30 January 2015

It's All In The Tools

I think it is important to talk about the tools we use rather than just the products as some times we forget that without the tools the products don't work as well. Here are my most reached for brushes and tools I use when it comes to makeup and beauty. I like to store my brushes separately according to face and eye brushes. As most bloggers with Diptyque candles I store my face brushes in the empty glass jar and my eye brushes in this beaker I was gifted from work (neat huh)?. I guess you could say the positives to owning and spending a lot on a Diptyque candle is being able to use the glass jar afterwards for all different types of storage. I think it just looks so chic and pretty.

Now onto the brushes, I use to buy a few of my brushes from the drugstore when I was a teenager (obviously with what money I had saved) but have since swapped them up for high end brushes as I grew older and could afford them. There really is an obvious difference in quality and in the long run you are definitely getting your monies worth and your skin will also thank you — as with high end comes quality which means ultra soft and gentle precise bristles on your skin (particularly the eye area where you don't want anything too hard and rough). When it comes to using brushes there are no rules on what certain brush does what, basically you can use each brush for whatever task works well for you.

This is my own personal collection I use on myself (I have spare brushes in my drawers when these become dirty however the brushes mentioned in this post are my favourite) - I also have a separate brush roll of brushes I use for my freelance that I keep separately in my kit.


Chantecaille Perfect Sweep - I only recently bought this brush but since using it these last few days I find so far it does exactly what the name says — it perfectly sweeps eyeshadow on so smoothly but I mainly use it as a blending brush to blend out my transition shade. It is ultra soft and the size of the bristles are neatly packed together but still have movement when using it to blend.

MAC 217 - This has been a cult to everyone, I surely get good use from this brush. It just does the job well from packing eyeshadow on to blending the crease — let's just say it is definitely an all in one tool. There's not much else to say about this brush only that I wish it were a tad softer and the bristles tend to fan out a bit other than that it is definitely a staple.

Sigma Pencil E30 - I like to use this brush for smudging below my lash line, smudging out eyeliner or cutting out my crease line. The small bristles make the application so precise and clean.

Hakuhodo J5522 - This is by far my favourite eye brush out of the lot. It is the softest and best quality of all brushes I've own and tried. I wish Hakuhodo was regularly available and not so expensive but you are definitely getting your monies worth regardless. I find with the tapered end of this brush it blends out and also can define the crease all in one. It is a bit large to pack on eyeshadow but if you take your time and swipe eyeshadow on it can apply it quite nicely despite it being a blending brush. Although I would just pair it with either my MAC 217 or Sigma E25 brush and the two can do an entire look alone.

Sigma Blending E25 - As previously mentioned this brush packs on shadow like a dream. It is similar to the MAC 217 but I find it is more softer and a tad longer in length. The bristles hold together and keep its shape better too.

MAC 266 - Since using this brush I've found it applies the best out of all my eyebrow brushes - It is a small angled brush that just gives you the best application especially when you want to build up your brows slowly because it is so small you can work with it and not go overboard. I find it also applies gel eyeliner really well — the angle is so sharp it makes creating a flick for the wing liner a breeze.

Anastasia Beverly Hills 20 Brow - I use to use this for my brows all the time however found it quite hard to get the perfect shape as the bristles are all flat. I like to use it now to tight line my waterline with gel liner and find it works well when you press it on gently on the waterline building up the intensity. The spooly on the end brushes out your brow hairs and lashes nicely too.

BECCA 60 - I use this for various things also, from brows to eyeliner and even eyeshadow. It is quite a versatile brush on one end it has a large white synthetic angled brush which I like to use for patting on wet eye shadows (the angle helps make a sharp edge also) and the other end is a thinner small but long angled brush I like to use for brows , etc.


INGLOT 4SS - This works well for highlight, under eye powder and contour. The brush fits perfectly on the crevices of your face from your cheek bones to your under eyes. I love the size of it and how soft it is on the skin.

Sigma 3DHD Kabuki - I was quite hesitant on Sigma face brushes as I heard it malts and sheds a lot. I decided to try this out despite this, so when it first launched I gave it a go. I'm so glad I did as I find it blends foundation and concealer so well. The brush hairs are so soft and don't shed at all and the shape of the brush is so unique as it is designed to fit in every curve and the crevices of your face.

Hakuhodo J505 - Again, Hakuhodo can honestly do no wrong. If I could I would honestly change up my entire collection for just Hakuhodo (if only it weren't so pricey). This is the perfect size for an all over powder brush. You can definitely feel the quality of these brushes when you're using them — they're just ultra soft.

Hakuhodo J5521 - This brush has a tapered end and creates the perfect size for a contour or highlight application. I love how the end of the brush can chisel out your cheek bones.

Hakuhodo B5554 - I find this brush has multiple uses from liquid foundation to concealer to cream blush! Basically any cream or liquid form this will blend it out seamlessly. It has a duo fibre like design only a lot more dense on the base of the bristles.

NARS 6 Blush Brush - I received this as a gift from work and it was part of the Andy Warhol collection set. I don't think you can buy this on its own but I am sure you can find a similar size and style. It applies blush so lovely! I love how soft it is and the shape picks up and applies the perfect amount of blush.

Hakuhodo J5543 - A very similar shape to the J505 brush only shorter and a little tapered towards the end. It picks up the right amount of pigments to apply blush on your cheeks. I sometimes use it for powder/bronzer etc but its main purpose for me is a blush brush. Can I mention again how SOFT these brushes are?! They feel like silk!

NARS Yachiyo - This brush is so lovely and when I mention multipurpose I think this brush cuts above all — the only thing I would criticise is that it isn't the softest brush. In some ways I'm actually fine with this as I find it makes it a lot more durable for all tasks. I use this for contour/bronze/blush/powder/highlight , etc. If I had one brush to take with me for powdered face products this would be the brush! It has the perfect shape for all of the tasks I mentioned as the tapered and shape of the brush just fits all categories. I think the key to keeping it soft is to use a good cleanser when washing your brushes (I use castile soap and that keeps my brushes in top quality and very soft too) I know many people do say this brush does shed a bit of hair from time to time but it is just the way the bristles of the hairs are combined in that it can have a bit of fall out.

NARS Ita - If you are looking for that perfect contour brush to chisel and create that contour this is the brush to go to! (I did want to try the MAC contour brush but it seems like it's always sold out) Again with the Ita it does shed a little so the tip about washing your brushes with castile soap or something conditioning is important. It has a nice thin flat shape that fits perfectly into the contours of your cheeks.


Hourglass Retractable Kabuki Travel Brush - I like to put this brush in my bag as the name says it is a travel brush! It is a really dense and soft retractable brush which I like to use to blend out my concealer and use it lightly to touch up with powder throughout the day. The size is just adorable!

Anastasia Beverly Hills Tweezers - Out of all tweezers I've tried this has got to be one of the best (I also do enjoy Tweezerman also!) It has a precise and SHARP slanted edge that picks up even the tiniest of brow hairs. It has a heavier weight to it I find compared to your regular tweezers which I actually find makes it sit and feel better in your hands — basically you can feel the quality compared to the cheaper ones that just break your hairs off or don't grip onto any hairs at all.

Beauty Blender Sponge - I was for the longest time reluctant to try this! I am not one to fall for hypes (most of the time) and I just didn't think I needed this as I have so many brushes to use for my foundation. But of course I caved in and decided to purchase it when I received a discount voucher while it was on sale. Since using it mid of last year I found it just blends and packs on your foundation so flawlessly. You definitely have to use it damped or it will just soak up all your product. Using it damped helps hydrate the product and makes your foundation melt into your skin. I don't think there is a more seamless and natural looking way to apply your foundation! I highly recommend it! Especially when you feel like your foundation clings to dry patches on your skin — obviously using a moisturiser first prior to help that dry spot but also having this damp sponge just hydrates everything.

Shu Uemura Eyelash Curler - This is a no brainer — everyone needs an eyelash curler even those with tiny stubby lashes! It makes a whole difference to the application of your mascara and just opens up your eye area. I've used quite a few different brands and you will notice a difference in each. Some may pinch the skin of your eyelids and some may not even fit at all around your eye area so it is important to understand what works well for you. A few of my other favourites are the Utowa eyelash curler and the Shishedo eyelash curler. As you can tell the Japanese know their products! I find these fit majority of eye shapes and curl nicely without pinching or cutting your lashes. (Ouch! I've seen it happen to someone who used a cheap drugstore one — goodbye lashes!). I've had this curler for about 3 years or so now and it is still going strong! The price of the Shu Uemura has been lowered now so at $29 AUD it is a steal in my opinion!


  1. I would love, love, love to get my hands on some Hakuhodo brushes! I almost went to IMATS just to get some haha! One day, when I've got some spare money to burn (haha, lol), I'm definitely going to invest in some. They sound lovely!

  2. This was such an amazing, thorough post, girl! I love that you put so much effort into each blog post! I think if you're going to go all out and buy high end up, it shouldn't just stop there. The quality of your makeup brushes and tools can really affect the way they work and I've found MAC, Real Techniques and Hakuhodo to be my favourite brushes. Do you have any Real Techniques? For a drugstore brand, they are really amazing!

    Of course, my favourite has to be Hakuhodo as well. You are SO right when you say they feel as soft as silk! The quality of these brushes is just outstanding and you really do get what you pay for with them. When I was at IMATS, the Japanese people at the stand were so sweet and polite. I bought three, I think we have the same J5521 brush - great minds think alike! This is by far my favourite brush for bronzer/contour. I also have a big powder brush that I love using for my Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder.

    I LOVE the NARS Yachiyo brush, although I do wish it were softer and didn't shed so much too! It's really good for picking up a lot of product though as I do have some MAC blushes that are less pigmented. I used to love MAC face brushes, but they can be a little scratchy, also, but their stippling brush is one of my favourites for blush! I think Real Techniques are my favourites for the face and I go to MAC for eye brushes. I wish I could afford some more Hakuhodo and I want to try out the Zoeva rose gold set!

    I use Tweezerman tweezers and they're amazing! It gets even the smallest of hairs and I love that they're so sharp. I think my pair need sharpening though, which I know you can get done for free - I just don't know where in Australia! I hope that service is available here. Gotta love the Shu Uemure eyelash curler too. I find it so weird when people tell me they don't curl their eyelashes. I'm like, "DUDE! It makes ALL the difference!", though I am jealous of people who don't need it. My brother has the most beautiful eyelashes and my mum always goes on about how it's wasted on him! Hahaha.


  3. i don't have that many high end brushes as by the time i got into the beauty world properly real techniques brushes already existed so they make up the bulk of my collection. i really love foundation brushes though (they're fun to try and the more you have the less often you have to wash them!) and if i/we end up going to IMATS this year i'll definitely have to check out the hakuhodo brushes as obviously i've not been able to try them out in person before but i've heard so much about them! i also love the look of the yachiyo brush for blush but i haven't tried any NARS brushes yet.

    i do have a beauty blender though and it does give such a lovely finish, i just don't find myself reaching for it all that often because it's a step i don't really have time for when i'm just getting ready for work in the mornings, but if i'm putting in a bit more effort for something i'll use it because it's a really nice option. and i picked up my shu uemura eyelash curlers about two years ago and i've never looked back! it's one of those things that lasts for so long so spending $30 on it really isn't the end of the world and it's totally worth it!

    jessica - littlehenrylee.com

  4. Loved this post and your picks! I have so many brushes at the moment that I really need to get through them and sort through ones that have reached their time before i purchase anymore. More brushes for me just means that I avoid washing them for longer and it also means that I have more brushes to wash when I do.
    But I think for the future I will definitely keep that in mind and try to trade them in for higher quality, investment brushes!
    I've actually wanted to try Hakuhodo brushes for so long but felt so overwhelmed by the amount of choice, your post really helped!

    Chloé⎪ status.chlo (previously à la foliee)

  5. Bought the NARS Ita brush and I love it. This was a quite helpful post. I too was reluctant about getting the beauty blender but I have jumped on the wagon for sure. It really is worth the money! Thanks for sharing :)

  6. Sorry for the late reply girl! it has been so long that I got a chance to reply to comments! YES you need Hakuhodo brushes, they're the best! xx

  7. It makes me feel really happy when you notice how much effort I put into each post - some times I wonder if anyone would read it - since I don't promote my blog so no one really knows about it. I just like to make sure my posts are informative without being too professional. But it just makes me feel so glad to know that some people do read it ESPECIALLY YOU ;)

    If only Hakuhodo brushes weren't so pricey right?! but at least its worth it. How good is that J5521 brush?!?!?! It is such a perfect size. Indeed we just always think alike girl, we're so meant to be *hugs & kisses* hehe.

    I have Real Technique brushes - actually quite a lot of them but I just put them inside my freelance kit as I don't use them as much on myself - I don't like the colours to them and how bulky the handles are but they're amazing quality though! I guess I only house black and silver brushes in my personal collection - just me being typical me. Other than that RT is so good! I just purchased some Zoeva brushes with the Kevyn Aucoin products I told you about - so I'll let you know how they are. I'm excited and that rose gold set looks gorgeous I want it too but I know I don't need it wahhhhh! I swear I am such a shopaholic - so bad :(

    Tweezerman is the best, I've owned a few but my sister has stolen all of them from me grrr so I purchased the Anastasia one a while back and its a definite fav! How crap is it that boys have long lashes?! Amon has long lashes they are insane and it's not fair - they don't even NEED them. GRRR!!! It is SO wasted on them. hahahaha

  8. So sorry for the late reply gorgeous, finally got a chance to sit down and to reply to comments hehe. Oh yes, I have a lot of RT brushes as well but I think because of their bulky handles I just added them to my freelance kit to use as they are so good to use but I think for my own personal collection I like to have silver and black handled brushes (don't ask me why I'm just weird like that :p). The Yachiyo brush is gorgeous it just shed quite a bit but seems to always keep it shape despite this - I think its discontinued but they came out with a similar style in their new collection.

    Yeah I find the same happens to me with the beauty blender it does take a lot of effort and some days I just cbb running it under water so I just gravitate to my foundation brushes but yes it does give such a flawless finish.

    P.S. I am LOVING the Kat Von D tattoo liner - pretty sure its my fav now, how amazing does it apply?!?!?!?! Forever grateful for you picking it up for me lovely xx

  9. I like that tactic girl, I think the same way - the more brushes the better and less you have to wash since you have a lot of back ups but then again you can never have too many brushes anyway! I think it's important to research which brushes are worth the money because not all high end brushes are good - I'm so happy my post helped you! I think you will really enjoy Hakuhodo brushes despite the price it's definitely worth it! xx

  10. It is gorgeous isn't it?! I think it is just so perfect for that contoured look. Thanks I'm really happy this post was helpful! Some times people talk about how great a brush is but don't mention a few cons that might have - so it's always nice to let other know all the exact info to each product. YES you need to beauty blender it is really worth it esp if you want a flawless application it makes your foundation go on so nicely. xx