I remarked on Twitter some time ago that I've reached Brush Nirvana. I have not pined for a new makeup brush since my last acquisition months ago, so I suppose my collection is more or less perfect (for now). Many have tweeted and emailed me asking about the brushes I use and I have stalled my replies, explaining that a brush post is in the works – well, it took about half a year, but here it is. I decided to do it in installments because of the sheer amount of brushes I own (the picture below isn't even half of it).
I am not showing you every single brush I have. The brushes you'll see are part of my "dream team," if you will. I love every single one of them, and even though I have six just under the cheek brush category, I promise none of them are true duplicates of each other. My brushes vary in shape, bristle length, softness, material, all of which influences how they perform and the effect they produce. That said, most people really only need one. I do realize I have a lot of brushes, but what can I say? They're actually the best part of makeup for me.
I store the main bulk of my brushes in a Shu Uemura leather brush roll. I also own a couple of asoftblackstar's rolls in sizes small and large for traveling. When at home, I place some in various cups or pen holders for ease of access.
Lastly, before we begin, I should let you know that most of my opinions come from reading beauty blogs, talking to makeup artists, and experience with my own brushes (this includes acquisition of a lot of brushes I ended up hating). I am certainly not an expert when it comes to brushes, and I might be wrong about some things, but I hope this brush guide will save you a few mistakes as you navigate the treacherous path of amassing your own perfect kit.
On to the brushes:
Top-bottom: RMK Face Brush, Suqqu Face Brush, LMdB Face Brush, LMdB Kabuki Brush
L-R: RMK Face Powder Brush, Suqqu Face Brush, LMdB Powder Brush, LMdB Kabuki Brush
The most popular misconception I've come across about brushes is soft = good. I find that a lot of people get carried away with how good the brush feels versus how it actually performs. What you need to remember is while soft is nice, not all of your brushes should be that way.
My favorite face brushes are from RMK, Suqqu, and Le Métier de Beauté. The Suqqu one is pure indulgence as it is unbelievably soft. According to the listing on ichibankao.com, the brush is made of 100 percent superior gray squirrel hair. It is the most expensive brush I own, at a little under $200 (this is with no tax/shipping charges and 10 percent discount).
Is it functional? Yes, but because it's so soft and pliable you won't be able to manage anything more than a light application. I use it for a light dusting of powder or when I want to apply a thin veil of bronzer on my face. Is it worth the money? Probably not. But this brush makes me feel so happy when I use it – in fact, sometimes I rub it against my face. Just because.
The LMdB Powder Brush is a typical round powder brush made of 100 percent natural goat hair, while RMK's version is flatter and wider and made of a blend of gray squirrel and goat hair. Both are soft but firmer (it sounds like an oxymoron, but it really isn't) compared to the Suqqu, thus allowing for heavier application of powder.
The LMdB Kabuki Brush is a versatile creature. I put it under the "face brush" category due to its size, but I actually use if more often to apply cream blushes (it does so surprisingly well, and is so much easier to clean than a synthetic brush). The LMdB kabuki contains the firmest bristles out of the four and can be used for powder and blush alike. If I need to save space when traveling, I bring just this one brush. I've been told that it is virtually indestructible, and while I never want to test that claim, I've thrown it into various makeup bags and the shape always bounces back after a wash.
RMK Face Powder Brush ($69.99) can be found at bonboncosmetics.com (though currently it's not listed). I purchased mine from a counter when I was in Malaysia. The Suqqu Face Brush ($200+) is only available to the US through ichibankao.com at a high markup, whereas the LMdB Powder ($65) and Kabuki Brush ($85) are available at neimanmarcus.com, nordstrom.com, or any Le Métier de Beauté counter nationwide.