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Sonia G. Makeup Brushes | Impressions & Thoughts

Sonia G. The Fundamental Brush Set
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.

Overall

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
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.











 

Sonia G Base One  

Sonia G Base One  

Sonia G Base One  

Sonia G Face One  

Sonia G Face One  

Sonia G Face One  

Sonia G Face One  

Sonia G Face Two  

Sonia G Face Two  

Sonia G Face Two  

Sonia G Face Two  

Sonia G Sculpt One  

Sonia G Sculpt One  

Sonia G Sculpt One  

Sonia G Sculpt One  

Sonia G Sculpt One  

Sonia G Pencil One  

Sonia G Pencil One  

Sonia G Pencil One  

Sonia G Pencil One  

Sonia G Pencil One  

Sonia G Pencil Two  

Sonia G Pencil Two  

Sonia G Pencil Two  

Sonia G Pencil Two  

Sonia G Pencil Two  

Sonia G Builder One  

Sonia G Builder One  

Sonia G Builder One  

Sonia G Builder One  

Sonia G Builder One  

Sonia G Builder Two  

Sonia G Builder Two  

Sonia G Builder Two  

Sonia G Builder Two  

Sonia G Builder Two  

Sonia G Crease One  

Sonia G Crease One  

Sonia G Crease One  

Sonia G Crease One  

Sonia G Smudger One  

Sonia G Smudger One  

Sonia G Smudger One  

Sonia G Smudger One  

Sonia G Smudger Two  

Sonia G Smudger Two  

Sonia G Smudger Two  

Sonia G Smudger Two  

Sonia G Worker One  

Sonia G Worker One  

Sonia G Worker One  

Sonia G Worker One  

Sonia G Worker One  

Sonia G Worker Two  

Sonia G Worker Two  

Sonia G Worker Two  

Sonia G Worker Two  

Sonia G Worker Two  

Sonia G Worker Two  

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About the Reviewer

Christine has normal-to-dry skin with areas of dryness (cheeks, nose, and under the eyes). She has a light-medium skintone with subtle, warmer yellow undertones. Her best foundation matches include: Tarte Rainforest of the Sea in Light-Medium Neutral (best match), Estee Lauder Double Wear Stay-in-Place Makeup in Desert Beige 2N1, Giorgio Armani Maestro Glow in 4.0, Hourglass Warm Ivory Vanish Seamless Finish, Laura Mercier Candleglow Soft Luminous in Dusk, MAC NC20/NC25, Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Liquid in Y305 (140). (For more information, please check the FAQ.)

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42 Comments

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Finally, a more lux line of brushes that have my attention! These appear to be very well crafted and engineered. Beautiful, too. My only real concern is the possible materials used. Which type of hair for each brush, as I already know that goat hair is problematic for me due to allergies. My hope is that the eye brushes are not made from goat hair, but I didn’t notice anything on that, though?

Thanks for getting back to me on that! But, oh poo, that I would have such a strange allergy like this! I’ve been told that I’m allergic to cats and dogs, but have NEVER had any reaction to either species. But goats???

Aww! I am allergic to cats (terribly), guinea pigs, rats, and definitely dogs but not as badly to dogs and have managed to escape any adverse reactions to brush hairs! If anything scratches me, though, oh my goodness does my skin react awfully! Even with Mellan, sometimes I will cuddle with him and it’ll cause itchiness on the skin, but thankfully, it’s infrequent! So annoying, though 🙁

Now that you mention reactions to scratches, I can no longer deny a cat and dog allergy. Whenever Scunci or any other cat I’ve owned kneads me with their paws, the scratches left behind turn into welts and itch like mad! I had always assumed that was from dirt under the claws, apparently not so. 😟 Also, when I get a cat hair in my eye, the itching drives me crazy! Just like those several occasions when a MAC 217 got used on my lids. I can give up on a brush, but I know neither one of us will ever give up on Mellan or Scunci!

Allergies can be funny. Cats: allergic to some, not others. If the cat is Siamese or has that in its background, yes. Black cats with less hair between the eyes and ears, yup. Persians, angoras, domestic shorthairs: not at all. All cat scratches give me welts. Some say it’s the saliva. Who knows? But the reaction is to specific proteins. Goat, though? Now that’s unfortunate, when it comes to brushes. Weird aside: certain tree pollen allergies are likely to be associated with reactions to certain specific fruit….and that is further associated with geographic ethnicity. E.G. Swedish people are likely to have problems with pine and pear (example is made up, but that’s how it works.) Crazy. No wonder the allergy MDs have a long way to go. You might outgrow the allergy to goat, but even then, would try before you buy.

I can see why Sonia’s brushes are priced as they are. They are incredibly luxe–rivaling all my other high end Japanese brushes, and if you know anything about Sonia at all, you know that she is not the average brush connoisseur. I agree with you that this is not just another influencer line; she could even be credited for spreading the popularity of Japanese brushes to everyone outside of Japan. Indeed, my own love affair of Japanese crafted brushes were started by here over 10+ years–when I didn’t even have money to buy them back then. LOL!

All in all, it’s a well done collection and a wonderful addition to my own collection.

Yeah, it definitely feels like a line brought about by passion / genuine desire to do something specific than trying to cash in. I also really liked how much detail she went into for each brush because I feel that’s missing from some of the newer lines. It’s one of the things I liked about Fenty – clearly a passionate project for Rihanna, not just about getting her name on the product.

Thank you for going so in-depth, Christine!! I’m one of those people who’s skeptical of new brands with expensive prices launched by someone unfamiliar or unqualified (this line, Natasha Denona, Sunday Riley, most influencers’ lines!!) and won’t give them the benefit of the doubt. This post makes me much less wary!

These are such beautiful brushes. I have placed an order today for a few of the eye brushes once I read your column. I had also seen them on Tarababyz YT channel and knew that she really liked a couple of the brushes. I have smaller, heavy set, hooded lids so I generally like the brushes that Tara does as she has similar shaped eyes. Thank you for the great photos, Christine.

I have two on the way (worker 2 & sculpt 3)… and already tempted to get a few more. We’ll see how much I like them compared to my Hakuhodos! I’ve never bought anything because of an influencer, be that YouTube or Instagram etc. I obviously don’t have them yet, but I think that these are true quality and a labor of love (unlike sooo many makeup “collaborations”). Not sure if I can/should mention here, so I won’t but there’s a quality YouTuber who had two great detailed reviews of both launches.

The Pencil Two brush looks a lot like the Suquu medium eyeshadow brush, except the Suquu is squirrel. I’m interested in the Builder One & Two, the Worker One or Two, maybe the huge fan brush. Thanks for the great review!

I have been using Artis brushes – and fake Artis brushes LOL – but these might be on my ‘to buy list’ – I like the looks of them a lot. So glad you reviewed them – thank you!

Christine, thank you for your in-depth review of this line. I was intrigued by Japanese brushes before she launched her line and read more about it when she did. However, I seem to be getting more skeptical as I age, but I’ve come to trust your reviews. I’ll pass on the face brush, but I’ll be ordering the eye brushes. Thanks again.

I love these brushes! Obviously a labor of love for Sonia G. I initially bought the Fundamental set and the Wayne Goss Anniversary II set. I am a beginner in using makeup, but I figured if I bought makeup brushes it would be these two sets. I have now also ordered the eight new brushes from Sonia G and can’t wait to use them! Thank you very much for reviewing these. If it weren’t for the Beautylish payments option I would not be able to afford them! I am new to your site and love the reviews and grading system on products as well as the dupes!

An entry totally devoted to fur brushes.
Even paint brushes use animal fur. Fur brushes capture the product better.

I got a brush from a Burberry that looks like Mac 239. Surprise that even Chanel has brushes from Japan and France.

Pencil brushes…how I love thee.

Excellent review, Christine; thank you so much 🙂 I ordered Worker Two on Sunday – it should be here today, in fact – and will probably pick up Sculpt Four next, because I definitely don’t have another brush like it. Makeup brushes are so much fun!

I was curious about how these compare to Wayne Goss brushes. She said she learned from him, and he was even nice enough to do a YT promo for hers. (I don’t think I’d be that nice if someone asked me to teach them and then became my competitor.)

Thanks so much for the detailed review of this brush line and peek into the brushes of the second release. I’m familiar with Sonia G., having used her vast and extremely helpful repository of brush information. Like many, I had sticker shock when her brushes were first released. After spending some time on Beautylish’s site and watching video reviews and demos. I feel more comfortable with the price points and how Sonia’s brushes might fill needs in my collection.

I decided to begin with Worker 1 (awaiting restock), Worker 2 and Builder 2 (the last 2 notably for cream products). Pencil 2, Smudger 2 and Crease 1 are on my wishlist. I have less a need for face brushes though am intrigued by the asymmetrical Sculpt 4 brush.

It’s reviews like this when I wish Temptalia did a video review!! 😉 Thanks again, Christine!!

Great overview, thank you Christine!! If you get around to grading them I’d love to see that post as well. But this does help tremendously! Thanks for your thoughts and recommendations!

Could you leave your thoughts on the Sculpt Three vs the WG Air Brush? I know the shapes are not the same, but both seem to be used for highlight, setting powder under the eye, some precise sculpting. Mainly interested in density/product pick up and blending comparison.

Also super curious about your thoughts on Sculpt Four after you’ve had more chances to play with it!

You’d typically pick up product on the edge of the fan brush, so the shape, width, etc. are pretty different compared to the Air Brush, which would be used as a flatter brush – it would be more about your technique, how heavy (or light) handed you are, what products you’re using with them. The Air Brush will pat on product better whereas a fan brush like the Sculpt Three will blend more efficiently and pick up product more on average as it is made out of goat hair.

e.g. if you pat your setting powder on, the Air Brush would be better, but if you tend to diffuse and blend it on, then a fan brush would be more practical.

What do you think of using the Base 1 for cream blush? It’s the only one that’s even slightly suitable. I also hadn’t realized that Builder Two was so much larger than Builder One. I had really been looking forward two versions of the Builder and Worker that could be used on creams as well as powders.

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