Dec 5, 2010

Sigma brushes - synthetic face kit

i'm a huge fan of synthetic foundation brushes. so as sigma brought out their synthetic flat top kabuki ss197  as their first non-mac-copy-brush over one year ago, i bought it and used it with joy.

now they changed their numbering system (they don't refer to mac's system anymore - which truly is more irritating than useful), re-named their old plain "synthetic" attribute into a new and innovative "exclusive Sigmax filament, specially designed to apply powder and liquid products without absorption into the fibers",  created two more of this kind, and put a "HD" into the description.

of course they would also use their aggressive youtuber's/blogger's review strategy/politics on this new release, and of course people would run out and buy.  me included. but i kind of knew what i would get because i had the old version, now only in different shapes.

sigma offers the set of 3 for 42$, buying each individually would cost you 16$ each. i paid 9$ for shipping for this set and used a 10%-off coupon code that was valid at that time (i ordered on nov 21st, should've wait till black friday to get free shipping, damn it!).
it arrived on dec 3rd, which is quite ok.
it was packed as every other sigma set, in these nice and colourful synthetic bags.
i also got a travel-sized 217-dupe as a GWP, which i will also review.

now the flat top kabuki formerly known as ss197 is called prince, sorry, it's the F80.

it is dense and soft, like i would assume a synthetic brush to be - yet still not as dense as the older version.
it applies liquid foundation evenly and buffs your product in really well, because of its density. because the "NEW HD fibres" are more loose than the old plain "synthetic fibre" (haha, you have to take this with a good portion of irony!), it tugs a little less on the skin.

newbie F82 is the rounded version of its ancestor. so respectively it should be called "your average handled kabuki". i don't think i would use this totally different from the flat top one just because of its shape.

but the "Sigmax HD filaments" here are a little shorter than from the F80 (a.k.a. ss197), so it seems more dense. i predict it would tug your skin more than the F80.
i will try it with foundation and cream blushes.

second newbie is the F84 - the same game but in angled flat shape. the "filaments" are longer with this one and it appears less dense than the other 2 brushes.

i think it would be great to use with cream bronzers to contour your cheekbones.
i will use mine with my NARS Bronzer Multiple in Cap Vert. people who have the Soleil Tan de Chanel Bronze Universel would like this brush, too.

comparison pics
the round brushes compared to a MAC 109 brush head in size (as this is a popular brush, so maybe you have it and can imagine the actual size of these brushes - but they are totally different)

the F80 in comparison to other flat top kabukis, which are natural hair. the F80 is most stiff, the other ones i only use to buff foundation into the skin, but not to apply liquid or cream foundation itself. left is Hakuhodo G527 powder brush, on the right is Christian Dior powder foundation brush.

comparison of similar brushes (similar in their function+feel), the F82 is the most dense. from left to right: Essence blush brush - Illamasqua blusher brush #1 - Sigma F82 - Hakuhodo 210 blush brush round (the only one with natural hair out of this bunch) - Sephora professional mineral powder brush #45 (the most scratchy brush out of these)

the angled brush compared to Sigma ss168 (left) and MAC 168 (right). in this picture you can also see how shitty bad the ss168 looks, not only when compared to the original.

comparison of the GWP-brush:
left the old version of this GWP, in the middle the actual version, on the right side the original MAC 217.
Sigma does a good job in copying this brush, it is really useful. but i noticed the new version has not as soft bristles as the old one or the MAC, it is a tiny bit more rigid as the other ones. also the shape is less rounded. but i think it would be nicer for the crease that way.

the one negative point of these kind of very very dense brushes is: they are an a** to clean. especially when you use long wearing foundations, such as Revlon ColorStay, Shiseido Sun Protection foundation or the new MAC Pro Longwear foundation, you will find that the brushes never get really really squeaky clean. there will be a residue build-up in the center of the brush.

this is the point where i will tell you the story of my old ss197: i thought we would live happily ever after until i discovered that build-up problem with my foundation, i used Revlon's ColorStay at that time. so washing the brush, as i did everyday or every other day was a pain in the butt and took me at least 5-10 minutes in the evenings, but i had to, because the tiniest product residue in such a dense brush would make it work completely different in a negative way - it would be very hard to spread new product over your face and lead to even more skin tugging, which can't be too good for your collagens ;) .
i had to wash it 2-3 times with normal brush soap and then with shower-oil to get off the waterproof-ingredients of the foundation. afterwards 1-2 washings with soap to get the oils out.
so all this washing-nightmare ended up in my brush dying after only 3-4 months.
the glue dissolved and the whole brush head would come out of the ferrule.
now it looks like this:

why i still have this brush? because i'm lazy and i didn't want the fuss with the returning and so on, although i know that Sigma has an excellent customer service, once they even sent me 2 new brushes (ss187+ss188) without any demand as i wrote them an email complaining the bristles were too spiky after i bought their first kit. maybe i should send it back, should i? i still have 2 weeks left, until it will be 1 year after purchase ( they have a one year exchange politic ).

so what to learn from this fail?
  • 1st: no more waterproof foundation with these brushes
  • 2nd: no more extensive cleaning - accept a little residue build-up in the brush-center
  • 3rd: if it breaks, send it back a.s.a.p.


  1. hey, vielen dank für deine ausführliche review! Ich bin auch am überlegen, ob ich mir den f80 oder f82 bestelle und kann mich nicht entscheiden! Hab dazu auch im allg.Pinsel-Thread bei den bj gepostet. würde mich sehr über deine meinung freuen, da ich deinem urteil sehr vertraue und alles was ich auf deine empfehlung hin gekauft habe überzeugend war! viele grüße

  2. Hi! I absolutely adore your blog. I'm a brush freak too :)
    I use revlon colorstay every once in a while and I wash my foundation brushes with soap, the kind you use for your dishes. It works really well.


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