Thursday, March 22, 2012

Already On My "Best of 2012" List: Real Techniques Brush Collection Review

Here it is, folks! The long-awaited Real Techniques brush review!

In case you're just joining us, a few months back I ran across an absolutely addictive set of youtube videos by Pixiwoo--two cute-as-pie Brit sisters who just so happen to be in-demand makeup artists. Their tutorials are intricate enough for the professional set, but accessible enough that even a lowly amateur (such as myself) can, at least, pull something of use from the experience. Plus, these ladies are so personable and charming that you almost feel like you're in a conversation with them, instead of just staring at a video on the computer or phone.

Anyway, one thing I kept noticing was their use of something called a Real Techniques deluxe crease brush to apply concealer. The concealer brush I had been using wasn't quite doing it for me, and this brush appeared to just glide over the skin, leaving everything smooth in its wake. I coveted that brush, for crying out loud. I had to have it, so I did some digging (okay, Googling), and found out not only where to find such a wondrous brush, but also that Pixiwoo co-founder, herself, Samantha Chapman, had designed it, along with an entire line of to-die-for tools! And that's when I started stalking Ulta.

See, my Ulta couldn't keep the blasted things on the shelves, so I'd stop by once every couple of weeks, or so, and snap up what little stock they had. Eventually, they started to recognize me. One or two may have even feared me. It took a few months, but I managed to acquire all of the brushes that I needed. In other words, the entire line, save for two tools and the travel set. Here's how they fared:

Photo Credit: Real Techniques
Packaging: The individual brushes come in an easy-to-open, stylishly decorated plastic box. This box is disposable, though the plastic is high enough quality that I'm sure some of you crafty people could repurpose them. The collections are also housed in the plastic boxes, but also come with what may be the niftiest brush holder I've seen, yet. Basically, it's a fabric-covered hard-board book, with little elastics inside to hold the brushes, and a velcro closure. Simple. However, once you open the book, you can bend the top part backwards and down to form a display stand, which is held in place with a ball and string mechnism. I can't express how much I love this stand. It takes up minimal space on my counter, allows for easy access to my brushes, and aids in drying because I don't have to lay everything out on a towel, or risk closing up wet brushes in a roll, causing mildew. 10 out of 10.

Brushes (Quality): Easy-to-grip aluminum handles--labeled and color-coded according to eyes, foundation, or finishing; flat, rubberized bottoms, to allow larger brushes to stand up on their own; hand-cut, cruelty-free Taklon bristles that feel like feathers on your skin...these are ridiculously high-quality brushes, especially when you consider how inexpensive they are. 10 out of 10.

Brushes (Usefulness): These brushes do what they're supposed to, and they do it extremely well. The stippling brush makes my creamier foundations look airbrushed; the buffing brush works better on my mineral powders than my Bare Mineral kubuki brush could ever have hoped to; the angled foundation brush applies my beauty balms and tinted moisturizes with ease and zero streaking. I utterly adore the eyeshadow brushes, too. The shading brush picks up pigments like a magnet; the base shadow brush gently disperses my highlighters, and the deluxe crease brush...oh, the deluxe crease brush...if it's possible to have a crush on an inanimate object, I have one on this brush. It's heaven both on shadows and concealer. The accent and liner brushes are both effective, yet gentle on the delicate under-eye area. The blush brush is domed, so you can either place color precisely, or you can use it as a fluffy multi-tasker (I use mine for bronzer as well as blush, and it's a dream). The powder brush is so plush and soft, and practically buffs the product into your skin, and the contour brush is so precise, yet also allows you to blend the color beautifully. These brushes are amazing. The only brush I have not used is the brow brush, and only because my wax came with a really good one that I've been reluctant to let go of. My only complaints are that the detailer brush works well for applying lipstick, but not as a liner, and the pointed foundation brush is entirely too small for an entire face. It does work really well around the eyes, though, and is great for clean up.

In fairness, I should mention that a kubuki brush, lash/brow groomer, and travel set are also available. I have never been a fan of kubuki brushes, and I prefer to use a clean mascara brush to separate lashes, so I skipped out on those two brushes. I also just bought a nice travel brush set, so I didn't see the need in replacing it just yet. Those are not part of this section of the review, and my score will not reflect them. 9.3 out of 10.

Price: Individual brushes run $6-$10, and sets are a flat $18. You can't beat that with a stick. E.L.F.'s Studio line of brushes are decent quality, run $3-$8, and up until now have been my recommendation for inexpensive brushes, but they don't even begin to compare with the level of quality and sophistication of design found in Real Techniques. These aren't just good cheap brushes; they're just good brushes. 10 out of 10.

Final Verdict: 9.8 out of 10. Get these brushes. Get them now. Oh, and check out Pixiwoo, while you're at it.

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