Makeup declutter | Brushes

Makeup declutter | Brushes

When I decluttered all of my makeup for the move, I totally forgot about going through my brushes and makeup tools. Which is why I decided to do that the other day. Of course I had to film it for you guys. So grab a cup of tea and relax, because today I have an array of brushes to show and you’re in for a long one.

makeup declutter brushes makeup tools

Makeup declutter | Brushes & makeup tools

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Real Techniques brushes

Real Techniques brushes

A little over a year ago I bought myself some Real Techniques make up brushes. At the time I bought the Core Collection. After liking the brushes I was using from that kit and hearing tons of good things about their other brushes, I decided to try some more. I got the Starter Set, which contains 5 eye brushes and the Blush Brush which is just as it says a brush to apply blush.

Real Techniques Starter Set
Real Techniques Blush Brush

Like the Core Collection, these brushes look sturdy, are made of synthetic bristles and are easy to use. What I like about the Real Techniques brushes is that they come in different colors depending on their function. Face brushes are yellow, eye brushes are purple and blush/ powder blushes are pink. The handles taper outwards towards the end on the bigger brushes which make them a bit difficult to store, but since they are wide enough at the bottom they can easily stand up. I bought mine from The Make Up Spot, where I paid €12.50 for the Blush Brush and €25.99 for the Starter Set. That is one downside of Real Techniques brushes: most of them only come in sets, so if you’re only curious after one of the eye brushes then it’s a bit of a steep price to pay for one brush. Overall, they are in the cheaper price range when it comes to make up brushes.

The brushes arrived in this bulky plastic packaging. Handy when you buy these from a drugstore, but for shipping them I find it a bit unnecessary. Not very economical space wise and I’m sure you can make sleeker packaging for a few brushes. First I’ll discuss the starter set and at the end of this post you’ll be able to find my thoughts on the blush brush.

Real Techniques says:

Eye definition goes high definition with our revised starter set.

  • Base shadow brush: applies a smooth, flawless foundation of color.
  • Deluxe crease brush: soft, oversized design for effortless contouring.
  • Accent brush: for precision detailing, highlighting and smudging
  • Fine liner brush: for precision application of liquid of cream eyeliner.
    • Replacing the pixel-point eyeliner brush
    • Offers a more “fine” tip that allows for even more control than before
  • Brow brush: distinctive shape easily defines eyebrows.

The Starter Set contains 5 brushes and retails for around €14 euros from the Real Techniques website. That’s a lot cheaper than what I paid for it, but since the website ships from the US, costs may come to the same amount if you add shipping & handling fees. Before I delve into these brushes I’d like to point out that the brushes I was most curious about were the base shadow brush, the deluxe crease brush and the brow brush. The other two were a bonus for me and so I was curious to try those. Also, I ended up using some of these brushes in slightly different ways, but that has made me love 3 out of 5 of these brushes, like 1 out of 5 and there is only 1 that I feel I really could have done without.

base shadow brush

The first brush from the set is the base shadow brush and is meant for applying eyeshadow across your lid. I find this brush too fluffy and too tapered to work nicely for all over lid shadow application. Instead I’ve been using this when I want a heavier application of a crease color. The thick fluffy brush allows for a generous amount of product to be picked up and the pointed shape allows it to fit perfectly into the crease area. When used light-handed, you don’t even require a blending brush after applying color. All in all it’s a great little brush to have, but not life changing in any case.

deluxe crease brush

Why this brush is called a crease brush I don’t know. It’s a dense, fluffy brush with lots of hair. It’s almost like a mini kabuki brush. So I’m not using these for applying contour shades of eyeshadow. Instead I love to use this with concealer and after purchasing this brush I found that the Pixiwoo sisters who created these Real Techniques brushes use it for that purpose as well. It’s great for picking up concealer from a pot (so you don’t have to stick your finger in it) and it’s even better for quick and easy blending of under eye concealer. Before I always just used my fingers to blend out concealer but ever since I got this brush I refuse to do so if I get the chance. This brush IS a game changer for me.

accent brush

On to a brush which I wasn’t too excited about. That attitude soon changed when I started using this puppy. It’s super super tiny and great for smudging little bits of eyeshadow on your lower lash line or for applying just a teeny amount of inner corner highlight. However, I tend to use this slightly different as well. What I’ve been loving this blush for is for applying concealer. I don’t ever use concealer anywhere apart from on my under eye area, except when I’m making a bold colored lip. I always, without fail, manage to put lipstick outside of my lips. I take it away with a cotton bud and especially to prevent looking like a clown when applying red lipstick  I then use a teeny amount of concealer to tighten up my lip line. And that’s what I love using this brush or. It’s small enough to be precise and the bristles don’t have that much give which makes for perfect control for tightening up that lip line. Unexpected love for this amazing little brush.

pixel-point eyeliner brush/ fine liner brush

On to my least favorite brush in the bunch. It was also a brush that I got because it came in the set. How anyone could ever do eyeliner with this is beyond me. The bristles splay near the end of the tip which makes it a pain to get a neat, thin line. Unless you have a massive eyelid this might work for you, but with my tiny lids that need any space preservation they can have, this is not a good brush. I have also not found a different way of using this brush, so this has ended up in the back of my collection.

brow brush

The last brush in the Starter Set is the brow brush, which I was looking forward to trying. So far I was using a very cheap HEMA eyeliner brush to do my brows, which worked fine for me. But since the kit came with this brow brush anyway, I thought: why not try a different brush. And I’m hooked. It’s a fairly thick brush and lays on quite a bit of color. Not good if you’re trying to carefully draw on faux brow bristles, great if all you need to do is fill in some gaps and extend your brows ever so slightly. I fall in the latter category and filling in my brows literally takes me about 5 seconds now. Love it!

blush brush

What Real Techniques says:

Contour and define cheeks for flawlessly blended, high-definition results:

  • look pixel-perfect even in harsh light
  • ultra-plush, synthetic bristles are hand-cut and 100% cruelty-free
  • self-standing for easy storage
  • extended aluminum handle is light and easy to use

The other brush I got is available individually, which is a plus. It is a bit more expensive, but still a decent price for a blush brush. It’s thick and fluffy and super soft, which is always a deal breaker on any brush. And OMG, this has made applying blush a breeze. Before I used a fairly flat blush brush by The Body Shop. Since this brush is a lot rounder this makes it so much easier to apply blush as it blend as well as applies at the same time. The brush picks up just the right amount of product from the pan and always gives off the right amount of product to my cheeks. It’s a bit too big for me to contour, but it’s great for blending that out and giving a natural finish. If you’re interested in Real Techniques brushes I recommend this one.

All in all, this wasn’t a bad round of brushes. There’s only one that I really don’t like and one that I am not going to use very frequently. To me, the set and the individual brush have been worth their money and 4 of these brushes have become staples in my make up brushes rotation.

Which Real Techniques brushes would you like to try out?

Sigma brushes

Sigma brushes

You can have all the fancy make up in the world, if you don’t have the proper tools to apply it, it will never look good. Good brushes don’t have to cost a fortune either, which is good. I have cheapy brushes from drugstore brands, but when you want something a bit more special, you have to pay a bit more. I’ve yet to try very expensive brushes and the reason for that is that I fell in love with Sigma brushes when I first tried them. When they launched their kabuki line a while ago I was set on getting a few. I ordered the F80, F82 and P80 in January of this year and by now I’ve used them enough to give you a review of them.

Sigma brushes, in my experience, are sturdy brushes that do their job and they don’t cost as much as a MAC or Bobbi Brown brush. One thing I did notice when looking up information is that these have gone up in price. I ordered these on the official Sigma website and at the time the F80 and F82 cost 18 dollars and the P80 cost 16 dollars. Now the F80 and F82 cost 21 dollars each and the P80 costs 18 dollars. In Dutch websites you pay the price in dollars in euros. Another point I’d like to add here is that Sigma has started packaging and shipping their brushes in such a way that Dutch customs now pick them up as a parcel with imported goods, so beware that when you do order straight from the official website you will very likely be quoted additional import costs in order to receive your package when you’re in Europe.

Sigma F80 Flat Kabuki Face brush

What Sigma says:

Unique Feature: Dense and flat head

Function: Buffed foundation application
Recommended Use: Blend liquid or cream products onto flat areas of the face such as the forehead and cheeks.
Bristle Type: Synthetic Sigmax™

It is indeed a dense brush and even though the company recommends this for foundation, I use this to apply my MAC Prep + Prime transparent finishing powder. It gives a good coverage of powder without it looking cakey. It is also great for buffing out heavily applied blush or toning down the look of too much bronzer. It is easy to clean despite the dense hairs and it keeps its shape nicely. To me this is a must have brush as I use it on a daily basis.

Sigma F82 Round Kabuki Face brush

What Sigma says:

Unique Feature: Dense and rounded head

Function: Buffed powder foundation application
Recommended Use: Blend mineral products onto the skin.
Bristle Type: Synthetic Sigmax™

Another dense brush and this one I do use what it was meant for: for applying liquid foundation. Ever since spring however, I have been using BB cream rather than foundation and I find that applies better with my fingers, so this brush has been lying about gathering dust these past few months. However, now the weather is colder and I’m upping my skincare, a BB cream is too rich so soon I will be whipping out my foundation again along with this brush. I find it makes foundation easy to blend into the skin without giving too much of an exfoliating effect. Since the brush is quite stiff I feel it works well with liquid, watery foundation like the MAC Face & Body foundation I’ve used it with. With a brush that splays too much, you can’t control the coverage as much as with a brush that keeps it shape even when you’re working it in circles around your skin. Only downside: it’s a pain to clean. As you can see on the picture: there is still a trace amount of foundation left in that brush after washing it with baby shampoo. If you’re in the market for a good buffing brush for your foundation application, I can however recommend this. With another wash and a thorough cleanse this brush can still be cleaned.

Sigma P82 Precision Round Eye brush

What Sigma says:

Unique Feature: Small, dense and rounded head

Function: Fingertip-like application
Recommended Use: Apply shadow base or primer onto the lid.
Bristle Type: Synthetic Sigmax™

What drew me to this was the ‘fingertip-like application’. This brush indeed looks like a finger tip and the times I’ve used it I’ve used it as indicated, for eyeshadow base and primer but I’ve also used it for under eye concealer. One problem though: this brush is too big for my eyelids or under eye area. It’s bigger than my fingertip anyway, which made me have to go in with a q-tip or fingertip after using this brush to clean up some of the mess or to make the product blend properly. It’s a nice brush if you want to apply a base to even out the color on your lids from lid to browbone for more elaborate looks, but to say this is a must have brush? No, definitely not. It’s a nice extra and could still be useful for spot concealing and blending that out, however, I don’t have a lot of blemishes, so I have not too many opportunities to test it as such.

Are you familiar with Sigma brushes?

The Body Shop make up brushes

The Body Shop make up brushes

I’m not much of a brush fiend, but I like the ones I have. Some of my brushes go way back: I’ve had them ever since I first started using make up more regularly some 5 odd years ago. My first serious set of brushes was a brush roll filled with 5 brushes from The Body Shop. I bought them on sale at a ridiculous discount. I liked them so much that I ended up buying the only brush that wasn’t in that kit: the powder brush. By now, I am still using two of these brushes and they are very well two of the favorite brushes I have: the face/body brush & blusher brush.

Top: face/body brush. Bottom: blusher brush.

Left: powder brush. Right: blush brush.

This is what TBS has to say:

Powder brush: Perfect for applying loose powder or bronzer over face, neck and décolletage.

Blush brush: A soft, round-tipped brush that’s tailormade for powder blusher. Use it to sculpt, blend and dust.

I have always used the blush brush for blusher. The powder brush I have used for several purposes: overall powder brush, bronzer, blush, and as a clean brush to blend contour and highlight more evenly into my skin. The latter is what I tend to use it for now. Both brushes are made of synthetic hair, yet feel incredibly soft and they have lasted me a long time. These babies have gone through regular washings, deep cleansing rounds and still they work like a charm and remain feeling as soft as when I first bought them.

The brushes are dense and pick up product easily. They are both big and fluffy brushes, but the blush brush is a bit flatter than the powder brush. I don’t remember how expensive these were. Like I said in the intro, the blush brush was part of a discounted set and I bought them a long long time ago. I found that the blush brush costs 14 euros if you buy it separately right now. I couldn’t find a price for the powder brush but that will cost a tad more. Definitely not cheap for a brush, but to me well worth the money as they have lasted me so long.

I honestly can’t believe that I don’t read much about these brushes anywhere. They are very soft, cruelty free and hold up really well. I have never wished to try any other powder or blush brush simply because these work so well. Having bought these before I knew much about make up, this must have been my best make up purchase at the time. The other brushes that came in the kit weren’t that great and I have since replaced them with other brushes. So you may want to think twice about buying eyeshadow, eyeliner or lip brushes from TBS, but this blush and powder are amazing.

Powder brush

Blush brush


If you’re looking for brushes that do their job, are cruelty free and will last you some years to come then these are definitely worth the investment.

Do you have any TBS brushes?

Make up collection: Brushes

Make up collection: Brushes

I grew up using nothing but sponge tip applicators that came with the product to apply my make up. Ever since I became more and more interested in make up, I quickly learned that you can do so much more as long as you have the right brush to do it. You can have the prettiest and most pigmented eyeshadows, but with the wrong brush even the best make up can look bad. The most essential part of applying make up isn’t the make up you have, but it’s the tool you use to apply it with that make all the difference: brushes! Here are mine. I will list my favorites as we go along.

Concealer, eyeliner & lip brushes

From left to right: Sigma Concealer F75, Sigma Flat Definer E15, Small Eye Liner E10, HEMA angled brush, The Body Shop Lip/ Concealer brush, HEMA lip brush.

My favorites are the Sigma E15 and the HEMA angled brushes. The flat definer brush is great for tightlining your upper lash line and the angled brush I use most for putting on gel eyeliner and the other one I use for my brows.

Eyeshadow & Blending brushes

From left to right: Sephora Smudger brush, Urban Decay Eyeshadow brush, The Body Shop Eyeshadow brush, HEMA eyeshadow brush, Sephora All Over Shadow brush, ELF angled eyeshadow brush, HEMA blending brush, Sigma Tapered Blending E40.

I already featured the Sigma E40 in my favorite make up products of 2011 list, so that is a definite favorite. I use it to blend shadows. The HEMA one I use mostly to apply eyeshadow that I only want to smoke out etc. My other most used brushes are the ones from Sephora: the All over Shadow and Smudger brushes are amazing. The All over Shadow brush is great at what the name tells you it will do and the smudger is great for applying eyeshadow on the lower lash line.

Crease eyeshadow brushes

From top to bottom: ELF eyeliner brush, Sigma Small Tapered Blending E45, Sigma Pencil Brush E30, Sephora Sponge Tip Shadow Applicator

I like using these brushes for the more precise work: applying eyeshadow to my crease or upper & lower lash lines. I prefer the E45 over the E30 as the E30 gives more of a line than the E45 does. I don’t like having any harsh lines in my looks as it makes my eyes look even more sunken in so that’s why. The ELF eyeliner brush sucks at applying eyeliner, but it’s great for applying eyeshadow to the lashline.

Face brushes

From left to right: ELF kabuki brush, ELF fan brush, ELF Comlexion Brush, The Body Shop Powder Brush, Sigma Duo Fibre F50

From this bunch I mainly use the kabuki, fan and powder brush. I use the ELF Kabuki brush for applying my face powder, the fan brush for applying a highlight and the powder brush for applying bronzer. I don’t really like the complexion brush as it is very dense, but it works fine for applying sheer blushes. The Duo Fibre brush works great, but since I stopped using liquid foundations it’s not being used all that often anymore.

Blush brushes

From left to right: Sephora Angled Blush brush, Sigma Duo Fibre Powder/ Blush F15, The Body Shop Blusher brush

I use all three of these brushes on a regular basis. I use the angled one for contouring, the duo fibre one for cream blushes and the blusher brush I use for all regular powder blushes.

Brushes I don’t use

From left to right: The Body Shop Smudger brush, The Body Shop Foundation brush, HEMA powder brush, ELF Powder brush

I really don’t use these brushes, but for some reason I can’t get myself to throw them out. I find something wrong with each one of them: too coarse, unpractical, too dense, you name it. But honestly, how could I throw out that awesome looking pink bristled powder brush?

As you can see: no MAC brushes, but plenty of Sigma, ELF and Sephora brushes. There’s even a stray one from HEMA. My favorites are mainly the Sigma and Sephora brushes. With ELF it’s a bit hit or miss: their studio line brushes are pretty good quality, whereas their regular line brushes are not really worth buying. The same goes for HEMA actually. Their eyeliner and blending brush are great, the rest: not so much.

Do you use make up brushes to apply your make up? What are your favorites?