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:
Kusabi Wedge Sloping Powder Brush $54: A large angled powder brush with a brand-new shape developed by the Sephora Pro team for the self-application of powder, bronzer, or for neck shading.
Ougi Fan Cheek Brush $40: A universal blush brush to apply blush, contour, or for a natural, no-makeup look.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I’m late to the game with the Wayne Goss Holiday Brushes in White and Black ($85 each, limited-edition) but I am really happy I was able to get both as they were produced in limited quantities for last holiday (the white one is already sold out). These are exclusive to Beautylish and although I almost always purchase brushes I can see and touch in person, I made an exception and ordered them sight unseen after seeing it featured on @raeview’s Instagram (also featured on her December Hits/Misses video). I’m so glad that I did.
This year he released a Black and White version:
The Wayne Goss Holiday Brush is a large tapered powder brush. It’s dense, fluffy and ultra soft. All of his brushes are all hand made (cruelty free) and none of the hairs are cut – the two holiday brushes are the first that I’ve tried from his line for face brushes and I am really impressed. They both pick up just the right amount of product with just one or two swipes. I’ve tested it on pressed setting powder, bronzer, highlighter and blushes. The tapered shape makes it extremely versatile for all sort of powder face makeup. I really like these for blush and bronzer.
For me, it’s been challenging to find a brush with this particular shape and size – most tapered brushes I’ve seen are quite a bit smaller. The MAC 138 is similar in size and density but the ones designed by Wayne Goss by comparison are much softer in texture and feel like silk on the skin. In my entire brush collection, my Tom Ford brushes are the softest that I own. These holiday brushes from Wayne Goss are just as soft.
For my testing, the Black Holiday brush has gone through two washings already. It does fluff up a little bit after the first wash but it still retains its shape. I photographed it next to an unwashed/unused white one before I tried it. For me there was no shedding or color bleeding with the first or second wash.
If you’re crying over the fact that the White Holiday brush is sold out, I found both the White and Black versions to be identical in texture, density, softness and performance. I would still be crying if I didn’t get the white version since I have a soft spot for white fluffy brushes, but they are both identical and I probably didn’t need both. That being said I am really happy I have both, I’ve found them both to be very gentle on the skin and effective at pickup up product and giving you a super smooth and even makeup application with powders, bronzers and blushes. For me they are both worth every penny even though the price is on the steep side. They are well made and very good quality.
If you haven’t checked out the Wayne Goss Holiday Brush, I highly recommend you do soon. It’s limited-edition and exclusive to Beautylish. Have you tried any of the brushes from Wayne Goss? What are your favorites?
I’ve compiled several detailed brush guides this year but several of my readers have asked for a more consolidated list of recommendations. Like most of my beauty routine, when it comes to makeup tools, I rarely stick to just one brand. I think different lines have certain strengths in particular areas. Some have a better shape while others are made of better materials. There is a lot to sort through in terms of brush shape, size, material and price point. For me, it’s really important that I am able to test a brush in person before purchasing it so I tend to stick to main stream brands. Today I’ve compiled a list of my most reached-for tools for face, cheeks and eyes.
My top picks for brush brands include MAC, Chanel and Tom Ford. In my experience, the overall best brand for quality and price is MAC. I own many MAC brushes that have lasted me over a decade. I like that the brushes have a simple and sleek design and the quality is consistent among all the tools regardless of material or type.
Chanel is also another great brand that I use a lot for brushes and tools. They recently redesigned all their brushes (I think in the last year or so) for a more modern look. The tools work really well with all brands of makeup. There are many similarities in shapes between MAC and Chanel although the material is very different in most of the tools.
If price is no object, Tom Ford hands down makes the best brushes I’ve ever tested. All the brushes are super soft and plush and perform the best out of all the tools I’ve tried. The cream foundation brush is the only brush that gives me a streak-free application for foundation or tinted moisturizer. Tom Ford’s brushes are among the few brands I ordered sight unseen. I splurged on a brush set a few years ago and although it made a serious dent in my wallet but I have no regrets and it makes applying makeup a truly luxurious experience each day.
1 / Beautyblender ($19.95) is the best sponge I’ve used. I just discovered it this year and don’t know how I ever got along without it. There are multiple colors and types of beautyblenders but the pink one performs the best. Use it damp and it expands and applies foundation flawlessly.
2 / MAC Duo Fibre Face Brush #187 ($42) everyone needs a good skunk brush. These are fluffy brushes with two types of material mixed in. The uses for this are endless. I like to use mine to apply powder bronzer or highlighters to the face. You can also use these with cream products or to buff out powder foundation or to blend items. MAC also makes the Duo Fiber brushes in a number of other formats like the Short Handled #187 and a tapered Blush #159 version. I like the classic version the best.
3 / MAC Large Angled Contour #168 ($35) is super soft and fluffy angled contour brush. I use this for bronzer or blush (primarily powders). It’s also a good blending tool. The angled edge helps control application.
4 / Tom Ford Cream Foundation Brush #02 ($72) is the best foundation brush I’ve used. It’s one of the most expensive tools I own but worth every penny. When I use this to apply liquid or cream foundations, application is flawless and completely streak free. I normally prefer to use sponges for foundation but often times they soak up so much product. This is the closest thing I have to getting a sponge-finish look with foundation but in brush format.
5 / Chanel Foundation Brush #6 ($45) is my most reached-for foundation brush. It’s not quite as perfect as the Tom Ford, but for me it’s the next best thing. I like this for cream blushes too.
6 / Chanel Blush Brush #4 ($54) is my favorite blush brush because of the shape and material. It’s medium-sized and compact but has just the right amount of density to pick up color and dispense it perfectly on the cheeks. MAC makes a lot of good blush brushes too which are very good quality, but I find myself reaching for the Chanel the most.
7 / Chanel Powder Brush #1 ($65) is my favorite dense but soft powder brush. I use this for loose powder, pressed powder and powder foundation. It comes out of the box tapered but once you wash it it fluffs up quite a bit while still retaining a round shape. I like that it’s sturdy with a substantial handle but still easy to hold and maneuver.
1 / MAC Blending Brush #217 ($24) is the best white fluffy brush you can find for $24. This is key for me in terms of blending shadows for a subtle gradient. I also like to use this as a regular eyeshadow brush when I want an all over lid color.
2 / MAC Eye Shading Brush #239 ($25) is in my top 2 picks along with MAC Brush #217. This is my all time favorite eyeshadow brush. It picks up color really well and blends powders together nicely. I like that it’s dense but super soft.
3 / Tom Ford Eyeshadow Contour Brush #12 ($56) is another favorite. This is my do-it-all kind of brush. It applies shadow on the lids, it will contour or smoke out darker colors and the tip is dense for a smokey eye.
4 / MAC Shader Brush #242 ($25) is what I like for cream shadows (or concealer too). This one has lasted me the longest, I think it was one of the first MAC brushes I bought for myself. It has a really nice round tip making application easy and smooth on the eye (so it doesn’t poke the skin).
5 / Chanel Large Eyeshadow Brush #25 ($38) is a medium to large eyeshadow brush that isn’t too big or fluffy. I do like a good fluffy brush, but these days I find myself reaching for this one because it isn’t as thick or dense making it easier for me to control color and application. If you want something fluffy, soft and more dense, the Bobbi Brown Eye Sweep Brush is one of my favorites.
6 / Laura Mercier Smudge Brush ($24) is a good dense detail brush. It’s stiff but not too stiff so it’s easy on sensitive skin or eyes. I like this one to smudge eyeshadow or eyeliner. I use this instead of a regular liner brush because I like a more smudged softer line to define the eyes. It offers precise application but if you are looking for something super precise, I’d recommend the Bobbi Brown Eye Liner Brush or the Angled Eye Definer Brush.
7 / Trish McEvoy Laydown #40 ($42) is one of my favorite multi-purpose brushes. I like this for powder eyeshadow, cream eyeshadow and concealer. I owned this back when Trish McEvoy had gold handles for the brushes (they are now lucite). It’s the perfect shape, size and density for creams to get a good smooth and even application.
8 / Charlotte Tilbury Eyelash Curler ($20) is one of the newest eyelash curlers I’ve tried. When I first tried it I wasn’t super impressed because it’s called the “Life Changing Lashes” eyelash curler and well, it simply didn’t change my life. I found it just as good as my Trish McEvoy and Chanel eyelash curlers but not anything super special. I’ve since tried a few others from other brands like Shiseido and Shu Uemura and have really come to appreciate the design and shape of the Charlotte Tilbury. It has just the right amount of curve to fit my eye shape. Many others are too flat or not curved enough. The wrong shape will either pinch my eyes around the corners or miss lashes making the curl uneven. I give the Charlotte Tilbury a huge thumbs up for the way it performs.
9 / Trish McEvoy Eyelash Curler ($20) is a classic go-to for me. I have several of these right now and it’s been my most-replaced tool (some recommend you change or the pads these every 90 days, I tend to use these longer replacing once every 6 months). It just works the way an eyelash curler is supposed to. It grabs all the lashes and curls them evenly and in a round flared up shape.
I have some additional thoughts on brushes focusing on double duty or recycling. Based on the above guides, you might be wondering what I recommend for eyeliner, concealer, crease, bronzer, brows or lips.
I think a lot of tools can be used multiple ways which means you can stretch out the uses. Having multiple brushes can be extremely useful so you don’t have to worry about mixing colors or washing brushes frequently if you change from a light to a dark color for a certain tool. I do like brushes that will do multiple things though. For bronzer, I will sometimes use my blush or powder brushes. For the eye crease or contour I find the MAC #217 works just perfectly. For concealer I like blending with the fingers or a sponge.
For brow a lot of brow pencils come with a brush on the end to smooth out the color. I’ve bought a few brow combs before but find they don’t last me very long so I like to recycle my mascara wands after they are used up. Rinse the end with soap and warm water and you’ve got a lash comb and brow comb in one that you can toss whenever without worrying about throwing money away.
Lip pencils often come with a lip brush at one end so I don’t find the need to purchase a separate lip brush for gloss or lipstick. Chanel and Dolce & Gabbana have lip brushes which I find handy.
Last but not least, long time readers know I’m a fan of recycling candle jars. I use them to store brushes, pencils, lip gloss and office supplies. Diptyque and Jo Malone are my favorite to recycle. I just clean them out with warm-to-hot soapy water and a dish sponge. My candles don’t always have a clean burn so often times there are remnants of wax stuck on the sides. Some recommend freezing or using boiling water. I find that using anything too drastic with temperature changes can crack the glass or melt off the sticker (which I like to keep in tact).
If you’re just starting to build up your collection of makeup tools I hope you found this guide helpful. It can be overwhelming to sort through all the options so I have found the best way to start is to focus on one area at a time (i.e. start with eyeshadow brushes or blush brushes) and do your research. If you’re an in-store kind of shopper, I highly recommend bringing a small list of options you’ve found interesting or with high ratings. Having a list can be helpful in case you want to see different brands in one store. Some brushes go by number so writing the numbers down is handy unless you have a super good memory, I often have to look at the numbers on my MAC brushes when someone asks me “which brush is that?”
Building a good brush collection will take some time but it doesn’t have to be complicated. Brushes can be pricey especially when you add them up so I do recommend taking your time to research in advance to make sure you find ones that work best for your specific needs or wants.
I hope you found this guide on my favorites helpful to start!
This post was sponsored by Nordstrom. All opinions my own. All tools my own. For more information you can refer to my Disclosures.
I’m launching a series of my favorites and essentials. I’ve been asked by many of you to share what are my holy grails for hand/nail care, tools, foundations and skincare. My favorites change as I discover new products, brands and tips so for this series, so I’m taking extra care to pick out my tried and true. First set includes what my essential eye makeup brushes are.
I built my brush collection bit by bit over many years. My first brushes (MAC, Stila and Trish McEvoy) were purchased during my college years and with careful storage and care, most have lasted quite well since then. Over the years, I’ve added more one by one. I prefer to purchase brushes individually because I usually find the quality to be much better than brush sets from the same brands. I’ve compiled a list of my top picks for eye brushes. When it comes to eye makeup, I’m usually a minimalist and I like to blend a lot.
There are literally hundreds of options out there. If you are new to eye makeup or feel like you’re a novice with application, I’d recommend attending one of your local events at your Nordstrom or Bloomingdales. I’ve learned so much from artists, in particular NARS, Chanel and Le Metier de Beaute. Many of the artists have worked with multiple brands are are free-lance artists. They can help show you different techniques and often can help compare a few different brushes from mainstream brands. If you’re just starting out or have a smaller budget for tools, I’ll share my top 3 picks to get started below.
Brush storage idea:
My Eye Brush Essentials:
What I look for in brushes:
Long handled brushes are easier for me to pick up so I prefer brands that have longer handles (rather than all short). I also look for a brush that will not shed or fall apart after washing. I usually won’t pay more than $50ish for an eyeshadow brush, although I have made the exception for Tom Ford. I prefer brands I can access in person since for me it’s very important to try the brush in person before buying. The brand with the best brush selection and price is MAC, although they don’t have every kind of shape or material (if they did, all my brushes would probably be from them).
Edward Bess Luxury Eye Brush ($40) is hands down the best fluffy all over eye shadow brush. There are dozens of other brushes with a similar shape, but most are not dense enough (the less dense the sheerer the application of color is). The Edward Bess brush is well designed and has enough bristles packed in to really pick up and layer color.
Chanel Brush Large Eye Shadow Brush #25 ($38) is my favorite large/flat eyeshadow brush for a sheerer all over application. It’s a good brush to give your lids a wash of color and applies it evenly.
Trish McEvoy Medium Laydown #40 ($43) is a good brush for cream shadows or blending bases all over the lid. I like that it’s a bit thicker than most cream shadow brushes which makes the blending process easier for me.
MAC #217 ($24) is one of the best multi-purpose brushes. You can use this to apply shadow all over the lids, blend colors together or use this for your crease area. It’s super soft but still well packed to pick up color.
MAC #239 ($25) is another staple. I wish MAC made more brushes this size with different materials because this is the perfect shape for your basic eye shadow application. It’s soft and dense and blends well. It picks up more color than the #217, but I usually use both together.
MAC #226 (discontinued) has been released and re-released a couple times. It’s now discontinued, but it makes the perfect detail brush and for those with creases, is the ultimate crease brush.
MAC #219 ($25) is another great detail brush for smokey colors or to highlight inner corners. It’s pointy at the end for good detail but soft enough for those with sensitive eyes.
Laura Mercier Smudge Brush ($24) is my favorite smudge brush. There are a number of smudge brushes from other brands but this one picks up color the best out of any I’ve tried.
Bobbi Brown Angle ($30) this one was from a set but is the same quality as the individual ones. For liner or brows I usually prefer brushes like the smudge brushes, but this one is great for a thin liner with shadows or creams.
Tom Ford Definer #15 ($50) is another smudge-like brush. The end is really thin but dense which makes for a good cream or gel liner application. I have a weak spot for white haired brushes because they are generally softer than others.