Sunday, 19 July 2009


Thought I would do a post about my daily staple arsenal of makeup brushes. As most makeup junkies know, good brushes are the foundation of any makeup kit. Well made brushes also last many years and you only need to wash them weekly to keep them in good condition. And actually you don't need to spend a lot to get a good basic set of brushes.

For example, Etude House makes an excellent range that retails for less than S$20 each. I've come to use their foundation brush and cheek brush almost daily. I use the foundation brush with Benefit Hellow Flawless powder foundation and it gives me a flawless, seamless finish every time. The result is far superior to using the dinky little sponge and brush that is included with Hello Flawless. I like to use the cheek brush with MAC Mineralize blushes as it picks up the blush pigment well and is easy to control, which is vital when you're working with intensely pigmented blushes. I don't use the small eyeshadow brushes as much as I still prefer the MAC/Inoui ID equivalents (below) but they are also very soft.

I have quite a few MAC brushes but the four below are the ones that I use regularly. For MAC, I highly recommend buying only the permanent range. Don't bother wasting money on the brush sets (in which the brushes are labelled "SE" for Special Edition) that MAC puts out a few times a year as the quality is invariably inferior to the regular ones and you're not really saving money if the quality is crap.

I use #187 mostly for applying MSFs and blushes, #213 for highlighting the browbone area and the small shading #228 brush for lining the lower eyelid and applying shades along the upper eyelid to the crease area. My #213 brush is a SE from a Christmas set from around 2001, when MAC's holiday brush sets used to be of much better quality. As Asian ladies like me tend to have smaller eyes and eye areas, a small brush like #228 is extremely useful and it's the one MAC brush I can't live without. I just bought #226 recently from the Color Craft collection as I had read many rave reviews for it but I haven't played with it much yet so can't really say much about it.

The brush on the left is from RMK Powder Foundation EX while the one on the right is from Benefit Hellow Flawless powder foundation. The RMK one is far superior with denser and softer bristles while the Benefit brush is cut unevenly, sparse and feels a bit rough. The Benefit brush actually shed when I was using it for the first time! I like to use the RMK one with Guerlain Meteorites balls to finish off my foundation.

These are the other random brushes from various brands. The top one is from a Bobbi Brown, that came in a set with a Shimmerbrick. I like to use it with Guerlain's Meteorite balls as well but I find the head is too fat for using with Shimmerbricks for which I prefer a small brush for better control. The brush below it is a no-label brush that I received as a GWP with a NARS purchase a few years ago in Japan. It's good for both applying blushes and loose powder. The Maybelline eyeliner brush has been a daily staple of mine for the past 7 years and I use it for my brows daily with MAC Cork eyeshadow. Maybelline no longer sells brushes in Singapore unfortunately but this brush was super cheap and I much preferred it over the MAC equivalent which is much stiffer. At the bottom is an Inoui ID eyeshadow brush that I use for highlighting and applying base shades all over the lid.

These are the foundation and blush kabuki brushes from The Body Shop, which I also adore, especially the blush kabuki which I actually use for applying powder foundation sometimes.

You don't actually need a big arsenal of brushes for daily use. I would say just four or five brushes is enough for most people: big powder brush, cheek brush, eyeshadow brush, eye shading/contour/blending brush, eyeliner/brow brush. And remember to always wash them frequently on a regular basis. I use MAC brush cleanser. One bottle costs S$18 and usually lasts me at least 6 months. Many also recommend using baby shampoo but the few times I tried Johnson's baby shampoo, I found that it leaves a residue so I went back to MAC brush cleanser.


j0s1e267 said...

Great post Iris! I love MAC's #187but my true HG eyeshadow brush is the Inoui ID one! I do not know what I will do without it! I notice that you do not use any Shu Uemura brushes?

Tracy said...

Nice brushes! I think the etude house ones seems cheaper than the usual and good reviews about them. I gotta agree MAC's SE brushes are totally a rip off from the full size ones.
Is Benefit's foundation you mention good?

Haru said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Haru said...

Hey Michelle,

I only have one Shu brush, a small powder brush that I got as part of a GWP some years ago. I'm not into Shu brushes as the ones that I have from MAC etc are more than enough for me. Plus Shu is very pricey!

Hey Tracy,

The Benefit Hello Flawless is quite good, but I had to play around with the application (sponge, foundation brush, big flat brush) before I got a finish that I liked. In terms of the color match, I still prefer Lancome's Maquicake but I've been using Hello Flawless pretty much every day for the past week and am quite happy with it. Oil control is so-so only and I still have to blot every couple of hours or so but the coverage is not bad and it doesn't get cakey.

pinky said...

Hey Haru
thanks very much for posting your brush recommendation after i asked what brush you used for the guerlain, you really kept up to your word and earn our respect~! :) hugs
thanks i will certainly go check it out.

Haru said...

Hey Pinky,

Am always happy to help and share makeup tips :-)

plue said...

Thanks for the post! I had been wondering if I should get the EH foundie brush since it's on sale right now and not many reviews on it :)

I do agree with you EH has lovely brushes up for grabs, especially the Duo Fibre, I reckon it's a close dupe to mac 188? Not sure as I don't own 188, yet :P

The cheek brush is very soft and nice! It fluffs out a little after washing it, when in original state it's more compact, this is normal right?

I notice EH eye brushes are someewat rather big too, for me that is. I got small crease and a small eye area, sigh.

Haru said...

Hey Plue,

My Etude House cheek brush still looks quite "normal" after washing and I've washed it several times. The bristles don't splay out too much. I thought this brush, along with the foundation brush, were the best brushes in EH's range. I don't have the duo fibre brush but Jojoba at mymakeupreviews has reviewed it.

plue said...

Thanks Haru for your explanation!

I guess mine's pretty normal i guess :P I hope it stays that way!

CT said...

love your brushes and review. i am looking for brush cleanser and contemplating between MAC and Shu Uemura, any suggestion? thanks a bundle....

Haru said...

Hi CT,
I've only used the MAC brush cleanser and it's my staple. I've used it for the past 8 years and it serves me well so I've not tried any other cleansers. I'm sure the Shu cleanser should be good as well but it might be more expensive than MAC, as Shu is usually more pricey compared to MAC.