I haven’t been buying a lot of makeup lately (I’ve developed a bit of an unhealthy obsession with other things like skincare and gasp! scented candles) but there’s one thing I’ve been indulging in recently and that’s makeup brushes. Not just any makeup brush, I recently took the plunge and went for a couple of high end, pricey makeup brushes notably from Tom Ford, Hakuhodo and Wayne Goss.
So, I was talking about it online to my friend who’s my sounding board and we got round to discussing these really expensive makeup brushes. I have started seeing a lot of these luxury makeup brushes appear in people’s blogs and Instagram feeds and how everyone goes “OMG you NEED this! It’s perfect for applying blush/eyeshadow/powder” blah blah and I can’t help feeling that it’s not all true, because statements like this sway people and make them irrational.
Despite the fact I do own some luxury brushes and I enjoy using them, I don’t think anyone actually really “needs” these brushes at all. In fact, while I agree that you need good makeup brushes, I don’t agree that you have to sell a kidney to buy that Hakuhodo or Tom Ford brush, no matter how amazing it is, because you could quite easily get similar results from a more affordable brand, but a GOOD brush.
I think it’ll be interesting to hear your thoughts on this, or if you have compared a luxury brush to a regular one and think that my statement isn’t quite accurate
I liken these luxury makeup brushes to a luxury bag. We all want one. We lust after one. We know that for the most part, they are well made, are made of better quality material and will last longer with regular use.
Yet, we also know that a good quality more affordably priced bag, can serve the same function just as well. Think LV Neverfull vs Michael Kors Jet Set tote
Ditto makeup brushes. What you want is a good makeup brush because a good brush can actually make your makeup look better. For example, a good blush brush will ensure that the amount of product that is picked up is sufficient, that it will deposit it on your skin without streaking and that it will be comfortable to blend on your skin, without scratching it to bits. You get good blush brushes in the expensive brush category – Lunasol, Tom Ford, Hakuhodo – but you can also find a good brush in the inexpensive brush category – The Body Shop, Real Techniques, Ecotools – are a few that come to mind.
Here are some tips I have for getting good brushes without burning a hole in your wallet.
Brush Kits or Travel sets
When I first started using makeup brushes, I got myself a travel set from one of the MAC holiday collections. It was pricey, but I got a set of brushes that I could practice with. They aren’t the best quality brushes around, but they could cost as much as one full size MAC brush so I think it’s a good start. Incidentally, despite MAC not being my favourite cosmetics brand, I do have a soft spot for some of their brushes and still use a couple to this day. The MAC239 gets a lot of use and abuse daily.
Later, when I wanted to get into Shu Uemura brushes (also very high quality and pricey brushes) I too got a travel kit from one of their holiday collections. It allowed me to get the feel and to understand how much more superior their brushes were to many others in the market, and I got them at a more affordable price tag. To be fair, the quality in the kits aren’t as good as the full sized ones, but honestly, can you tell if you aren’t an expert makeup artist? I couldn’t and I still can’t because the results I get are similar.
Synthetic bristle brushes are usually more affordable
If you want something affordable, then my suggestion will be to look into synthetic brushes. Real Techniques have good brush sets and their singular brushes aren’t too pricey either. Ecotools too does fairly good brushes (I still use their blush brush) as does The Body Shop and Sigma synthetic brushes are impressive too for the small price tag.
Sometimes, look into the indie mineral makeup brands. They usually have very affordable brush kits that do a good job, or singular brushes that similarly do a good job. I’m not much of a fan of mineral makeup, but the one good thing that came out of the trend were the affordable, good quality synthetic brushes.
The other upside about synthetic brushes is their softness and the fact that they are definitely cruelty free since they are made from man-made fibres, and if you have religious concerns then synthetic brushes are the safest because no animals are involved. Personally, I’m not so into synthetic brushes, as I explained here, so I don’t use many, but if you use a lot of cream based products then they are your best friend because they will clean out easily and dry quickly. One exception to my no-synthetic-brush rule is the white handled Tony & Tina eye brushes you see in the picture above. They are excellent bar none and cost me just US$10 for a set. Well, a little more because I had it shipped to me but they are great (and discontinued ).
Expect to pay more for good quality natural hair brushes
A common thing you will notice among luxury makeup brushes is that they are usually natural hair brushes. After playing around with brushes (I do have a lot of them, but I just don’t talk much about them ) I have come to learn that for the most part, for natural hair brushes, those that come from Japan are superior to most that come from China, and they are also more expensive.
This is true in the quality of the brush, the softness, the density and the make. A good natural hair brush feels softer and more delicate against the skin. One that isn’t as high quality can feel rough and irritate the skin. So, if natural hair makeup brushes are your thing then yes, expensive brushes can quite often mean a better makeup brush because it is just better made. However, we are also starting to see many little Japanese makeup brush companies appear on the scene. Hakuhodo and Chikuhodo are 2 I know of, that sell their own brushes as well as make them for many luxury brands. Even then, their own name brushes aren’t cheap even if they could be cheaper than their branded counterparts. But the quality is impressive.
That said, you don’t NEED that Tom Ford Bronzer brush that costs US$115 (even if it’s really nice to use) or that US$100 Hakuhodo brush. While pricey, the Lunasol Cheek Brush N that I love (and that I know many of you love too) does a good enough job for RM150 (US$47). I was going to say try the Shu Uemura #20 blush brush but I think it could be pricier than the Lunasol (I can’t remember the prices so if someone wants to help out, please do!). But it is also for this reason of softness and quality that I couldn’t like natural hair brushes from brands like Sigma or even MAC because they really grated against my skin for face brushes.
Can I use a paint brush for makeup instead?
Logically and technically you can. Practically I wouldn’t because that’s just me. Besides, as any painter can tell you, a good quality paint brush can be very pricey too, and a cheap one isn’t always good. I’d stick to brushes meant for makeup.
Are you into makeup brushes? Do you think expensive makeup brushes are necessary?
As I said above, I think luxury makeup brushes are like luxury bags. They aren’t necessary. We all want one but the reality is that not all of us can afford one off hand; and whilst it’s nice to talk about saving up for one, if you ask me, I’d rather eat and enjoy myself or travel, while using a good quality but more affordable makeup brush. Truth to tell, few of us general users can tell the difference in results But if you can afford it then I think some brushes are very splurge-worthy!