Wednesday, July 24, 2013

A Guide to Brushes: Blush Brushes

Blush brushes are, without a doubt, the most important and useful brushes a makeup lover can own.  Okay, maybe I'm biased as a devoted blush lover, but really, aside from the teenager I witnessed applying blush by rubbing the product directly on her cheek, powder blush is really difficult to apply and blend without a good brush.  So, read on to help you find one.
Classic Blush Brush
MAC 129, goat, Dior Blush Brush, Real Techniques Multi-Purpose Brush, synthetic
Dense and fluffy, I refer to these brushes as classic for a reason.  They are sized to apply blush over the apples of the cheeks in a classic fashion.  They're great for medium pigmented blushes when you want to apply over a large area on your cheeks.  They have pinched ferrules, but they tend to have a lot of bristles and they fluff out a lot.  This makes them pretty good blenders and good for bronzer, if you wear it. 
For highlighting or contouring (which will be the next post in this series), this would not be directional enough to place the color precisely.  Similarly, they are not good for applying color to the cheekbones only.  The fluffy bristles are not well suited to either densely pigmented blushes or sheer blushes, as the former would end up with too much color on the cheek, and the latter would mean little color was applied to the cheek.
Small Blush Brush
MAC 116, goat, Hakuhodo Kokutan Blush S, blue squirrel/synthetic, and Sephora Classic Complexion 53
The less fluffy and smaller little sister of the classic blush brush, these brushes also have a pinched ferrule.  They do not splay or fluff as much as the classic blush, however, and this makes them better for applying blush to a smaller area.  You can still use these for the apples, but they also make for fine contour and highlight brushes, and are great for applying blush to the cheekbone area. 
Perhaps more than any other brush, the hair fibre will make a big difference in the performance of the brush.  The goat MAC116 and the blue squirrel/synthetic Hakuhodo Kokutan Blush S will apply a different level of pigment to the skin.  The softer hair is therefore better for more pigmented blushes when you want a lighter touch with them.  No matter what hair you choose, this is my favorite blush brush for all around blush application.  They make it easy to build up color in layers and apply a variety of products easily.
Flat, Round Blush Brush
Trish McEvoy Sheer Blush 2B
Featuring a very pinched ferrule, this blush brush is like a larger flat shader brush.  Instead of using the tip of the brush in circular motion, this brush is great for patting on blush.  That makes it great for a (forgive me for using this cliched term) pop of color on the apples of the cheeks.  This is also one of my favorite powder contour brushes because the patting motion allows for dense application in some places and lighter application elsewhere--instant blending.
This is not a blending brush, however, and works best with sheer to medium pigmented blushes.  I don't often use this for blush application.
Yachiyo Brush
Hakuhodo large pointed yachiyo, goat
This is supposedly a traditional Japanese brush; I can't vouch for that since I know nothing about Japanese traditions outside of woodblock prints in an art appreciation class in college.  It's certainly traditional looking, with its cane wrapped handle and lack of a visible ferrule (though I imagine there's one under all that cane).  This is one of my favorite blush brushes.  I like it for sheer blushes, but I also find the dense, stiff hairs great for getting a small amount of a denser colored blush, too.
Yachiyos also come in less pointed versions (called "purple" by Hakuhodo.  I don't know why.), but they all share a round "ferrule."  They are great for contouring, especially the pointed version, which fits nicely under the cheekbone and jawline.  Another great all around blush brush.
Pros:     You need a blush brush; don't even try to argue with me.  If you are not already wearing so much blush your neighbors think you may be an 18th century French prostitute, get yourself one of these brushes and one of the beautiful powder brushes from a brand like Tarte, Illamasqua, Chanel, Burberry, or any of the other brands that make awesome blushes, and fix that because blush is life and life is blush.  Er...what I really meant to say was big fluffy classic blush brushes are good for apples of the cheek and medium pigmented blush, small blush brushes are good for all around blush application and any sort of blush, flat, round blush brushes are good for sheer application, contour, and bright colors on the apples, and yachiyos are good for getting the most out of sheer or dark blushes and contour.  And they can all be used to apply powder, too.
Cons:   Repeat after me, there are no cons to blush.  The classic blush brush is probably too big for most people's faces.  And I guess you don't need a powder blush brush for cream blush.  I tend to use stippling/duo fibre brushes for that.  If you were to want more information on that subject, see my ground-breaking stippling brush post here:
The brushes featured in this post are:  MAC 129 Powder/Blush Brush, Dior Blush Brush (this is pretty old, the handle is different and the name has changed, so I have no idea how the cheek brush currently in their line compares to this one), Real Techniques Multi-Purpose brush (from Travel Essential set), MAC 116 Blush Brush, Hakuhodo Kokutan Blush S, Sephora Classic Complexion 53, Trish McEvoy Sheer Blush 2B, Hakuhodo Large Pointed Yachiyo.  All were purchased by me and I receive no compensation for featuring them.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Tom Ford Eye Color Quad Burnished Amber--Review and Swatches

Tom Ford Burnished Amber is my second Tom ford Eye Color Quad.  I know that these eyeshadows have recieved some criticism for their price, as well as the glitteriness and/or shimmeriness of a lot of the shades, but I think this quad is pretty flawless.  For one thing, none of these eye shadows are the sheer glitter-infused texture some don't like.  There are, instead, three shimmery shades and one satin.  One thing that has impressed me about both the quads I have is the color combinations, which are perfectly coordinated. 

The packaging is, of course, exactly what you would expect for the price, sleek and luxurious. I love the softness of the sleeve and it's good for polishing off fingerprints.  It also has a nice, big mirror, which is nice. 
The colors are absolutely perfect together, though unconventional. 
The lightest color is a pale, warm gold with a very shimmery finish.  It's too dark for a highlight on lighter skins, but would be lovely on darker skins.  I use it primarily to blend out the darker bronze color.
The next color is a deep magenta-tinged pink with a shimmer finish.  It's a very rich pink with a good balance of warm and cool tones.  I think even if you don't think you suit pink tones, you'd find this color flattering. 
The next darkest color is a golden bronze with a shimmer finish.  Again, it's not overly warm nor cool.
The darkest color is a dark bordeaux with a satin finish. 
The four colors can be used to make a golden look, a pink look, or all four together make a rosy bronze look.  The versatility of this palette is one of its best traits.  The pink-bronze tones make it very flattering to green eyes, which is one of the reasons I love it.  It also suits anyone who looks good in jewel tones, as the richness of the tones would be very flattering.
I have heard rumors that this was being discontinued.  It's still in stock as of this post at Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman online, and I heard this rumor months ago, so I don't know.

OCC Creme Colour Concentrate Review and Swatches

Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics is a brand I've grown very fond of lately.  Their most well known product is, of course, their lip tars, which are mixable, opaque liquid lip colors that come in unique colors.  Now, OCC has an intense cream product that's suitable for use on eyes, lips, and cheeks.  I bought two of them, Cthulu, a pea green, and Terra Firma, an orangy brown, and fell so desperately in love, I purchased three more, Miriam, John Doe, and Grandma.
The texture of these products is similar to a dense, matte lipstick, and bear resemblance to the Illamasqua cream pigments.  One of the benefits of these is that they are safe for eyes and lips, and they don't crease as badly as the Illamasqua product when used on the eyes (and please note, I am very prone to creasing), though, being cream products, they are prone to creasing.  Topping with a powder shadow or a loose powder will ameliorate that problem.  On cheeks, they're slightly dry, but blendable.  They'd do best either blended onto an emollient base or tapped lightly.  On lips, they are a satin-matte finish, and are quite comfortable to wear. 
What I love most about these are the nuanced and unusual colors, something anyone who's used a Lip Tar has come to expect from OCC.
Cthulu is described as a dirty, pale olive.  It is a light pea green shade, with subtle gray and brown undertones.  It's reminiscent of a 70's avocado colored refrigerator, only lighter.
Terra Firma is described as burnt sienna brown.  It's a russet orange-brown shade that would work well on eyes, lips, cheeks, and, while an unusual color, I still think a lot of people would be comfortable wearing it.
John Doe is described as pale, ash-toned taupe.  It's a very light beige-taupe with strong gray undertones and a hint of yellow.  It's very cool and light, and makes for an excellent cream contour problem on fair skins.  Compared to Illamasqua Hollow, it is cooler and very slightly lighter.
Miriam is described as a subdued, whitened plum.  It is a grayed light purple, leaning mauve, with a bit of pinky warmth.  It's an unusual, but not necessarily unflattering, lip and cheek color.
Grandma is described as a clean, classic coral.  It's very similar to the lip tar of the same name, and is a very bright coral with a good balance of bright pink and orange undertones.  To my eye, it leans slightly toward orange, though that would change depending on skin tone and natural lip color.
Terra Firma
Swatches of Terra Firma (l) and Cthulu (r)
John Doe
Swatches of (from top to bottom) John Doe, Miriam, and Grandma.  Grandma appears slightly redder than in real life.
Comparison of Illamasqua Hollow Cream Pigment and John Doe
Swatches of John Doe (left) and Illamasqua Hollow (right).  Sorry I switched them.
As you can see, Hollow is warmer than the ashier John Doe.
OCC Creme Colour Concentrates can be purchased form Sephora online or from Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics.  They retail for $20, which is what I paid for all these suckers.