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).
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…
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.
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.
Posted on March 24, 2017 under Reviews
Two things converged to make me buy the Magic Collection Oval Brush. First, I have been exposed to hype about the Artis Oval 7 brush in the form of YouTube videos for at least a year now. I resisted buying one because I wasn’t all that interested in that particular method of foundation application and because with the exchange rate it costs a monumental $83 Canadian (before shipping). Second, I ended up in my local beauty supply store to buy hair dye and ended up wandering into their makeup section. Though I’ve been frequenting this particular store for several years now – it’s where I get my Wella T-18 toner – I’ve never actually checked out their makeup section. There are a lot of black-owned brands there as well as the much-hyped LA Girl, and most of the brands are very inexpensive. I managed to make it out of the section with nothing in my hands. That is, until I spotted a bunch of Artis brush dupes for a mere $9.99. I’d truly never been interested in this type of brush before, but I’ll chalk this up to the hype penetrating my subconscious and the utter wondrous magic of beauty supply stores. (Seriously, I think I’ve lost time à la an alien abduction in those places…) I just had to know if it was any good!
The Magic Collection Oval Brush in the XL size is a large, oval-shaped brush (duh) which resembles an oversized toothbrush. It is very densely-packed with bristles, and viewed from the side it has a dome shape. It is exceptionally soft.
As compared to my standby foundation brush, the Real Techniques Buffing Brush, the Magic Collection Oval Brush has a significantly larger surface area. Here I’ve compared the two:
You can see that the Oval Brush is both slightly wider and significantly longer than the Buffing Brush. This has the obvious effect of covering more area on my face faster when blending in foundation. Despite its size, I don’t find it particularly unwieldy when it comes to blending foundation into the nooks and crannies of my face, though I think this is the maximum size I’d enjoy before it became annoying to use. There’s supposed to be some sort of ergonomic benefit to brushes of this shape; I personally don’t find it particularly easier to use than a regular foundation brush, but it’s not harder to use either.
As I said, the brush is incredibly soft and feels lovely on the face. It also blends in foundation very quickly. I think this is a combination of the size as well as the density of the bristles. I find that it works best to use this brush in a swiping motion and then to buff to blend further. I know a lot of people say that the Artis Oval 7 brush maintains a very full coverage; personally I don’t find this to be the case with the Magic Collection Oval Brush. I actually find that coverage may be slightly compromised, but with the upside that the brush buffs foundation so seamlessly into the skin that it gives the most natural finish out of any brush I’ve ever used. Personally I prefer my foundation to be on the borderline between light and medium coverage and to look skinlike, so this suits me well. I also haven’t tested this brush with a super full-coverage foundation, so I can’t say how it would perform in that instance.
As always, some foundations play better with some tools than with others. I’ve tested this brush with all three foundations I currently have. I like it best with the Make Up For Ever Ultra HD foundation; I always find I like the look of that foundation the best on my face when it’s sheered out slightly. It works quite nicely with Maybelline Fit Me Matte and Poreless as well. That’s a foundation that has the tendency to look a bit dry on my forehead, which brushes often exacerbate, but I think it looks nice when applied with this brush. Once again, I get a coverage that’s on the low end of medium and that looks like skin. The Oval Brush doesn’t play as nicely with NARS All Day Luminous Weightless, but I find that that foundation doesn’t look good on my dry skin when applied with brushes at all; I get a beautiful finish when I apply it with a damp sponge, but otherwise it looks terrible. It does look better applied with the Oval Brush than the Real Techniques Buffing Brush, but after testing it out once to see if it would work I have no desire to revisit that experiment.
The Magic Collection Oval Brush in XL can be ordered from Sistawigs and is most likely stocked in your local beauty supply. If you’re someone who prefers a light to medium coverage and a very skinlike finish from your foundation, you’d probably enjoy this. If you like a flawless, full coverage, I’m not sure that this brush is for you.
Posted on July 18, 2016 under Reviews
Back when I first got into makeup, ELF was one of the first brands I purchased from. I made a few large but shockingly inexpensive orders during the spring and summer of 2013. Since then I have purged all but a very few of the products. The things I have reached for most often over the past three years are a handful of brushes. A few weeks ago, my mom and I decided to make our first ELF order in years. I picked up their brush cleanser and some more of their dirt cheap brushes.
I decided that rather than just review the new brushes I’d give an overview of my ELF brush collection as a whole. I certainly have not tried even close to the whole brush range, but hopefully this slightly more comprehensive post will be helpful to someone out there!
This is a fairly flat, tapered blush brush. It’s smaller, flatter, and more tapered than the bdellium tools 964 and the Real Techniques Duo-Fiber Face Brush. I don’t find that it picks up product super well, and I tend to prefer a larger and more rounded brush for blush application anyway. But I love this brush for blending out heavy-handed blush application. Everyone knows that eyeshadow blending brushes are must-haves, but a blush blending brush has saved the day for me many times. This particular brush is certainly not an essential, but I have found a use for it!
This is a new purchase for me. It’s a pretty standard tapered highlight brush with synthetic bristles. It’s fairly similar in shape to the bdellium tools 944, but a bit wider and fluffier. I really like how it applies highlighter: it lays down a good amount of product but not too much, and it blends it out as it goes.
This is a very fluffy blending brush that tapers considerably at the ferule. It is a lot fluffier and less flat than both the Real Techniques Base Shadow Brush and MAC 217 (and bdellium tools 766, which is so similar to the 217 that I didn’t bother to include it in the picture). A lot of people have hyped this brush up as one of the best crease brushes out there. Personally I think it’s okay for applying a crease colour if you’re going for a diffused look, as it’s quite fluffy. I find that it’s a bit too floppy for my tastes, though: I prefer a slightly stiffer and flatter brush because I find it’s easier to get the pressure necessary to blend effectively. I do like this for when I just want to fluff a neutral colour into my crease, put a coat of mascara on, and call it a day. I would not use it for more detailed crease work. I was excited for this one to arrive, but it was a bit of a letdown. I will certainly manage to use it, but I wouldn’t say it’s anything to write home about.
I’m not sure why this isn’t called the Eye Contour Brush since clearly it’s a short stubby pencil brush. It’s wider and less tapered than the Lise Watier Eye Contour Brush and Quo Crease Blending Brush. I really like this one for packing eyeshadow more densely into the crease. It has a slightly larger surface area than I was expecting so it’s not for extremely precise crease work, but I find it fits into my socket very well and applies colour evenly. It has no fluff to it so some blending work with a separate brush is required, but that’s cool. I don’t generally expect my brushes to blend unless they’re blending brushes, you know?
Small Smudge Brush
This is one of my OG ELF brushes and I love it. It’s very small and flat, more so than the Real Techniques Detailer Brush and Accent Brush. (Both of those are fairly flat, but they’re nothing compared to the Small Smudge Brush!) I envy those girls on YouTube who can bring eyeshadow very far under their lashlines, but I’m not one of them. I have dark circles and too much eyeshadow under my eyes just brings them out. I do generally like a medium colour along the outer half of the bottom lashline for definition, and this is without fail the brush I use for that. It’s tiny and the perfect size for those of us who just want a little bit of shadow close to the lashline. It gets right in underneath the bottom lashes and doesn’t drag the colour down too far. I’d be lost without it!
Eyeshadow “C” Brush
This is a large, rounded all over eyeshadow brush. It’s flatter than the Real Techniques Domed Shadow Brush and larger and slightly more rounded than the Real Techniques Smudge Brush. I don’t have a lot of eyelid space so this one covers a lot of area on me. Unfortunately, I don’t find it delivers great pigmentation, so I don’t reach for it very often. I find it most useful when I’m applying a light colour all over my eyelid and a medium colour in the crease for a very quick and easy eye look.
Again, this is a fairly standard concealer brush: flat and a bit tapered. The Real Techniques Shading Brush is less flat; the Real Techniques Detailer Brush is smaller and relative to its size longer and thinner. I was very underwhelmed when I used this for concealer (I prefer something a bit fluffier), but when I discovered how well it packs on eyeshadow I was sold. I actually ordered two more this time around, because I use this brush all the time and the less often I have to clean it the better. It’s my go-to when I have an eyeshadow with lacklustre pigmentation. I’m sure most brushes with this shape would do a fine job packing on eyeshadow, but this one is three bucks, SO.
Angled Eyeliner Brush
I’ve had this forever and I never really use it. I find the bristles a bit too floppy to apply gel eyeliner very well. It probably won’t survive my next purge. I rarely wear gel eyeliner, anyway, and when I do this is not my go-to brush.
Brow and Lash Brush
This is a spoolie which I bought because it was $1 and I’ve been using a cleaned off mascara wand for the last three years instead of an actual spoolie. To be honest, the mascara wand was fine. But I wanted to feel a little more legit, and $1 seemed like a fair price. I like this, but I don’t feel that I would be overly critical of many spoolies regardless.
Retractable Lip Brush
This is a lip brush. It’s slightly thinner than the Real Techniques Retractable Lip Brush, but, you know, they’re pretty much the same thing. It does the job just fine. I like that it’s retractable because it’s good for travel – I don’t want a used lip brush getting gunky and gross.
I think ELF brushes can be a bit hit or miss: I don’t always find that they deliver the best pigmentation, but some of them are surprisingly good. There are quite a few that are staples in my brush collection and that I use every day. Like anything ELF, I think it’s best to do a bit of research before committing to any brushes – but there are some really great ones out there for 3 bucks a pop!
(Also, as an end note, I hope you will forgive me for my dirty brushes. I did not have the time to wash them before I took these pictures.)