice with this brush was it always felt oily–no matter how many times I washed it or with what (from dishwashing soap to alcohol-based cleansers). It just has a slick, oily feel and as a result, it can be manipulated into whatever shape you want and then slowly releases back to its original shape. This oddity, which is not the first I’ve experienced with the brand’s new brushes (not all are like this but more than one) is quite curious.

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#208 Small Precision Shader Brush

It was so-so for applying powder eyeshadow, but I felt like it wasn't picking up enough product, though it worked well for applying cream eyeshadow to the inner third of the lid as it fit well into that area.
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#220 Small Shader Brush

It's a small, flat, thin, dome-shaped brush--and yes, it is like a bigger version of the #208 mentioned above. It's both wider and taller, though the #220 is actually even thinner. The bristles felt much finer and compacted together, which gave it a firmer, flatter shape overall. It had some flexibility but not too much.
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