Review: The Brush Guard (Guards Your Brushes!)

Hey everyone!

How are you doing? Is Tuesday easier than Monday? I certainly hope so!

I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned The Brush Guard somewhere, and now I am finally ready to review it after having tested it out thoroughly! I might be slow to the party, but let me just say I’m pretty glad I discovered The Brush Guard! I have talked a lot about the importance of owning good brushes (so much that Bdellium Tools actually made me their February’s La Beauté of the Month lol). Once again, if you have invested in brushes, you might as well take good care of them. After experimenting with The Brush Guard, I can say it’s one of the things that can help you achieve that goal!

What is it?
The Brush Guard is essentially plastic tubes that are slightly stretchy. I got a variety pack to try it out, and it contains one in size XS for shadow/liner, two in size S for blush, two in M for foundation, and one in L for powder/kabuki. I actually use XS for liner brushes, S for shadow brushes, M for foundation/blush brushes, and L for my Bobbi Brown bronzer brush though. Basically, you want something that fits snugly enough without the need to overstretch to fit. You can also purchase all sizes separately.

How does it work?
According to the instructions, you are supposed to shape your brushes after washing them, fit the Brush Guard on, and dry them heads down in a cup. However, in the following picture you will see that I don’t do it this way for two reasons. Number one, it takes forever and ever to dry brushes this way. I don’t think it’s the humidity in Belgium, I really think it’s because of the low temperature. My brushes are usually laid out to dry in my bedroom, where the heater is just about never on. When the weather was colder, it takes more than a day for a shadow brush to dry, let alone anything bigger. Second of all, Dustin Lujan, the manager of the Le Metier de Beaute counter at Bergdorfs wrote this article about brush cleaning. He very specifically says that brushes are never supposed to be left drying in a cup (or heads up), because it could cause root rot or shedding. I know that everybody has a different theory about this. I choose not to dry mine in a cup basically because I don’t believe it does the brushes any good to stay humid for a couple of days after each wash. Therefore, I dry them with their heads over the side of the counter, like this:

In my experience, the Brush Guard makes real differences for fluffy brushes. MAC 217, 168, and Bdellium Tools 953 for example, really benefit from the Brush Guard. Flat brushes like liner brushes, MAC 239, or Bdellium Tools 965 for example, don’t change much with or without it. What amazed me is the fact that the Bobbi Brown Bronzer Brush also stays the same without the Brush Guard, though I still dry it with and I reckon similar brushes would also benefit from the Brush Guard.

These are brushes dried with the Brush Guard:

This is MAC 168 dried without the Brush Guard:

The second from the left is MAC 217 dried without the Brush Guard:

Can you spot the difference? They retain their shape so much better with the Brush Guard! Without it, they look pretty fluffy and shapeless. You get much more precision with brushes that are nicely shaped, and the couple of strands of flyaway/unruly hairs are also tamed. Also, if you don’t have a handy brush roll like my Bdellium Studio Roll-Up Pouch, the Brush Guard will also make storing brushes in a bag a lot safer for your brushes.

Bottom line: If you have problems with brushes losing their shape, you might want to try the Brush Guard. It is an inexpensive solution to keep your brushes in good shape (literally), though admittedly not ALL brushes would benefit from it.

Have you heard of/tried the Brush Guard? How do you keep your brushes in shape? Do you think something like this is too gimmicky or actually useful?

Sunny, your beauty culture translator

Review: MAC 168 Large Angled Contour Brush

Until very recently I wear almost exclusively eye makeup. I got my first blush (MAC Tea Petal) a couple of months ago, and I’ve been using my fingers to do the application/blending. With that said, I knew (know) almost nothing a about face brushes. All I owned was a miniature generic face brush I got with Clinique loose powder years and years ago (I think the whole pot might still be sitting in my wardrobe back home in Taiwan).

When I found out about contouring however, I knew it was time to get a decent brush. And what makes more sense than an angled contour brush? I visited a couple of different MAC stores/counters in the U.S, bugging SAs into using this on me and showing me how things are done before making the purchase.

The texture of this brush is nice, soft, and dense, which is consistent with my experience with MAC brushes (I own 217, 219, and 239). The shape, as you can see in the pictures, is ideal for making angles or angled lines. I use it for contouring and highlighting, but I’m sure it can be used for powder blushes too. It picks up a decent amount of product, but it doesn’t overdo it so that’s excellent. After all, you can always build things up, but if you overdo it the second you lay the brush on your face you’ll waste a lot of time trying to clean up the mess. It also washes up beautifully, so don’t be intimidated by the white hair!

The only complaint I have so far is that mine sheds a bit. The first time I used it, at least 5 strands of hair came off. I was a bit annoyed, since it has never happened with any of my high-end brushes. The second time, another strand or two came off. I’m hoping whatever should come off has come off now, because if it sheds EVERY TIME I use it, I’m going to be pretty upset (that and I purchased it in the U.S, so there’s no taking it back anywhere). Maybe mine’s defective? From the reviews I’ve read this is a pretty rare problem…

I’ll keep you guys posted about the shedding, but otherwise I’m loving this brush!

EDIT 26/01/12: This brush has shed a couple more hair on me since then, but it has pretty much stopped after a while, and I hope the shedding has come to an end!