Purchasing quality makeup brushes that can perfect my complexion without leaving streaks or irritating my face tends to be expensive. Which doesn’t stop me from regularly taking the plunge: a good makeup brush allows for easy, precise application of everything from your concealer to your eye shadow and is much more hygienic to use than your hands. I’ve grown accustomed, over the years, to spending from $50 to $70 for a set of about five brushes from M.A.C, Sigma, or Sephora.
A couple of weeks ago, I came home to find that my cat had dragged my favorite It Cosmetics Complexion Perfection Brush No. 7 (which makes my skin look poreless) to her dusty lair under my bed. So I decided to go to Ulta to pick up a set of brushes by a company called Real Techniques, whose brushes have been getting a ton of attention lately: Everyone from Katie Jane Hughes to Mario Dedivanovic uses them on their celebrity clients, and they’ve landed on Allure’s Best of Beauty list several times. (The company was started by sisters and former makeup artists Sam and Nicola Chapman.) Although I knew the brushes were popular, I didn’t know — until I brought them to the checkout line at Ulta — that a full five-piece set costs a mere $20. I was floored.
When I got home, I decided to apply my everyday makeup — my Glossier tinted moisturizer, Ilia concealer, and Fenty bronzer — with my new brushes. And I was once again floored. The foundation brush has firmer, flatter bristles than the $24 It Cosmetics brush I typically use, and it created the smoothest, most full-coverage (and least streaky) finish. The big setting brush is much gentler on the skin than my (also) $24 Sigma F20 and does just as good a job evenly distributing bronzer, blush, and loose finishing powder. The sponge is denser and heavier than your average beauty blender, which makes a huge difference when it comes to effectively pressing concealer or foundation into the skin; the result is a non-speckled, practically airbrushed-looking finish. My favorites of the bunch, though, are the smaller “crease” and “blush” brushes, both of which have become two of my all-time-favorite concealer applicators. They delicately feather out the product in even the tiniest nooks and crannies of your face and help your concealer powerfully knock out everything from sallow under-eyes to pesky zits.
Simply put: Whether you’re a makeup rookie looking for a trusty yet affordable set of brushes to get started with or a veteran looking to add new ones to your collection, this brush set is basically everything you could ever need — all for the price of a single brush at M.A.C. Also, while we’re here, please enjoy this photo of Kit Harrington using the Real Techniques Expert Face Brush — included in this very set — on Maisie Williams while filming Game of Thrones.
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