If you're at all familiar with my blog, you know I love and adore MAC products. You also know I'm willing (mostly) to spend a lot for quality. Admittedly, MAC brushes fall into the "quality" category. But, in the words of Karen from Makeup and Beauty Blog, DAYUM. They're REALLY expensive. I draw the line at
giving up your firstborn spending upwards of $50 on a brush—because it just isn't necessary. Brushes like Real Techniques by Samantha Chapman of Pixiwoo prove it.
I was introduced to the foundation phenomenon that is The Stippling Brush about a year ago. MAC was selling these cute brush sets as part of their holiday collection, and I thought, "Why not?"
I fell immediately almost-in-love with the 130SE, a short duo-fibre brush. It left a finish I'd never before had the joy of knowing on my foundation.
The standard flat brushes have always left me streaky, and sponges soaked up too much product. So for the longest time, I ignorantly, blissfully used my fingers to apply foundation, not understanding that this application method let my foundation sort of just sit on top of the skin. The MAC 130SE showed me the magic of foundation that melts into the skin. It was incredible...except for one little thing.
The brush shed.
Every single time I used it, I was picking little black hairs off my face—even after washing more than once.
In addition to this being annoying, I couldn't help but wonder how many days my little brush had before going bald.
Back to the MAC store it went. Maybe it was because it was an SE brush (the cheapie brush sets are machine cut rather than hand cut like the full-sized MAC brushes)—I don't know. But I wasn't spending $50 on the full-sized version without a REALLY good reason.
My research led me to one of these little beauties as an alternative:
Real Techniques brushes are good quality—and cheap, cheap, cheap. I got my first one from iHerb.com, and in Canada, they're now available at London Drugs. Sets of three to four brushes are only $20. This brush, which comes alone, is only $11!
This stippling brush is great—as are the other Real Techniques brushes I've tried. They have light metal handles and ferrules, the synthetic bristles are nice and soft, and—YAY!—I've experienced zero bleeding or shedding.
I stipple my foundation on with the sparser white bristles, which allows for an incredibly even application. Then, pressing a little bit harder to get at the denser black bristles, I do some blending. I find th bristles aren't quite dense enough to give me a streak-free finish, so I do some final buffing with my Sonia Kashuk Flat-Top Multipurpose Brush. Given both brushes are less than half the cost of a MAC 130, I'll take it!
Why do I have two of these stippling brushes? If you look closely, you'll see they look a little different. One is a year old. The other is brand-spanking-new.
I thought you might like to see how they've worn. The brush on the left is the new one. The brush on the right is a year old. Note that I've used it almost daily and washed it very, very frequently—at least a few times a week, if not every day. There are some dents on the old brush from me tapping it against the sink to knock water out of it (oops), and the bristles kind of bunch together even when it's clean. Thanks to some very, very over-zealous drying (I used to tug as I squeezed to get the water out—don't be like me), the head has been superglued in a few times.
Yep, I've been hard on this brush, and it looks a little worse for wear. But it still performs really, really well. I replaced it only because I figured it was only so long before the head popped out again.
One important note: I don't recall my first brush being quite this fluffy-looking when I bought it, but I could be misremembering. I'll keep you posted on how this one looks in a few months.
Would I repurchase? Yes, I think so—though I'm hoping a gentler touch will keep it looking lovely for longer. One MAC stippling brush will buy five of these—so I figure there's a little grace, right?
Rating: Three and a half stars out of five.
Available: In Canada, your best best for these brushes, which are about $11 each, is London Drugs. You could also try Wal-Mart. If you can't find RT brushes in store, go for iHerb.com—shipping is incredibly reasonable.
Have you tried any of the Real Techniques brushes? What did you think?
Disclosure: These products were purchased by Eyeshadow Addict.