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: Bdellium Tools Maestro Series 934, 953, & 965. How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count the Ways…

Hey everyone! Even though Valentine’s Day is a couple of days behind us, it is never too late to properly acknowledge what we love in life and give it some credit. Therefore, I’m bringing you a lengthy but hopefully helpful review of Bdellium Tools brushes!

I probably sound like a broken record by now, but I cannot help but repeat how important it is to have good brushes. They fulfill the potential of your favorite products, do detailed work that cannot be done otherwise, and are a lot more pleasant to use than any applicators that might come with the products. The only problem? They are an investment, and the price tags could sometimes be too hefty to swallow. I pined for duo-fiber brushes for a while because I knew it would work with foundation, highlighting, and soft blushes like Tarte ones. However, I had to put it off because of the price, until I discovered Bdellium Tools.

Bdellium Tools is a California-based company that makes professional antibacterial and eco-friendly makeup brushes at an affordable price. The company makes 5 lines of products, including the Maestro Series, Studio Line, Travel Line, Green Bambu, and Yellow Bambu. The two Bambu lines are made with synthetic bristles, so they are 100% cruelty-free. The other three are a mix of natural and synthetic bristles and treated with an anti-bacterial agent. The travel line features the same brushes with the studio line, only smaller and therefore easier to travel with. The major differences between the maestro series and studio line include the color of the handle (black versus yellow) and material used for the ferrule (nickel-plated brass versus anodized aluminum). Since the price difference is minimal, I opted for the maestro line whose ferrules are supposed to be more shiny, durable, and stronger.

Let’s start with 934, the precision concealer.

934 is made of synthetic fibers. It is supposed to be “perfect for small-area touchups & good for blending undereye (this comes straight from the back of the packaging. The English teacher in me is freaking out a little over the use of lowercase letters, but let’s not be too picky lol).” When I first tapped the brush on the back of my hand, I wasn’t so sure it would work very well. The bristles have a good yield, but they felt a bit too long for enough control. Once I tried it on my face however, all the doubts dispersed. It is indeed a great concealer brush. I have tried to cover my dark circles with cream-based products and spots with a drier formula. Both worked beautifully. I don’t get brush strokes with this at all. You can do one thin layer as well as more depending on what you’re trying to conceal. When I use concealers on top of foundation, I don’t want to disturb the foundation too much. This is when a nimble concealer brush comes in handy!

953, the duet fiber foundation brush, is the secret of the perfect foundation universe. It is touted to be able to create “very smooth textures on skin.” It can be used with both liquid and cream foundations. I used to apply foundation with my fingers. This apparently works OK with certain foundations, but you will end up with a thicker layer. With 953, I need only one pump of Bourjois Healthy Mix Foundation for my entire face. I even have some to spare for my undereye area where more coverage is needed. When I first saw this brush I was again a little skeptical, because the brush head is quite small (if you go to the picture in which I’m holding it in my hand you will see what I mean). I thought it would take forever to do my foundation with such a small brush but no, that didn’t happen. I pump foundation on the back of my left hand (I’m right-handed), dab the brush gently in it, and start working from the center of my face. Because of the delicate brush head, it covers all the nooks and crannies effectively. What’s more, it buffs foundation in efficiently. You can easily avoid brush strokes by not getting too much foundation on the brush in one go (dab the brush gently in foundation once to begin with and see how it goes) and not going to the undereye area when there is still a lot of foundation on your brush.

Cleaning this brush is slightly tricky, but not trickier than cleaning face brushes in general. I do have to swirl it around with some brush cleaner in my palm for a while, and run water through it until I can’t see any suds when I squeeze it dry, but it is certainly not impossible to clean. I also like to dry it with the brush guard. The first time I dried it without, a couple of strands of black hair looked a little frayed. With the brush guard however, the brush keeps its shape. Also, the first couple of times I washed it, the water ran a tiny little bit gray. However, that was only a tiny bit when I was squeezing the excess of water out, so I don’t consider it a problem. It has shed maybe a hair or two so far, and I hope that’s that!

965, the duet fiber blusher brush, is yet another amazing one! It is “ideal for flawless lightweight blusher application or highlighting,” and it fulfills that promise. I find this brush excellent for soft powdery blushes, like my Tarte ones. With a traditional blush brush, too much product is kicked loose and I end up wasting some that way. This one, on the other hand, grabs product without kicking too much loose. I have to build up a little more, but it is also a lot easier to blend everything out and get it even with this brush. Also, you don’t risk putting way too much in one go, however pigmented your blush is. The tip, as you can see in the picture, is pretty fine. I can finally use my Bobbi Brown Shimmer Brick to highlight the top of my cheekbones properly now that I’ve got this in my arsenal! This one is easy to clean and hasn’t shed/lost color on me at all! Though to give 953 some (more) credit, it is because 965 is not used with liquid products.

All in all, I highly recommend Bdellium brushes. They are of good quality, and you simply can’t beat the price for what you get! For those who live in Europe, you can get Bdellium products from Cocktail Cosmetics and Boozyshop. I really appreciate a company which is willing to go past geographic borders to reach out to as many customers as possible! I bought mine from Cocktail Cosmetics, because at that moment it was the one who had 953 in stock. My order arrived lightening fast so that was nice!

Next on my Bdellium wish list is their 760 liner/brow brush. Jessica from Beautezine raves on and on about this one, and after watching her demo I was completely sold (also, if you guys would kindly allow me to go off on a tangent, she has the cutest way of saying “out!”)!

Have you heard of Bdellium Tools? Do you think you’ll check their brushes out? What are some of your favorite brushes that don’t break the bank?

Sunny xx

Review: Find Your Brushes a Nice and Comfy Home with Bdellium Studio Roll-Up Pouch

Hey everyone, happy Thursday! We’re almost there and I hope your week has been kind to you 🙂 Today I’m going to share how I store my brushes with the new Bdellium Studio Roll-Up Pouch. If you’re interested in knowing how to store your brushes without damaging them, please read on!

How do you store your brushes, or makeup items in general? At the moment, my stash is located in a drawer in my bedroom. Since it is not too out-of-control yet (the keyword here is yet), I am OK with the way things are. The drawer is safe (read: out of reach for the whiskered inhabitants), dark, and cool. I don’t have to worry about damaging anything… maybe except for my brushes.

I know a lot of people store their brushes in a can on their vanity. Since the drawer is not tall enough for a can, I have always stored my brushes in a pencil pouch that I have from years ago. That worked just fine when I only had eye brushes. With face brushes joining the team, that pouch is getting too small, too short, and not offering adequate protection for the bigger brushes. My Bobbi Brown Bronzer Brush was always risking splaying when it was squeezed into the pouch. In short, it was time for an upgrade. Since I was ordering some Bdellium brushes, I thought I might as well get the roll-up brush pouch (brush reviews will be up soon. I want to test them out thoroughly so that I can review them fairly)!

Bdellium Tools is a California-based company that makes budget-friendly quality brushes. I read about this brand on Beautezine. Jessica was so hyped about some of their brushes that I decided to look into it. The best part? Bdellium is easily available for those who live in Europe too! You can find Bdellium products from Boozyshop (based in the Netherlands) and Cocktail Cosmetics (based in the UK).

I will go into more details when I introduce their brushes, but let’s take a look at the pouch now shall we?

The Studio Roll-Up Pouch looks very professional with the black leatherette exterior. It is closed with a Velcro strap. In the first picture, you can roughly see how big it is compared to my hand. It is about the size of a clutch. Once you unroll, you see a flap, and the interior is army green. The flap offers brushes extra protection when the pouch is rolled-up, so that they don’t all rub against each other! When you pull the flap up, you will see 20 brush pockets, with the larger ones on the left and smaller ones on the right. You can probably store more than 20 brushes in it though, since more than one small brush can fit in a smaller pocket. There are also 4 side pockets which can hold loose items. I currently put my brush guards in them (I will review these too, but I need some more time to experiment with them).

Here is a demo with my own brushes:

Finally, no splaying or squeezing, and every brush has a nice and cozy pocket to go back to (this is my OCD talking haha)! This is much easier than rummaging for brushes in the pencil pouch I used to use, because I see very clearly which brush is where. I can roll up the pouch to store the brushes in the drawer with the rest of my makeup, and it will be excellent to travel with!

For around 17 euros, I consider this a worthy investment. If you have invested in brushes, you might as well protect them as well as you can. Bdellium also offers brush sets that come with a brush pouch. If you’re also looking for brushes, they might be even better value for money!

Bottom line: I would recommend the Bdellium Studio Roll-Up Pouch for brush storage and traveling. It is practical, convenient, and user-friendly!

How about you? How do you store your brushes? Do you also have some kind of brush pouch?

Sunny xx

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!

Review: Bobbi Brown Bronzer Brush

Since I got my bronzer, I knew I probably couldn’t do without a proper powder brush. The SA who was helping me recommended this one. She said I could use it for bronzer, shimmer brick, and even loose powder. Sounds like a good multi-functional tool, so it came home with me!

From what I gathered on Makeupalley, the bronzer brush we see nowadays is actually a new version. Up until 2008, people were complaining about how scratchy it is. Well, not anymore! This brush now features densely-packed soft hair (I can’t find out what hair it is on the Bobbi Brown website. I’m almost sure it’s natural hair though). It’s nice, fluffy, and it does the job really well! It doesn’t pick up too much product in one go, so it’s pretty easy to control how much you put on your face. I’ve used it a handful of times, and it hasn’t shed on me once. Sweet!

It’s pretty easy to clean this brush. I just use a gentle shampoo like what I do with my other brushes. The hair is so dense though, it takes forever to dry! In other words, you probably can’t wash it right before going to bed if you want it ready to go tomorrow morning. Please bear that in mind. With that said however, I don’t find this getting dirty very quickly. The SA did say it needs cleaning maybe once every week, but that’s if you use it with your bronzer, highlighter, and loose powder on a daily basis.

All in all I’m very satisfied with the brush! I also like the no-nonsense approach Bobbi Brown has to brushes. Compared with the gazillion brushes MAC has (and assigns arbitrary numbers to. Also, limited edition brushes? Seriously?), it seems to me that Bobbi Brown has a smaller range of choices that actually make sense. I haven’t seen everything to make a well-informed judgement, but from a consumer-friendly point-of-view I’d like to say Bobbi Brown beats MAC in this aspect!