Archive for the 'brushes' Category

There’s a New Lancome Deluxe Brush Set In Town

October 4, 2009

Lancome’s ‘Declaring Indigo’ Nordstrom Exclusive 5 Piece Brush Set was a huge hit when it launched, and it looks as though Lancome has decided to capitalize on that success during the holidays by brinigng us this lovely purple-hued Deluxe Brush Set for the holidays.

At $59 it’s $7 more than the original Declaring Indigo set, but it does include one more brush and comes in an elegant bejeweled brush roll ~ plus it’s a $160 value! So what exactly does your $59 get you?

  • Foundation Brush #2 -The must-have brush for flawlessly applying any foundation.
  • Powder Brush #1 – The pro for sheer, smooth, naturally flawless powder application.
  • Precision Shadow Brush #12 – The ideal partner for all Lancome eye shadows.
  • Dual Ended Brush #18 – At one end: the flat, fine edge brush precisely applies shadow, wet or dry, to create a sharp eye lining result. At the other end: the shadow brush.
  • Blending Shadow Brush #17 – For the most precise eye shadow application. It allows you to smudge shades into eye corners for the smokiest looks.

Check out my review of the Declaring Indigo set to see reviews of all the brushes except for the #12 Precision Shadow Brush. If you’ve been on the hunt for a decently affordable set of travel brushes, there are a fantastic option as they’re really a great deal at $59 and the quality is really pretty amazing. Or pick up a set as a holiday gift ~ I know I’d love to find one waiting for me under the tree come Christmas morning!

Lancome ‘Declaring Indigo’ Nordstrom Exclusive 5-Piece Brush Set Photos Galore (& Review)!

July 21, 2009
Lancome Declaring Indigo Brush Set ($52)

I’ve been told that I’m quite possibly one of the most annoying people in the world to shop with: I’m indecisive, I second-guess every decision and I basically have to contemplate each purchase or a good hour or two beore I can make a final decision. But this Nordstrom-exclusive Lancome Declaring Indigo Brush Set was one purchase decision that I made in minutes and I haven’t looked back since! I’m generally not a bluesy kinda person, but the rich, deep indigo of these brushes is truly stunning and a crowd-pleaser for sure, judging by the rate at which these sets were selling. Check out my small Norstrom Beauty Exclusives haul HERE!

I bought this set primarily for the Mineral Powder Foundation Brush, a plush, dense, velvety soft brush that picks up powders beautifully. I’ve been in desperate need of a powder brush for the longest time, and that gave me just the excuse I needed to indulge in this set.

I’m generally not a fan of these types o oundation brushes as I tend to go for the stipplers or the shorter, denser ones like the Shu brush I previously reviewed, but Lancome’s Foundation Brush #2 was a pleasant surprise. It’s super soft, of course, yet it applies foundation beautifully thanks to the fact that it has some give without being too flexible. It’s that perfect blend of firm yet yielding that enables streak free foundation application.

So to be honest this Blender Brush #4 is a bit of an enigma to me. It’s really oddly sized, as in it’s pretty massive to be used as an eye brush, but really small for a face brush. Lancome says that this is great for blending face and blush powders or eyeshadows meaning it can be used for both face and eyes, but it seems to be ill-suited for both. I’m probably going to reserve this to use or highlighting my cheek/brow bones and the like.

And the fourth brush in this set is double ended. At one end we have a flat, fine-edged brush for lining the eyes.

And on the the other end we have a nice all-purpoe eyeshadow brush, although it looks more like a concealer brush to me.

I took a little family photo so that you can get a relatively good idea of the sizes of these brushes in relation to each other. The blender brush is the one facing the bottom let corner — see what I mean about its odd size? How would you use that on your eye?!

My minor quibbles aside, the Declaring Indigo brush set is one of the best purchases I’ve made all year and definitely a set that I hope to treasure for years to come. The brushes not only have a gorgeous blue hue, but they’re well-constructed, incredibly soft and plush feeling against the skin, and a seriously great value at only $52!

ABS Shops Nordstrom’s Beauty Exclusives!

July 20, 2009

You’ll be getting more in-depth info on the products in upcoming posts, but here’s my tiny restrained haul!

So here’s my favorite purchase of this year: Lancome’s ‘Declaring Indigo’ Brush Set (see it on Nordstrom’s site HERE). I’ll be posting a review on these tomorrow or so but let me just say that if you haven’t already, you need to get your hands on these! Not only are they simply stunning, but they’re also an amazing value, exceedingly soft and plush, and just so much fun to own.

Plus it didn’t hurt that my purchase qualiied my for a great gift with purchase (GWP). I chose the indigo tote to go with my new indigo brushes and was delighted to see that the set included a Color Fever Shine lipstick in Pink to the Club (you get a choice of two shades), a bright pink that’s heavy on the golden flecks, which I’ve actually been meaning to purchase.

Can you believe I only made two purchases during this year’s Nordstrom Beauty Exclusives event? But that’s pretty much all my wallet would permit, and I’m proud that all of my purchases were relatively practical ones.

Purchase #2 was Clarins’ UV Plus Day Screen SPF 40 Double Edition (see it on Nordstrom’s site HERE) which I raved about on the blog HERE. This is seriously my HG sunscreen and it’s one amazing product that I don’t think that I can be without.

And lucky for me there was yet another GWP! While you technically have to purchase two separate Clarins products to receive this gift, the salesgirl was sweet enough to let me get away with just puchasing the UV Plus duo. How amazing is this set? I can’t believe that it was free!

I’ve already taken a bunch of rather beautiful close-ups of the Lancome brushes so you can expect those to be up Tuesday (hey a little suspense is good for you!) but in the meantime I’ll be posting a bunch of swatches that I know you’re going to love!

Q-Tips: How Do You Use Them?

July 14, 2009

I was really thrilled to see that Q-tips recently released these adorable and oh-so-functional Vanity Packs – attractive enough to prettify any countertop or vanity!

I don’t know about you, but Q-tips are really a staple in my daily routine. There are just a million and one ways to use them! Here’re a few ways that I use my Q-tips:

  • to smudge/blend the upper contours of a dramatic eyeshadow look when I need something a little stiffer than my blending brush
  • to squirt a little makeup remover onto to clean up any fallout issues and messiness
  • to soften up/smudge liner when I’m having a brush crisis (meaning my brushes are filthy and need a good wash)
  • to wipe off random objects (like Chloe’s ears!)
  • applying ointment
  • and so so much more!

I’ve never really been a fan of the Q-tip packaging (although I”ll admit that it’s classic) so I was so pleased to see that they’re now available in four trendy, pull-out drawer designs that look great in any room, and more importantly are really well-designed. The inner drawer slides out to reveal a neatly stacked tower of Q-tips at your service. Love it!

So what unique uses have you found for Q-tips? Share your ideas with me! 🙂

Sephora’s New Double-Ended Color Dipped Brushes

July 9, 2009

Back when I purchased my shu uemura #18 goat foundation brush (review HERE) I also happened to spy their 18r red powder brush; I wasn’t particularly into the brush itself, but I was enthralled by the unnaturally red hue of the bristles. When I saw Sephora’s Color Dipped Brushes on the site today, I was immediately reminded of the Shu brush.

Double-Ended Perfect Complexion Brush ($35)
Sephora Brand Double-Ended Perfect Complexion Brush is a makeup bag must-have designed to create a flawless result. This essential is twice as nice with a side that specializes in cream and fluid foundation and a side that works wonders with powders.

Tell me if I’m being a beauty snob here, but I happen to think that $35 for a Sephora-brand brush is just a bit much, especially considering that the Shu brush I’d had my eye on doesn’t cost that much more. That having been said, you know it’s nearly impossible for me to resist anything pink. I do think I’ll manage though give the rather high price and the fact that I really don’t need another foundation brush.

Double-Ended Grab’n Go Brush ($32)
Sephora Brand Double-Ended Grab’n Go Brush is a brilliant solution for complete eye and face makeup. The soft, orange brush fibers aren’t the only bright thing about this must-have tool. Grab this go-getter and you have an eyeshadow brush for applying light-colored shadow over the entire eyelid and a powder brush for applying loose powder or compact foundation on the other—all in one hand!

Am I missing something here or is this brush really orange and my eyes have just gone wonky on me?

Double-Ended Smokey Eye Brush ($18)
Sephora Brand Double-Ended Smokey Eye Brush is equipped with a slanted eyeliner brush and a smudge dome, both in a posh and pleasing purple, which promises to create a downright stunning stare. Line the length of your upper and lower lashes with the slant end for a seductive start. Use the smudge end to draw darker shadow to the exterior of the eye or to outline the eye with a thick, bold line.

Double-Ended Winged Brush ($18)
Sephora Brand Double-Ended Winged Brush is a one-tool ticket to seriously sophisticated eye makeup. Don’t be fooled by the mellow feeling of its soft-textured, light yellow, synthetic fibers—this must-have means beautiful business. Use the eyeliner end to draw a fine line and apply cream or powder shadow with the complementary shading and blending end.

Double-Ended Every Day Eye Brush ($18)
Sephora Brand Double-Ended Every Day Eye Brush is a must-have eye makeup tool that is enchanting in orange. The colorful brush fibers aren’t the only bright thing about this eye-catching essential. Now you can apply shadow all over the lid and blend your way to fabulous effects with darker shadows—all with one bound-to-be-beloved brush.

If I were you be completely honest with myself I’d be able to admit that I really do want at least one of the first two brushes that I posted, but as of right now I’m swimming deep in denial and refuse to come up for air until the urge to buy has passed! Especially consdering that I just placed a Sephora order (with a gift card I swear!) the other day for a YSL water-resistant eyeshadow in a gorgeous gray/amethyst shade and Urban Decay’s latest mascara release.

shu uemura Handcrafted Natural 18 Goat Foundation Brush Review

May 19, 2009
shu uemura Handcrafted Natural 18 Goat Foundation Brush ($39)

Handcrafted by Japanese artisans, this natural goat foundation brush is designed to apply foundation evenly with a high-coverage effect. The perfectly shaped #18 brush uses ultra-fine, uncut goat hair tips to create a smooth application with a professional finish.

The natural hairs are uncut and hand placed so they are very comfortable on the skin. The shape and size are perfect for applying and blending foundation in quick strokes.

Use one side of the brush to apply foundation to your face, then flip the brush to the other side to blend the foundation across your face. Use the tip of the brush to blend in the more difficult areas, such as under the eyes and around the nose.

If you forced me to choose the five makeup items that I currently couldn’t do without, three of them would be Shu; pretty impressive considering that I’ve only tried a few of their items, but it’s truly a testament to the quality of their products. So what are these three items? Well given my mascara obsession, my Shu Uemura eyelash curler is necessarily a definite must-have (and has been for years). The other two are newer acquisitions, purchased during Bergdorf Goodman’s latest gift card event (see my haul HERE): the extra large Shu Hard Formula Brow Pencil (read my rave review HERE), and this itty bitty little foundation brush.

Now I don’t know about you, but when I think goat, I think scratchy–goats and soft & cuddly just don’t seem to go hand in hand. But the uncut and hand-placed bristles on Shu’s #18 foundation brush contour beautifully to the planes of your face and never feel rough or itchy. Happy sigh!

I wasn’t too crazy about the Shu technique for applying foundation using this brush (described above), but when I used just the tip of the brush to apply my foundation, the magic happened. The small brush head gives me amazing control and I find that I can use less foundation that I normally would. Using light, quick strokes I can achieve a flawless finish in a matter of seconds and applying my foundation has seriously never been so easy.

While I was always a fan of my MAC 187 for applying foundation, lately the floppiness has been bothering me a little. Because the bristles are so bendy, I don’t get nearly as much control as I’d like, plus stippling away can get to be rather time-consuming. Now don’t get me wrong, I still really like my 187 for blushes and other powders, but the Shu definitely outshines it for foundation application.

There are complaints out there that application using this can be a little streaky, and I’ve found that if you do use the sides as the Shu people instruct, you will see a few streaks. Instead, I only use the top of the brush (the end part), dab it in my foundation, and then apply using light circular motions. I really can’t say enough good things about it! The #18 accompanied me to Korea, Boston, Connecticut, and it’ll be going many many more places with me in the future.

Shu Uemura’s 18 Goat Foundation Brush was designed to smoothly apply thicker cream foundations, but I absolutely love it for any and all formulas. I’ve used it with my super runny Guerlain Parure Extreme foundation and it picks up and evenly distributes this runniest of foundations with the greatest of ease; same with my medium-thickness Guerlain Parure Pearly White, and my super thick La Mer Treatment Creme Foundation. I know $39 isn’t exactly a bargain for such a small foundation brush, but this is one of those few times that I can say that the product is a great investment and was well worth it! I’m totally loving my little impulse buy!

Be Green & Gorgeous For Earth Month!

April 2, 2009

Go green and gorgeous with ecoTOOLS this April in celebration of Earth Month! As many of you undoubtedly know, their products are amongst the finest and most affordable “green” additions to any beauty lover’s toolbox.

ecoTOOLS products were recently chosen as one of InStyle Magazine’s 2009 Best Beauty Buys and winner of PETA’s 2009 Proggy Award for Best Cruelty-free Brushes, and is beloved by celebrities like Alicia Silverstone, Mariska Hargitay, Olivia Wilde, and Courteney Cox-Arquette. And of course your very own resident blogger happens to love them as well!

Some fabulous options with which to start off your ecoTOOLS collections are:

ecoTOOLS 6-Piece Brush Set ($12.99)

This all-inclusive brush set is one of the most beloved products in the collection. It comes with all a girl needs to make beauty simple and natural—just the way nature intended. Products include: Blush Brush, Eye Shading Brush, Eyeliner Brush, Concealer Brush, Lash and Brow Groomer, and a Linen and Hemp Brush Case.

ecoTOOLS Recycled Retractable Kabuki Brush ($7.99)

See my review of this HERE.

ecoTOOLS thinks beyond bamboo with the Recycled Aluminum Retractable Kabuki Brush. Recycled aluminum helps to save energy and reduce waste – which is always in style. This sleek brush is perfect for applying a touch of blush or a dusting of powder. Plus, the casing is super sleek and chic!

ecoTOOLS Foundation Brush ($5.99)

Chosen as an Editor’s Pick by InStyle for their Best Beauty Buys, this fab foundation brush works just as well (if not better) than the pricey department store ones. The soft bristles insure that foundation goes out smoothly, evenly, and without any skin irritation. Definitely a must-have!

ecoTOOLS 5-Piece Travel Brush Set ($9.99)

See my review of this HERE.

Like its big sister, this travel brush kit has all a girl needs to get by on the go. Respectfully traverse the earth with this pint-size set, which has the necessary survival tools for any adventure. Throw it in your carry-on for quick and easy re-application as you brave long security lines and crowded airports. The set includes a mineral powder brush, concealer brush, eye shading brush, lash and brow groomer, and a linen and hemp brush case.

In celebration of Earth Month, I’ll be hosting an ecoTOOLS giveaway sometime in the next day or so—stay tuned!

ecoTOOLS Retractable Recycled Aluminum Kabuki Brush Review

March 20, 2009

This is one of the few times that I feel that a post has no need for text ~ the photos and price of ecoTOOLS’ retractable recycled aluminum kabuki brush pretty much speak for themselves.

The brush is eco-friendly, wallet-friendly (price at only $7.99), face- and animal-friendly thanks to its ridiculously soft, dense cruelty-free hair, and travel-friendly. This is one serious bargain, as I it’s nearly identical, in terms of quality, to my Too Faced Retractable Kabuki Brush, which costs a whopping $28.50.

The bristles are just so plush and luxurious feeling, and the brush itself is incredibly dense, making it great for applying everything from mineral powders to blushes. The quality really is amazing, and I’m not just talking about amazing for a drugstore item. ecoTOOLS really does give you department-store quality for a drugstore price.

Love this photo! It definitely gives you an idea of just how dense the bristles are.

I’ve consistently been amazed by how great ecoTOOLS brushes are. I’ve developed an infatuation of sorts with my 5 Piece Mineral Makeup Travel Brush Set and really hope to be seeing more of ecoTOOLS at stores around me, since it can be a bit hard to come by. If you should stumble across a few of their brushes (I’ve seen them at Walgreens, Rite Aid, CVS, Ulta, etc.) I’d most definitely check them out, as they give you great bang for your buck, and who doesn’t want that, terrible economy or not!

BeautyBlender Makeup Sponge Review

February 25, 2009
BeautyBlender Set ($34.95)

Technique is everything when it comes to creating a camera-ready, flawless look. So imagine all the prettifying possibilities you’d score if a makeup artist’s skills were wrapped up in one innovative tool. Meet your new makeup must-have: beautyblender® —the makeup sponge designed to create absolute complexion perfection. This award-winning, hot pink number gives you amazing coverage and blending capabilities with its easy-to-use shape and suede-like texture. Use the wide end to blot on makeup and blend effortlessly. Or, work with the pointed end for hard-to-reach spots or delicate areas around the eyes. There’s no foundation line or eyeshadow crease that can hide from the beautyblender sponge’s super-blending powers. Get ready to absorb the benefits.

As many of you know, the sweet Vanessa of Van’s Makeup Ride sent me a Beautyblender set (which I’d mentioned wanting HERE) a month or so back, and I’ve really been enjoying getting to know the ins and outs of this bouncy pink egg over the ensuing weeks.

Close-Up of the Beautyblender so you can see the texture.

When dry, the BeautyBlender is a firm, compact, egg-shaped sponge that doesn’t seem to be all that extraordinary, making you wonder if perhaps this isn’t better suited as a child’s Easter toy than as a makeup applicator, but submerge it under some running water and let it plump up and you’re in for a surprise.

BeautyBlender dry

Using Your BeautyBlender: Once you’ve thoroughly soaked the BeautyBlender, then squeezed out the excess water, you’re left with a pink sponge that’s easily twice its original size and that has some serious bounce to it. Now don’t get carried away playing with the sponge–you have some makeup to apply! I like to squirt a little foundation onto the back of my hand, dab the pointy end of the BeautyBlender in it, and begin bouncing away. In a matter of seconds you’ll be left with a sheer veil of foundation that imparts a flawless, airbrushed finish. Just use the narrow end to reach those hard to reach spots, and use the rounder end to quickly cover larger areas.

BeautyBlender wet

What I Love: The BeautyBlender is amazing for flawlessly applying your foundation of choice–it will never look cakey or heavy, and your complexion will look like actual “skin,” only better–and isn’t that the point of foundation? So many products currently on the market promise an airbrushed finish, but this is one that actually delivers. I will say that the finish isn’t nearly as flawless or airbrushed looking as what I get using my SK-II Air-Touch foundation, but it’s great nonetheless.

Skin post-foundation application using BeautyBlender.

Not So Much: There’s a lot to love about the amazing simplicity that’s the BeautyBlender, but as with every product, it does have its detriments. The main one for me is the price~a single BeautyBlender, which according to the company should be discarded after 3 months, runs $19.95, meaning approximately $80 per year. Now for well under $80 you could purchase one pretty amazing foundation brush that would probably last you for years on end.

In addition to the price of the sponge itself, there’s the price of the BeautyBlender BlenderCleanser, which is an additional $17.95. It does a thorough yet gentle job of cleaning your sponge, but that’s one expensive cleanser for a glorified piece of sponge/foam!

While I can look past the price as I’ve been known to indulge in overpriced products every now and then, my two major frustrations are the major production it is for me to clean the BeautyBlender, and the ridiculously long time that it takes to try. The sponge takes a full 24 hours to dry (at least in my house), and therefore it’s often not dry the next time I want to use it–booo! Also, thanks to my vigorous cleanings I noticed that after 3 uses or so small tears had already developed in the sponge, a disappointing development considering the cost of the product.

Would I Repurchase? I’m not sure. I currently have Sephora credit so I’m seriously contemplating the 2 BeautyBlender set (a relative bargain at $25.95, especially compared to the price of one!), but the time it takes to clean the sponge after each and every use, plus the drying time are making me second guess the impulse.

ecoTOOLS 5 Piece Mineral Makeup Travel Brush Set Review

February 3, 2009

Many of you had expressed an interest in ecoTOOLS’ 5 piece mineral makeup travel brush set that I blogged about HERE (only $9.99!) and so here it is! I’ve never actually tried a drugstore brush so I was highly skeptical, but I absolutely love these, and you can’t beat the price!

This earth-friendly brush set is packed with the 4 high-quality brushes made with bamboo handles (which have a low impact on the earths resources as it is a highly sustainable plant), synthetic taklon bristles which are 100% cruelty free, and sleek ferrules made from recycled aluminum. The sets consists of: a Mineral Powder Brush, Concealer Brush, Eye Shading Brush, and Baby Kabuki.

Baby Kabuki and Mineral Powder Brush

I’ve been in desperate need of a good powder brush for the longest time, since my long-time favorite DVF brush decided to fall to pieces a few months back. The baby kabuki is super soft and dense and picks up and distributes powder very well, plus I love its petite size.

The mineral powder brush is the perfect size and density for applying blush. I’ve tried much more expenisve brushes, but this one is really great–I’ve been using it with the new Chanel JC blush that Nicole got me and the brush allows me to get precise color placement while distributing the color evently.

Concealer Brush and Eye Shading Brush

So I’m not as crazy about these two brushes, but they’re still nice to have as part of the set when I’m traveling. The concealer brush I don’t love simply because I don’t have much use for it since I don’t wear much concealer, but it does serve its purpose so I can’t complain. There’s nothing at all wrong with it and it’s very soft.

The eye shading brush is decent but I much prefer the face brushes to this one. Like the others it’s ultra-soft, but the bristles just don’t pick up and distribute color the way that my other blending brushes (which look just like this) do–I seem to get less pigmentation using this one, plus my application is just a little messier.

All my brushes, happily tucked in.

All in all I’d say that this brush set is more than worth the $9.99 it costs! Definitely look for it at your local drugstore.