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Favorite Eye Makeup Brushes and Tools

July 19, 2017

Best Eye Makeup Brushes | The Beauty Look Book

By popular request I have an updated roundup of my beauty tools. So many of you have asked me what the best tools are for eye makeup and I’ve often referenced older posts. I was going through some recently and it’s hard to believe the last round up posts were done three years ago! Time literally flies! I’ve been building my brush collection for many years (for over a decade) and yet I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface of the tools out there. When it comes to makeup brushes and tools I’m a creature of habit. For the longest time I’ve stuck with tried and true staples from MAC because they’re consistent in quality, they have kept the same designs for years and they get the job done. I have explored a lot of other brands over the years and today I have an updated roundup of the best eye makeup tools I own.

If I could just stick with one collection/brand I would – unfortunately no single brand has everything I want. I’ve split these into categories by shape/function. Also note that I don’t have a crease on my lids so I don’t use a crease brush like most would. I do a lot of blending to get a gradient or wash with neutral colors and then I also have a lot of detail brushes I use. I do realize this is a bit of a long list – I’ve included different options from a small handful of brands I really love as some of you may have different preferences for shape, brush size, handle size/width etc.  I’ll round up my top picks at the end of the post as well.

Up first are the basic shadow/lid brushes. I like ones that are soft but somewhat dense so I can pick up powders. A lot of these I use for creams as well even though synthetic brushes often work better – I like the soft texture and feel. Shown below from left to right:

  • Hakuhodo J242G ($18) is a hybrid goat and synthetic fibers making it versatile for all products. It’s a smaller size making it easy to pack on color on the lids.
  • Hakuhodo B J004G ($20) is my favorite one for the lids, it’s made of goat hair and extremely soft. This is the best lid color brush I have – it picks up the perfect amount of color and blends powders seamlessly.
  • MAC 239SH ($25) is also another favorite, it’s one of my most-used brushes, the SH version is exclusive to MAC stores and online. It’s soft and dense and perfect for packing product on the lids. It’s not as soft as the Hakuhodo but still very good.
  • MAC 239 ($25) is the full size version, I like that both the full and short handle have the same size bristles.
  • Chanel Blender/Shader ($42) is a new double ended brush that’s super soft with a nice fluffy feel. The small end is also dense but fluffy, the larger side is perfect for blending.
  • Wayne Goss 18 (old, discontinued) is unfortunately discontinued but was the best option that was slightly larger than the MAC 239.
  • Chanel Large Eye Shadow Brush #25 ($38) is another great option that’s larger than the MAC 239, it’s not as dense and slightly more loose in how its packed, note that all the Chanel brushes with the silver handles (ones in the current collection) are going to be discontinued. New ones will be introduced around the 24th so if you have any current options on your wishlist you should buy them soon.
  • Marc Jacobs Beauty The Conceal ($30) is actually a concealer brush (which it’s great for) but I really love this one for cream shadows. It has a beveled/angled tip so it makes the creams apply easily to the lids.

Eye Makeup Brushes Lids and Wash | The Beauty Look Book

Out of all of these my top two are the MAC 239 and Hakuhodo B J004G. I have multiples of both kinds and they’re probably the most versatile brushes I own.

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Next are the blending brushes good for a light sweep of color, for blending or a nice wash. With some of these you will probably be able to use as a crease brushes too. I prefer the ones with white hair as they’re usually soft and super fluffy. They’re small enough so there’s some density to them. Often times I find the darker ones are a bit too loose in the way they are designed. Shown below from left to right:

  • Edward Bess Luxury Eye Brush ($40) is my favorite large domed fluffy brush because of the density. It’s perfect for sweeping color on the lids for a nice wash and it’s also a great blending brush.
  • MAC 217 (also available in 217SH) ($25) is another great basic blending brush because of the softness. It’s perfect for blending out colors. For the longest time this was my favorite until I tried Tom Ford, Hakuhodo and Wayne Goss.
  • Wayne Goss 18 (from the Eye Set $130, individual $27) in terms of quality, I feel Wayne Goss has among the best brushes. They’re right up there with Tom Ford. #18 is the closest option to MAC 217.
  • Hakuhodo J5523 ($19) is made of goat hair and the equivalent of MAC 217. This one is far better in terms of how it picks up color and blends it out.
  • Wayne Goss 17 (from the Eye Set $130, individual $28) is a smaller sized fluffy brush, good for detail blending or crease blending.
  • Wayne Goss 16 (from the Eye Set $130, individual $30) is a bit longer and bigger than #18. This is a good all around blending brush.
  • Tom Ford 13 ($57) is a fluffy blending brush good for blending things up on the lid for a nice gradient. In my opinion Tom Ford brushes are the best brushes I own.
  • Tom Ford 11 ($57) is the ultimate wash brush. It applies the perfect amount of color to the lids and is super soft in feel. They’re really well made. The ones I have are made with natural bristles – at an event in the spring I was told Tom Ford was moving towards making brushes with synthetic materials but I haven’t received confirmation of when or if it has happened yet.
  • Hakuhodo J220G ($24) is a larger fluffy flat brush made of goat and synthetic fiber. I like this one and use it a lot but it’s not as dense as other ones so I prefer the other ones for density and this one for it’s size on some occasions.
  • Bobbi Brown Eye Sweep ($37) is a classic large dense fluffy round brush.
  • MAC 227SH (discontinued, $32) has been discontinued unfortunately, it’s more dense than the Bobbi Brown, but for now the BB is the next best option.

Best Blending Brushes MAC, Hakuhodo, Bobbi Brown | The Beauty Look Book

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For detail brushes my long-time go to has been the MAC 219 Pencil Brush which I’ve had for years. Unfortunately I lost mine either in the move or while traveling (but sometime in the past few months) and never got around to replacing it. It’s the best all around smudge or lining brush I’ve had but there are still quite a few others that are really good. Shown below from left to right:

  • Wayne Goss 08 (from the Anniversary Set $225, individual $17) is the tiniest detail brush I own. It’s perfect for getting into the tiny corners of the line or right along the lashes. It’s stiff but not harsh on the eyes.
  • Bobbi Brown Eye Definer (one shown is a special-edition one from a holiday set, but same as regular one) ($34) is a classic angled brush you can use for powder or gel liners. It’s also a good one for brows.
  • Wayne Goss 07 (from the Anniversary Set $225, individual $17) is the softest mini smudge brush, perfect for a smokey eye or blending out colors along the lash line.
  • Tom Ford 15 (discontinued) is the best smudge brush I have, unfortunately it’s discontinued.
  • Wayne Goss 05 (from the Anniversary Set $225, individual $20) is a super soft pencil brush, it picks up color a lot better than the MAC Pencil, but it’s smaller in size so not quite the same.
  • Laura Mercier Corner Eye Brush ($26) has been discontinued in most places, you can still find it online at a few stores right now like Bluemercury. It’s a good corner eye brush that gets color in tiny spaces with precise application but it’s large enough you can blend it out a little.
  • Hakuhodo G5514 ($17) is another great detail pencil brush to get that soft smokey eye.

Best Detail Brushes | The Beauty Look Book

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Misc brushes and tools shown below:

  • Chanel Large Tapered Blending Brush 19 ($38) this originally came in the brown natural hair, then was released in a white version, but not it appears it’s back to the brown. I have both and they both perform the same. This is a good detail blending brush – I use it for under the eye when I want a very soft diffused line or to blend out shadows along the upper lash line. It’s soft and blends colors perfectly. The shape is perfect. At this time I don’t have the full list of what brushes will be coming out around the 24th, but if this is on your list I recommend you get it soon as Chanel will be phasing out their current brushes and replacing them with a new line.
  • MAC 226 (discontinued) is the best small to medium blending brush, why they discontinued it is a mystery to me because there’s none other like it! For now one of the Wayne Goss brushes from The Eye Set (scroll up) will perform the same way, if not better because of the material it’s made of. However this one is still a really good one.
  • Wayne Goss 21 (from The Brow Set, $55) is the best brow brush for powders for me. I love that it’s wider than most and it’s super dense making it easier for me to get even application for both sides.
  • Surratt Eyelash Curler ($30) is one of the best curlers I own. It took me some time to learn to use because it’s so much wider than other brands. It performs really well.
  • MAC Eyelash Curler ($22) is my most-used lash curler. It always curls perfectly and I really like the shape.
  • Charlotte Tilbury Eyelash Curler ($22) is another good one that gets the job done without any pinching.

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That wraps up my favorite eye makeup brushes and tools post! I hope you found this helpful in case you’re looking for new tools. If I had to pick just one brand it would be nearly impossible to do – but at the moment it would probably be Wayne Goss but I’d have to add a couple from MAC. Overall great basics can be found from MAC – it’s easiest to find at stores and counters which means you can actually see and feel the brushes. For the longest time I didn’t buy brushes unless I could try them in person, but even when I lived in San Diego, I couldn’t find them all so finally had to order some sight unseen. There are a lot of great brush blogs out there so if you need more reference or comparison a google search will bring up some amazing reviews. Best quality and performance goes to Tom Ford, Wayne Goss and Hakuhodo. If I had to pick only 10 brushes to use for the rest of my life, it would be: MAC 239, MAC 217, Hakuhodo B J004, Hakuhodo J552, Edward Bess Luxury, Wayne Goss 07, Wayne Goss 08 and Wayne Goss 18.

What are your favorite tools?

Press samples include the Charlotte Tilbury Eye Lash Curler, Wayne Goss Eye Set and Anniversary Set brushes.

Beauty Tools Wayne Goss

Wayne Goss The Face Set and Eye Set Review

June 6, 2017

Wayne Goss The Face Set and The Eye Set | The Beauty Look Book

Wayne Goss has added new brush sets to his collection in a 6-piece Face Set ($250) and 5-piece Eye Set ($130). The Face Set actually launched in earlier this year back in  March and sold out within a few weeks. It’s scheduled to restock today at Beautylish at 10 AM PST/1 PM EST. In addition to the set, they’ll have each brush available for purchase separately. The Eye Set is still available as a set for now. I’m hoping they’ll consider launching them individually.

By now I’ve accumulated quite a few brushes from dozens of brands. I’ve found only a small handful of new launches different or unique enough to have that wow factor. The latest launch that really impressed me was the MAC 140S (best powder brush ever) but when it comes to brushes I feel like I’ve already found my favorites and I buy multiples of a few so I don’t have to wash them as often (especially when I have an armful of swatching that I do). Wayne Goss brushes however are completely different and I’ve been so impressed with every one I’ve tried from his line. If I had to start over my entire brush collection I would pick his brushes to do it. At first glance they seem like they could be standard brushes just with a well-designed size handle and shape. Once you put them on your face you will really see the difference in how soft and smooth they are. You’ll also notice that they pick up product better and application is SO MUCH better. For years I’ve loved and relied on MAC brushes, in particular the #217, 219 and 239 for the eyes. They’re classic staples and perform well, but once you’ve tried brushes from Wayne Goss, Hakuhodo or Chikuhodo you’ll be floored.

The brushes are handmade in Japan and are cruelty-free. A look at each set and a few comparisons for size/shape reference. I was sent these for review by the Beautylish team but I would have no hesitation splurging the full retail price on both sets. Up first is The Face Set which has 6 brushes.

Wayne Goss The Face Set review | The Beauty Look Book

From the bottom to top, these are designed for both powder and creams. I took a few of these with me on recent trips along with other brushes and these were ones I reached for the most. They’re unbelievably soft and layer product beautifully without disturbing what’s underneath. There are certain uses for each one, but I used each of these for almost anything: powder, blush, creams, highlight, etc.

  • 10 looks almost identical to 02, just with white natural hair, this is a tapered brush that you can use for highlighting
  • 11 is one I used for setting powder, Wayne Goss uses this for his buffing technique, I haven’t tried it that way yet, but I found it perfect to set powder (pressed and loose)
  • 12 is a flatter more dense brush but still fluffy, this is good for contouring and blending
  • 13 is another cream or powder brush, it’s a shorter almost dome like brush, I tried this with cream contours and it blends them out perfectly better than a sponge or fingers for a natural blurred finish
  • 14 is a light fluffy brush, I love this for more intense shimmers or blushes because it gives the face a light even wash of color
  • 15 is a fan brush, I rarely use fan brushes but this is another good one for a light wash/veil of color anywhere

Wayne Goss The Face Set review | The Beauty Look Book

Comparisons to:

Wayne Goss The Face Set Comparisons | The Beauty Look Book

Up next is The Eye Set. Out of the 5 brushes I thought I’d only really use 2 based on the shape. I gave them all a test run and found them surprisingly versatile.

Wayne Goss The Eye Set review | The Beauty Look Book

Shown from top to bottom:

  • 16 is a skinny tapered brush that you can use to sweep product all over the lids, it fluffs out a bit after you use it
  • 17 is similar to 16, but 17 is shorter and a tiny bit smaller with less of a point, this is a good blending brush
  • 18 is my favorite, it’s the widest that resembles the MAC 217 in shape and size, the softness is something you have to touch to really understand, it’s the perfect all over wash brush for me
  • 19 is a slim tapered brush I thought I wouldn’t use, but it’s great for precise blending and detail application
  • 20 was a surprise for me as well, I didn’t think this would be useful for my eye shape, but it’s a smaller version of 19 and the 20 is perfect for a soft smokey eye to line/smudge, it really doesn’t seem like it would work for that because of the length, but it’s just perfect

Close ups:

Wayne Goss The Eye Set review | The Beauty Look Book

Comparisons:

Wayne Goss The Eye Set comparisons | The Beauty Look Book

A look at how I tested each one with the Natasha Denona Sculpt and Glow Palette (review soon), Tom Ford Warm Soleil Eye and Cheek Palette (review here) and one of my favorite setting powders the Charlotte Tilbury Air Brush Flawless Powder (shade #2). The brushes were all versatile with powder and cream formulas. With powders they worked well with all textures whether they were shimmer, matte or glitters. With creams they apply product without any streaks which is just amazing. To date only Tom Ford brushes have done that for me and the Wayne Goss brushes are similar in performance and quality.

Wayne Goss The Face Set and The Eye Set | The Beauty Look Book

Bottom line amazing. Many of you might wonder if I think they’re worth owning even with all the brushes I already have. The answer is hands down yes. I’ve been one who always stuck with MAC because I found good ones that worked and they still do, but the Wayne Goss brushes take application to another level. Based on my personal preferences I would skip the fan brush #15 (because I don’t use fan brushes ) and the eye brush #19 (because it’s similar to #20). The brushes perform so much better than other standard brushes. If you already own a lot of brushes made in Japan you probably have some of the best ones on the market. I don’t own a lot with the exception of a few so I don’t have a lot of repeats.

You can find the Wayne Goss brushes available online at Beautylish. The Eye Set is in stock now, the Face Set (and individual ones) restock today at 10:00 AM PST. Have you tried these? What are your thoughts? If not what are your go-to makeup tools?

 

Many thanks to Beautylish for sending The Face Set and The Eye Set for review.

 

Base Makeup Beauty Tools MAC

MAC Next to Nothing Face Colour and Pressed Powder

April 30, 2017

MAC Next to Nothing Review and Swatches | The Beauty Look Book

MAC recently launched a new line of base products for a natural look with new formulas of foundation, powder and two brushes in their Next to Nothing collection. The items are designed for a natural skin-like effect to give a radiant look to the face. I’ve found that over the years MAC base and powder formulas have been hit or miss for me. I have super sensitive skin and tried their Studio Fix Powder Foundation when I was in high school and it caused severe allergic reactions on my skin. To this day I approach their powders and foundations with caution only doing a patch test first. I can safely use their primers, skincare and some foundations without any issues and was thrilled to find that the Next to Nothing line works well for my super sensitive skin.

In the collection we have:

Next to Nothing Face Colour comes in 9 shades from Light to Dark Deep, my shade is either Medium or Medium Plus. This is a super sheer tinted cream foundation that allows the skin to breathe. It’s sheer but has enough pigment to even out the skin slightly. This is what I wanted the Make Up For Ever Waterblend Foundation to be (which broke me out and felt too sticky for my skin, I suspect I had an allergic reaction to the fragrance). The effect of the MAC Next to Nothing is similar to that of the Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer (which I’ve re-discovered and love) but the MAC is less dewy and not as moisturizing. If you need coverage this will probably not be the foundation for you, although you can definitely use this as a good base and then take a higher coverage foundation and layer on top for a more lightweight feel. There’s no detectable scent, it comes in a glass bottle with a pump, it’s easy to blend, it’s lightweight and lasts all day. Shades do run on the pinkish side but since the formula is sheer I was lucky that they worked on my yellow olive skin.

MAC Next to Nothing Review and Swatches | The Beauty Look Book MAC Next to Nothing Face Colour Review and Swatches | The Beauty Look Book

The #141 Synthetic Face Fan Brush is an odd shaped brush designed for the foundation. It performs well and gives the face a streak-free foundation application. It’s soft without being pokey but I’m still very much a sponge person when it comes to foundation application. That being said it’s a very good brush, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed if you try it.

Next to Nothing Powder/Pressed comes in 9 color options. I received 3 as press samples but none of them were a match so I ordered two more sight unseen in Medium Plus and Medium Dark since I’ve been getting darker since moving to Florida. My Mineralize Skinfinish Natural shade is Medium Plus and in the Next to Nothing Powder I can wear either Medium Plus or Medium Dark. Right now I’m in between shades. This is a finely milled powder that has a lightweight finish. It is very soft to the touch with an almost creamy feel. On the skin it has a more natural looking finish compared to the Mineralize Skinfinish Powder. Next to Nothing also feels just like the name implies next to nothing. There is a very tiny bit of fine pearl in the powder so it blurs the skin. For me I feel like the shades swatch a little bit on the lighter side, they look lighter in my swatches compared to what I see in the pan, but they will adjust slightly on the skin as it warms up. They do not oxidize in color on me though. I really love this powder.

MAC Next to Nothing Powder Review and Swatches | The Beauty Look Book MAC Next to Nothing Powder Review and Swatches | The Beauty Look Book

Compared to some of my other favorites Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Powder #2, Armani Powder Foundation #4, and MAC Mineralize Skinfinish Natural in Medium Plus. If you asked me to pick one favorite, I would not be able to. I would say the sheerest is MAC Next to Nothing, Armani Luminous Silk Powder Foundation is what I use to set with a brush, MAC Mineralize Skinfinish Natural feels a bit thicker compared to other powders due to the mineral finish. The Charlotte Tilbury has the fullest coverage for me.

Pressed Powder Charlotte Tilbury, Armani, MAC | The Beauty Look Book

#140 Synthetic Full Fan Brush is THE best thing in this collection and probably the best powder brush I’ve ever tried. I’m a huge fan of flatter powder brushes because I find they are easier to dust my entire face compared to a round brush. Flat brushes can be tricky for me though – some are too dense or too floppy. This one has the perfect density, shape, size and feel. I’m going to need to order a couple more – I like to have multiples for powders on hand for blending and application.

Overall as a sensitive skin person I’m thrilled to find that both the powder and foundation worked for me and did not cause any allergic reactions. I’m typically a medium to full coverage kind of girl for base products but my skin has improved over the years so I can get away with less coverage these days. Also with the heat in Florida I feel the need to find lighter weight products that will allow my skin to breathe. It’s only the start of spring and I know it will get warmer in the upcoming months. This will be one I use frequently even if I will still need to layer.

Have you tried these yet? If you’re a natural or sheer base kind of beauty lover, what other brands/formulas do you love? You can find the MAC Next to Nothing Collection available now. Online at MAC, Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdale’s and soon at Ulta Beauty.

 

MAC products provided as press samples for review. Two MAC powders purchased by me.

Beauty Tools Wayne Goss

The Wayne Goss Anniversary Brush Set (Limited-Edition)

October 16, 2015

Wayne Goss and Beautylish have teamed up to launch a collection of brushes called The Anniversary Set ($225 for 8 brushes). This special launch is timed to celebrate the second anniversary of Wayne Goss’s best-selling brush set- this one includes an updated release of the popular Brush 01 (limited edition) and introduces the new Brush 05 which will become a permanent addition to The Collection.

According to Beautylish, each brush has been meticulously handcrafted by traditional artisans in Kumano, Japan with jewel tone name and number lasering on the handles unique to the Anniversary Set. They are all made with cruelty-free natural bristles that have been selected for luxurious softness and then bundled uncut into a durable brass ferrule. I was able to preview the brush set last weekend in Santa Monica. I just received the brush set two days ago courtesy of Beautylish so I haven’t had much time to experiment in great detail but since it’s limited-edition I have a first impressions review on each the set today.
This is my first Wayne Goss Brush Set. I’ve accumulated a few individual brushes and they are well-loved in my collection. These brushes come with black lacquered handles that are medium-sized in length. They fit in my small hands nicely and are lightweight which makes them easy to use. There are eight brushes in this set for eyes and face. My quick take is that I think these brushes are very well made and the design and quality is excellent. They are extremely soft and the bristles are evenly distributed for flawless application. If you’re looking for a nice set of brushes to start a collection I think this is a very good place to start.

The eight brushes in the set include:

  • Brush 01 – The much-loved Brush 01, now three times larger for fast, flawless application of your favorite foundation. This elegant duo-fiber Brush makes blending creams, liquids, and powders to a poreless finish quick and easy. This one is limited-edition and exclusive to the set.
  • Brush 02 – A soft-as-silk Brush that seamlessly buffs powder products—blush, bronzer, highlighter, or setting powder—onto skin. Its tapered shape makes maneuvering around the contours of the cheeks a breeze.
  • Brush 03 – Fluffy, slightly pointed bristles make this Brush ideal for sweeping pigment all over the eyelid. It can also be used to highlight the nose and brow bone or to buff powder into the T-zone.
  • Brush 04 – Perfect for blending and distributing color into the crease of any eye shape. With its softly tapered silhouette, this Brush is also an excellent choice for concealing and setting the delicate undereye area.
  • Brush 05 – Completely redesigned with detail work in mind. The fine-point tip and supple bristles allow for the utmost precision when applying pigment to the eyes and lips.
  • Brush 06 – Topped with dense, dome-shaped hairs, Brush 06 effortlessly blends and softens eyeshadow in a single stroke. Use it to apply concealer to imperfections for a natural, even finish.
  • Brush 07 – Designed for lipstick or eyeliner, this small, flat Brush has just the right amount of stiffness for ultimate control. Apply precise amounts of color to the lips and eyes, or highlight specific parts of the brow bone and cupid’s bow.
  • Brush 08 – A tiny Brush with a short, flat tuft, ideal for tightlining the eyes with ease. Its unique shape makes working pigment directly into the root of lashes or brow hairs easier than ever before.

I have put these to the test for two days so far. Here’s what I tested each brush with and thoughts. First up is the Brush 01. I tried it with two liquid foundations. I thought the NARS All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation would be a good one to try it with to see how smooth the finish would be. This is an ultra pigmented foundation and for the most part it’s flawless with fingers or a beautyblender sponge, but with most brushes streaks are visible. With the Wayne Goss Brush 01 it was pretty much streak-free with a few swipes. Brush strokes were still visible but required minimal blending and buffing to get completely smooth. I also tried it with the La Mer Reparative Skin Tint and it blended out product flawlessly. (Also shown below, recycled Diptyque Baies and RMS Luminizer Nail Polish.)

For Brush 02 and 04, I tested them with highlighter and concealer. Brush 02 (left) is a small tapered brush. It’s super soft and plush making it extra gentle on the skin. The tip is slightly domed and rounded which gives a very soft blended look. I tried it with detail highlighting using the Charlotte Tilbury Norman Parkinson Dreamy Glow Highlighter (swatched here). The brush picks up quite a lot of product which is nice. Some brushes don’t catch enough powder for some reason, but this one does.

Brush 04 (right) is a small detail brush. It’s similar in shape to Brush 03 but the 04 is smaller. It’s designed for crease but I don’t have folds in the eye area so I decided to try it with concealer since it was suggested in the product description. I would never have thought to try a non-synthetic tapered brush with a cream concealer but it really works. I took a dab of the Make Up For Ever Full Cover Concealer in 07 and it gives a super natural blended application on spots and under the eye. I’m really impressed! (On the nails below is Chanel Rouge No. 19).

For the eye brushes I’m surprised I don’t own any of these yet. From left to right is 03, 06, 05, 07 and 08. I know tapered brushes are huge with many and are considered a staple. I prefer fluffier brushes but the Wayne Goss 03 is really quite lovely. It’s dense enough that it’s not flimsy and it picks up just the right amount of product to give a sheer all over wash to the lids.

Brush 06 is a flatter but rounded brush, it’s described as a one-sweep brush and it really is that. It’s perfectly sized to give my lids color with one swipe.

Brush 05 is a detail brush that’s been redesigned. I don’t think I own the original one so I can’t compare but it’s an amazing smokey detail brush that picks up pigment really well and applies it in the inner corners or under the lash line. For the bottom lash line I like soft blended colors so it doesn’t look harsh and this one is perfect. I think I will need to purchase another once it’s launched individually.

Brush 07 and 08 are also detail brush perfection. I own tons of smudge brushes and Brush 07 is definitely one of the better ones I’ve tried. It’s super dense but soft. The material picks up color really well and applies it onto the skin beautifully. I feel like I’ve been waiting for Brush 08 my whole life. I know there are tons of skinny angled brushes that people use and love for getting into the lashline. I’m super uncoordinated with those and can never really get the color into the lash line easily, there’s almost always a gap so I have to blend and layer a lot. This one makes detail application super easy. It’s super dense and non-flimsy and non-floppy at the tip. If Wayne ever made a slightly larger one that is also angled for eyes I think I would fall head over heels in love with it. (He has one for brows in his brow trio which is utterly perfect but I think it’s too stiff for my delicate sensitive lids.) I tested the eye brushes with different textures of eyeshadow from the Urban Decay Naked3 Palette (swatched here). I thought it would be a good one since it has a mix of matte, satin, shimmer, chunky sparkle and metallic. All brushes worked really well with multiple textures making them really versatile.

 

One last shot of the brushes lined up:

I’m overall impressed. I knew that this set would be very well made and each brush would be perfectly crafted but I wasn’t sure if any would be that different from the dozens of tools I already own. Sometimes brushes are just brushes and if you have a collection of tools that work, it can seem redundant to own multiple tools from different lines. The brushes in the Anniversary Set all are phenomenal tools I know I will reach for and use on a daily basis. The Brush 02 is one of the softest brushes I’ve ever touched (just as soft as the Tom Ford ones). If there were one that I would say I could skip, I would say Brush 03 and 04 are very similar, but I really like 03 for the lids and now that I’ve tried 04 with concealer I’m converted. I think the detail Brush 08 is absolutely genius – if you’re unsure about getting the full set, I would say hands down the 07 and 08 are must-haves for perfect smokey eye detailing.

You can find The Wayne Goss Anniversary Brush Set exclusively online at Beautylish for $225. It is limited-edition.

Many thanks to Beautylish for sending a set for review consideration.

Beauty Tools Wayne Goss

The Brow Set by Wayne Goss

September 23, 2015

I have a small but well-loved collection of Wayne Goss brushes. His latest release is The Brow Set ($55) which has three brow tools, all designed by Wayne and hand crafted in Japan. I’ve only been testing these for a few days but have fallen in love already. My brows are the most-neglected beauty-related area for me. I groom them with a recycled mascara wand and although I have a few brow products that I really like (the Dior Brow Styler, NARS Brow Perfector and By Terry Eyebrow Mascara) I have been in need of a good set of brow tools and the Wayne Goss set does not disappoint. (On the nails above, Marc Jacobs Enamored Hi-Shine Nail Lacquer in Daisy.)

There are three brushes in The Brow Set. They come cased in a cute black cylinder, wrapped to perfection in black tissue paper and a black bow which shows love and care. The presentation as usual, is beautiful.

The brushes have medium length handles, they aren’t too long but not too short. Each brush has a black lacquered handle. According to the information on Beautylish, these are cruelty-free and hand crafted. From top to bottom is: Brush 22 (double ended), Brush 23 (spoolie) and Brush 21 (angled flat tip).

Brush 21 is designed for use with all types of brow products (powder, cream, wax). I really like this one because it has a wider flatter tip compared to most angled brow tools. It has a stiff dense tip that makes application super easy.

Brush 22 is a double-ended brush that has water badger bristles on one side
and a fine-toothed comb to groom and define brows and lashes alike. These both comb and brush brows to perfection. I like that the comb teeth are short.

Brush 23 is described as “an upscale take on the classic spoolie.” I am usually not a fan of spoolie brushes because they are never sturdy enough to last long (hence the reason why I recycle my mascara wands). You have to see it to believe it, but it is indeed another level of spoolie. It’s extremely sturdy and well made – it feels like it will last a long time. It has a cone-shaped brush and is densely packed but the bristles are soft enough so it doesn’t poke the skin.

Bottom line a winning set. The brow tools are extremely well designed, sturdy and made with extremely good craftsmanship. At $55 if you break down the price per tool it’s an affordable $18+ per brush. I’m ordering another set for one of my friends right now.

You can find the The Brow Set by Wayne Goss exclusively at Beautylish. Do you have any favorite Wayne Goss brushes? Which ones? I am hoping he will release more white-haired brushes this holiday or in the next year!

Many thanks to Beautylish for sending the set for review.

Base Makeup Beauty Tools

Next Level Foundation Makeup Brushes

September 21, 2015

My friends and I often chat about beauty and since I’m a beauty blogger that tests quite a few things, I’m often asked “what do you think is the best _________?” Foundation brushes were the topic of discussion last month. My top three favorite tools are the Beautyblender Sponges (the pink one, the white and black ones are not as good even though they’re supposed to be the same), Tom Ford Cream Foundation Brush and the Tom Ford Foundation Brush. As soon as I said “Tom Ford” ooohs and aaahhs followed by the question, “ok, but how much do they cost?” At $72 each, neither of my friends were willing to splurge. They asked what made the brushes so good and I told them they were the only brushes I’ve tried that applies foundation streak-free and it requires no extra work to blend into the skin. Even though I had tried quite a few, I was tasked with a project to find a cheaper alternative that performed just as well. Suggested brands included Marc Jacobs Beauty, Urban Decay, Chanel and MAC. I have already tried and tested the Chanel #6 and MAC #190, both of which are good, but still give me streaks, luckily both brands have new ones out so I was able to test those. Given the fact that I am super picky about brushes that leave any kind of streaks, I was skeptical I would find anything as good as Tom Ford.

The seven brushes I tested include:

For quick reference, here are the brush tips/tops shown for size reference and shape, same order as what’s shown above:
Foundations I tested the foundation brushes with: Tom Ford Traceless Foundation Stick (review), NARS All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation (review here), Marc Jacobs Genius Gel (review), Tom Ford Traceless Perfecting Foundation (review + swatches), Chanel Perfection Lumiere Velvet Foundation (review)

I went into my local Sephora store to look at the Marc Jacobs Beauty brushes. I have had a really good experience using the Shape and Contour Brush for pressed powders, contouring powders and also foundation. It’s super dense though so it’s better suited for contouring. One of the makeup artists at Sephora recommended the Sephora Pro Full Coverage Airbrush #53 for flawless coverage. She said it’s the best brush she’s ever used – the shape allows you to get in the corners of the nose and blend easily and the wide flat shape allows for full coverage with just a few strokes. There’s also the Mini Size #53.5 and Large Size #53XL for the body/decollete. I liked the look and price of the mini, but the regular size comes with a flip open cap that comes in super handy for storage/travel. It keeps the bristles in tact without coming in contact with other tools so it won’t get kinked or smashed.
In the interest of wanting to see which one was better, I bought both. The artist was right. The regular size #53 is indeed better. It’s larger and fluffier and allows for easier application with a few strokes on the face. The mini is still good but the size requires more brushing back and forth to cover the entire face. I was worried the regular size would be too large or that it would soak up a lot of product, but it actually is the perfect size and doesn’t absorb too much foundation. These are made with Naturon fibers that are made from a synthetic PBT, it feature waves and pointed tips to emulate natural fibers.

I’m truly impressed with how good my foundation looked with these. These give flawless coverage that is completely streak free. I liked these best with liquid foundation (versus stick/creams). Huge huge thumbs up.

Side views of the Mini #53.5 versus Regular #53:

The Urban Decay Good Karma Optical Blurring Brush is something I’ve actually had sitting in my drawer for a while. It was gifted to me earlier this year. I’ve tried some other Urban Decay brushes before including the ones that come in the Naked Palettes. I’m usually not a huge fan of synthetic brushes although I’m slowly trying more and finding some really good ones these days. I put this one to the test. It has an ultra soft feel with a rounded tip. Urban Decay describes this as a vegan brush. The description of this one: “The brush’s handle is made of recycled aluminum, and its synthetic, cruelty-free brush hairs are more hygienic than real hair (but never get that stinky wet-hair smell).” I found it ultra soft and also does an amazing job at blending foundation flawlessly. For the price it’s a really good option, but I can’t call it a favorite for two reasons. The first is there was a bit of shedding before I washed it. The first washing resulted in a tiny bit more shedding but after that it was done. The second hesitation I have in giving this a glowing review is the brush head is a bit small. It’s not bad – it’s still easy to use, but after testing other brushes, I find others easier and better to get full coverage with less strokes and less blending. Still – if you’re looking for something relatively inexpensive and that will blend liquids without any streaks, this is a good option. It blends foundation sticks on the face really nicely too and is super gentle on the skin.

Two of the Marc Jacobs Beauty foundation brushes have been on my wishlist for a long time, but since I was already 100% happy with the Tom Ford Brushes, I decided to pass, but in the end caved to test them. If you’re like me you probably wonder if glowing reviews are often due to hype. In the case of Marc Jacobs Beauty brushes – the hype is real.

The newest brush The Face III Buffing Foundation Brush is on the expensive side but it’s worth every penny. It’s an ultra plush brush with a super dense head and rounded domed tip. It’s dense but still very soft so it allows for easy blending and buffing in a circular motion. It works well with sheer and full coverage foundation. The material helps the foundation meld into the skin in the most amazing way – you get flawless coverage and is 100% streak free and it applies foundation evenly on the skin.

The Face II Sculpting Foundation brush isn’t a new one but it’s new for me. It has a beveled/angled tip that is perfect for sculpting the face. It’s good for all over foundation – the angled tip glides along the sides of your face, temples and cheeks smoothly. Since the tip is slightly angled, it’s skinny along the top and allows for perfect blending along the sides and corners of the nose. It’s perfect for cream bronzer.

Between the two, I can’t pick a favorite – they are both really phenomenal. They both blend liquids and creams flawlessly. I tried them both with liquid and cream foundations. The Buffing Brush is better to blend out stick/solid cream foundations on the face. The Sculpting is also versatile for liquid products and blending out cream bronzers or contouring products.

Side views at different angles to show the tapered shape of the Sculpting Brush:

Last but not least include two of the newest slanted flat top brushes from MAC and Chanel. The MAC Slanted Flat Top Brush #196 was really hard for me to locate – it was sold out almost everywhere I looked but I did find one counter that had one left. I was told that it’s not limited-edition and will be permanent in stores but I’m not 100% sure. This was my ideal pick because it has a large brush head which I prefer for foundation – it allows for less blending. Unfortunately it did leave some streaks – it was easy to blend out but didn’t give a streak-free finish like the others I tested. That being said this brush was designed for the MAC Studio Waterweight Foundation which reminds me of the Armani Maestro Fusion Foundation – both of which are very fluid and thin in texture. I prefer thicker more traditional foundations that are still liquid but not super thin. Perhaps it works better on thin texture foundations.

Chanel just launched a 2-in-1 Fluid and Powder Foundation Brush #8. I’ve tested this for about a week now and think it’s amazing. It’s still on the pricey side but relative to Tom Ford, it’s pretty reasonable. This one glides on the skin perfectly and gives streak-free application. It has a smaller tip compared to the other brushes which means I had to dab and blend 3x as much to cover my entire face. It does seem to soak up a tiny bit more product compared to the other tools but I’m willing to deal with it since the application is so good. I haven’t tested it with powders but for liquids I’m impressed.

Below you can see the MAC has shorter bristles while the Chanel has longer ones:

Side view, you can see the difference in size. I prefer the size of the MAC, but the performance of the Chanel is better.

I’m really impressed with a number of these brushes I tested. I wonder what took me so long to try out the Sephora Pro Full Coverage Airbrush #53 brush (it’s better than the mini version). It’s amazing and at $38 the price is right. Marc Jacobs Beauty of course never ceases to impress me. Both the Face II Sculpting and Face III Buffing Brushes are more expensive and quite a splurge – but they are really well made with sturdy handles and they have a well constructed design. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed with either and I don’t think owning both is redundant.

I personally wasn’t a huge fan of the Urban Decay Good Karma Optical Blurring Brush or MAC Slanted Flat Top Brush #196. Both are good brushes for the price. The Urban Decay is a bit too small for my taste although it’s super soft and blends liquids beautifully. The MAC leaves visible streaks and although they are minimal and easy to blend out, I’d rather have something that gives me a flawless finish to save time. The short tip also makes it a bit hard to wash out – the liquids get up into the middle and it took extra work to get completely clean.

The new Chanel #8 Foundation Brush gives a flawless finish and I would say it’s definitely superior to the original #6 Foundation Brush. I don’t gravitate towards small angled brushes because I think they are better suited for detail application. For foundation I want something that will apply product in larger sweeping motions. The #8 is very good though – if you’re in the market for an angled brush this is a good one to look at that won’t break the bank.

In summary, I have found brushes that perform just as well as my beloved Tom Ford brushes at a cheaper price. My top two picks include the Sephora Pro Full Coverage Airbrush #53 (found exclusively at Sephora) and the Marc Jacobs Face III Buffing Brush (found at Sephora and Marc Jacobs Beauty).

I hope you found this roundup helpful! Do you have a favorite foundation brush?

Beauty Tools

hakuho-do + SEPHORA PRO Brush Collection

August 12, 2015

The Sephora Pro team worked in collaboration with Japanese craftsman to launch their hakuho-do + SEPHORA PRO Brush Collection. There are five brushes for the cheeks and face with the initial release. Each brush is sold separately and the presentation and packaging of each brush is quite stunning. According to Sephora:

“This line of brushes is the result of the first ever collaboration
between a beauty company and traditional Hakuho-do craftsmen. Each of
these brushes benefits from the expertise of the Sephora Pro team and is
handmade by highly skilled craftsmen in Japan using the traditional,
200-year-old manufacturing technique. This ensures the highest quality
design, materials, and assembly for astounding results.”

The five brushes are made of a synthetic material. In addition they are not tested on animals and cruelty-free. The brushes and descriptions from Sephora:

I’ve been playing with these brushes for the last month. I was a bit skeptical about how they would perform with powders since the brushes are made of a synthetic blend but they perform very well. Each brush appears to have been crafted with great care. The handles are sturdy, well balanced in weight and the perfect length to fit into my hand without feeling too small or too large. The longest ones are about 7 inches in length – they are all pretty similar in terms of how long they are. In addition, the handles have a tapered shape so it allows for a better grip. The bristles are extremely soft and evenly distributed. The craftsmanship is excellent. My thoughts on each one below.

On the nails: Chanel Ecorce Sanguine

Up first is my favorite of the five: the Kusuriyubi Angled Concealer Brush. It’s designed for concealer but I think it is a multi-tasking brush. It’s quite dense and the perfect width. Most concealer brushes are either too wide/flat or too small/skinny. This one is perfect for blending concealer under the eye. It also works well with both powder and cream shadows. It’s extremely soft even though it’s dense – the shape is perfect and there is no poking whatsoever. I’ve shown it below to an Edward Bess and Cle de Peau Beaute concealer for size reference (thoughts + swatches here in case you are interested). I do think it’s worth buying a second one to keep separate for eye products. It’s dense enough to use as a detail highlighter for the eyes as well.

Next up are the Ougi Fan Cheek Brush and Kusabi Wedge Sloping Brush. The Ougi Fan Cheek Brush is the smaller one shown on the left. I placed it next to a Tom Ford Blush for size reference. This one is supposed to be a multi-tasking brush for powder, contour or bronzer. I thought the name “fan” to be odd because it’s not fan-shaped at all – however it does fan out a little when you press it to your face. This was the one I was least excited about simply because it looks so slim – but it really surprised me. I tried it with several super pigmented blushes and it picked up just the right amount of color to give a smooth even application. Since it’s a synthetic material and slim I thought I’d try it with foundation too – it works surprisingly well to blend liquids into a flawless finish on the skin.

The Kusabi Wedge Sloping Brush is a powder brush. It has an angled tip that has a very slight slope. This one is designed for powder, bronzer or neck shading. I didn’t like this for all over face powders (pressed or loose). I found it didn’t pick up enough powder for my entire face – the shape and angle made application feel odd. For bronzer on the other hand it’s amazing. The sloped shape makes it glide along the side of the face easily. For bronzers it picks up just the right amount of product to apply to the cheeks. It blends powders beautifully. Given the fact that I usually use powder brushes for bronzer though I don’t think this one is a must.

Above shown: Eve Snow Nail Polishes, Tom Ford Cheek Color Blush in Flush, Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder in Diffused Light, Chanel Les Beiges, Chanel Eyelash Curler (discontinued), Marc Jacobs Beauty O!Mega Mascara, MAC Mineralize Skinfinish in Shooting Star (discontinued)

Below are a couple quick front versus side views of the three brushes mentioned above so you can see the tapered angle/shape the Wedge Sloping and Angled Concealer brushes have:

The last two brushes are the tapered teardrop ones. They are both extremely soft and plush. The Large Teardrop Pointed Powder Brush isn’t as dense as the others in the collection. It is a super soft almost fluffy-feeling brush. Since it’s not quite as dense it will give the face more of a sheer wash of color if you use bronzer or highlighter. I would recommend this one over the Wedge Sloping Brush if you wanted to narrow down your picks. It has a similar function but performs better.

The Small Teardrop Pointed Highlighter Brush is similar in shape but smaller and more dense. It has a similar shape and size compared to the Charlotte Tilbury Powder & Sculpt Brush. The Sephora Pro brush does the job in terms of picking up highlighter for the cheek bone area or cheek sculpting but I find the Charlotte Tilbury far superior. It picks up powder product better while the synthetic material of the Sephora Pro brush works, it’s just not as good in my experience.

A few comparisons below to Wayne Goss and Charlotte Tilbury brushes for size reference:

Overall these exceeded my expectations, especially considering they are synthetic brushes and I don’t usually like synthetic material for powders. They performed really well with face and cheek powder products and I’m really impressed with the quality and craftsmanship. Each brush is well designed and although they are on the pricey side they are very well made. I’ve accumulated a number of brushes over the years – it’s only recently that I started using Japanese brushes because they are usually so expensive. The ones I’ve tested that are made in Japan are far superior to any other brushes I’ve tried. These are no exception. Still the synthetic material for powders is new to me. I would say the Concealer Brush and Large Teardrop Brushes are the two I would recommend the most. I’ve already ordered a second of the concealer brush. The Fan Cheek brush surprised me – it performs really well for powder blush and foundation, but since I already own a number of blush and foundation brushes I can’t call it a must-have. I do like it a lot though. For the other two I would say skip – however they are extremely well made and soft.

Above: Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse mini, Muji Acrylic Cylinder, Marc Jacobs Beauty Genius Gel Super Charged Foundation, Chanel Coquelicot Le Vernis, simplehuman Sensor Mirror

Have you checked out these brushes yet? If not do you have any favorite synthetic brushes in your collection? If you’re curious on how to use these, Sephora has short videos on how to use each brush online.


The hakuho-do + SEPHORA PRO Brush Collection currently consists of five brushes, each available for purchase individually. They are exclusive to Sephora and prices range from $30 to $54.

The hakuho-do + SEPHORA PRO Brush Collection brushes were provided courtesy of Sephora for review consideration. All opinions my own.