Feb 20, 2011

the big post about synthetic foundation brushes.

i loveloveloveloooooove to discover and try out tools for the perfect foundation application and got stuck on those with synthetic hair. i tried out some natural hair brushes (like the MAC 109, a Hakuhodo one, MAC 165 and also several flat top natural hair brushes) but found those not as suited for foundation application because of the following points:
  • brushes of natural hair tend to shed short little hairs when used with liquid foundation
  • they are just not as soft as synthetic brushes and are a little bit harsh when they are wet/damp and used with swirling motions on your face
  • some tend to bleed dark dye and i'm afraid they could also bleed a little when are wet with liquid foundation and cause a greyish tinge on your complexion
  • foundation residues build up on natural hair more than on synthetic hair.
i also tried dual fibre brushes (MAC 187 & co.) for foundation application. uhm, no. i just don't see thed need for loose synthetic fibres.
there are the stiple&swirl/only stiple/only swirl methods: but where is the advantage of the loose white fibres in comparison to a normal flat top or round synthetic brush? if you want a sheerer application, why don't just buff a little further?

so at this point of my foundation-brush-journey, i'm resting on the swirling-only method with not too densely packed, round shaped synthetic brushes with slightly flat tops. i use them to apply foundation in small circular motions, only with the tips of the brush head. so i get a thin and non-streaky, even application, quick and effective.

here are most of my brushes of this kind:

the HD-brushes by Sigma, already reviewed here. (42$ at the official Sigma website or various resellers, i won't link them as i'm not a big supporter.)

Hourglass foundation brush #2, already reviewed here. 47€, available on zuneta.com.

the infamous Sephora Collection Professionel Platinum Air Brush #55 (34$ at sephora.com, now for us german based via Hana/Mad About MAC on facebook).
the first i got to know and so for me "the mother" of this kind of round shaped rather fluffy synthetic brushes explicit for foundation application, and which revolutionized my foundation routine. i was on the hunt for dupes of this a long time, 'til somebody i knew bought the original for me on a US-vacation.

the newer hyped brush from Sephora Collection is the Professional Mineral Powder Brush #45 (26$ on sephora.com. i bought it from Hana, link above ;) )
i don't really like this brush. the hairs are too harsh in my opinion. how can you make a synthetic brush this harsh?! many love this for mineral foundation, though. so maybe the harsh hair help with working in mineral powder. but i don't use mineral foundation, so i can't see the benefits of this. also this harsh hair would cause extra microexfoliation on my dry winter skin and the finish wouldn't look good at all. i'll work with this in the summer again and will tell you if there are any improvements.

the Sigma ss190 (dupe for MAC's 190) i got in their Complete Kit. a standard paddle brush. this particular one is quite thin and flexible. i don't like it for foundation at all, streaky finish, hard to get it right. i use it for concealer, primer, moisturiser or a face mask at the most.

Louise Young LY34 Super Foundation Brush became really famous thanks to the great reviews by the pixiwoo sisters on youtube, so i needed (!) to try it. it is dense like a paddle type foundation brush, but round shaped and is tapered all around to a pointed tip. so it works as a hybrid of the two types, you can do strokes and swirls with it. because it is quite big, it makes foundation application very quick and easy. i would use it to apply moisturiser or primer first so it won't absorb too much of you foundation.
it's 24£ and available at louiseyoungcosmetics.com.

Essence Blush Brush, the cheapest of all, but still one of the best (so i have about 4 or 5 of them ;) ) and the closest dupe to the Sephora #55 Air Brush i could find. you can get these for less than 3€ everywhere Essence is sold. with several limited editions, they also came in a different version with sleek white hair and pink tips. i like the initial version the best, the hair is more structured so it gets and distributes the product better.
i also find the short handles very nice and easy to use (great for all myopic!) but also nice to take it with you.
i have never tried it with powder products or particularly for blush, so i can't rate the actual function.

the Ebelin Professional Powder Brush is an additional acquisition on my hunt for the perfect dupe of the (back then) unaccessable Sephora #55 Air Brush. you can get it for 3-4€ at dm drugstores. it's of really nice quality for a drugstore brush, you have to remember this product sector is very very poorly developed in germany, especially in comparison to the US. i find it a bit too fluffy, i.e. the hairs are too long for my likings. many girls use it in its hair's whole length and are totally ok with it, but i find it better when i put a scrunchy around it to make it a bit more dense. of course i would take off the scrunchy for washings.

Cover FX #170 Pointed Foundation Brush i bought this brush immediately after i read the title of a blogpost by Emma (birdsdecoratebranches.blogspot.com), stating that this could possibly be "the best foundation brush ever" (i am so easy to get hahaha). i was lucky to find a seller on ebay who could get this brush for me at a very reasonable price (i think i paid about 24Ca$, shipping included - while it would be 30£ in the UK).
it's a small and densely packed, round shaped, very pointed brush with sleek fibres. it's like a smaller and denser version of the Louise Young brush, or a gigantic eyeliner brush ;).
i don't really love it as Emma does, but it's really something special and i don't regret buying.

the Boots No.7 Foundation Brush i was very curious to try because Lisa Eldridge, who i adore, is the creative director of the brand and often uses it. and i don't think she'd use it only for promotion purposes. luckily i found a seller on ebay who could get it for me for about 10£ plus shipping.
this brush is a paddle type brush, but it is thicker than normal brushes and makes it more comfortable to use not only in sweeping motions, but also in circular motions and creates less streaks than the Sigma ss190 i find. it is beautiful to apply cream highlighter and to blend in under-eye concealer.

and finally the Blusher Brush 1 from Illamasqua (25.50£ on illamasqua.com) which is great for liquid foundation for everybody who loves/wants to try the MAC 109 for this, but struggles with the shedding. this is way better. if you liked the 109, you'll ask yourself "why did i?" after you've tried this. a great brush, i should use it more often!
it's a round dense and soft brush with lightly structured fibres and a rather flat brush head. it's great with contour powders, too. i haven't used it for blusher, though.
the design is very sleek and the quality is outstanding. the best next to the Hourglass brush, quality-wise.


  1. I love you for this post,I tried the Essenca blush brush with my home made (olay fluid+vichy aera teint pure) tinted moisturiser great for summer for my too oily skin, and I am thrilled. It gives me so much coverage but my skin still shows through.. Beautifull, and guess what, I dont get so oily as I would if I aplied with fingres. Thank you, I looove your blog and all those khakiish, taupeish, greyish, brownish collors you use.
    P.S. i love the way essence stay all day gloss in my favourite milkshake looks on you.

  2. Where could I find an essence face brush? Are they available in the US? I have seen the eye brushes in many drug stores but never any face brushes.


  3. So the boots brushes are synthetic? i did not think they were.


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