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

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Review: Eye Brushes in My Brush Roll! MAC 239, 217, 219, Bobbi Brown Ultra Fine Liner Brush

When I got into makeup a bit more than a year ago, I saw no point of getting decent brushes. I had been using the inadequate sponge applicators/brushes that came with the eyeshadows till that point, and I was fine. After watching some tutorials however, I thought I’d give the “real” ones a try. I was appalled by the price range of MAC brushes, so I thought I’d just get something from the drugstore. I found some at Yves Rocher, and since they cost around 6-7 euros each, I got them. The result was already better, but I felt that there was still room for improvement. After some research, I bit the bullet, went to MAC, paid for the first bunch of high-end brushes of my life, and I have never looked back since. True, you don’t need good brushes to do makeup. Even your fingers would work if we’re just talking about eyeshadows here. However, if you want to do it more finely, you need good brushes. I am not discrediting all the brushes on the cheaper side, because I have heard enough good things about Sonia Kashuk, Sigma, elf, and so on. It is also because I don’t have easy access to these brands that I turned to MAC. However, I am happy to say I don’t regret any of my purchase so far, and I am going to introduce my humble collection of four eye brushes to you.

The first one is MAC 239 Eye Shader Brush: This is a good brush for depositing color and shading your eyelids. Just a swipe or two in the pan does the job. I like how the size is not too big even for my limited eyelid space! Also, you can always use the flip side for another shadow, so I have been fine with just one. You have a lot of control over where and in what shape you want your eyeshadow to be. If you want a thinner strip, you can always use more of the tip. I know that people call this brush a multi-tasker, but since I bought it along with 217 and 219, I normally don’t blend or do my lower lash line with it. I do think the tip can perform well on lower lash line, but I prefer 219 because it is more precise.

The second one is MAC 217 Blending Brush: This brush is a great multi-tasker! Besides its excellent blending capacity (even the precise shape you create with dark eyeshadows for a smokey eyes blends out like nothing), I also use it to apply a wash of color on my lids when I want to go minimalist. The result is soft and natural. On top of that, it is a great brush for highlighting your brown bones especially if there is not an awful lot of space between your brow bones and eyelids. I know that some people use 224 Tapered Blending Brush to buff the transition shade into their crease, but 217 does that job well as well. When I want a bit more definition in my crease, I lightly dab 217 into my crease shade and intensify it that way. It leaves no harsh line, so it’s perfect! I cannot stress enough the importance of blending for me, so this brush is a must-have. I have even seen the amazing Lisa Eldridge use this brush to apply concealer! A MAC SA I met in the US said:” I’ve always been saying if they continue this one, I’ll quit!” Well, I can’t quit, but I’ll be seriously skeptical about the future of this brand and eye makeup in general.

The third one is MAC 219 Pencil Brush. I can confidently say that the only bad thing about this baby is the price. In Belgium it costs a whopping 26.5 euros (I wish MAC would start doing currency conversion properly instead of thinking one US dollar is the equivalent of one euro), but IT’S WORTH IT!

I bought this because the cheap “pencil brush” I got wasn’t exactly doing a very good job. My inner corners were often overhighlighted (yes I’m making words up), when I wanted to smudge my eyeliner out I could easily made mistakes, and I wouldn’t dream about lining my lower lashline with it. Things changed the day I got 219 in my hands. It lines my lower lashline precisely and effortlessly, it smudges eyeliner with ease, it hightlights my inner corners delicately, and it is the candidate for defining my outer v! Again, I know that some people recommend 224 or 217 for this job, but I don’t really have a folded “crease” to work with, so both of them would be way too big and fluffy for me. When I use 219 however, I do a first stroke as an extension of my lower lash line, and the second one below my brow bones before blending everything out. That hasn’t failed me!

The fourth one is Bobbi Brown Ultra Fine Liner Brush: I used to think MAC 263 is THE brush to combine with gel liner. Don’t get me wrong, it is good, but probably works better for people who want a very thin line. I have monolids, and if I go too easy on the eyeliner it doesn’t do anything for me. The problem with 263 is that I have to go over the line too many times, and it’s not ideal for the wings that I want to do. I went to Bobbi Brown for a makeover this summer, and the lady who helped me has exactly the type of eyeliner that I want to achieve. Didn’t take much more persuasion for me to grab this brush, and I certainly don’t regret it! The tip is very good for precision, which means I can keep the first half of my eyeline extremely fine and close to the lashline. However, it is also VERY easy to go thicker, bolder, and drawing a perfect wing. I’ve never done my ideal eyeline so fast before getting this brush! It’s definitely highly recommended, especially if you also have monolids and can pull off more dramatic eyeliner!

All these brushes are very soft and fine in texture, not irritating at all on skin. The MAC ones are white, but they wash up beautifully however dirty you manage to get them. Another thing I love about these brushes is that they don’t “absorb” your eyeshadow/gel liner. I have read somewhere that some GOSH brushes are as good as MAC’s, but when I played with the testers in the shop I could see how little color they deposit compared with the amount they take from the pan. For your precious eyeshadows to last longer, I would still go high-end. None of these has ever shed one single hair on me either. There are a few wayward strands of hair on my 217 (I can’t tell if it came that way or if I made the damage over more than a year), but it doesn’t affect usage.

So no, good brushes are by no means cheap. However, if you take some care of them they last you for a long time, so I would see them as good investment.

How about you? What are your favorite eye brushes? Do you own and love these or do you plan to give them a try?

Do let me know!