Monday, February 28, 2011

First Lesson: EYESHADOW BRUSHES - MAC must-haves/starter kit VS Sigma brush kit

When I first started using makeup, I was too afraid to ask for help. Too intimidated by the tools to pick one up and try for myself to see if I were capable of blending colors so beautifully. It wasn't until I took a few art classes that had me do a few paint projects that got me comfortable enough to decide it was time I used those on myself to see what the results for... but where does one start?

"Brushes being sold from every corner of the world, bombarding you with fancy handles and shiny ferrules! This one is so cheap! But THAT ONE is the 'Bently' of brushes if it costs that much!!! Will I be able to replicate a nice eye look if I spend more? What's the difference in hairs/brand/price?"

I ended up with a collection over 50 brushes before I figured out which ones were the essentials. I was already using them, but it didn't hit me until a few months later to almost a year - that I was only reaching for certain brushes when doing my daily makeup:

1.) Blending brush
2.) Short shader brush [to pack on color]
3.) Pencil brush [for smudging to detail crease work]
4.) Angled eyeliner brush [optional if you use gel liners]

Now why buy these from MAC as singles when you can buy a big ol' brush kit from Sigma?

Those 4 are all you need, and buying brush sets, you only use 50% of the brushes in the kit if you're lucky. There's always better out there, and you can always personalize your brushes to the way you like it if you collect them one-by-one.

More bang for your buck might look better going w/ the Sigma kit, but why do that and buy lesser quality brushes you won't bother using? I personally like my MAC brushes because they deliver exactly what they promise to do.

Here are my suggestions for each of the 4 above:

1.) Blending brush:

MAC 217 - better if you have smaller eyes, like more dense color application. Can function as a short shader brush to pack on color by using belly of the brush, but a hassle when using multiple colors and trying to avoid muddying the colors together when blending. [Best to use seperate brushes for different colors anyways.]

MAC 224 - better for bigger eyes, but does not pack on color. [Does not matter if you purchase a short shader brush.] Blends out to a light wash of color easily VS. a 217 which may require a little bit more elbow grease when getting ready. Better if you're more inclined to neutral shades because it is able to blend to a light wash of color, but also blends bright vivid colors into each other well if you have a lot of lid space - and does the job faster than a 217.

2.) Short shader brush [to pack on color]

MAC 239 - does exactly what it promises. Can be flipped on it's side to do some blending and crease work to substitute for 217's blending abilities. Great for getting brow highlight colors close the the edge of your natural brown for a crisp and clean line if you don't want to look like you have stray brow hairs all scraggly and whatnot. I completely suggest you get this w/ whatever else you decide you want to use.

3.) Pencil brush [for smudging to detail crease work]

MAC 219 - exactly what it sounds like: a pencil smudgey brush. Great for setting gel liners w/ e/s on top for long lasting power, under the water line to smoke out your dramatic looks, and for detailed crease work. Not an absolute must have - can be duped easily. Best cheap alternative for accessibility is Essence of Beauty brushes from CVS. MAC's version does blend much better and faster - which makes for more gentle application - making it why I prefer this over my EOB brushes.

4.) Angled eyeliner brush [optional if you use gel liners]

If you don't use gel liners, omit this from your starter collection. However, I am a dailer user of gel liners, and if you've never tried them before, you completely should. There are two kinds - both angled in different ways...

The angled brush is where the the hairs are cut at a diagonal so it's easy to follow your lash line. A bit of a pain to navigate your lower lash line with, but for those that have problems with gauging thick and thin line weights, this is the better option for you.

The BENT angled liner brush has a bent brush handle and a thin round brush head. Some say this one is easier to manipulate than the angled one, but I find it the other way around. Your general preferrence is subjective. I have the MAC 263 and the Ecotools angled liner brush. I use the 263 for my eyelining needs and the Ecotools one for my brow lining needs with brown/charcoal e/s. I also own the Sonia Kashuk bent angled liner brush, and it seemed a little awkward to me. The bent angled liner brush also only limits you to just lining your eyes VS being multi-purpose and being able to double as a brown liner.

Just remember: I have a brush for every function I want it to serve. those are my absolute reccommendations for a starter, but I must remind you I have back-ups/multiples of the same brush for different colors, or different areas of my face. I'd rather spend a little bit more and make sure the brushes I purchased serve their function VS. sitting there and looking pretty... I do own brushes that sit there and look pretty though... haha. Some are pretty enough to where it was worth wasting the $, but the others - ugh... I don't even want to go into how much I've spent on brushes already.

Now I am not dogging on Sigma - I have been dying to try their F-series face brushes, but that will have to wait until my next paycheck. I'm just saying, don't buy a full brush kit if you feel this is all you need and just starting out. People with usually large collections have a variety because they're too lazy to clean them frequently or they just can't get enough... like me. *grin* BUT you CAN buy sigma brushes with the same function as the ones I listed above as singles as well. That way, you'll know what you want when looking into buying brushes. You don't need a whole set. But if bang for your buck means more for your $, go for it!

Also, the MAC travel sets are great intros, BUT they are machine cut VS. the full-sized ones being HAND-CUT. Once you feel the difference, you'll realize softness ranks like this from highest to lowest:

1.) virgin hair [softest]
2.) hand cut
3.) machine cut [scratchier]

Don't half-ass when going high-end. Go hard or go home... because you're WORTH IT. =)

I hope you the best of luck, and hope this helps. I also apologize first hand for unofficially leading you down the path of being a brush junkie. =P

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