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 Brush Guide- About the Brands

Below is some additional information on brands mentioned on this site.  Most of the information is taken from the each company website.  I've only listed brands that I have personally used in the top section, with a list of other known brands at the bottom.  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 brands that I have not tried, which is the only reason they are excluded from the main 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 may have tried it and would love to help you before you spend your money.  All of the brushes I featured in the main section have been used repeatedly, and washed many times, so I feel comfortable about what I am recommending. 

*Please note most of the prices below are per brush as of Aug 2018.  These prices are for reference only, and reflect the cost of a single brush at the time of this post.  Many of these brushes are available in sets, or at a discount if you buy more than one. Sets tend to be cheaper on a per brush basis than if you were to buy them individually. For most brands, I indicate a price range.  Typically, the larger the brush, the more expensive it is.  Therefore, in most cases, the higher price is for something like a large powder brush, while the low end is a lip or eyeshadow brush.

Brushes I Personally Own and Recommend:

Aveda sells quality hair care products everyone knows and loves. Did you know that they also offer high quality makeup and makeup brushes?  I have owned their Flax Sticks Daily Effects Brush Set and Flax Sticks Special Effects Brush Set for years.  Their Inner Light Foundation Brush is a newer brush to my collection, but has become a staple in my daily routine. The only brush that I have not tried from the brand is their Uruku Bronzing Brush.  $40 for individual face brushes-$55-65 per set

Bdellium Tools (the B is silent) Green/Pink/Yellow/Purple 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. $8.00-$20.00/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. 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). $2.00-$26.00/brush

Branded J Collections was created by Peggy J, who created the collection after years of working as a makeup artist in beauty, film and television. I own several brushes from the collection, 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 these brushes 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. $15.00-$56.00/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, are a must have for makeup artists. One of my favorite brushes from this brand is the Diamond Blender, which is a unique tapered face brush. Purple is my favorite color, so the pointed purple handles are extra special to me.   $12.00-$30.00/brush

Crown Brush has offered affordable brushes to makeup artists for years. With a large assortment of brushes of every shape and style, they are sure to have something to meet your budget. The brand does carry animal hair brushes in addition to synthetic, so be sure to read the product description carefully. The brushes that I own from the brand are from their Syntho Series. However, I have also had my eye on some of the synthetic brushes in the Crown Pro Brush Series, which offers some unique shapes and sizes. (affiliate link)   $2.20-$22.95/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

EcoTools 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 even sell beauty sponges and organizers. Their best sellers include the Define And Highlight Duo ($11.99 for 2 brushes), Wonder Cover Complexion Brush ($8.99) and their Daily Defined Eye Kit ($8.99 for 5 brushes and a storage tray). $5.99-$9.99/brush

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 technique with. In addition to their already low prices, they frequently have sales. They sell brush sets, single brushes, brush accessories and cases. Their tools are designed for everyday use and are some of the most affordable on the market. Their website is filled with customer reviews, so you can see which brushes might work best for your needs. Their Kabuki Face Brush ($6.00) is one of my favorites from the brand. It rivals similar shaped brushes from higher end brands on the market. $1.00-$12.00/brush

Enkore Makeup Online offers a couple 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 Sponge & Brush Soaps in his shop as well, so be sure to check out the other goodies he has to offer. Koren is a talented artist and a very nice person. $3.00-$5.00/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 several of their brushes including personal favorites the long handled kabuki (great for applying face powders) and the eye kabuki which I love for blending out under eye concealer. 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: $10.00-$19.00/brush 

Furless Cosmetics USA offers cruelty-free makeup brushes and accessories. They have a very large selection of brushes available for personal and professional use. They are always adding to their product range, and recently launched a collab with Jordi Dreher. I love their pro angled foundation brush because it has a nice long handle, and super silky bristles. I use this brush a lot to apply foundation or primer to clients. Every brush and product on their site is cruelty-free and vegan, so you can shop with confidence. 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. I also recommend checking out their loose pigments.  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. I have purchased my brushes from this brand from Sephora and $32.00-$46.00/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 used to sell their brushes in the U.S.A. on, but sadly they no longer do. They are still available for purchase in the U.K. 19.50 GBP-40.00 GBP/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. $24.00-$58.00/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.  I also recommend checking out The Pocket Spa ($80) while you are shopping the site. $13.50-$65.00/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 is the most impressive brush line for those on a budget.This line was created by YouTube makeup artist duo Pixiwoo. If you haven't watched their tutorials, I suggest you do. I always learn something new when I watch them. Even the most budget-friendly brushes they offer are made of good quality materials.  Real Techniques offers several different collections.  Their Original Collection is probably the most popular.  Brushes from their Original Collection 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).  The Original Collection Travel Essentials set comes with a case that doubles as a stand. Some of their single face brushes, such as the original Blush Brush ($9.00) from the brand, have a wide bottom so that they can stand on a table or desk. If you are looking for something a little higher-end than the original line, the Bold Metals Collection and PowderBleu Collection are a great choice for makeup artists. If you are ever unsure about how to use one of their brushes, simply pop on over to their website where you can see a demo.  This brand also carries innovative accessories, such as their Expert Organizer, Stick & Dry Brush Drying Rack (to dry your brushes bristle side down), and Stick & Store Sponge Keeper.  If you are looking for an inexpensive alternative to the BeautyBlender Sponge, try their Miracle Complexion Sponge ($11.00/2pack).   $5.99-$25.00/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.  While the brand always had a large selection of vegan brushes, I am happy to report that all of the brushes on their website are now cruelty-free and made with synthetic hair.  These brushes are professional quality and are available both through their website and on  If you want to see them in person, Riley Rose carries a nice selection from the brand as well. I was first introduced to this 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. They also offer a nice selection of tools to clean, shape and dry your brushes such as the Sigma Dry'n Shape Tower. They recently launched the F80 Air Flat Kabuki (which I have not tried yet), which is intended to provide sheer, natural coverage. $9.00-16.00/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 is the first brand that I decided to purchase every brush from because of their cruelty free stance. They sell a large variety of cruelty-free makeup with many vegan options. All of their brushes have always been vegan, and they are one of the few makeup brands that includes high quality brushes with their eyeshadow palettes. I own their older brushes that were known as "Good Karma Brushes," as well as some of the newer brushes from the UD Pro Collection. Their Optical Blurring Brush ($32) is one of my favorites. $18.00-$39.00/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. Above listed brushes, are brushes that I actually use and love.I do not get paid to write reviews. Any links provided in this guide are for the reader's convenience only.  I do not get a commission if you buy any of these brushes. This is not a sponsored post.

Other Brush Companies

I have not personally tried brushes from any of the brands listed below, but they do carry a selection of synthetic brushes.

  • Luxie
  • Spectrum
  • M.O.T.D.
  • Morphe
  • Linda Halberg
  • Honest Beauty
  • Dose of Color
  • ColourPop
  • Docolor
  • Sara Hill 

As I continue to try new brands, I will add those that I recommend to the top section along with links and prices.

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!).