Review: ColourPop Blending Brush and Blush Brush

Posted on October 21, 2017 under Reviews

I’m a sucker for fancy makeup, but when it comes to brushes what I want is cheap. I have a few pricier staples, but if you look at the brushes I use most frequently it’s pretty evident that I’m a budget-conscious gal first and foremost.

I keep going on and off ColourPop, and they totally reeled me in with the release of a synthetic brush collection back in the summer. I made my purchase only having seen one review from a YouTuber who works closely with the brand, so it was a bit of a crapshoot. Of course, this is the way it always is with ColourPop: I say, “It’s cheap, so who cares?” That’s the attitude their business model is banking on. It doesn’t always work on me, but they got me this time.

I didn’t want to commit to too many brushes if the quality wasn’t there, so I went with the two I thought I’d use the most: the blending brush (because who amongst us doesn’t need an infinite amount of blending brushes so as to postpone washing theirs?) and the blush brush (because I’d been idly wanting another blush brush for awhile).

Blending Brush

This brush is just a bit too stiff to be the most effective blending brush, in my opinion. It’s just not fluffy enough to effortlessly blend away harsh edges. I know I’ve talked about my MAC 217 as my gold standard blending brush, but one that I use almost every day is the ELF Crease Brush, which costs a grand total of $3 USD. That’s a damn good brush for applying diffused crease shades and buffing out edges, not just for the price but in absolute terms. So if you want a good blending brush, pick up 2 of the ELF ones for the cost of one ColourPop Blending Brush.

That said, this isn’t a bad brush. It can blend, just not as well as other brushes. I use it pretty regularly, just not as a traditional crease blending brush. I pretty much do the same thing with my eyeshadow every single day with different colours, and I can work this into my routine. Usually I start by buffing a light-to-medium transition shade in my socket, diffusing it quite a bit. I’ll often deepen up the socket by applying a darker colour more precisely, which the ColourPop Blending Brush is good for, because it does have some give and won’t pack on colour like a flat shader brush. I find that the perfect middle ground for it is in this type of application – it’s neither super precise nor terribly diffuse. Because it doesn’t pack on full-throttle pigment, it’s good for adding some definition without overdoing it.

I would say this brush is generally a flop at being a blending brush, but it’s perfectly serviceable in general. That said, I could happily live without it, so while it’s fine I’m not enthused about it.

L-R: ColourPop Blending Brush, ELF Crease Brush, Real Techniques Base Shadow Brush, MAC 217, bdellium tools 766

First of all, no I absolutely did not wash my brushes before taking these pictures. Second of all, here you can see that the ColourPop Blending Brush has a similar shape to the MAC 217 and bdellium tools 766, but it’s packed more densely and the bristles are stiffer so it doesn’t blend as effortlessly. It’s not as dense and stiff as the RT Base Shadow Brush, but clearly not as fluffy and malleable as the ELF Crease Brush. Third of all, my bdellium tools 766 has not held up very well, as you can see…

Blush Brush

Now this is the kind of thing that keeps me coming back to ColourPop! I tend to favour larger, stiffer blush brushes. Compared to my go-tos, the Real Techniques Cheek Brush and the Real Techniques Multitask Brush, this one is smaller, flatter, and less stiff. And I love it! Sometimes it’s nice to take a bigger brush and do one cheek super quickly, but I have really been enjoying the precision that this smaller brush offers. This brush picks up the perfect amount of pigment and blends it as it goes, and since I got it (uh, in early August, because why review things in a timely fashion?) I’ve been using it above all other blush brushes. Totally a winner in my books, and worth the very reasonable $9 USD.

L-R: ColourPop Blush Brush, ELF Blush Brush, bdellium tools 964, Real Techniques Cheek Brush, Real Techniques Multitask Brush

The ColourPop Blush Brush is a lot smaller than both RT brushes and the bdellium tools brush. The RT brushes are a lot denser, while the bdellium tools brush has about the same amount of give. This brush appears most similar to the ELF Blush Brush, but that brush is pretty flat and floppy, which makes it harder to work with.

I don’t think these brushes look especially cheap or fancy; they’re just standard, fairly boring brushes. The ColourPop logo is embossed into the handles, and so far the lettering hasn’t worn away at all. This should be a given instead of something I actively celebrate, but I have to work within the confines of reality and reality says that ColourPop’s lettering is fleeting. The brushes seem sturdy; they’ve held up to washing and the ferrules don’t wiggle. My major complaint here is that the names of the brushes are not on the handles, which truly is egregiously annoying. Will ColourPop ever come through with perfect packaging?

That text has stayed put for more than 45 seconds!

Anyway, my verdict here is that the Blush Brush is great and Blending Brush is fine but nothing special. Quality-wise I’d be comfortable purchasing more ColourPop brushes if I thought I’d actually use them. One win and one not-fail is pretty good for fifteen bucks, in any event.

By the way, yesterday was apparently my blog’s third birthday. We’ve come full circle: I started it in my Glasgow dorm room, continued it through my last year of university in Montreal and a gap year in Toronto, and now I’m sitting in graduate student housing in Glasgow writing this post.

Academia and the art of abusers

Posted on October 17, 2017 under Thoughts

This has always primarily been a beauty blog, a fun escapist corner for me to explore a low-stakes, creative hobby. But today I feel compelled to share something different. I will be talking about sexual assault in this post, so feel free to scroll past if necessary.

I’ve always been politically engaged – even as a kid, I was interested in what was happening in the world. My parents talked to my brother and I about politics when we were growing up, and as a result I developed a robust understanding of the world by the time I was a teenager. I’ve always been interested in world events. Now, though, I feel incredibly fatigued. I find myself wanting to avoid the news, because I’m afraid of what I might find out. The avalanche of allegations against Harvey Weinstein converging with Donald Trump “joking” that Mike Pence wants to hang all gay people makes for a very upsetting moment in history.

There has been an overwhelming, exhausting amount of discourse about Harvey Weinstein, sexual assault, and complicity in a culture that usually allows abusers to get away with their behaviour. I’ve been conflicted about all of it – on the one hand, it’s gratifying to see my female friends finding strength in sharing their experiences. On the other, we shouldn’t have to open ourselves up, to expose our darkness and our trauma, to make men understand how prevalent and how serious sexual violence is with little to no reciprocation in the form of men publicly unpacking their complicity in the horrendous system that leaves every single woman with the ability to participate in “#metoo”. (Because, of course, for every woman who shares her own experience with harassment and assault, there are plenty who don’t want to or who aren’t safe to but who certainly share with us these experiences.)

While we may celebrate the personal and professional consequences Harvey Weinstein is now facing, a question on a lot of our minds is “So are people going to stop working with Woody Allen and Roman Polanski now?” It seems that the tides have turned so overwhelmingly against Weinstein that it’s not only easy to speak out against him but almost an imperative of performative allyship. But when Ben Affleck posts that we must “condemn this type of behavior when we see it“, I have to wonder… where is his condemnation of his brother Casey, who has faced no professional sanctions for his sexual misconduct and who in fact recently won a fucking Academy Award? And since we’re talking about the Academy, well… they kicked Weinstein out, which is great. But they apparently decided that Mel Gibson – a prominent anti-Semite who physically abused his wife – could lie low for a decade and then receive several nominations for Hacksaw Ridge in 2016. Oh, and what about Woody Allen? His last film was nominated for four Oscars, for god’s sake.

I keep coming back to Allen and Polanski, because they are amongst the most prominent abusers whose work is still celebrated. When are people going to stop working with them? Well, when their work stops being a part of the cinematic canon, perhaps. I’m in film academia and I have witnessed this firsthand, to my utter dismay. The same professors who teach feminist theory in their classes have screened Allen and Polanski films. At the time, in my undergrad, this bothered me but did not enrage me. Looking back at it now, I’m mad.

As a relatively young form of art, film is still in the process of being canonized to the same degree as literature. Allen and Polanski, despite the public knowledge of their sexual abuse of children, are well on the way to being canonized – and academia plays a pivotal role in this. When I’ve had to watch films by these men, the professors introduce them sheepishly, knowing, knowing that we know. But they screen them anyway, because they’re art!

What a myopic view to take! Art is political, art has always been political! Art curation is political, too. Semesters are short; valuable texts are cut because there is only so much a second-year undergrad can read in thirteen weeks. Choices must be made – choices as to what students are exposed to. Apparently, in a class on Marxism a single week about Marxist feminism and Marxist postcolonial theory is sufficient – but god forbid we decide not to screen Annie Hall.

Do these films have artistic value? Sure, yeah. When I took a class on horror in early 2014, Rosemary’s Baby provided a great springboard into discussion of complex horror theory and the role of allegory in the genre. But it’s impossible to watch that film divorced from the knowledge that Polanski raped a thirteen-year-old girl. (I’d wager that the themes of the loss of bodily autonomy are all the more chilling knowing that…) The professor acknowledges this obliquely only because it is less awkward than letting it go unannounced, the ultimate elephant in the room. But I have to wonder – in the rich tradition of the horror genre, surely there are plenty of other films that could illustrate seminal horror theory just as well.

Our academic perspectives are shaped considerably by what we are exposed to in the classroom. My preferred analytical frameworks are Marxism, feminism, and postcolonial theory, and I would probably only have the toolkit for feminist analyses without the specific education I received. Professors make choices about what to omit and include in their classes, and these choices are not neutral. These decisions perpetuate a generation of film students having a worldview based on the work of known abusers, and that is political.

There are so many conversations that recent events have sparked. This is just one. I don’t feel that I have the authority or strength to add my voice to a lot of the conversations happening. As a grad student in film and television, I do feel that this is a niche topic that I can speak about. This seems like a small gripe in comparison to the larger discussions happening, but if there’s one thing I know it’s that oppressive structures are made up of small, tightly-interlocking parts. This is a part that I have witnessed. I would like to see it change.

Quarter 3 Beauty Product Consumption Accountability Checkin

Posted on October 13, 2017 under Thoughts

This is going up a bit later than I wanted, but I’ve been busy with school and the constant greyness of Glasgow makes it difficult to get good photos. A lot of these pictures are shitty and out of focus, but IT IS SO CLOUDY ALL THE TIME and I have no idea when the sun will come out and allow me to retake them. So I am putting my mediocrity out there!

Here’s the drill, as always:

  • All prices are listed in CAD, or in the currency they were purchased in plus a CAD conversion that is accurate as of the time of purchase.
  • Products that have one price and a second in brackets reflect the retail value and what I actually paid with my employee discount.
  • Products that I ordered online will be listed with the date that I actually received the package.
  • I will still be calculating my totals in CAD even though I’m living in the UK right now, because it’s the easiest way to consistently track my spending.

Skincare purchases

Products purchased between July 1, 2017 and September 30, 2017

  1. 06/27: Hourglass Vanish Seamless Finish Foundation – Alabaster – $56. Forgot to include this in last quarter’s roundup! I liked it a lot but I ended up returning it because I realized I have no need for a full coverage foundation in my daily life.
  2. 07/04: Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Concealer – Fair – $13.99 ($9.79). Replacement.
  3. 07/07: Ardell Individual Lashes – $4.29. For the wedding I officiated.
  4. 07/07: Quo Blending Sponge – $8 ($5.60).
  5. 07/09: Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Nail Polish in Poppy Patch – $10.99 ($7.69). Bought for the wedding because somehow I didn’t have anything in my collection that I liked with the dress I bought.
  6. 08/01: Marc Jacobs Le Marc Lip Creme in So Sofia – $38.
  7. 08/01: Make Up For Ever Metal Palette – $13.
  8. 08/08: The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 – $6.80. Replacement.
  9. 08/08: The Ordinary Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG – $6.70. I wanted to see if this actually did anything for my undereye circles!
  10. 08/08: The Ordinary High-Spreadability Fluid Primer – $7.90. My mom recommended this primer and we usually have pretty similar tastes in makeup, so I thought I could shell out eight bucks to try it.
  11. New brushes
  12. 08/08: Princeton Select 6 Round Blender brush – $6.06. I bought some brushes from the art store! My mom has a 10% discount there so that’s why the prices are weird. I thought this one would be good to apply crease colour precisely, and it totally is.
  13. 08/08: Princeton Select 5/0 Spotter brush – $3.83. I wanted to try this with gel liner, because I don’t have any brushes this fine. Unfortunately it’s a bit too flimsy to work with easily for this purpose.
  14. 08/09: ColourPop Blush Brush – $9 USD ($11.47 CAD). I like having a variety of blush brushes so I can keep them colour-separated – i.e. one for plums, one for peaches, one for neutrals, one for bright pinks…
  15. 08/09: ColourPop Blending Brush – $6 USD ($7.65 CAD). You can’t have too many blending brushes!
  16. ColourPop Pressed Powder Shadow in Muscle Beach, Paper Tiger, and Stay Golden – $4 USD or $5.10 CAD each = $12 USD or $15.29 CAD. Fun colours for cheap! Who can resist?!
  17. 08/09: ColourPop Blotted Lips in Candyfloss, On A Stick, and Sucker – $5 USD or $6.37 CAD each = $15 USD or $19.11 CAD. I have no justification for bringing more lip products into my life. I’m sorry.
  18. 08/09: ColourPop Ultra Blotted Lips in Split – $6 USD ($7.65 CAD). Of course, I had to try the Ultra Blotted Lips formula as well, so that I could compare it to the Ultra Satin and Ultra Matte lips formula. For science.
  19. 08/09: ColourPop Lippie Stix in Trixie – $5 USD ($6.37 CAD). I really have no excuse for buying this. I wish I hadn’t. I completely forgot I had ordered it and bought Marc Jacobs So Sofia in the meantime, which rendered this pretty much useless for me. This plus the fact that I got charged $18 of customs on this order means that I have gone off ColourPop… until they release something else that sucks me in.
  20. 08/10: La Roche-Posay Respectissime Eye Makeup Remover – $19.50 ($13.65). Replacement. Used Optimum points.
  21. 08/10: Bioderma Sensibio H20 Micellar Solution (100mL) – $6.95 ($4.87). I wanted a travel-sized micellar solution and I know I like the Bioderma Sensibio. Used Optimum points.
  22. New hair products
  23. 08/10: Nuxe Rêve de Miel Lip balm – $17 ($11.90). I wanted to stock up on a few things with Optimum points before I leave the country. I’ll probably run out of my current jar in January, when I’m in Scotland.
  24. 08/10: Essence Lash and Brow Gel Mascara – $2.99 ($2.09). Replacement. Used Optimum points. I like the L’Oreal brow gel better but it’s $15, which seems a bit absurd.
  25. 08/10: Lancôme Le Lip Liner in 378 Rose Lancôme – $30 ($21). I was looking for a good warm-toned fuchsia lip liner that wasn’t too dark, and this was the closest I found. It’s obviously a stupidly priced liner, but I used points so whatever.
  26. 08/10: NARS Audacious Lipstick in Angela – $40 ($28). Murale has expanded the range of Audacious lipstick shades that they stock – I’ve been interested in Angela for a long time, but I didn’t think Murale carried this shade. When I saw that they did, I knew I had to get it. By the way, I used Optimum points for this (of course).
  27. 08/10: NARS Audacious Lipstick in Annabella – $40 ($28). When I went up to Murale I planned to get Annabella because, believe it or not, I don’t have any warm red lipsticks and I wanted to fill that gap. I used Optimum points.
  28. 08/10: Lise Watier Eye Contour Brush – $23 ($16.10). I have one of these brushes already and I love it for detailed crease work, so I picked up another one. I used my points.
  29. 08/10: Origins Drink Up Intensive Overnight Mask – $34 ($23.80). Replacement. I won’t need this until my skin starts getting super dry around November, but I thought I might as well get it while I still had an employee discount (and while in Canada, since cosmetics are usually much pricier in the UK).
  30. 08/31: Urban Decay Liquid Moondust in Solstice – $29. Used Optimum points.
  31. New face products
  32. 08/31: A-Derma Exomega Balm – $33. Replacement. Used a gift card.
  33. 09/02: Wet N Wild Color Icon Eyeshadow Trio – Spoiled Brat – $2.97. I didn’t have a silver eyeshadow and this trio was the best bang for my buck. I depotted it into my MUFE palette and kept the hot pink shade as well, but I tossed the sparkly black because I know I won’t use it.
  34. 09/04: Annabelle Skinny Brow Liner in Universal Taupe – $10.49. I wanted a brow pencil for travel, since my usual pomade is a bit unwieldy and requires bringing a separate brush. I used a gift card for this.
  35. 09/06: John Frieda Sheer Blonde Tone Correcting Shampoo – £5.99 ($9.93 CAD): This is one of the first things I bought when I landed. I can’t get my usual blonde shampoo (Light Blue Shade) here, so I went back to an old friend. Bonus: this is quite a bit cheaper than in Canada, where the usual price is $13.99.
  36. 09/06: Toni & Guy Damage Repair Mask – £5 ($8.29 CAD): I needed a deep conditioner; bleached hair is no joke.
  37. 09/06: Toni & Guy Instant Refresh Dry Shampoo – £5 ($8.29 CAD): My hair loves the soft water here, but it does tend to get oilier faster, so dry shampoo is essential. The Superdrug I was in didn’t have Batiste (or maybe I was just super jetlagged and couldn’t find it), so I picked up Toni & Guy instead. Not my favourite, but it’ll do.

Total value (CAD): $548.02
Total spent (CAD): $235.48

Year-to-date value (CAD): $1357.75
Year-to-date spent (CAD): $745.45

New eye products

New eyeshadows: ColourPop Paper Tiger, Muscle Beach, Stay Golden; shadows from the Wet N Wild Spoiled Brat trio

Products received at no cost between July 1, 2017 and September 30, 2017

  1. 06/27: Bite Beauty Amouse Bouche Lipstick in Beetroot – $30 full size – $10 sample value: Sephora point perk. Forgot to include it in the last roundup.
  2. 08/01: It Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC+ Cream – Fair – $49: PR promoting the recent Canadian launch of IT Cosmetics.

New lip products

Total value: $59
Year-to-date value: $1748.39

Miscellaneous purchases, photographed terribly

I did have fun with my Optimum points, but a lot of my purchases this quarter were staple replacements, and none of my UK spending this quarter was frivolous. I was surprised to see that I spent more this quarter than last quarter ($178.10), but it is less than the first quarter ($334.84). Percentage-wise I spent less than half of the total value of the products (43%), which is exactly on par with last quarter’s 43% and way lower than quarter one’s total spend, which was over 80% of the retail value of the products. Most notably, the decrease comes in the form of gratis, which is to be expected. Quarter two I received $1200 worth of product as gratis because spring is training season in cosmetics retail; this quarter there were no brand schools and I left my job in cosmetics at the end of August. I predict that my gratis category will be a lovely $0 next quarter unless a brand sends something over.