Sigma Brushes Review, Photos

Sigma Makeup Brushes Review

In mid-January, I asked all of you what do you want to know about Sigma Makeup Brushes. Instead of my usual review format, I’m going to go through and answer your questions, because at the end of the day… my review would have answered the majority of those questions anyway, but this way you can look for your answers more easily.  I am reviewing the brushes I have tried, which include: SS109, SS150, SS168, SS182, SS187, SS188, SS190, SS194, SS208, SS219, SS224, SS239, SS266, and SS275.

This post is a review for Sigma Makeup Brushes on their own merit, aside from MAC, not compared to MAC. I will post a follow-up shortly comparing the two as requested.

  • Brushes I liked: SS182, SS190, SS219, SS224.   I found these were the brushes that really stood out to me both in quality and in use.  I think all of the brushes are of good quality, but inevitably, they’re not better or different (and thus meet a different need!) than brushes I already have in my collection!
  • Good value for the money: these are worth getting if you are keen on building up your brush collection faster and without breaking the bank.  I would definitely love it if you could purchase more brushes individually, so you didn’t have to pick up brushes you didn’t like or weren’t going to use often.  Sigma offers quality brushes are a more affordable price point, and I can understand that not everyone wants to or can spend money on high-end brushes.
  • Read reviews and buy the brushes you need that also work well.  Not all of Sigma brushes are super-fab, some are good brushes (regardless of looking at price!) but some don’t hit the mark on what you expected to use the brush for.  e.g. the 187 isn’t stiff enough to stipple but it still works fine for applying blush with a softer, more diffused look.
  • My recommendation: I like Sigma Makeup brushes for the short-term.  There are a few (the ones I mentioned I liked) that are worth picking up not just to get your hands on more makeup brushes, but I think they’re a good starter set.  It’s a good way to get to know makeup brushes, learn what you need and like, and if you love one brush, maybe consider upgrading that one or others you use often later on down the road with something pricier.

See review and photos…

Sigma Makeup Brushes Quality

Q. What do you think of the brushes you tried? What should we use each brush for?

All of the brushes have solid, heavy handles (heavier than many other brush brands I’ve tried, but they’re not bricks or anything!). The brushes are made out of both natural and synthetic bristles. The natural brushes are typically goat hair, either white or black.  I think the brushes themselves are quality brushes.  They may not last a life time like higher-end brushes, but I think they will last you long enough to get your money’s worth.  The are a little softer than Sonia Kashuk brushes and about as soft as Eco-Tools overall (of course, there is variation between different types of brushes and all that).  When purchased in a kit/set, they can represent tremendous value.  I’d definitely like to see them expand their individual brush offering so that people can choose the brushes they need to use the most or get seconds, thirds, etc. of the brushes they use the most.


Sigma Makeup SS109 Brush


Sigma Makeup SS109 Brush

SS109 is soft and has a flatter surface which makes it better for applying blush than liquid foundation. It does shed some, though.


Sigma Makeup SS150 Brush


Sigma Makeup SS150 Brush


Sigma Makeup SS150 Brush

SS150 is a natural-bristled brush that’s a bit flat and compacted with very densely-packed bristles. I don’t find this is fluffy enough for all-over powder. I feel like this can over-apply powder if you are using it more for a loose setting powder or a light coverage powder. If you use powder foundation and want more coverage, this might work for that. This was the worst brush that I tried from Sigma. It sheds non-stop and bleeds dye (even six weeks later)!


Sigma Makeup SS168 Brush


Sigma Makeup SS168 Brush

SS168 is a fluffy angled natural-bristled brush that can be used to apply blush or contour cheeks and the jawline. (It’s too big to contour the nose with.) It’s quite soft, though, but almost a little too fluffy to give you nice contouring line. When washed and dried, the bristles splay out and the brush doesn’t retain its tight shape so much.


Sigma Makeup SS182 Brush


Sigma Makeup SS182 Brush


Sigma Makeup SS182 Brush

SS182 is an ultra soft, densely-packed buffer/kabuki natural-bristled brush. It has a light dome shape that is retained even after cleansing. It’s very tightly-packed, and it’s one of the best brushes done by Sigma that I’ve tried.


Sigma Makeup SS187 Brush


Sigma Makeup SS187 Brush

SS187 is a duo-fibre brush that’s a blend of both synthetic and natural bristles. It’s very soft and fluffy, but it’s not stiff enough to use to stipple for me. It can still be used to apply highlighters and blushes (for a more muted, less intense look), but I found it too soft for applying cream blushes or use with liquid foundation.


Sigma Makeup SS188 Brush


Sigma Makeup SS188 Brush


Sigma Makeup SS188 Brush

SS188 is a duo-fibre brush that’s a blend of both synthetic and natural bristles–it’s very much like the 187 except the brush head is smaller and more compact, less flared as well. Unfortunately, it had the same problems as the 187 for me — I tend to use the 188 solely for highlighting, but I rarely reach for it. I wish it was a little stiffer so I could stipple cream blushes on!


Sigma Makeup SS190 Brush


Sigma Makeup SS190 Brush

SS190 is a flat, slightly stiffened synthetic brush that’s best used with more emollient products. You can use it to apply cream or liquid foundations as well as your moisturizer.


Sigma Makeup SS194 Brush

SS194 is a short, slightly domed synthetic brush that’s designed to be used to apply concealer around the under eye area. The shortness of the brush gives you more control, but it’s a little too stiff for the under eye area. I like it better as a lip brush.


Sigma Makeup SS197 Brush


Sigma Makeup SS197 Brush

SS197 is a very soft, stiff, firm, and densely backed duo-fibre brush with natural bristles. It’s called a flat-topped kabuki brush, and it’s very much like that. I like it better for creamier foundations, but I don’t actually find I reach for it very often!


Sigma Makeup SS209 Brush

SS209 is a long, thin, and tapered synthetic-bristled brush. It’s wider and has more of a taper along the length of the brush. I found it a bit too thick to give a reallythin, defined line.


Sigma Makeup SS219 Brush

SS219 is a natural-bristled “pencil” brush. This is nice to use for a more defined crease or to blend out creas color for a soft, but still more defined, crease. It’s too domed and not tapered enough to work as I usually use pencil brushes (on the lower lash line). It can also be used to smudge out color or apply a highlighter to the inner corner.


Sigma Makeup SS224 Brush


Sigma Makeup SS224 Brush

SS224 is a rounded, slightly tapered natural-bristled brush. It’s good for using in the crease, and it’s not too long, so you can have more control over how much blending you want to do in the crease area.


Sigma Makeup SS239 Brush


Sigma Makeup SS239 Brush


Sigma Makeup SS239 Brush

SS239 is kind of a stubby, domed, kind of fluffy natural-bristled brush. It’s stiff but not too stiff to use, but it’s stubby. It feels too short! It feels more like a smudging brush than an eyeshadow brush.


Sigma Makeup SS266 Brush


Sigma Makeup SS266 Brush

SS266 is an angled synthetic brush designed for use with gel eyeliner. I find that this brush is really much too thick and not stiff enough to be used on the lower lash line. This was one of my least favorite eye brushes, because I didn’t find it useful for anything. It’s not thick/fluffy enough for eye brows yet too thick for eyeliner. It kind of bulged in the middle, which just made it even more difficult to get a thin, even lash line.


Sigma Makeup SS275 Brush


Sigma Makeup SS275 Brush

SS275 is a fluffy angled natural-bristled brush. This is a nice brush to apply highlighter to the bro w bone or get a softer crease color. I find it’s too big for my crease area to give a more defined crease, and you could use it to highlight the inner corner of your eye, but it’s a little too big for me.

Sigma offers several additional brushes, but I have not tried them, so I cannot vouch for them! These additional brushes include: SS129, SS134, SS138, SS165, SS192, SS195, SS210, SS212, SS214, SS217, SS222, SS226, SS227, and SS316. These brushes are all available in the Professional Brushes Premium Kit ($149).

Q. Are they good standalone brushes?

Yes, they are. If they offered the brushes all individually and at the prices of the brush kits, then I think they would be a very good value most definitely. The kits themselves are much like other brush kits and sets — there are always brushes you just don’t use.

Q. Do they shed?

The face brushes have a tendency to shed, even after several weeks of washings (as it can be typical for your brushes to shed a bit in the beginning). I don’t have shedding issues with most of the eye brushes (the 224 and 275 shed a bit, the 275 more so). I have shedding issues with 109, 150, 168, and 187. The 109 and the 150 are the worst.

Q. What do you think of them esthetically? Do they look cheap?

I think they look nice overall. There’s something about the placement or size of the logo that looks a little off to me, but the brushes themselves have matte black handles with a good weight to them so they don’t feel cheap.

Q. What is the stiffness of the brushes?

Some brushes are stiffer than others–it varies based on the brush. The brushes that are supposed to be soft tend to be soft and not too stiff, while brushes that are supposed to be firmer are so (except the 187 and 188, which are particularly not as firm or stiff as I’d expect, they are a bit floppy).

Q. Do they smell?

Yes, after about six weeks of washing them, there’s still a noticeable smell. It was stronger in the first week or two of washings, but there’s still an off-putting scent there. I don’t usually notice it when using it, but since I knew it was a question being asked, I made sure to do a sniff-test throughout!

Q. Do the black bristles lose their color after being washed?

No, I haven’t noticed the color itself changing in the brushes, though I have seen some dye get on the towel I lay the brushes on to dry.

Q. What brushes would you recommend getting (that aren’t in the brush roll)?

The only one that I’ve tried that isn’t in the brush roll I tried was the 182. It was definitely one of the best brushes I tried from Sigma, period.

Q. Do you think they could sell these at a department store counter?

I don’t think they could based on the extreme similarities (particularly with the numbering system) to MAC brushes. Quality-wise, perhaps at a retailer like Sephora, which can accommodate specialty retailers that have smaller ranges (e.g. not enough products to need a counter).

Q. Do the brushes bleed after a few washes?

The majority of the brushes do not bleed. I have had some bleeding issues with the 109, 150, and 182. The 150 is the one that bleeds the most. It’s not like a big bucket o’ dye, but it’s annoying.

Q. How soft are the brushes?

The majority of the brushes are quite soft. They are not the softest brushes of all time, but they feel soft against the skin and only a few are a little scratchy (150, 190, 219).

Q. How versatile are the brushes?

They’re as versatile as any other brush line! There’s nothing different about these brushes that would limit how you could use them based on your needs.

Q. Are the brushes handmade?

Yes, according to Sigma Makeup’s About Us, the brushes are handmade.

Q. Do the brushes retain their shape after washing and drying?

Yes, the majority of the brushes retain their shape after a cleaning. I found that the fluffier brushes (like the 168 and 219) splayed quite a bit after drying, even though I re-shaped them after cleansing.

Q. Are these cruelty-free?

Technically, no. I asked Simone, owner of Sigma Makeup, and she explained that PETA believes that animals need their coat, so regardless of technique or whether or not there was no harm to the animals in order to get the hair, they do not consider natural-haired brushes to be cruelty-free. Simone said that they make sure animals are not harmed during the harvesting of their coats (nifty fact, Simone is actually a veterinarian!).

Q. What does SS stand for?

Sigma Shopping.

Q. Are the ferrules tight or loose?

They are tight in the beginning, but some of the ferrules are loosening a bit. It’s very subtle, but I would expect them to loosen up more as time goes on. I wash these the same as my MAC brushes, which I haven’t experienced ferrule loosening (just to clarify that I don’t think it’s user error in cleansing/washing brushes).

If you have additional questions, please feel free to ask. I will answer if I can, and if I don’t know the answer, I will field it to Simone (the owner) for an answer. PLEASE DO NOT ASK COMPARISON QUESTIONS AGAINST MAC IN THIS POST (comparisons are covered in a separate post!).  Thank you!