Tuesday, September 11, 2018

It's All About STIPPLING BRUSHES! - Battle of the Brushes

As many of my readers know, I love makeup brushes. My obsession started with an attempt to locate the best quality synthetic makeup brush brand, and find professional grade versions of the animal hair brushes most artists were using at the time. What I didn't realize was that my quest for the best, would lead me to collect an assortment of brushes across many brands, some good, some bad and everything in between.  Truthfully, there is not one brand to rule them all.  I have found a few wonderful brands across different price points each with their own strengths and weaknesses.  Therefore, I decided to use my collection to help educate consumers without showing favoritism to one particular brand.  I want to help you find the perfect brush for your needs! The "perfect brush" will be different for each individual based on budget, lifestyle, and intended use.

For today's post, I am looking at one specific brush type, across a variety of brands. Yes my friends, today it is all about the stippling brush!

What is a stippling brush?  This type of brush, also called a duo-fiber brush, generally consists of two different types of brush fibers for the bristles. The bristles are sometimes staggered so that you have long and short bristles densely packed together. Other stippling brushes have the bristles uniformly cut or shaped so they have a flat, even head. Regardless of how the brush is constructed, this brush is intended to apply makeup to the face using a stippling (bouncing up and down motion) motion.

For example, the bristles can be dipped into liquid foundation, and then bounced onto the skin using an up and down motion to press the product into the skin. The more tightly packed the bristles, the more airbrushed look it will provide. 

While this type of brush is intended for stippling, as the name suggests, it can be used for so much more. Lately, I have been using it to apply moisturizer to the skin for my pre-foundation prep work. Something about the movement of the bristles around the face, allows me to get into all of the small sections, gliding the cream on with ease. 

Here is a look at some of the stippling brushes in my collection: 

As you can see from the above photograph, stippling brushes come in a variety of sizes and colors.  Some of the brushes have a longer handle, some of them short.  Some have quite a small brush head, some are large enough for body work. Sometimes the bristles are packed very tight together, others have bristles that are spaced apart. Regardless of how the brush is constructed, I  decided to put them side by side and examine each brush pictured above.

Criteria for best stippling brush:
  • Long lasting - A brush should stand up to multiple cleanings and repeated daily use.
  • Firm ferrule- If the ferrule (metal piece that connects the bristles to the handle) is loose, the brush doesn't have much time left. 
  • Soft bristles- While the bristles should be firm enough to push product into the skin, they should never feel scratchy or rough. 
  • Comfortable handle- It is not uncommon to use a stippling brush for multiple products in the same makeup application.  I might apply moisturizer with the brush, and then stipple on and blend in foundation with the very same brush.  When holding any makeup brush for an extended period of time, comfort is key. 
  • Functionality-As I mentioned, this type of brush can be used for different things.  Does it function for what I want it to?  If you are buying a stippling brush to use with a cream blush, but the brush head is too large to fit into the container, you may want to consider a different brush. With bristles like this, it is imperative that application is not streaky. 
  • Price- Nearly every brand makes stippling brushes these days. They are not at all difficult to find.  Therefore, you should be able to find one in your budget. 

To begin my ranking, I decided to break the brushes up into group by size.  Comparing them this way helped me evaluate their functionality, which is the most important attribute to start with.  

Small Stippling Brushes

For the smallest brushes in my collection, I have a small stipple brush from E.l.f. Cosmetics ($3.00) and the stippling brush from Real Techniques ($10.00).   As you can see, I own multiples of the Real Techniques version.  This is because the small brush head is ideal for smaller containers of cream blush, and applying products to smaller sections of the face.  I had the Real Techniques version first, and did not discover the E.l.f. Cosmetics version until much later. The brush head is slightly smaller on the E.l.f. version.Both brands created their brushes with two layers of bristles and intend them for use with multiple product textures. 

The Real Techniques brush has a wide base at the end of it's handle so that it can stand on a table. However, between the two brands, I must say that I prefer the E.l.f. Cosmetics version.  The Real Techniques brush has rubber at the bottom of the handle. Rubber and alcohol are not friends. While cleaning my brush handles with alcohol one day, I realized that all of my Real Techniques stippling brushes had turned tacky on the rubberized section.  Sadly, the alcohol caused the handles to melt and turn sticky to the touch.  This created a section that all of the dust and pigment just sticks to on the brush.  Trying to remove it only further scraped up the handle of my brush.  I now realize that I need to clean the handles of my rubberized brushes differently, but this is especially frustrating as a makeup artist trying to keep everything sanitary.  The price discrepancy is another reason why E.l.f. Cosmetics wins my pick for best small stippling brush.

Winner in the size small category: E.L.F. Cosmetics Small Stipple Brush $3.00.  Available on their website or in select Target stores. 

Medium Stippling Brushes

This is the size that I use the most when it comes to stippling brushes.  Something about it feels comfortable in my hand, and the brush head is the perfect size for most faces.  I will use this size brush to apply moisturizer to the face before foundation. Unless I am working on a client with very oily skin (in this case I may skip right to primer), moisturizer gets applied before foundation to every single client with a stippling brush. In my collection I evaluated the Bdellium Tools 955, EcoTools by Alicia Silverstone stippling brush, and Expert Stippling Brush from Icing.  All three brushes are about the same length, with the brush from Icing having the largest brush head of the three.  The Bdellium Tools 955 brush has the softest bristles out of the three by far. Icing's bristles are the second softest in this trio, with the EcoTools bristles being the most coarse. I have had the Bdellium Tools & EcoTools brushes for several years, with the Icing's version being the newest brush to my collection out of the three.  That being said, I have still had the Icing version for at least three years. This EcoTools brush was a collaboration with the actress Alicia Silverstone and has since been discontinued.  However, the brand does make a very similar version called the Seamless Stippling Brush ($7.78) which is available at Walmart. Due to the fact that my brush is old, and the brand has since redesigned many of their brushes, I do not know if the bristles on the Seamless Stippling Brush are softer than the version I own. The Bdellium Tools 955 Green Bambu Finishing Brush is $14.00 and is available at bdelliumtools.com. Icing was a retail store in the Virigin Islands that I stopped into when they were having a big sale. I know this store is also in the states, and it's target demographic is women in their 20s, vs Claire's (their parent store) which targets teenagers. I am not in my teens or 20s, but still appreciate a good bargain.  I picked up this Expert Stippling Brush on sale for about $5.00.  I do not know if they still make it, but I did find an Expert Bamboo Stippling Brush on their site that looked quite similar.  This version retails for $9.99, but at the time of this post is buy one, get one free. If you are a beginner with makeup and can grab it on sale, the Expert Stippling Brush from Icing is a great choice.  However, if you are in the market for a high quality stippling brush that will last you for years to come, spending the few extra bucks and springing for the Bdellium Tools version will be well worth it. This brush has served me well over the years.  It does an amazing job with liquids, creams and powders, applying and blending them with ease.  The bristles are so incredibly soft that I never have to worry when using it on clients with sensitive skin.  I have never had even 1 bristle shed from this brush. I have had this one in my kit for so many years, and it sill looks as new as the day I bought it. 

Winner in the size medium category: Bdellium Tools 955 Green Bambu Finishing Brush ($14.00) available at www.bdelliumtools.com or Amazon.com 

Large Stippling Brushes 

After medium, large stippling brushes are the size that I use the most. The stippling brushes pictured above are from the brand Furless. They are all professional quality brushes that live in my kit.The PPF3, or Perfectly Pink Stippling Brush is made with soft, yet durable bristles and retails for $12.99.  The two brushes next to it are essentially the same brush in different colors.  The brush in the center is a Furless PRO6F, Must Have Pro Stippling Brush ($16.95) and the one to the right is from the Rose Gold Must Have ItsLikelyMakeup Set. The set is beautiful and costs $169.95 for 20 makeup brushes plus a brush apron.  I have had the PPF3 since August of 2014.  The PRO6F is a brush I have had for much longer than that, with the Rose Gold version being the newest addition to this trio. Picking a favorite here is really just splitting hairs.  They are all very high quality brushes that will last for many years. My only complaint is that I do wish the Rose Gold brushes were also sold separately, as I would like to purchase a few backups in this beautiful color to give as gifts to people. 

Winner in the size large category: It's a toss up, but if I must choose the PRO6F has to be it. I have had this one the longest out of the three, and the cobalt blue handle is professional, yet stunning.  The bristles are soft, and functional without ever leaving streaks behind. This brush is good for so many different uses, and can be purchased solo or as part of a set.  You can shop here: Furless Cosmetics

Extra Large Stippling Brushes

I know this post is starting to get a bit long, but I had to include these extra large brushes.  With their super big brush head, it is almost impossible to stipple these on the face.  However, they do make excellent body brushes.  Foundation should always be taken down the neck and onto the shoulders or any exposed area of skin.  Sometimes, we just want to tap a bit of highlighter onto the shoulders, or buff in a bit of bronzer.  These brushes are ideal for these uses. Out of these three brushes, I have had the Sedona Lace 813 (first one pictured above) the longest by far. The quality is similar to Sigma brushes, and the price point used to be just a bit cheaper than Sigma at the time of purchase.  It looks like as of the time I am writing this post, this brush is on sale for $6.98 (regular price $19.95). Sedona Lace also sells animal hair brushes, so please be sure to shop for the Synthetic Duo Fibre Brush - 813 if you are looking to add this one to your collection. The brush in the center is from Real Techniques by Sam & Nic.  Sadly, I do not see this brush on their website.  I believe I purchased it at my local Walgreens or Target at some point last year.  It is incredibly soft and the rubber at the bottom of this brush seems to be made of a slightly different material than the stippling brush I mentioned in the section of smaller brushes above. Unfortunately I do not recall how much I paid for this brush, but I believe it was included as part of a set. The last brush pictured above is from IT Cosmetics. Again, I got this brush as part of a set that I do not believe they make anymore. However, I did locate a set on Ulta's website that has a brush from the brand that looks very similar.  It is called Your Airbrush Masters 6 Pc Advanced Brush Set, and retails for $65.00. This set calls the brush their Blurring Powder brush, and recommend it for powder application. I will say this, I have numerous brushes from IT Cosmetics and every single one is a winner.  I am not a big fan of double sided brushes, but the ones I do like are from IT Cosmetics.  These brushes make excellent gifts, and their sets are a wonderful value. I recommend this brush for anyone looking for a bit of luxury in their makeup game.  The bristles are ultra plush and feel so incredibly soft on the skin. 

Again, you can't go wrong if you buy any of these brushes.  All three are absolute winners in my book. The Sedona Lace is great for a professional kit, especially at the sale price! The Real Techniques brush is great for personal use, and the IT Cosmetics version would make a lovely gift, or be ideal for someone wanting brushes that are a bit more luxurious. 

Winner in the extra large category: Sedona Lace Synthetic Duo Fibre Brush - 813.  At $6.98 each, I am seriously considering buying a few more of these for my kit.  Professional quality at drugstore prices? Yes please!! Shop at Sedona Lace.

And the winner is.....drum roll please.....

Both brushes are professional quality, and will last you for years to come. The Bdellium Tools brush has a shorter handle, while the Furless brush has a long handle, so depending on your personal preference this may help you to decide.  The bristle length is about the same on both brushes, but the circumference of the brush head is larger on the Furless brush. The bristles are equally soft on both, and I have noticed no difference in handle comfort.

I have always said that makeup artists and those truly passionate about makeup should invest in high quality tools.  The best tools that you can afford vary depending on one's budget.  However, I promise you that you will not go wrong with either of these brushes.  They are both well-made brushes that I am proud to have in my collection. 

What is your favorite stippling brush? Did I mention it here?  Please let me know in the comments.

*This post contains both brushes purchased by me and brushes sent for consideration.  However, any links within this blog post are simply for the convenience of the reader.  I do not get any commission if you purchase any of the brushes mentioned in this post.  I was not paid to write this post. I do not get paid to write reviews, nor do I write reviews in exchange for products. I have worked hard to build my brush collection over the years, and hope to share my knowledge with other consumers so that they can make the best decisions possible. 

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