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Foundation Brushes

Base Makeup Hourglass Cosmetics

Hourglass Vanish Seamless Finish Foundation Stick and Foundation Brush Review

July 20, 2016

Hourglass just launched a new foundation called the Vanish Seamless Finish Foundation Stick ($46 for .25 oz/7.2 g) which is a new product described as having the full coverage of a concealer, fluid texture like that of a liquid, and weightless feel like a powder. It’s a concentrated formula that combines foundation and concealer in one that you can build for full coverage but looks natural on the skin. Also launched with 26 shades of foundation include the Vanish Foundation Brush ($46) designed to buff and blend the new foundation formula to flawless smooth perfection. Both have launched at Sephora, Nordstrom, Hourglass Cosmetics and is currently on pre-order at Barney’s New York.

I received two shades in Ivory and Warm Ivory to test out based on the note that I currently use NARS Velvet Matte Skin Tints in Groenland and St. Moritz mixed together. When I first saw both shades and swatched them I suspected they would both be on the light side for my skintone, but Warm Ivory warms up to give an exact match for me right now. The chart above breaks down the color options and ranges. I would say the sequence of names is accurate from light to dark, but the color swatches are not. For me Warm Ivory is definitely darker than Ivory but the card makes it look like the opposite.

First a look at the foundation. These come in compact triangle-shaped twist up sticks designed for precise application. I tested both shades out and found both work well for a good match which surprised me because they looked really light compared to other foundations I use. I tried it three different ways. Here’s the before and after with Warm Ivory swiped and then buffed. In these photos I put around 3-4 swipes per side of the face and then buffed it out with the brush.

Method 1: Apply all over the face with 4 swipes per side over Creme de La Mer Moisturizing Soft Cream and set with NARS All Day Luminous Powder Foundation in Punjab. The result was an oily mess within a couple of hours although I was outdoors for lunch in 85 degree weather on a hot day with mild humidity. This usually happens with all foundation sticks on my skin though if I use them all over the face.

Method 2: Apply on top of AmorePacific Moisture Bound Refreshing Hydra Gel + Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer, then set with NARS All Day Luminous Powder Foundation in Punjab. I have not really used the Hourglass Primer a lot because I feel it’s best suited for more oily/combo skintypes compared to mine. I have accumulated quite a few minis and a friend recommended I try it for summer. She was right, it extends the wear of foundation especially in warmer weather. This combination lasted all day, even through being outdoors in the afternoon for a few hours. By evening, makeup was a tiny bit dewy on the nose, but it stayed put without any creasing, melting or budging.

Method 3: Apply a light base such as any of my regular foundations all over, I tried it with my NARS Velvet Matte Skin Tints. Moisturizers used on separate days included the Creme de La Mer Moisturizing Soft Cream and Charlotte Tilbury Magic Cream (primers skipped on these days). Use the Hourglass Vanish Foundation stick like I use most of my foundation sticks along the T zone and areas I need more coverage and buff in. Then set with powder. This method also worked well in terms of lasting power.

A look at the product itself with swatches, Ivory next to Warm Ivory. In the tubes they look yellow/olive toned pre-swatching. Once you swatch they appear a bit more neutral.

Comparisons to two other foundation sticks:

  • Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Invisible Cover Stick Foundation is currently my favorite stick foundation of choice. I had planned a summer base roundup and then samples of two foundation formulas arrived so I wanted to put those to the test before doing my roundup. This so far is the best full coverage foundation I’ve tried that covers dark spots but still looks natural. My shade match is 123. Initially I was matched to 128 (as seen in this story here) but I can change skin color quickly if I’m outdoors for an extended time (or lose it as well) so I alternate between the two.
    • The MUFE stick offers more coverage but has a more emollient texture (not greasy though). Product is also larger at 12.5 g.
  • Tom Ford Traceless Foundation Stick for many years was my go-to for foundation sticks (original review here). I’ve gone between two shades, 4 Bisque and 5 Natural. To this day I still think this is an exceptional product – but I cannot wear this all over the face. The best way for me to use this is on top of regular foundation on areas I need coverage. For my skintype which is normal combination, the all over the face method results in a very dewy mess within a couple of hours – with or without any primer. Coverage is smooth and easy to build for a flawless finish. A little goes a long way – it has a foundation makeup scent that is hard to describe almost like cardboard or paper that I’ve found in some foundations and for some reason I find really soothing. A single stick has lasted me well over a year and the product did not go bad.
    • For the TF vs Hourglass, the Tom Ford is probably better suited for normal to dry skin types, it is more dewy in finish, feels slightly thicker but not too thick, it also has more product at 15 g.

Sticks swatched side by side, note my arm is not the same shade as my face. Right now the MUFE 123 matches perfectly. Hourglass Vanish in Warm Ivory blends out to a more matte finish compared to the others.

A closer look at the twist design of the stick:

One more shade of swatches with NARS Velvet Matte Skin Tint in St. Moritz (darker option) and Groenland (lighter option):

A quick note on the brush. I was pleasantly surprised with how easy it was to use. It reminds me of my Marc Jacobs The Face II Brush (full review on foundation brushes I love here) in the sense that it’s angled to match the contour of the face. The Hourglass Vanish Foundation Brush is more compact, has a smaller head, but just as soft and a bit easier to move along the face because it’s slightly less dense. It’s super soft and fits in my hand perfectly. I haven’t tested it with liquid foundations but I have with the other foundation sticks – it’s amazing. I highly recommend it.

Overall thoughts:

  • The Vanish Seamless Finish Foundation Stick does indeed offer a seamless smooth finish. It’s easy to blend and does not look cakey, nor does it emphasize pores. 
  • Coverage is medium to full depending how much you layer. It does a good job at smoothing out dark spots or under eye circles, but I still prefer spot touch ups on blemishes and under eye with other concealers. (My favorites rounded up here.)
  • Lasting power will depend on your skin type and what products you use underneath. If you can normally wear foundation sticks all over the face without any issues this will probably work the same for you. I have never been able to wear a foundation stick all over the face with the exception of the MUFE Ultra HD Foundation Stick.
  • Best ways for me to wear the Hourglass Vanish Foundation stick was over the Mineral Veil Primer or over areas after applying regular foundation.
  • On color matching, I suspect based on the online stock swatches and chart that Sand might be a better match for me on my more tan days now that it’s summer, but Warm Ivory works for a very good match – no tweaking required. Even though this is a full coverage product and I do recommend finding a match as close as possible, there is a natural quality to the finish that makes it forgiving even if it’s not a 100% match. Warm Ivory swiped on my skin looks about 1-2 shades too light but as with most foundations you need to blend it out to see if it works. It matches my face to my neck well. I will check out the shades in store later this week though – if Sand is a better match I will let you know.

That wraps up my review of the latest from Hourglass. You can find both the Vanish Seamless Finish Foundation Stick and Foundation Brush at Sephora, Nordstrom, and Hourglass Cosmetics right now. For the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale there is an Hourglass GWP going on (featured in this post).

Have you tried the Hourglass Vanish Foundation Stick yet? It launched online last week – so if any of you have ordered or tested let me know! If not, have you tried other Hourglass Foundations? Which ones?

Both the Hourglass Vanish Seamless Finish Foundation Stick and Foundation Brush provided for review consideration.

Base Makeup Charlotte Tilbury

Charlotte Tilbury Magic Foundation and Magic Complexion Brush Review

February 24, 2016

There are a number of new foundation launches this year and I’ve been working my way through testing several different formulas and brands. One of the formulas that I’ve been most excited about is the Charlotte Tilbury Magic Foundation ($44 for 30 ml/1.0 fl oz, made in Italy). This is described as a long-lasting foundation with flawless poreless coverage. It does indeed minimize the look of pores, covers dark circles and gives the skin a more brightened look. There is a new brush that launched called the Magic Complexion Foundation Brush ($55) which I’ve also been playing with. Thoughts on this one in this post as well.

The Charlotte Tilbury Magic Foundation comes in 15 shades and has an SPF 15. It’s packaged in a glass bottle with a plastic pump dispenser. I find two pumps sufficient to cover the entire face. There are a number of glowy foundation formulas on the market this season – I’m all about the glow, but for foundations I prefer a finish that isn’t too dewy because I have normal combination skin. What I like the best about the new foundation from Charlotte Tilbury is the formula brightens my skin, has enough coverage to covers imperfections and dark spots, and has a natural luminous look without being too dewy. I still need to set with powder, I’ve been using either the Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Powder or the Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Finish Skin Perfecting Powder #2. With either one I get long-lasting wear, it lasts all day long well into the afternoon with minimal touch ups needed (just a tiny blot on the nose for me).

It’s recommended that you use the new foundation in conjunction with the other
Charlotte Tilbury face products such as the Magic Cream, Mini Miracle Eye Wand and Magic Complexion Foundation Brush for the best looking
skin, but I find you can use it over a wide range of moisturizers or
combine it with other concealers. It’s a pretty versatile formula that
offers medium to full coverage. It evens out the skin and offers smooth
flawless coverage.

In terms of color and formula, many know that I had a hard time finding a good match in the Light Wonder Foundation Formula. My closest match winter match was either 4 or 5, but I found I had to mix colors. During the summer I got a lot darker and found 7 to be my best match. Right now for the Magic Foundation formula, I can get away with either 5 or 6. The color adjusts and warms up slightly on the skin after it sets. It doesn’t oxidize too much which is good, but it will warm up a tiny bit.

Some swatch comparisons below. The corresponding shades for the Light Wonder vs Magic are pretty similar. I find the Magic Foundation 5 to be slightly less pink than the Light Wonder 5.

Next up are some thoughts on the new Magic Complexion Foundation Brush.

I had high expectations for the Charlotte Tilbury Magic Complexion Foundation Brush as it seemed very similar to the Tom Ford Cream Foundation Brush but priced at a much more affordable price. When I opened the box I was disappointed to see loose hairs flying everywhere. It shed like crazy however after I washed it, the shedding stopped. The ends of the brush look like they have been machine cut. Comparing this to the Tom Ford, the Tom Ford Brush is significantly softer, better made, and seems to be of better quality overall. That being said, the Charlotte Tilbury Magic Complexion brush does perform just as well as the Tom Ford. It buffs the foundation into the skin for a streak-free flawless finish. If you’re looking for a foundation brush that’s soft and will buff in product to a smooth finish, I think it’s something worth looking into. The one from Charlotte Tilbury has a looser fluffier feel that isn’t quite as dense which I find makes it easier to smooth over the larger areas of the face in a circular motion. Here’s a look at both after they’ve both been washed and dried.
In terms of how to apply the Magic Foundation, I think you can use fingers, a beautyblender sponge, or any foundation brush. In the week I’ve been testing this formula, I’ve been using the new Magic Complexion Brush and it’s been working well (that is once I washed it).

Overall I give the new Magic Foundation formula a huge thumbs up. For me I don’t detect any noticeable scent which is a plus. It has sunscreen but doesn’t irritate my super sensitive skin. It has enough coverage to even out the skin and cover my under eye area so I don’t need concealer (but I still use it). Lasting power is good. Finish is more on the natural matte side and looks like your skin but better. I really love the formula of the Magic Foundation – even more so than the Light Wonder and as someone who likes decent coverage but want something that still looks like skin, I’m thrilled with this one. The Magic Complexion Foundation Brush is nice to have, but for me it’s not a must. I do really like the way it performs and I was relieved that the shedding stopped once I washed it. You can use the tools in your current beauty kit to get similar results.
You can find both the Charlotte Tilbury Magic Foundation ($44) and Magic Complexion Brush ($55) online at Charlotte Tilbury now (expected to launch at other retailers soon). Right now Charlotte Tilbury’s website has an exclusive set called the Magic Foundation Kit ($110) which has the brush, foundation of your choice and a mini magic cream.

Have you tried either of these new launches yet? If yes, what did you think? I’d be curious to know what color you’re matched to if you have!

Both the Charlotte Tilbury Magic Foundations and Magic Complexion Brush were sent courtesy of Charlotte Tilbury for review consideration.
Base Makeup

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?