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RIP to a Fallen Makeup Hero

Dramatic title? Perhaps but this product deserves it and more after being such a reliable tool this past year and a half. I’m talking about the Sigma F80 Flat Top Kabuki whose praises I’ve sung on many occasions (check out my initial review here and a comparison with the Sigma F82 here).

It is the best brush/applicator I have ever tried or owned for foundation application but unfortunately this amazing brush that once used to look like this…

Now looks like this…

It’s not even a flat top anymore, it’s an angled brush! I fully admit that its unfortunate state is due to my bad handling because I used and abused this brush so much and I was never careful when I washed it so the end result is a brush that is literally falling apart.

I only ever treat my synthetic face brushes like this since it’s so hard to get emollient products out of synthetic hairs but I promise to change my ways. Hopefully this is a lesson for all of you who treat your brushes in the same way so that you don’t end up with the same result.
I fully plan on repurchasing this brush and even plan on getting a backup but losing my Holy Grail brush got me wondering, what’s your Holy Grail brush? Let me know below 🙂

January Favourites: Ecotools Large Eye Brush and Deluxe Concealer Brush

I go back and forth between so many different products that it’s actually quite hard to pick a favourite from the month. For something to make it as a favourite it has to be something that I’ve become so used to that I reach for it without even thinking about it. These Ecotools brushes fit that category and I’ve been using them nearly every time I do my makeup since I purchased them about a month ago.

Left to right: Large eye brush, deluxe concealer brush.

The large eye brush is smaller than my Sigma E50 (which is similar to the MAC 227 large fluff brush) but it’s bigger than my Sigma ss239 brush. I like the SS239 to pack colour on the lid and the E50 to apply my brow bone highlight but the Ecotools large eye brush is perfect for applying a wash of colour on the lid. It’s made out of synthetic fibres but it feels like a really soft natural hair brush and it’s dense but quite fluffy. It has a tapered tip so you can maneouvre it into smaller areas of the lid and it’s fluffiness means you can blend with it too.

left to right: Sigma E50, Ecotools Large Eye Brush, Sigma SS239 brush

These brushes are both quite big and dense and that’s why I like them but the deluxe concealer brush is my favourite. I use it everyday to apply my paint pots or what ever base I’m using on my eyes and it works really well. It’s synthetic so it doesn’t eat up product, it sheers the product out really well and applies a thin layer and the tapered tip means I can blend the edges out. It’s denser than both my Sigma ss252 brush and my MAC 195 brush which I also use for application of my eye bases. I find the MAC 195 is good with my hard to blend paint pots, the Sigma ss252 is great with my more emollient bases such as the NYX Jumbo eye pencils and the Ecotools brush works really well with my creamier paint pots.

Left to right: Sigma SS252, Ecotools Deluxe Concealer Brush, MAC 195 brush

These brushes were both relatively cheap and I think I paid less than $10 AUD for each of them and they haven’t shed and are both really soft on the skin. I think they’re a good alternative for those of you who may be starting off or who want an eco friendly option for brushes.

I also did a really quick look using the brushes to show you how they apply colour. I always use at least 2 eyeshadows when doing my makeup so it was a nice reminder that a wash of colour can look equally as nice.

Here’s my bare lid:

I then applied MAC Rubenesque Paint Pot with the Deluxe Concealer Brush. This paint pot is my hardest to work with but it applies well with this brush:

I applied MAC Warming Trend eye shadow all over the lid using the Large Eye Brush. This eyeshadow is really soft so the brush picks up alot of product so you’ll probably need to tap off excess when using this brush.

I put on a coat of Rimmel Sexy Curves mascara on the top and bottom lashes.

Can I just say that Warming Trend is fast becoming one on my favourite ‘my lids but better’ eyeshadows. I like it as much or even more than I like Woodwinked and that’s very high praise from me! It looks like a slightly lighter and not so orange toned version of Woodwinked and it blends really well, has a really nice finish and it’s such a pretty colour. I think I’ll need to hunt down a backup because I can see myself hitting pan on this one!

Have any of you tried the Ecotools brushes? Did they work for you or do you wish you’d saved your money? Also, what are your favourite eyeshadows for a wash of colour on the lids? Leave a comment below!

NARS Yachiyo vs Japonesque Bamboo/Goat Kabuki brush

This review is long over due and I apologise but here it is ,the comparison review between the NARS Yachiyo brush and its dupe from Japonesque, the bamboo/goat kabuki brush. Here’s my original review on the NARS Yachiyo brush if you’re interested: CLICK HERE!

Both brushes look the same for the most part except that the NARS brush is all black and the Japonesque one is white. I should warn you that because of the white hairs, the Japonesque brush stains really easily. It also smells really bad the first few times you wash it which I haven’t found to be the case with the NARS brush.

Both brushes have a similar design and have thin, wrapped handles except that the NARS brush is wrapped in black wisteria and the Japonesque brush is wrapped in bamboo. The brushes both seem very similar in weight but the NARS brush feels slightly sturdier and has a bit more weight to it. The length of the hairs and the size of the brush heads are very alike but the hairs in the NARS brush are alot softer than those of the Japonesque brush and you can tell that hairs in the NARS brush are of a higher quality.

Despite how similar these brushes look, they perform quite differently and I think the difference is enough that I would definitely not consider the Japonesque brush to be a dupe for the NARS one. I tried to capture the differences in application but it was a bit hard. Hopefully the following picture still gives you an idea of how they both perform.

From Bug’s Beauty Blog

I had to apply the blush heavier than I usually would but hopefully you can tell that the swatch made by the Japonesque brush is more diffuse and patchier than the NARS brush. After comparing both brushes, I think the reason for this difference in application is down to how much hair each brush has. You can see in the next picture that the NARS brush has a lot more hair in it by how much thicker the area is where the hair is wrapped.

Because the NARS brush is more dense than the Japonesqe brush, it doesn’t splay as much when you apply pressure to it. This means that you can get a much more controlled application of blush with the NARS brush which makes it perfect for pigmented blush application. The NARS brush also doesn’t eat up product the way the Japonesque brush does and it picks up product in a much more even way.

The Japonesque brush is ok for blushes that aren’t so pigmented but to be honest I just don’t like using it for blush. I tried using the Japonesque brush when I first got it but I pretty much stopped after the first week or so because it’s the kind of brush I have to try and find a use for rather than one that works so well in a certain way that I can’t live without it. If I had to recommend a use for it I would say that the Japonesque brush is more suited to application of setting powder or a light sweeping of bronzer.

Usually I would be all for trying a cheaper version of a brush before deciding whether to splurge on the pricier version but in this case, if you’re trying to decide between the both, I would honestly just recommend saving up for the NARS. I know the NARS brush is quite expensive compared to the Japonesque one but if you’re anything like me you’ll definitely get your money’s worth because it’s definitely a far superior brush than the Japonesque one and you won’t regret purchasing it.

Holy Grail Status confirmed: Sigma F82 and F80 brushes

I was reading Ren’s post (Makeup by Ren Ren) on the new Sigmax range of brushes by Sigma and realised that I completely forgot to do a post on the F82 brush I purchased a few months ago. I already did a post back in May last year on the F80 brush which you can find by clicking the link. The Sigma F82 is very similar to the F80 except that the F80 is flat top kabuki and the F82 is a round top kabuki. I warn you that this is going to be a rave review so prepare yourself 😉

The brushes look dirty in this next picture but they’re actually clean. The fibres just tend to stain. They still work great though!

As you can see, the F82 is slightly smaller than the F80 in diameter and the length of the fibres is also slightly shorter. They’re both synthetic brushes made with what Sigma calls ‘Synthetic Sigmax HD filament’. I don’t know what that is but I can’t believe how soft the fibres on this brush are. They’re even softer than alot of my natural haired brushes and they don’t eat up product the way natural hairs can. The F82 is an extremely dense brush and I mean super dense! I already thought that the F80 was a dense brush but this one is more tightly packed and chubbier than the F80 as you can tell by the next two pictures.

The density of this brush means it’s perfect for cream foundation. I’ve started wearing the Dermablend Cover Creme foundation and this brush blends it out so nicely that it looks really natural and not at all cakey. I could still use my Sigma F80 to blend out the cream foundation but I’ve found that it doesn’t blend as well or as quickly as the F82 so I’ve pretty much only been using the F82 for the last few months.

I tried to show the difference in the application of both brushes but it’s hard to capture but hopefully you can see the difference. In the picture below I applied all three swatches heavily with my finger and for the last two swatches I used each brush and swiped the foundation twice using minimal pressure. The swatch blended with the F82 is already very blended and that’s just with two little swipes so imagine what you can do with the rest of your face!

From Bitten by the Beauty Bug

I know that it probably sounds like I’m advocating the Sigma F82 brush over the F80 brush but I really love both brushes. If I had to recommend one brush to start with it would definitely be the F80 because I think it’s more versatile. It can work well with creams with a little more time and it is amazing with liquid foundations. The F82 is awesome if you exclusively use heavy coverage liquid foundations like the MAC Studio Fix Fluid or if you use cream foundations. I don’t really like it for lighter coverage liquid foundations though because its density means that it sheers the product out too much.

Both these brushes also perform really well with concealer when you apply it using a patting motion on to your skin. I prefer the F80 for my liquid concealers such as my MAC select cover up but the F82 works much better with cream concealers such as the MAC Studio Finish Concealer. Sigma also recommend these brushes for powder application and maybe they work well if you use powder foundation but for setting makeup with powder these aren’t very good. I prefer to use a natural haired fluffy brush like the MAC 138 brush to get a light application of powder.

Either way I don’t think you can go wrong regardless of which brush you purchase and if you’re a big makeup person then definitely go for both! They’re $16 each which is a great price or you can buy a set with these two brushes and the angled synthetic kabuki for $42.They’re a bit of a pain to clean and dry because of how dense they are and they always stay kind of stained. They usually take me about a day to dry properly which is why it’s handy having both because you can use one while the other one’s drying.

This isn’t meant to be a ‘Sigma are so great’ post because I’ve actually found a lot of their other brushes to be sub-par at best but this synthetic range is phenomenal and definitely worth the money. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed!

NARS Kabuki Artisan Brush Collection: Ita Kabuki Brush

This is another one of the brushes from the NARS Kabuki Artisan brush collection and it’s called the Ita Kabuki brush. There’s another brush also named the Ita but that seems to be referred to purely as the Ita brush.

Like the rest of the brushes in this collection, this is a very unusual looking brush.

The brush head is quite rectangular but it’s still quite a fluffy brush.

I didn’t really know what I was going to use it for when I bought it but I have discovered that it is awesome for contouring. I’ve been really into contouring of late which is why I purchased the MAC 109 brush as this was its main purpose but the problem was that it seemed to pick up way too much product and deposit it in a way that resulted in obvious streaks across my face. This is not the look you want when contouring! Contouring when done properly should add a subtle and natural looking definition to your face and with the ITA kabuki brush that’s the result you get!

Here’s a comparison between my MAC 109 on the left and the ITA kabuki on the right:

Here’s a picture comparing the denisty of both brushes with the MAC 109 on top and the ITA Kabuki on the bottom:

As you can see, the MAC 109 is alot denser than the Ita Kabuki brush which is one of the reasons why I think the ITA kabuki leaves a more subtle line of colour than the MAC 109. Here’s a reference picture I took using my Embark eyeshadow.

The application of the NARS Ita Kabuki is much more even and subtle. I think this also comes down to the brush design as the shape of the brush tapers on the edges which seems to allow it to concentrate the majority of the colour towards the middle and buff out the colour on the edges. The fluffiness of the Ita Kabuki also means that you end up with a more diffused line without having to put effort in to buffing it out.

I think the MAC 109 is an awesome brush and I use it for a range of things but for contouring the NARS Ita is definitely where it’s at. I know the Ita is more expensive but I think that it’s worth investing in good tools if the results they give you are going to be more nautral and flawless. This brush can also be used for other application types such as for blush and bronzer but I haven’t really used it for these just because I have plenty of other blush brushes and bronzer brushes.

NARS Kabuki Artisan Brush collection: Botan brush

The Botan brush by NARS is one of the four brushes from their Kabuki Artisan Brush Collection and it is the mother of all brushes. I mean as far as Kabuki’s go, this is one big brush! It’s another brush that is based on traditional Japanese brushes. I had been lemming it for a while because it just looked awesome so I was really excited when it arrived. I should say before I begin my review that this brush seems to be one of those love it or hate it things. Not many people really sit on the fence about it and online reviews are really mixed and contradictory about quite a few aspects of the brush.

So anyway, the first thing I did when I received it was to wash the brush a few times as I do with all my brushes when I first purchase them. I was a bit worried when I first washed it because the dye bled quite a bit and this brush shed like crazy! I went online and checked reviews and found that there were others with the same experience so I relaxed a bit. I think it’s normal for brushes that are this dense to shed because there’s just so many hairs packed in that a few of them are bound to fall out. I will say that this brush takes a ridiculous amount of time to dry because of its density and that I had to leave it for 3 days before it was really useable.

Here’s a picture of it from the side so you can see how big and dense it is.

It may not look very big when in this picture and even I didn’t truly understand how big it was when I first receivied it until I compared it to a standard kabuki. I took a picture of it next to my Jemma Kidd kabuki brush as a reference:

The head of the Jemma Kidd Kabuki is very similar to the size of a standard powder brush such as the MAC 150. You can see just how much bigger the NARS Botan is. It’s so big it covers most of the side of my face if I hold it up to my cheek. The immense size and density is what’s leaving me confused as to what its use is.

When I read reviews online, alot of people wrote that they use this brush as a finishing brush to blend their make up as a final step and apply their finishing powder. In theory this sounded awesome but when I tried to do this it really did not work for me. Instead of getting this flawlessly blended makeup look, this brush just ended up wiping away all my hard work concealing and applying blush. I tried using it very gently but this brush is so dense that it just strips off my makeup and leaves my application looking patchy.

I think this brush would be good for people who don’t have blemishes on their face that they need to conceal as there wouldn’t be any concealer to wipe off. This brush would also be great for people who only wear powder foundation or want to wear bronzer all over their face as you could buff the products in really well and attain a flawless finish. My only concern is just how gentle this brush is for your face.

When you touch this brush it feels super soft but for some reason this doesn’t translate when you brush it against your face. I’ve seen quite a few other people say that this brush was harsh on their skin. While I don’t think it feels like it’s stripping your skin away (like I read in one review), I also don’t think it’s as gentle and soft as NARS and some reviewers would have you believe. Some reviewers say you need to break this brush in so it reaches its ultimate softness but I would just not advise getting this brush if you have very sensitive skin.

Since I purchased this brush a few weeks ago, I really haven’t had much cause to use it. The few times that I have reached for it has been to buff off my makeup when I’ve applied too much blush or powder. I use the brush to buff off the top layer, touch up my concealer and then just reapply my blush and powder to my liking. I also like doing this if I’ve applied a blush colour I don’t like and want to use something else.

The only other use I have been able to find for this brush is to apply powder to my jawline, neck and chest so it doesn’t look like I’m my face is a different colour to the rest of me. This brush is really good for this as it covers large areas really quickly. Apart from these rare instances though, I’m afraid my Botan brush just sits by itself on my shelf away from all my other brushes as it can’t even fit in my brush container.

Don’t be discouraged though if you want to try this brush because I think it’s a good brush depending on the type of skin you have and what you want to buy it for. I think the key to finding the perfect brush for a particular use is research so just make sure you do yours before taking the plunge because I should warn you that this brush is pricey! It’s $75 in the US and $145 in Australia!

I definitely would not have paid full price in Australia for it and I doubt I would have paid full price in America for it either just because I haven’t found it to be that useful. The only reason I’m ok with having this brush despite not using it much is because I picked it up for a ridiculously good price online. So ridiculously good a price in fact that I thought it was a fake but I am now sure it’s not.

As always, if you have the money to spend and you think this brush would be useful for you then go check it out but otherwise I would say this brush definitely falls in the non-essential and probably unnecessary pile. That’s a pretty big statement for me to make becasuse Oprah had this brush listed as one of her favourite things and I love Oprah, but O, I gotta say that you may have gotten it wrong with this one! There are so many other great, more user friendly brushes out there that you could buy for a fraction of the cost of this one but as always the choice is yours to make!

UPDATE 6/10/2010:
I was getting really frustrated with my inability to use this brush for any real purpose so I went to my closest NARS counter (well Mecca counter seeing as I live in Australia) to speak to a makeup artist. I told her that I just couldn’t figure out how to use the brush because I thought I could use it as finishing brush but it kept wiping of my makeup.

This is what she told me:
1. This brush is made mainly for applying a base of powder product whether it’s bronzer or powder foundation or mineral powder makeup.
2. The density of the brush means that it will buff those products in quite flawlessly and give you a natural looking finish.
3. It’s not ideal for applying powder on top of cream or liquid products as they tend to move under the density of this brush.
4. If you do use liquid or cream first then you can’t apply powder on top using a buffing motion and instead have to use a sort of gentle pat and roll motion so as not to disturb the makeup too much.
5. This brush will get softer the longer you use it.

This brings me back to the point I made earlier about researching prior to purchasing a product. If I had gone to a counter and had a feel for the product then I would have known that this brush wasn’t for me. Hopefully my experiences will help you with your research though and give you an idea of whether or not this brush is for you. If you have purchased the brush or have used it then I would love to hear your thoughts below.