I've been having a bit of a love-in with chemist/drugstore brands of late. First it was the Revlon Lip Butters, then some of Maybelline's new releases and now it is the Real Techniques by Samantha Chapman brushes. Created by Sam of Pixiwoo fame, I think that these all-synthetic hair brushes are one of the best things to come out of Boots in years! I picked them up on a 3-for-2 deal and got six brushes for around €48 which is insanely good value for money!
The brushes I picked up were the Core Collection (€30.49), the Powder Brush (€17.89) and the Stippling Brush (€16.56). Now that I've had a chance to use them, see how they wash and try them with different products, I thought I would share my thoughts with you!
The Core Collection consists of four brushes to create a flawless base and it comes with a handy travel case. In all honesty, I wanted to pick this up entirely for the Buffing Brush which isn't sold separately. Everyone and their mother has been raving about this as a foundation brush and I wouldn't rest until I had tried it.
I'm happy to report that everyone and their mother were entirely correct about this brush being the perfect foundation brush. It has a great balance between density and maneuverability. There are a lot of bristles but they aren't as densely packed as, say, the Sigma F80. This makes the brush really superb for moving the foundation around while also buffing it into the skin, leaving an amazingly perfect finish.
The Core Collection also comes with the Contour Brush, Detailer Brush and Pointed Foundation Brush. While I haven't yet found a use for the foundation brush (suggestions welcome, please!), I have been using the contour brush for setting under eye concealer as I have seen Sam herself doing. The reason I haven't tried it for contouring yet is purely because it seems way too poofy. I need my contour brushes to be shaped and stiff so that the product only goes where I put it. Seeing as the Contour Brush from this set is just a small fluffy powder brush, I can't see myself working well with it. I've been using the tiny Detailer Brush for applying lip products and it is the perfect size and shape for this.
The Stippling Brush came highly recommended by Dee. She uses it for foundation but, when I went to research it a little before buying it, I found that a lot of people use it for cream blush. I have been using it with cream products since I got it and I really love it. It makes even the stickiest, stodgiest cream products move effortlessly across the skin with no dragging and it also buffs them in as it moves to give a really natural looking flush.
While roughly the same shape as the Buffing Brush from the Core Collection, the head of the Stippling Brush is a lot smaller and thinner. This is the only brush that I have noticed minor shedding with but, I presume that it's because of the sticky nature of the cream products tugging at any loose brush hairs.
The final brush I picked up as part of the 3-for-2 offer is the powder brush. I have relied pretty heavily on my MAC 182 kabuki brush for powder application for the last few years so, to switch back to a more traditional powder brush was something of a revelation! Firstly, this brush is absolutely ginormous! Two or three sweeps cover my entire face and the bristles are so incredibly soft that I sometimes find myself stroking it before I apply powder! Weird, I know...
At almost a third of the price of the MAC 150 (€50), the Real Techniques Powder Brush is a zillion times more superior. The fact that it is so fluffy makes a great change from how coarse my MAC 150 feels and, in comparison to the MAC 182 kabuki, the finish this gives is so light and natural that I can't see myself going back to either of the MAC brushes for powder application any time soon! I also really want to try this with powder bronzer during the summer for a really light, sun-kissed look!
Now, if you know me at all, you will understand that I couldn't just leave it at those brushes! After loving them so much, I broke down and got the Real Techniques Blush Brush (€13.71) as part of another 3-for-2 deal. I probably wouldn't have bought it otherwise but, that I got it on special makes it seem okay and, honestly, I am totally infatuated with this brush now that I have it!
Dee recommends it for contouring but, I'm still on the fence about using such a fluffy brush for such a precise action. However, for blush, it's an absolute wonder! The domed head concentrates the colour where you apply it while the sides of the brush sort of swoosh it outwards to give a sort of "I've-just-been-frolicking-in-the-fields-with-a-handome-farm-hand-and-I'm-a-tad-flushed" type effect!
I haven't really spoken about the presentation of the brushes in all my ramblings thus far so, here's my thoughts! I love the colour-coded handles; orange for base, pink for finishing and purple for eyes. I also love that there is no separate ferrule. Usually brushes come with a handle and then a metal ferrule that holds the brush hairs and attaches the handle and brush head together. However, often this metal fastening becomes loose with use and can cause the handle to fall off as well as excess shedding. I also really like the semi-matte finish of the metal.
My only real issue with the brushes is that they have the uses printed on the handles which automatically made me feel like I was using them wrong or not as intended. Real Techniques would be a lot better off, in my opinion, to keep the colour-coding but, to lose the definitions as part of the fun of any new make-up is experimenting and discovering new ways to use things! However, this is only a small qualm and, for someone who has never strayed too far from MAC brushes, to love these as much as I do and to use them almost solely on a daily basis is massive proof to how good they are!
Please see here for the full list of Real Techniques Irish stockists and euro prices!