Sonia G. The Fundamental Brush Set
Sonia G. brushes launched late last year with an eight-piece brush set, and this year, the brushes launched individually with a recent addition of another eight brushes to the line-up. I’m still working my way through the brushes (I need to re-think how I approach and review brushes to review them more quickly), but I know several readers have inquired about impressions. I’ve been using the original set since they launched (and my process of using brushes is I slowly integrate and try them within my routine where and when a new brush makes sense), so I have more in-depth thoughts on those than the ones just newly released this month.
Firstly, I know I saw several comments asking who Sonia G. was and why her brushes were so expensive. Beautylish, the exclusive retailer of the line, has a good launch page that goes through some of what makes the brushes different as well as an interview with Sonia G., but to summarize the who: she is a makeup brush fanatic–someone who has owned and reviewed hundreds of brushes over the years and decided to pursue her own line of brushes as a result of that passion for makeup brushes. I’d also recommend reading through Sonia’s blog posts about how and why she created the brushes she did (I actually felt like I learned the most about the “why” of the price point from her posts on the process).
When it comes to the why of pricing, I’d position the line and brushes as a brand that is trying to seek the best materials for particular function who also focused on creating an exceptionally luxe handle and aesthetic (and understandably, not everyone is inclined to allocate as much budget to design over function). The weighting, balance, and handle concept is truly lovely with a sparkling, gradient from deep red to black with a glossy finish. There are some brushes within the line that I think would work well for many people, but the brand itself I feel is an ode to the art of brush making and making brushes that are slightly tweaked (more in density, subtle shape changes, or hair types) that are still very functional – an attempt to offer something new without creating a shape that may be new but isn’t very useful. As someone who has plenty of Japanese-made brushes, the price point is within what I’d expect, though.
One might consider it an influencer line, but it felt like something deeper than that; in a way, the type and style of the brushes felt like an authentic extension of Sonia G., and I think the detailing of each brush went a long way to personalizing (but still providing very useful information) the brand in a way that not all influencers have done in my experience.
The quality of the brush heads is superb overall with soft hairs, they retain their shape after washing, and seem to be well-designed and thought out. I’m glad that the brushes are all available individually now as I think that’s the better way to go about trying any. I definitely don’t feel like it’s necessary to own every single brush. I’ve been using the original set for about three months, and I haven’t had any issues with brushes losing their shape, shedding, and the like.
The handles seemed to be thicker than most brushes, most noticeably on the eye brushes, than I have from other brands, though they were comfortable and easy for me to hold but I do have longer fingers and larger hands. Builder One’s handle seemed exceptionally thick compared to its brush head, and the same was true for Sculpt Two and Sculpt Four handles. Again, not something that seemed to be either a pro or con in my personal experience.
You’ll find more detailed thoughts about the original eight brushes launched below, along with some more initial impressions on the eight newest brushes, but at a high-level, my favorite brushes were Worker One (and Worker Two, which has the same shape but is undyed), Builder One, Sculpt Three, and tentatively (need more testing, though I can’t imagine my thoughts changing), Pencil Two (this is a style of brush I love and don’t have many of) and Sculpt Two (I love the added density compared to a traditional fan brush, and the size of this is more versatile for me than Sculpt One).
The Fundamental Set
The Fundamental Brush Set ($362.00) includes: Pencil One ($36.00), Crease One ($38.00), Builder One ($32.00), Worker One ($36.00), Base One ($65.00), Face Two ($48.00), Scupt One ($75.00), and Sculpt Three ($32.00).
The only brush I did not like for its intended purpose (liquid and cream foundations) was Base One, which is a mix of hakutotsuho goat hair and PBT (synthetic) and is like a shorter, slightly denser take on stippling brush. Over the years, I have found that these have become less and less my go-tos as they often work really well for the first application but require washing after each use or else leftover foundation that has soaked in clumps up bristles and any additional applications look streaky. Every time I used Base One, however, I felt like I just wasn’t getting a streak-free finish even initially. For those who might apply cream or liquid bronzers all-over, it worked better there with a light hand, but it is dense and flatter with less of a height differential between the synthetic and natural hairs so it can pickup more product than one might anticipate.
In the set, there are two fan brushes; the first is Sculpt One, which is very wide, denser and has a much more curved edge than traditional fan brushes. It is much thicker and denser compared to Hakuhodo’s Ougi series brushes, too. Sculpt One has moderate softness and worked well for applying powder products all-over the face, like bronzer along the perimeter of the face or finishing powders dusted all over, which was the intended purpose behind it. If you feel like you have a smaller face shape, it may feel oversized to you.
The second is Sculpt Three, which is a smaller fan brush with a more typical shape, though more domed across the edge. It was incredibly silky and soft, and it was comfortable and easy to use even underneath my eyes to set undereye concealer. It’s marketed to apply a “soft wash of highlighter all over the skin,” and it’s supposed to differ from traditional fan brushes by picking up more product and giving the user more control. I’d agree with the latter; the edge picked up product better and more evenly as the product concentrated on the center rather than a little all over, so I could apply with more precision (and the smaller shaped helped, too).
Face Two is a smaller-sized face brush that flares from the base and has a domed edge with very soft, smooth bristles. It was designed for “contouring and sculpting the face” to be used with “blushes, bronzers, and contour powders.” I liked it most for blending and diffusing powder products on my skin, particularly using buffing motions. I find it easiest to work with sheer to medium pigmented products rather than any super intense, opaque red blush, as it can pickup a fair amount of product in one go. Where it’s a bit different than others like it is that it’s both dense enough to apply with precision but the edge of the brush splays enough to allow it to blend and diffuse product, too.
All of the eye brushes were soft, silky, and comfortable to use with well-made brush heads, so I won’t repeat as much across each brush and focus more on function. Pencil One is a small, pointed pencil brush that can work for more precise smudging and lining while also having the right level of softness and springiness to make it blend and diffuse more blown out color on the lower lash line. The highlight of the brush is that even when used with the tip against the lower lash line, it did not feel sharp or painful.
Crease One is a small-to-medium-sized, pointed crease brush that has a very strong taper to a point, which makes it ideal for applying color into the deeper crease with more precision. I liked it a lot, but if you’re someone who tends to have a more diffused or blown out color in the crease, I think it will be too precise and sharp. I find with these types of brushes that I often to use it to darken or add depth to crease, like going in with black eyeshadow, rather than starting with application in the crease with this style of brush as it can be too precise.
Builder One is in the spirit of a dome-shaped eyeshadow brush to apply color to the lid, but it tapers to a much flatter brush. It’s small-to-medium in size–it is small enough to apply color to the inner area of my lid but large enough to work across the lid and not feel like it took too much time. My only issue I have with it is that the ferrule comes around the edge of the brush and sometimes I feel like the ferrule touches my lid, so perhaps a brush like this but slightly larger (but with the same shape) would work better for me in particular. Builder One packs on a lot of product without diffusing it until desired, so it does a good job for getting intensity and pigmentation out of powder eyeshadows.
Worker One is my very favorite brush out of the set. It’s the one that I’d consider purchasing another of. It has the shape of a more typical, fluffy eyeshadow blending brush but is much, much denser and a bit softer with less fluffy edges. If you were ever struggling to blend something out, this one tackles it with aplomb. I’d love to see this brush shape offered in smaller sizes–at least two more!–because I find it very versatile and unique (but not strange!) within my collection of brushes. (Worker Two, which is newly released, is the same in shape and size but is undyed). Out of all the brushes in the range, Worker One is the one I’d most recommend.
Sonia G. Brushes
The New Eight
This month, the brand launched eight more brushes, all available individually: Smudger One ($36.00), Smudger Two ($28.00), Pencil Two ($28.00), Builder Two ($34.00), Worker Two ($36.00), Sculpt Two ($58.00), Sculpt Four ($58.00), and Face One ($75.00).
Worker Two is the same shape and size of Worker One but has undyed bristles (which technically, some feel makes it softer, but I couldn’t feel a difference, and it can officially be used with creams and powders).
Smudger One is a small brush that flares to a flatter shape with a moreprecise edge (it has a similar shape as the Builder One but is much, much smaller). The bristles moved very well from side to side for smudging and blending on the lower lash line.
Smudger Two looks very similar at a glance, and by its dimensions, is about the same, but it is slightly wider at the edge whereas Smudger One narrows slightly as it gets to the edge. I found that Smudger Two worked well to smudge and apply color to the lower lash line without over-blending it like I might with a mid-sized pencil brush. The shape also enabled it to work well for packing color onto the lid in very small areas, so it would work well on very small eyes or for someone who uses a lot of shades on the lid.
Pencil Two is a large (for a pencil brush) dome-shaped eye brush that works well for depositing and blending out color into the crease. It has more precision than typical crease brushes but allows for more diffusion and easier blending than a more tapered crease brush or smaller pencil brush would.
Builder Two is a large, dome-shaped eyeshadow brush that is quite dense with a soft, tapered edge that is designed to do it all when it comes to applying and blending out eyeshadow. For my eye shape, it is a bit larger than ideal for how I apply my eye makeup (with at least three shades on the lid), but for someone who works with two to four shades in a look, it should work well. It picked up powder eyeshadows well and was able to apply, pack, and diffuse them as stated. I’d love to see this in a slightly smaller size as it definitely has a workhorse of a shape.
Sculpt Two is a medium-sized fan brush that is quite dense with a very rounded, tapered edge that will apply products more heavily to the skin than your typical fan brush. Per the brand, it was designed to be used with “hard textures or sheer products,” which seems apt. I particularly liked it when I tried with highlighters for a more precise, but still more intense/obvious, application along the cheek bone. If you’re looking for something to give a very diffused, ethereal application, though, stick with traditional fan brushes.
Sculpt Four may look a lot like Sculpt Two, but it is actually asymmetrical with one side being longer and seemed to be more angled. The idea behind this brush is that the shorter side “offers more precision” while the longer side is “for blending.” It has a similar overall size and density as Sculpt Two, and I do think that one could use in the same way, just that this one might be more unique and offer more control, if desired, when using the shorter side. I need to experiment a lot more with this one, though.
Face One looks like a medium-to-large shaped stippling brush, but it only uses dyed saikoho goat hair, and it is incredibly soft (softer than I’d expect based on the hair type, actually). It’s supposed to be used to “buff mineral foundations, finishing, and setting powders.” I could see it working well for buffing products on the skin, and it could also be used to lightly pat and diffuse the edges of products.