Battle of the Drugstore Buffing Brushes

Left to right: Ecotools buffing brush, Sonia Kashuk, Real Techniques, Sigma F80, Ecotools bronzing brush.
Left to right: Ecotools buffing brush, Sonia Kashuk, Real Techniques, Sigma F80, Ecotools bronzing brush.

‘Battle’ may not be the right word, as they all reside peacefully in my huge brush cup holder (unless they swordfight when I’m not lookin’). They are all what I use to buff, so I will term them all as ‘buffing’ brushes, though each may have a different name from their brand.

Each have their specific uses, recounted below left to right according the the picture above. Sorry the picture is not better; but you much prefer the narrative anyway, right?

1. Ecotools buffing brush. I love Ecotools. This brush is also a credit to the brand. Soft, no shedding ever, dense enough but not too dense that it’s hard. Great for everything from powder foundation, mineral foundation, liquid foundation, cream blush, loose powder, etc. I like this most for mineral foundation, though. And to buff in cream blushes (not to apply them, though, too much will be picked up).

2. Sonia Kashuk flat top brush. I admit, I got this mainly for the shape. And indeed, it is nice and snug in my hand. The bristles are soft, and no shedding ever. This is the most dense compared to the other four. It is also another multitasking gem but funnily, it excels on compact foundation! It just seems to push the powder right through your pores, even dry powder.

3. Real Techniques buffing brush. It has the second longest and fluffiest bristles amongst the five (second to the Ecotools bronzer brush on the extreme right). I initially did not like this brush too much since it was too fluffy, not dense enough. But after getting a hang of it, it’s actually a nice multitasking item. You do need more wrist movement to buff and spread, but the lightness is nice. You won’t have any of those ‘skin rubbed raw’ moments. I like this for mineral foundation when I have the time to buff and spread. And it’s also great for thick liquid foundations where you have no choice to buff buff buff, anyway.

4. Sigma F80 flat top buffing brush. Despite the many glowing online reviews, I only acquired this brush recently. I’m not easily lured by hype, but once this brush was really cheap on Luxola, so I got it. It’s pretty dense and hard, but not as dense and hard as the Sonia Kashuk one. In most cases it is too wide for the small containers of mineral powders, so I don’t like it as much. I also do not like it for cream foundation as it picks up waaaay to much product. I’m actually in a quandary over whether I need to keep this or not. If only I don’t have the other four, this might have a bigger role. But amongst this set of five multi-tasking apparatus, I found I don’t use this brush for weeks at a time. I’ll have to experiment some more before deciding.

5. Ecotools bronzer brush. The mother of efficiency. I need 30 seconds, nay, 15!, for foundation application with this brush. And the result is good! I have two of this: one to apply foundation during the 5 minute morning rush I’m usually finding myself in, and the other to buff the edges of blush. it is not really destined for wedding makeup production and other refined ways of making up your face, but if you are a buff-and-go gal, it’s gonna be so loved. Also, I have just recently gotten a Guerlain meteorites compact — after years of disillusioning myself that having the pearls is enough. And guess what, I use the compact with this brush. It is just about the size of the pan, so I place this brush straight up on the pan, give it a little wiggle left, a little wiggle right, then pat the powder to the face…. and done!

If you were to get only one of the 5 for buffing purposes, I would recommend this one. You may find it too large, initially, but after a while you get the hang of using just the sides, when needed (like, to apply cream blush?). And cupping the bristles if you desire a denser tool. And? To apply bronzer! What marvel, eh?

I can not see myself shelling more than $30 for a brush. Drugstore brushes already do it for me. More expensive brushes may lead to better results, but at the moment, I would rather spend the extra on the actual makeup rather than the tool. That can yet change, as I’m currently eyeing the yummy looking Hourglass brushes.