Monday, August 27, 2012

Spotlight: Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics (aka OCC) Brushes

One thing I love just as much as makeup, is makeup brushes. The tools you use to apply your makeup make a world of difference in the application process and final result. As you may have guessed by now, by my in depth synthetic brush review, I LOVE makeup brushes.  I've recently added to my collection some high end brushes from Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics (aka OCC). These brushes are very luxurious and definitely pro quality. If you are a professional makeup artist, or looking to make an investment in top notch brushes, I highly recommend these.

I already had an OCC lip brush that came in my lip tar set.  Side note: lip tars are basically a hybrid between a lipstick and and a gloss, and one of my favorite lip products because you can mix them to create your own colors and they last a really long time on the lip. More recently I purchased from OCC their Brush #001: Large Powder Brush, Brush # 011: Small Powder/Blush Brush, and Brush #004: Tapered Blending Brush.

Pros: High quality synthetic fibers, sturdy handles, good handle length, soft bristles, brush head shape is ideal for professional application

Cons: For some, it will be price, these are not cheap brushes, but I'm of the firm belief that you often get what you pay for, and I believe these are worth the price.  I also think OCC should do a better job of showcasing the brushes on their site, better pictures, more in depth description, etc. On their site they look like they are nothing special, but when you get them in your hands, they are truly spectacular.

The company may not like this part of my review, but I chose to showcase the brushes along side a less expensive brand simply to give you a frame of reference as to the size of the brush. I feel many of you may have these less expensive brushes in your collection, so you can really see the size and evaluate for yourself if this is something you want to purchase. Again, this comparison is only to show size.

These are the brushes:

 Note the tapered head on the large powder brush.
 The nice full head on this brush is ideal for both face and body. I use it to apply bronzer, dust off any excess powder and even at times, depending on the look I am going for, a sheer application of blush.

 Above is the small powder/blush brush. This has become my go to blush brush. I love it for precise placement of both cream and powder blush on the cheeks. Because of it's size it also fits nicely in the hollows of the cheeks if you want to contour with it. I use this brush almost daily.

 Above is a side by side comparison of the large and small powder brushes. Note the difference in head shape. The smaller is flatter, though slightly rounded, while the larger comes to a tip.

 Above is the lip brush. This is ideal for applying lipstick, lip tars, and gloss. I almost always prefer to apply all three with a brush, as I find gloss application comes out shinier and more even with a brush.  Applying lipstick with this brush allows for a more precise application.

 As mentioned above, I wanted to show you a size comparison. Above, I paired the OCC small powder/blush brush with a Real Techniques buffing brush. While the Real Techniques brush has a flatter head, and wider handle, they are approximately the same size.
 Note the density of the bristles
 Again, I've paired the OCC brush along side a Real Techniques brush. These are both large powder brushes. As you can see, the OCC brush is a bit longer, and the head is more tapered.
 The bristles have the perfect amount of bend to them.

 Note the Real Techniques brush has a fuller head, but that is largely due to the different shape of the bristles.

 Here I've compared the OCC blending brush to a Too Faced tapered blending brush. Note how much longer the OCC brush is. The head on the OCC brush is also tapered, while the Too Faced bristles are not.
 For me, this tapered blending brush is a stand out among my entire brush collection, and I am starting to wonder how I ever lived without it. It blends out crease color with perfection.

This comparison is between the OCC lip brush and an E.L.F. concealer brush. Although the E.L.F. brush is meant for concealer, I often use it as a lip brush. Note the bristles on the OCC brush are much longer, and more tapered.

One complaint I sometimes hear about synthetic brushes is that they don't pick up powder products as well as animal hair brushes.  With the OCC brushes, this was not the case at all. These brushes pick up powder just as well as any other brush on the market, and would stand up and hold their own against the top of the line by any brand.

In conclusion, these are solid brushes. I'm really happy I purchased them, and I encourage you to try them out. Even if you only purchase one, get the one you think you'll use the most, and trust me you will be wowed by the quality.  These are truly excellent brushes, and they absolutely make the case that you really don't need to harm animals to get a superior quality brush.  OCC is a vegan brand, so if you are interested in cruelty free cosmetics, I encourage you to check out the rest of their products as well.

Their site is: which is where I purchased all of these brushes for review.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Kate Hudson Inspired Makeup Look

My inspiration comes from many sources. The other day as I was thumbing through a pile of junk mail, I came across an Ann Taylor catalog.  I noticed Kate Hudson, but it wasn't the clothes that made me take a second glance, it was her makeup. This celeb is known for frequently doing her own makeup at photo shoots and is the face of Almay Cosmetics. What I loved about this look, is that although she is wearing a hot pink lipstick, it still looks office appropriate. The dewy look of her cheeks makes her look youthful and vibrant.

These are the pictures that caught my eye*:

I think this is such a polished, pretty, feminine look, so I decided to recreate it. Unlike my summer makeup look post where I paired a hot pink lip with navy liner, this is more subdued and elegant, but still equally as fun to wear.

 While the look is not identical, I do think I captured the spirit of the look. On eyes, I used Urban Decay Asphalt from the Smoked palette on outer corners.  Up close the eyes appeared to have some shimmer on them, so I used 3 Urban Decay Stardust shadows.  The color Bobby Dazzle was used on the inner part of the eye, and along the brow bone, with Diamond Dog & Moon spoon on the outer parts of the lid. I used Urban Decay 24/7 liner in Perversion along the lash line.  To make this look more appropriate for a corporate office, you could substitute the Stardust eyeshadow for Kinky from the Urban Decay Smoked palette for your inner corner and brow bone highlight.  Kinky is a matte ivory shade, that is very appropriate for daytime.  You could still use the Asphalt eyeshadow on the outer corner, as the color is muted enough, and though shimmery, does not contain any chunky glitter.

 On the lips, I used a hot pink lipstick, Stila lip liner in Obsessed and topped it with just a dab of ELF shimmer gloss in Ruby Red.  For the face, I used a full coverage liquid foundation, and powdered only the outer parts of the face, leaving the cheeks with a natural glow.
 To get the dewy look on the cheeks, I used Nars Illuminator in Copacabana.

 I used a light pink blush on the cheeks for a light, natural looking flush.
And that's the look! I hope you enjoy it. Any questions, please comment below!

*Kate Hudson photos from

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Synthetic Makeup Brushes Part 3- About the Brands

Below is some more information on the brands I mentioned, mostly taken from the company websites.  The list is alphabetical, and I've only listed brands that I have personally used.  I hope you find this list helpful, and I'll continue to update it as I try more synthetic brushes from different brands.  I do not feel comfortable promoting or listing a brand that I have not tried, which is the only reason they are excluded from the list. There are many poor quality synthetics that I do not recommend.  If you see a brand and you are unsure if it is good quality or not, drop me a comment in the box below, as I have probably tried it and can probably help you before you waste money.  All of the brushes I featured have been used repeatedly, and washed many times, so I can feel comfortable about what I am recommending. 

*Please note most of the prices are per brush as of Aug 2012 including any discounts.  These prices reflect only if you were to go online and buy a single brush today (at the time of this post), how much it would cost. Many of these brushes are available in sets, or at a discount if you buy more than one. Generally speaking, sets always tend to be cheaper on a per brush basis than if you were to buy them individually. Generally the larger the brush, the more expensive it is, so in most cases, the high end is a large powder brush, while the low end is a lip or eyeshadow brush.

Bdellium Tools (the B is silent) Green Bambu Series brushes are a professional grade, eco-friendly brush line made of synthetic bristles with bamboo handles.  There are no animal products used in the making of these brushes.  They are hypo allergenic and 100% cruelty free. Bdellium Tools are designed by a group of brush experts in California.  All of their brushes are handmade and they design all of their own products, sometimes developing brand names and/or custom designs for larger clients. $7.04-17.55/brush

(The) Body Shop is a company focused on natural ingredients and products that are good for the planet.  They are against animal testing and for fair trade.  However, it is important to note that this company is owned by Loreal who is not a cruelty free company.  I realize this makes a difference to a lot of people, so I wanted to mention it. The Body Shop was started by a human rights activist, opening the doors of its first store in 1976.  Their brushes have ended up on Oprah's favorites list and with good reason. Recently Lily Cole created a cruelty-free makeup line that is 100% vegetarian in its ingredients (no bug shells, fish scales, etc). $6.82-16.90/brush

Branded J Brushes *UPDATE* is a brand I recently got into. I had heard of this brand before, but didn't list them until I tried the brushes for myself. I've used three of the eye brushes, and they are awesome. They have a long acrylic handle, nickle ferrule and luxurious taklon bristles. Branded J Collections is a cruelty-free company which proudly makes products that make a difference. The bristles of this brush deliver antibacterial benefits, and the story behind them is amazing. Like myself, the founder of this company recognized that although attention has been drawn to the cruelty of cosmetic testing, many people were still using animal hair brushes. She created this high-end brush line for makeup artists to have the most professional tools possible without sacrificing animal lives or quality. $15-56/brush

Christopher Drummond is a makeup artist who has a full line of vegan cosmetics (check out his concealer its awesome for under the eyes!).  This is a high end, professional brand, and every product I have used from the line has impressed me.  He is focused on vegan beauty, and cruelty free makeup and tools. His are some of the best in the industry, and I am truly proud to use his products.  His makeup and brushes are all natural, organic-based, free of irritants, non-toxic. $18.50-28.00/brush

Cozzette is a great choice if you are a makeup artist. While these brushes are a bit more pricey, they are masterfully constructed, and the bristles are extremely soft. They have a wonderful selection of styles, some which I haven't found in other brands. I have The Divinity Collection as well as some singles.  I would also like to note that his company has excellent customer service. One of my packages got lost once, and they quickly found it, and made sure it got to me in a timely fashion. I would also like to mention their vessels which are used for storing brushes, q tips or other makeup artist necessities while protecting them from dust. One of my favorites from this brand is the Diamond Blender, which is a shape I've been looking for in a synthetic brand for quite some time. Purple is my favorite color, so the pointed purple handles are extra special to me. I also love the brush cleaner from this brand, because unlike so many other brush cleaners on the market, this one smells like a spa!   $12-33/brush

Earth Diva Cosmetics offers vegan and cruelty-free makeup and brushes online.  Their brushes are made of quality taklon bristles with sustainable bamboo handles. These brushes are quite affordable, yet work quite well. This is a great brand for those with sensitive skin because their mineral makeup is free of irritants such as bismuth, fragrance and oils.  They offer a full range of eco-friendly brushes for sale both individually or in a set. The bristles feel silky, yet they are firm enough to blend product.  $2.75-$13.95/brush

Eco Tools are probably the most widely available brush. They carry these at Walmart, Walgreens,,,, Target, the list goes on and on. Eco Tools is an earth-friendly brand that helps you get gorgeous and be green at the same time!  Their brushes are super soft and they have a line by actress Alicia Silverstone which features cosmetic cases, holders and unique brushes to the line. Stand outs from this line include the Ecotools by Alicia Silverstone 4 piece Backstage Vanity Set which includes a great finishing brush & cup holder to hold everything in.  Their best seller is the Bamboo 6 piece brush set which is a great starter kit and is highly affordable. $5.82-7.98/brush

E.L.F. ***UPDATE 11/9/2012: Please note that the Essential Line brushes are made of horse hair.  Only the Studio line or Mineral Line (which I believe is being discontinued) is vegan.*** E.L.F. stands for Eyes Lips Face and is a discount brand  that is known for their value brush sets and affordable cosmetics. Some of their products are carried at Target and the rest are available on their website. Since they are so affordable, they are a great starting out brand for a young budding makeup artist to practice her technique with. In addition to their already low prices, they frequently have sales (right now as I write this their 11 piece brush set is on sale for 88 cents when you spend $25). They sell brush sets, single brushes and brush accessories and cases. Their tools are designed for everyday use and have many available for only $1 regular price. Their website is filled with customer reviews, so you can see which brushes might work best for your needs. Their Kabuki brush is one of my favorite in their line as I think it actually does rival higher end brands. This company recently celebrated 8 years of beauty. $1.00-8.00/brush

Enkore Makeup Online offers a handful of vegan brushes that are really great for use with cream products. These have a nice long black handle, and I love to use them with foundations, cream blushes, contour and cream highlighters. Each brush has synthetic and white fiber optic bristles, perfect for high definition makeup. This site was created by Koren Zander, makeup artist and makeup enthusiast. He has some great vegan friendly makeup items in his shop as well, so be sure to check out the other goodies he has to offer. Koren is a professional makeup artist and he has many helpful videos on YouTube so that he can share what he's learned over the years with you! $5-$18/brush

Everyday Minerals is a company that uses only the finest natural ingredients in their cosmetics. They are organic, vegan and Eco friendly. None of their products are tested on animals and their makeup brushes are among some of the softest I've used. All of their brushes are synthetic and made by hand with a sturdy bamboo handle. I have their long handled kabuki and their eye kabuki with I love for blending out under eye concealer. They also sell brush rolls to carry your brushes as well as makeup bags. They have some truly unique brush styles on their site, so if you want something a little bit more special to add to your brush collection, check them out here: $7.99-22.99/brush 

Furless is an Australian based company that offers cruelty-free makeup brushes and accessories. They have a very large selection of brushes available for personal or professional use. Per their website, this company gives a portion of their profits to "Wildlife ARC, a charity organization that rescues and cares for injured or orphaned native animals, so they can be happily released back into the wild." Like me, they don't believe animal hair belongs in makeup brushes. I love their pro angled foundation brush because it has a nice long cobalt blue handle, and super silky bristles. I use this brush a lot to apply foundation or primer to clients. In fact, since Furless wants you to be happy with your purchase, they even offer a money back guarantee. They ship internationally, and their site even offers a currency converter so you don't have to do the math yourself. Their website allows you browse single brushes by type as well as offering different brush sets. It's hard to include a price range because they offer so many different brushes at various price points.  You can shop Furless by clicking here:

Hourglass Brushes are a luxurious collection of metal handle brushes made from high grade Takelon.  Hourglass is a California based beauty brand.  Sephora carries a few of their brushes. $25.00-65.00/brush

Illamasqua Brushes are hypoallergenic and completely cruelty-free. This is a British brand that I learned about from watching one too many YouTube videos by the Pixiwoos. They have recently started carrying some of their brushes on $29.37-61.90/brush

IT Cosmetics has created a new standard in luxury makeup bushes.  Their brushes are designed to prevent premature sagging of the skin, by offering super plush bristles.  All of their brushes are ideal for those who like an airbrushed look to their makeup. While the look of the bristles are somewhat similar to Sephora's airbrush line, the bristles are much softer, yet still blend product quite well. All of their brushes (as well as their makeup) is 100% cruelty-free.  I also recommend these for people with sensitive skin. These brushes are available at , and internationally at The Shopping Channel. $15-$58/brush

Kelley Quan offers a professional grade vegan brush line. According to their site, these brushes are, "Tested on models not animals!"  Kelley Quan is a makeup artist, beauty editor and fashion publisher.  Her New York based company offers a nice variety of pro quality brushes including her unique patented wave brush which is great for filling in brows. $13-65/brush

Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics* aka OCC are 100% vegan & cruelty free brand. Most famous for their Lip Tars, this brand has a professional line of vegan makeup brushes that will rival any brush on the market in terms of quality.  These brushes were field tested behind the scenes during LA's Fasion Week S/S 2011.  These brushes are truly amazing and impressive, and I guarantee you no one would be able to tell the difference between their most expensive animal hair brushes and these.  The bristles are amazingly soft and unlike some cheaper synthetics, are awesome at picking up powder. Like all of the brushes mentioned here, they can be used on creme, liquid or powder products.  These brushes are the perfect weight and have nickel-plated ferrules to help balance the brush out.  I would highly recommend these if you are a pro makeup artist.  I first heard of these from another professional artist on YouTube and knew I had to try them out.  If you only try 1 brush from the line, make it the tapered blending brush, a stand-out among the line, and among my collection. $18-28/brush
100% Pure Cosmetics* is a brand that focuses on cruelty free cosmetics, which is what drew me to them in the first place.  Per their website, they "love animals and refuse to support anything that hurts animals which is why none of our formulas are ever tested on animals."  They sell cosmetics, skin care, and of course BRUSHES! They sell both short and long handled brushes made with their signature synthetic white bristles and white handles. If you are concerned about the white bristles staining, don't be, I tested them using some of my most pigmented beauty products, and they all washed completely clean with ease. These are affordably priced, so if you are a girl on a budget, who loves animals, these are the brushes for you.   $10-18/brush

Purely Pro Cosmetics  vegan brushes are ones that I came across on I bought one to start (the Chubby Blender) and was really impressed. I now own about 5 brushes from this brand, and think they are really nice. The handles are a little bit shorter, so if you like to sit close to a mirror when you do your makeup, these are a good pick. Also, if you are an Amazon Prime member, most of these are available for the two day free shipping! Favorites include the #56 Perfect Line brush and the Chubby Blender, which I love for applying liquid or cream foundation. While I have only purchased brushes individually, they do offer a 10 piece vegan set on their website, which is reasonably priced considering the quality of the brushes.  $11-33/brush

Real Techniques By Samantha Chapman have to be the most impressive brush line in their price point. I came across them by accident while browsing on  There isn't an Ulta by me so I never would have found these otherwise and consider these to be my hidden gem. I'm happy to report I recently found out they carry these at Harmon Beauty Supply as well. This line was created by Samantha Chapman a UK based makeup artist AKA one half of Pixiwoo. If you haven't watched her tutorials, I suggest you do, as I always learn something new. These brushes although reasonably priced, are made of high end materials.  The brushes are color coded so you know which part of the face they are meant for (orange is for bases, purple is for eyes and pink is for finishing).  Many of the larger brushes stand up on a table due to their flat bottom design, and the smaller eyeshadow brushes come in a case that doubles as a stand. Additionally, these brushes have their names on them so you always know their intended use. However, if you are ever unsure about how to use one, simply pop on over to their website where Samantha herself will demo it for you via a video on the site.   $5.99-9.99/brush

Royal & Langnickel Revolution brushes are probably the most technologically advanced brushes in my kit.  These brushes were created by Kevin James Bennett, an award-winning makeup artist.  These are pro quality, with textured bristles that mimic real animal hair, a no-slip handle and an overall super durable brush. With 32 different brushes in the collection, these brushes are a must have for makeup artists. My personal favorite is the BX-66 brush, which is ideal for eyeshadow blending. $4.79-$39.99/brush

Royal & Langnickel Silk Green Line brushes are an eco friendly professional grade brush. They come with a wooden handle and silky synthetic bristles. I personally own the set, which comes in a really cool cork-like case for travel. The set comes with 12 pieces and is eligible for a pro discount to qualified individuals. I would say the bristles on these are comparable to Cozzette brushes in terms of the silkiness of the bristles. I think anyone would have a very hard time distinguishing these from a high end set of animal hair brushes. While the handles are wooden, they are very smooth as though they have some type of a clear coating over them. The smudger brush and powder brush are my favorites from the set. The price of these is really reasonable considering the very high quality of these brushes.   $2.99-24.99/brush

Sedona Lace synthetic brushes come with fun pink and black bristles. Their 12 piece synthetic set is very similar in quality to Sigma's Mr. Bunny set, yet the price is lower.  Their synthetic angled flat top brush is a great way to apply foundation for a flawless finish. The quality is high end and I think these would work well for both makeup lovers and makeup artists. If you want something outside of the traditional brush, that is a little bit more fun, these are a good pick. Please note that they do also offer animal hair brushes on their site, so it is important to read the description. The Sedona Lace site does a great job of clearly labeling which brushes are synthetic and which are not. $12.95-$14.95/brush

Sephora Collection Pro Airbrush brushes work great for both liquid & powder makeup products. Their #55 brush has been a cult favorite among makeup lovers.  These brushes are made of Taklon hairs (high grade nylon fibers). Sephora is my favorite beauty store because I can find so many brands in one place.  Sephora launched in the United States in 1999 and most can hardly imagine a world without it. $24.00-34.00/brush

Sigma develops revolutionary beauty tools and has a full vegan section on their website. Their brushes are professional quality and are available both through their website and on  I was first introduced to their line with their amazing kabuki brushes. These are the most dense, soft, unique brushes I have ever used. They have every shape and size of long handled kabuki you could ever imagine. With 3 pages of vegan brushes to choose from on their website you are sure to find something to meet your beauty needs. $9.00-16.00/brush

Tokidoki brushes come with fun characters on them and are a must have for those into Japanese Anime. Their brushes are known for coming in fun sets with each brush often being named after one of the Tokidoki characters. This line is about to be discontinued at Sephora so snatch them up while you can! Tokidoki means "sometimes" in Japanese.  This brand was created in 2005 by an Italian artist and his business partner. In addition to makeup brushes, they make apparel, footwear and other fun accessories. $10.00-14.00/brush

Too Faced was one of the first high end companies that offered synthetic brushes. Their famous "teddy bear hair" bristles are super soft and loved by many. I prefer their face brushes to their eye brushes to be honest, but regardless of which brush you pick up by the brand, you can't deny the uber-cute design of them. My favorite among the line is their Powder Pouf Brush. $13.50-$34.00/brush

Urban Decay*Update* Urban Decay is now owned by L'Oreal, which is not cruelty-free* is the first brand that I decided to purchase every brush from because of their cruelty free stance. I wanted to support their values, and I found their brushes to be of excellent quality. Their brush line is known as "Good Karma Brushes" because you can feel good about buying them. The latest to their collection is the Optical Blurring Brush which applies liquid, cream or powder foundation and is 100% vegan.  Urban Decay faced some backlash recently when they had considered expanding in to China, a country which does not support their cruelty free agenda. Thankfully, Urban Decay reversed their decision before selling in this country, so they remain a cruelty free brand. This brand began 15 years ago and is now the largest independently owned cosmetic company in the United States. $20.00-36.00/brush

*Please note some of the brushes listed here may have been sent for consideration by the company. This in no way alters my review. I only list brushes that I actually use. I do not get paid to do reviews.

*Please note both The Body Shop & Urban Decay are owned by L'Oreal. L'Oreal is not a cruelty-free company and is known to test on animals.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Best Synthetic Brushes - Part 2

 Above are the five brushes you absolutely need in your kit. I don't mean that you specifically need these exact brushes, but you need these type of brushes. The top left can be used to apply foundation, blush (cream or powder) and to knock off loose powder from the face.  The second can be used to apply eyeshadow to the lid, or concealer under the eyes.  The third can be used to blend eyeshadow into the crease, or apply concealer under the eye.  The fourth can be used to fill in eyebrows with brow powder, apply gel, powder or cake eyeliner, and groom the brows with the spooley end.  The final is a synthetic push brush used to push liner into the lash line. It is important to note that while the brushes I have featured here are all synthetic, there may also be animal hair brushes available from that particular manufacturer, so it is important to read and know what you are getting.

 A closer look.

Below are another five brushes that are great to have, but not necessarily needed. I do, however, use this next set quite frequently. From left to right: Sephora Cream Blush Brush. I find this great for blending out stains such as Benetint. Next is a detailed concealer brush, which can also be used as a lip brush. Pictured below are ones from OCC & E.L.F..  Next are Kabuki brushes from MakeupForever & Tokidoki. Next is a smudge brush used to smudge eyeliner across the lash line, the one pictured below is from Urban Decay, and works beautifully. Last but not least is a finishing brush from BDellium Tools, I use this as the final step in makeup application to knock off any finishing powder that's left over on the face or to polish my foundation.

Here is a sampling of some of my eyeshadow blending brushes:

 Above are a large sampling of my eyeshadow blending brushes. This was by far the hardest brush to find in good quality synthetic fibers for me. I've listed them from favorite to least favorite. From left to right: Christopher Drummond (pro), Real Techniques Base Shadow Brush , Sephora Brand, Urban Decay, Tokidoki, The Body Shop, Urban Decay, E.L.F., Real Techniques Crease Brush (I find this too large to blend eyeshadow, but LOVE it for under eye concealer), Too Faced and Aveda.  The Christopher Drummond brush is hands down the best quality synthetic blending brush I have personally used. It is AMAZING.  I have two brushes from the Christopher Drummond line and they are truly stellar quality and very impressive looking. The second brush above is from Real Techniques by Samantha Chapman. This is a great synthetic dupe for the M.A.C. 217 which is nearly impossible to find. it is in fact the only synthetic I could find of its kind.  The last two are quite poor in my opinion. Nothing against Too faced. The brush is soft, but it doesn't give the proper bend for blending out eyeshadow.  The Aveda brush at the far right is awful, it is far too stiff to blend eyeshadow properly, which is a shame because some of their other brushes are quite nice. 
 My top 3 above
 A comparison of the best & worst blending brushes (side by side)
 The above picture shows the brushes that I can't live without regardless of price point.   I use these brushes nearly everyday. Also please note that I only listed Real Techniques as Beginner/Budget friendly because they are so inexpensive, but make no mistake, these are great quality brushes for personal use. Real Techniques are worlds ahead of the other two budget friendly brands I mentioned in my previous post in terms of quality.
From left: Real Techniques (this is a dupe for MAC 217), Sephora Anti Bacterial Powder Brush (pro), Christopher Drummond, Real Techniques blending brush (great for concealer under the eyes), Urban Decay 24/7 Pencil Blending brush (I use this to blend out eye pencils across the lid, such as NYX Milk Pencil), Hourglass Powder and foundation brushes are last (but not least)!  If I were to add one more brush here it would be the Christopher Drummond Air Blender Brush pictured in my previous post. It's a unique brush and applies both blush and highlighter to the cheekbone like a dream.
 In conclusion: Beginners should be buying Real Techniques (available at or, Mid level can purchase any of the brands I recommended and be good, Pros should go with Hourglass, Illamasqua or some of the Sephora brushes.  Sigma does have a vegan set called Mr. & Mrs. Bunny, but I have not tried those, I have only tried their synthetic Kabukis which are very good.

I really hope you found these posts helpful. If you know of any other quality synthetics I should try, please drop me a comment below. 

Best Synthetic Makeup Brushes - Part 1

I am extremely excited about writing this post. As you may have read in my previous posts, I do not use real animal hair brushes. All of my brushes are synthetic. However, I have not in any way sacrificed quality.  When I was looking for quality synthetic makeup brushes, I really had a hard time finding information online. I've learned what works, and what doesn't through trial and error. I have an extensive synthetic brush collection, and have decided to share the information that I so wish was available to me when I first started my quest. I hope this comprehensive guide answers all of your questions, but if it doesn't, please leave a comment in the box below with any questions. You'll notice, I don't show many foundation brushes here because nearly all are synthetic, and I prefer using a sponge for foundation on clients.

Why use synthetics?
  • It's the only way I can be sure that no animal suffered in the creation of the brush
  • They are easier to clean
  • They repel bacteria better than animal hair. 
  • Many people have allergies to animal hair brushes.  
  • Synthetic brushes work with both cream and powder products.

Quality synthetic brushes are available at ALL price points. I will show you the best of the best (pro level), Mid level (makeup artists just starting out, or someone who wants to invest in good quality brushes), and the perfect inexpensive ones for someone just starting out.

I will also show you my personal favorites regardless of price point.

First up, is Professional Level / Luxury: Hourlgass, Illamasqua, Christopher Drummond, Sephora Brand.

Others to note:
Branded J, OCC, and Cozzette also make very high end synthetic brushes that are supposed to be amazing quality, but I have not tried them other than the OCC lip brush, so I can't comment on their quality. In my personal opinion, the brushes listed below are superior quality.

From left to right: Hourglass Powder Brush No. 1, Illamasqua Blusher Brush 2, Christopher Drummond Air Blender Brush (this brush is awesome for applying blush or highlighter), Sigma Precision Flat -P80, Sephora Brand Pro Airbrush #55, Sephora Brand Pro Angled Blush Brush #49, Crease Brush from Sephora Brand Advanced Airbrush Set, Concealer Brush from the Sephora Collection Deluxe Antibacterial Brush set

Mid Level Price Point (Makeup Artists, or for a makeup lover who wants really good quality brushes):  BDellium (I only buy their synthetics or Green Bambu series which is a totally vegan and environmentally friendly line), Urban Decay, Tokidoki. In no way am I saying these are of poor quality by calling them mid level. These brushes are excellent quality. However the price point is much more affordable when compared against the Hourglass brushes above. The quality of these brushes are great, but they are not a luxury line and it's really like comparing apples and oranges to compare one of these against an Hourglass brush (for example). However, these are superior among their price point. For comparison; the Illamasqua Blusher Brush 2 above retails for $41.50, and the Hourglass Powder Brush retails for $65 while the Urban Decay Good Karma Blush Brush below retails for $32, the Good Karma Powder Brush (not pictured) is $36.  The handles are also much shorter on the Urban Decay & BDellium brushes when compared to the pro brushes above. There is nothing wrong with this, it is simply a matter of personal preference. Some makeup artists prefer a shorter handle and use it as an extension of their own fingers/hands, while some prefer a longer handle.

From left to right: Urban Decay Blush Brush, Tokidoki 24K Brush (discontinued), BDellium Tools Eco-Friendly #957 Precision Kabuki 

Personal Use (For Beginers / Budget Friendly): This price point probably is the most difficult, because there are so many poor brushes out there.  Just because you don't have a lot of money, doesn't mean you can't still have a quality makeup brush. These brushes come highly recommended by me, and if I were someone just starting out with makeup, these are the brushes I would (and did) buy.  I wasted a lot of money buying garbage brushes before I found ones that are worth the money.  I am trying to save you the trouble, by offering you my honest review. I still use these brushes when I am doing my own makeup, or want some extra precision brushes to throw in my bag.

From Left to Right: E.L.F. Blush Brush (Stuido Collection), E.L.F. Powder Brush (Studio Collection), E.L.F. Large Powder Brush from their Mineral Collection, Real Techniques Powder Brush, Real Techniques Blush Brush, Real Techniques Stippling Brush, ECO Tools Flat Top Kabuki, Eco Tools Eye Shader Brush

Of these brushes, Real Techniques are hands down the best quality brush in this category. They are extremely affordable, and EXCELLENT quality.  These were created by makeup artists Samantha Chapman. I am extremely impressed with the quality of her brushes.  If you invest in one set, this should be it.  However, I realize that due to price constraints, different interest levels in makeup, availability etc, you may want a different brand.  E.L.F. brushes are very good, and very affordable as they frequently have sales. The one thing I will say about the E.L.F. brushes, is that I have had several come loose at the Ferrel, some with the bristles falling off completely. However, I was able to just glue those back in to place. These brushes do have a place in a makeup artists kit as well. I do buy the concealer brushes from the Essential Collection and treat them as disposables, using them until they break because they only cost $1 each.  The Powder Brush from their E.L.F. Studio Collection is a cult favorite and for only $3 it functions very much the same as the BDellium brush I have listed above in the mid level section. The difference between the 2 brushes is going to be mainly seen in how long the brush lasts. For example, my E.L.F. one did come apart (though was fixable), while the BDellium is showing no signs of breaking anytime soon.  ECO Tools is in many ways the brand that first raised awareness about quality synthetics. This is the brand that is most available (carried at Walmart), and the one most buy as their first brush set. Some brushes, most notably the Alicia Silverstone collection are quite good, and will work very well for beginners. 

How do the various price points hold up against one another? I tried to show you comparison across brush type. If you'd like to see a more in depth comparison let me know.

 Angled Blush Brushes left to right: Sigma Angled Kabuki -F84 (Pro), Sephora Brand Pro Angled Blush Brush (Pro), Illamasqua Blusher Brush 2 (Pro), E.L.F. Angled Blush Brush (Beginner), Urban Decay Blush Brush (Mid)
Note how much fuller the bristles are on the Illamasqua brush compared to the E.L.F. one.
 Above you can see E.L.F on the left, compared to Illamasqua on the right (beginner vs pro)
 E.L.F. on left, Illamasqua on right - a closer look

You can really see that the Illamasqua brush head is much fuller when compared to the E.L.F. (above).
 Flat Top Kabukis: Sigma (pro), BDellium (mid), Eco Tools (beginner), E.L.F. (beginner), The last 2 are Real Techniques Buffing Brush & Stippling Brush (beginner)

 Blush/Powder/Foundation: Sephora (pro), Tokidoki (Mid), Aveda (Mid), Real Techniques (Beginner), E.L.F. (Beginner)- please note that since these brushes are synthetic they can be used for both powder and cream products.  They can all be used to apply foundation, blush, or dust off powder.

This is part one of my very long brush review. I honestly hope you find it helpful. I'll post part 2 shortly where I will show you the top 5 brushes you need,  and the best and worst synthetic eye blending brushes (VERY HARD TO FIND!).