First, let's talk general buying tips:
- Don't buy a brush that you can't touch first. If there is no demo out, sometimes they are in snap packs that can be opened and closed, don't be shy. The reason you need to touch a brush before you buy it is because touch is the easiest way to distinguish a quality brush. Poor quality brushes are coarse and have bristles the will fall out when you touch the top.
- Know what you want! Are you looking for an eyeshadow brush? Powder? Foundation? Do you have no brushes at all?
- Check the materials used! Natural hair brushes are made from animal hair, this can obviously present many concerns. That being said natural and synthetic brushes each have different pros and cons.
- Read reviews! This is pretty self explanatory, but I would like to add that reviews on retail sites like Ulta or Sephora are going to be more honest and helpful than those on a brand site. The brand is more likely to monitor their reviews and I would imagine that brand-lovers make up the bulk of the persons reviewing on the brand sites.
Next, let's talk about value:
Single brush values:
- Up&Up: These single brushes tend to be an okay quality and are usually under $3 per brush. Con: Only found in store at Target.
- E.L.F.: The Studio line from E.L.F. are $3 a piece except the Kabuki which is $6, these are a great quality and value synthetic line. The essentials line is a mixed bag, they are $1 each, but the quality is not great. Some of the eye brushes are ok, but I would not recommend any of the face brushes. The Gem line is not worth the pretty handle.
Multiple brush/ brush set values:
- Real Techniques: The brush sets from real techniques are fantastic, they have created a great buzz in the beauty community. The reason the value is in the set is that for $17.99-$19.99 you get 3 to 5 brushes and three of the sets have a case with them. Single brushes range from $5.99 to $12.99 each, this is still a good value for the quality but you can get more for the money with the set.
- Eco Tools: These are great brushes, they are synthetic fiber and eco friendly. They have beautiful bamboo handles. Single brushes range in price from $4 to $13 and sets range from $6 to $18. Much like the real techniques brushes the breakdown per brush in a set is a great value.
- Essence of Beauty (CVS): These are pretty good brushes, I have some from the bamboo collection and the regular ones. The sets however are about the same price $10-$12 as a single brush.
- Victoria's Secret: First of all the VS brushes are surprisingly awesome! Now this is something to catch on sale, but during the semi-annual I got a travel set of 5 brushes in a cute case that would normally be $28 for $14. I talked about these in my Rimmel Stay Matte Review.
Other brush values:
- Smashbox: Ulta has a three piece Smashbox travel set for $19 that I got on sale for $10 around christmas. I really love the shadow and crease brush but have barely used the fan brush. Also I found of that these are a natural hair. I would expect that the set will go on sale again sometime.
- Claire's: Some of the brushes from Claire's are good and well priced but be careful. For instance my mom bought this set, it costs $8.50 and the sponge brush and powder brush are awful; however the eye brushes are fantastic. Also as you can see below, the design can wear off.
- If you read my DIY Magnetic Palette post, you will know my mom gets way too many Lancôme samples and sometimes this includes brushes. All this to say, sometimes friends or family won't love something in a sample pack that you would, so keep an eye out for that.
Essential brushes for newbies:
- A powder brush: multi-purpose for foundation and buffing.
- A contour brush: to keep from crossing colors with powder brush.
- One or two eyeshadow brushes: I think brushes work better than the spongy-things or fingers
- An eyeshadow smudged/ blender: smudging will make a huge difference in dynamic looks
Final Notes:Sometimes you will find travel sets for a better price than full size brushes, travel brushes work the same as the full size, need I say more.
I just want to say I am not an expert in any way, I'm only sharing my opinions from my personal experience. I would love to here your experience!
I hope you enjoyed, please let me know what brushes you love or if you have any questions!
Disclaimer: if you have not realized, I am prejudiced against any type of sponge applicator!